The Salkantay Trek (or: Salcantay Trek) is a great adventure and a popular alternative for the Inca trail. The Salkantay trek offers an incredibly diverse trekking experience in Peru. Unlike the Classic Inca Trail, there are no permit limitations. You will cross amazing Andean landscapes - more extreme than along the Inca Trail - with glaciers and mountain peaks covered with snow. The highest pass is 4650m. But the trekkers will also enjoy the impressive Peruvian cloud forest once the trek starts to descend. There are less people than on the Inca Trail on the Salkantay Trek and the stuff is carried by horses (instead of by porters).
Amazing scenery with glaciers
Backpacker or Plus version
Machu Picchu tour with a guide
Good Value for Money
Camp beneath the glaciers
See Machu Picchu at sunrise
Departure time 4.30 – 5.30 and Return to Cusco between 19.00 – 22.00
Estimated time per day: 5 – 9 hours
Make sure you are well acclimatised (maximum altitude is 4600!)
This trek is more challenging than the Inca Trail
Bring money, your passport, swimsuit, for more info about what to pack here.
(this is a sample itinerary, there are small differences between the diferent trek operators in Cusco)
Early departure from Cusco (between 4.30 am – 5:30 am) to drive to Mollepata. After breakfast and organising the horses, who will carry the supplies and the backpacks, we start the Salkantay Trek at Sayapata. Lunch after three hours; after lunch, we hike for four more hours until the snow-capped peak of Nevado Humantay (5917m) and the Humantay Lake comes into view. We will have dinner and camp our first night at Soraypamapa (3500m) (or Salkantaypampa (3900 m)).
Be prepared for a challenge; this is a spectacular day, as we will climb from 3,800m up to 4,600m – the highest part of the trek! On our way to Soroycocha, we’ll reach first the top of the ‘Culebras”: the views of Salkantay from here onwards are breath-taking! After crossing the Salkantay Pass (4600 m) we will start to descend, and the scenery changes dramatically! We have now reached the cloud forest where the climate changes towards semi-tropical. We’ll have lunch at Huaracmachay. After a total of 7 - 9 hours of hiking, we arrive at our second camp in Collpabamba (3,200m).
After an early breakfast, we start our third day of hiking. The trail ascends slightly to Wiñaypoco where we will have lunch, followed by another three hours descending through the changing vegetation until we reach La Playa (2050 m). Much of the paths follow a small river with waterfalls; we may see parrots, hummingbirds, orchids, bamboo as well as coffee and banana plantations.
La Playa is the biggest village along the trail; there are small shops to buy snacks etc. Some operators stay in La Playa for the night, but most continue to Santa Teresa, a beautiful village in the cloud forest, where you can visit the hot pools (small extra cost) and spend the night.
Today we have the opportunity to do an amazing zip line, located between Santa Teresa and Hidroelétrica, our first goal for today. We follow the remote road through a valley between two high mountain ridges. This trail originally was used to transport agricultural products to the population of Machu Picchu, and it takes us through an area with coffee plantations and subtropical fruits and crops. Once in Hidroeléctrica, we continue to Aguas Calientes* where we spend the night in a hostel.
*you can also take the train from Hidroeléctrica to Aguas Calientes (cost approx.. $ 25)
We get up early to take the first bus (at 5.30 am) for a guided tour in Machu Picchu. After the magic moment of sunrise ad the guided tour, there is free time to explore the ruins afterwards. Be back at the train station in Aguas Calientes at least 30 minutes before the train to Cusco departs.