Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu – Salkantay Trekking

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Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu Details
Salkantay Trekking

Embarking upon the Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu is not merely to journey; it’s to weave through an epic, uncovering the magnificent grandeur of the Peruvian Andes and toasting to the deep-seated legacy of the Inca civilization.

As the Inca Trail garners its fame amongst hikers, the venture onto the Salkantay route unfurls a divergent trail, laden with its own mystique.

Travelers often express that the voyage itself rivals the allure of Machu Picchu. Ascending diverse landscapes, the environment transforms around us—from verdant woodlands to stark, craggy expanses. This kaleidoscope of nature’s expressions will relentlessly capture our awe.

Reaching the towering heights of the Salkantay Pass, at an elevation of 4,600 meters (about 15,090 feet) above sea level, serves as a powerful reminder of nature’s untouched beauty and the resilience required of those who dare to traverse it.

The Inca’s Legacy and Nature’s Grandeur: Unfolding the Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu

A highlight of our trekking days includes encounters with ancient Inca ruins, silent testimonies to an empire steeped in history. Each relic, from pathways to buildings, tells a story of a bygone era, enriching our journey towards the iconic Machu Picchu with layers of anticipation.

For would-be trekkers, a piece of advice: meticulous planning months ahead is crucial. Such foresight allows for ample preparation time, physically and mentally, to meet the trek’s challenges head-on.

The path also offers serendipitous discoveries, like secluded hot springs, a perfect balm for weary limbs. Should altitude sickness loom as a threat, a traditional remedy awaits—a steaming cup of coca tea.

For purists, the Classic Salkantay Trek remains an option, weaving historical pathways with the comforts of the modern day. Regardless of the chosen path, the experience promises enduring memories.

With the Explore Peru Guide as our companion, our journey is not just a trek but a passage through time, a communion with the natural world, and the realization of a dream. Together, let’s uncover the marvels of the Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu.

Departure Time

04:30 AM

Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu Includes

  • Guided Services: Professional English-speaking local guides knowledgeable about the region, its history, and culture.
  • Transportation: Transfers to and from Cusco or other starting points, including transportation to the start of the trek and from the endpoint back to Cusco.
  • Accommodation
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks during the trekking days, with some treks also including meals in Cusco.
  • Entrance Fees: Tickets to Machu Picchu and possibly other sites or attractions along the way.
  • Porters or Pack Animals: These help in carrying heavy gear, equipment, and sometimes personal belongings.
  • Camping Equipment: This usually encompasses tents, sleeping mats, dining tents, kitchen tents, and sometimes sleeping bags (though often you'll need to rent or bring your own).
  • Cooking Services: A chef or cooking team to prepare meals during the trek.
  • First Aid: Access to a basic first aid kit, with some groups also offering emergency oxygen.
  • Briefings: Pre-trek information and orientation sessions.
  • Permits: Necessary trekking and entrance permits for the region.
  • Train Tickets: For routes or packages that include a train journey, typically from Aguas Calientes back to Cusco or Ollantaytambo.
  • Baggage Transfer: Some packages may include transferring your baggage between stops or storing it while you trek.

Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu Excludes

  • Travel Insurance: Personal travel insurance covering trip cancellations, medical emergencies, evacuations, and other contingencies.
  • Personal Trekking Gear: Such as hiking boots, clothing, walking poles, and sometimes sleeping bags (unless specified).
  • Extra Beverages and Snacks: While meals are often included, additional or alcoholic beverages and snacks might be extra.
  • Tips: For guides, porters, cooks, and other staff.
  • Meals Outside of Trek: Meals in cities or towns before and after the trek, unless otherwise specified.
  • Additional Activities or Tours: Such as side trips, hot springs visits, or other attractions not outlined in the primary trek itinerary.
  • Transport Outside of Set Itinerary: Any additional transportation not outlined in the tour package.
  • Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain Tickets: If you wish to climb one of these mountains, a separate ticket is often required.

Recommended To Carry

  • Clothing and Footwear:Trekking Boots: Waterproof and broken-in.
    Lightweight Walking Shoes: For evenings at campsites.
    Trekking Pants and Shorts: Quick-drying.
    Waterproof Rain Jacket and Pants: Lightweight and breathable.
    Breathable T-Shirts: Synthetic or merino wool work best.
    Warm Layer: Fleece or wool sweater
    Insulated Jacket: Lightweight down or synthetic.
    Underwear: Preferably moisture-wicking
    Warm Hat and Sun Hat/Cap.
    Gloves: Lightweight for cool mornings and evenings.
    Thick Socks: Wool or synthetic, plus sock liners can help prevent blisters.
  • Gear:Backpack: 30-40 liters with a rain cover.
  • Sleeping Bag: Rated for the coldest temperatures you expect to encounter.
  • Trekking Poles: Especially useful for descents.
  • Headlamp: With extra batteries.
  • Sunglasses: UV protection.
  • Water Bottle or Hydration Bladder.
  • Personal First Aid Kit: Include blister treatment, pain relievers, and any personal medications.
  • Water Purification: Tablets or a water filter.
  • Dry Bags or Plastic Bags: For organizing and keeping belongings dry.
  • High SPF Sunscreen
Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu Itinerary

Day 1From Cusco's Buzz to Soraypampa's Serenity

As the first light of day illuminates our path, we set out on an eagerly awaited journey from the bustling Cusco, a city that pulses with the legacy of the Inca Empire. Leaving the historic charm of its stone-laden pathways behind, we embark on a picturesque drive.

Our initial stop is the charming village of Mollepata, cradled in the green embrace of valleys. With the city’s silhouette fading into a memory, the embrace of the open countryside begins to feel like a gentle caress. Here in Mollepata, it’s a chance to stretch, breathe in the earthy village air, and maybe indulge in a local delicacy.

The path then steers us towards Challacancha, with the road unfurling views of towering Andean summits and the expansive wilderness that remains untouched by time. Traversing this route, the reality and excitement of our venture slowly unfold.

Our day concludes at Soraypampa, perched at an altitude of 3,900 meters (12,795 feet) above sea level, which serves as our threshold to the imposing Salkantay Mountain.

At this height, the air is refreshingly crisp, wrapping us in a peace far removed from the lively streets of Cusco. We establish our campsite here. As twilight blankets the sky and mountains stand guard, we gather to weave tales and share aspirations about the trek that beckons.

First Day Salkantay Trek Statistics:

  • Distance Covered: 14 kilometers (8.7 miles).
  • Highest Altitude: 3,900 meters (12,795 feet) at Soraypampa.
  • Lowest Altitude: 2,850 meters (9,350 feet) at Cusco.
  • Level of Difficulty: Moderate.

Day 2Ascending the Majestic Salkantay Pass

Rising at dawn within the cradle of Soraypampa, the imposing figure of Salkantay Mountain summons us. This day promises the most exhilarating yet formidable segment of our journey: the Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu.

Each stride brings us nearer to the celestial realms as we scale the path to the Salkantay Pass. Our passage is a kaleidoscope of changing vistas. We navigate through rugged paths, wade across frost-kissed brooks, and gaze upon the majesty of towering, snow-draped summits.

The climb is strenuous, yet the vistas from the summit provide unparalleled gratification. Perched at 4,650 meters (15,255 feet) above the sea, the pinnacle of the Salkantay Pass offers us a feeling of supremacy over the world. The horizon stretches far and wide, presenting mountainous silhouettes and the expansive valley beneath in a spectacle of nature’s grandeur.

Relishing the victory of our climb, our journey transitions as we make our descent towards Chaullay. This leg contrasts markedly with the morning’s ascent.

Our path meanders through verdant tropical woodlands, buzzing with the life of unique vegetation and the remote symphonies of mysterious avian species. The verdure is a welcome shift, immersing us in an environment that grows noticeably warmer and more moist with each step.

By twilight, we arrive at the peaceful sanctuary of Chaullay. Cradled in thick forestation, this quiet village provides a soothing respite for our fatigued selves. In this secluded retreat, we reflect on our triumph over the Salkantay Pass and look forward with enthusiasm to the impending escapades, including another phase of the Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu.

Second Day Salkantay Trek Statistics:

  • Distance Covered: 22 kilometers (13.7 miles).
  • Highest Altitude: 4,650 meters (15,255 feet) at Salkantay Pass.
  • Lowest Altitude: 2,900 meters (9,514 feet) at Chaullay.
  • Level of Difficulty: Challenging.

Day 3From Forest Trails to Coffee Aromas

Awakening at dawn in Chaullay, we’re embraced by the tranquil melodies of the wilderness, setting the stage for our adventure along the Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu. Today’s voyage is painted with the rich hues and fragrances of coffee, alongside a tapestry of lush plantations unfurling before us.

Embarking from Chaullay, our path winds through a living gallery of orchids, begonias, and an array of exotic flora. The gentle slope of the day’s route on the Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu permits an immersive experience into this verdant landscape. As we make our descent, the air becomes tinged with the warmth and vibrancy of a tropical climate.

The day’s pinnacle unfolds in La Playa, a locale intertwined with the essence of coffee. Upon entering a coffee plantation, we’re enveloped by the aroma of maturing coffee cherries. This visit offers us a deep dive into the realm of coffee cultivation.

We uncover the detailed craft behind coffee production, from its origins as a bean to the final brew. As we wander through the fields, our guide enlightens us on the coffee’s odyssey. There’s even the possibility of tasting the freshly made coffee, providing us a glimpse into the soul of La Playa through its culture, history, and essence.

Revitalized by our coffee journey, we retire for the night in La Playa. The village resonates with a soft buzz of life against the serene lull of the Urubamba River in the distance, offering a serene setting for our rest as we prepare for another day on the Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu.

Third Day Salkantay Trek Statistics:

  • Distance Covered: 15 kilometers (9.3 miles).
  • Highest Altitude: 2,900 meters (9,514 feet) at Chaullay.
  • Lowest Altitude: 2,080 meters (6,824 feet) at La Playa.
  • Level of Difficulty: Moderate.

Day 4Embracing the Legacy of the Incas and Nature’s Splendor

Awakening in La Playa, the rich aroma of yesterday’s exploration into the world of coffee still haunts our senses. Yet, as the dawn breaks, a new journey calls us forth. The day promises an adventure to the ancient ruins of Llactapata, a landmark on the Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu, and a vibrant conclusion in the lively Aguas Calientes.

From the verdant coffee plantations of La Playa, our path rises, a storied route once walked by the Inca. As we ascend toward Llactapata, history whispers in the rustle of leaves, the stones underfoot resonating with the echoes of a bygone era. The Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu reveals its first marvel as the thickets part to unveil Llactapata. Amid these ruins, a spellbinding view of Machu Picchu teases the wonders yet to unfold.

Beyond the silent stories of Llactapata, our journey descends to Santa Teresa, where the tropical breeze, laced with the melody of a nearby river, breathes life into our weary bones. Santa Teresa’s thermal baths beckon, promising a soothing interlude should time allow.

Our adventure then steers us towards HidroElectrica. Amidst the marvel of modern engineering, it’s the parallel train track, a guide flanked by the towering guardians of the mountains, that captivates our spirit, leading us on the Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu toward Aguas Calientes.

As dusk cloaks the sky, Aguas Calientes greets us with its festive lights and the rhythmic pulse of anticipation. Cradled at the feet of Machu Picchu, this town thrums with the energy of those eager for the morrow. Here, we pause, enveloped in the promise that the zenith of our expedition, the majestic Machu Picchu, awaits with the dawn.

Fourth Day Salkantay Trek Statistics:

  • Distance Covered: 20 kilometers (12.4 miles).
  • Highest Altitude: 2,760 meters (9,055 feet) at Llactapata.
  • Lowest Altitude: 2,040 meters (6,692 feet) at Aguas Calientes.
  • Level of Difficulty: Moderate to Challenging.

Day 5The Grand Finale of Our Adventure

With the first light of dawn painting Aguas Calientes, a palpable buzz of anticipation fills the air. This day stands as the crowning moment of our Salkantay Trek. Machu Picchu, in all its splendor, is on the horizon.

For those preferring a seamless journey, Aguas Calientes offers a back-and-forth bus service. This choice proves handy, bringing us closer to the mystical citadel with every serpentine path we navigate.

Reaching the gates, the awe-inspiring remnants of the Inca empire unfold before us. Our exploration deepens with a guided expedition lasting two hours. Each turn and climb unveils the intricate tales woven by the Incas at Machu Picchu.

Having soaked in the historic essence, our steps lead us back to the warmth of Aguas Calientes. The prospect of a rejuvenating hot shower is a welcome finale to a day filled with discovery.

As evening casts its veil, our path veers towards Cusco. The echoes of Machu Picchu, the zenith of our journey, linger with every pulse. They serve as enduring reminders of the venture we undertook. Thus, our Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu adventure has come to an end.

Fifth Day Salkantay Trek Statistics:

  • Distance Covered: Approximately 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) if opting for the hike to Machu Picchu mountain.
  • Highest Altitude: 2,430 meters (7,970 feet) at Machu Picchu.
  • Lowest Altitude: 2,040 meters (6,692 feet) at Aguas Calientes.
  • Level of Difficulty: Moderate for those hiking to Machu Picchu mountain; Easy for those taking the bus.

How long is the Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu?

The Salkantay Trek typically covers approximately 60 kilometers (about 37 miles) and is usually completed in 5 days, ending with a visit to Machu Picchu on the last day.

Is the Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu difficult?

The trek is considered moderate to challenging. It involves high-altitude hiking, with the highest point, the Salkantay Pass, being at 4,600 meters (15,090 feet). Proper acclimatization and physical preparation are recommended.

Do I need a permit for the Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu?

Unlike the classic Inca Trail, you do not need a specific trekking permit for the Salkantay route. However, you will need an entrance ticket for Machu Picchu.

When is the best time to do the Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu?

The dry season, from April to October, is considered the best time. The wettest months are November to March, and the trek can be more challenging during this period due to rain.

What's the difference between the Salkantay Trek and the Inca Trail?

While both lead to Machu Picchu, they offer different landscapes and experiences. The Salkantay Trek is more rugged, with varied terrains, while the Inca Trail is famous for its archaeological sites and direct entrance to Machu Picchu.

How should I prepare physically?

It’s recommended to start physical training several months before the trek. Cardio workouts, hiking, and altitude training, if possible, are beneficial.

What should I pack for Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu?

Essential items include appropriate trekking clothing and footwear, rain gear, personal first aid kit, sleeping bag, water purification, and personal toiletries. It’s best to check a comprehensive packing list.

Do I need travel insurance?

Yes, it’s highly recommended. Ensure it covers high-altitude trekking and emergency evacuations.

3 Reviews
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Couple Traveller

From the snow-capped peaks of Salkantay to the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu, this trek was a dream come true. Thanks to Explore Peru Guide for their professionalism and deep respect for the environment and local communities.

October 16, 2023


Solo Traveller

Explore Peru Guide made our Salkantay Trek unforgettable. The logistics were seamless, the food was delicious, and the team took care of us every step of the way. Can’t wait to come back for another adventure.

October 13, 2023


Solo Traveller

Recently took the Five-day Salkantay Trek with Explore Peru Guide. It was an experience I’ll never forget! The landscapes were breathtaking, and our guide was knowledgeable and passionate about the history of the region. Highly recommend!

October 5, 2023