The Salkantay trek is a great alternative option for Peru travelers to the traditional Inca Trail. With fewer backpackers than the traditional Inca Trail, this trek is much easier to reserve with less advance notice. The Salkantay trek sees fewer backpackers due to it’s remote and slightly more rugged nature through a magnificent wilderness of the Cordillera Vilcabamba, not seen on the other routes. This trek is bit more difficult for backpackers than the traditional Inca Trail.
The mountains of the Cordillera Vilcabamba form a jagged chain between the Urubamba and the Apurimac rivers, creating a unique landscape to the area. On the north side of the cordillera, massive snow peaks emerge from lush tropical rain forests.
Salkantay, means Savage Mountain in the local language. Visually, this apu lives up to this name, with swirling clouds that rise up from the lowlands of the rainforest, engulfing the 6271 m/20574 ft. peak. With amazing sights of the Nevado de Salkantay, the tallest peak of the Cordillera., backpackers are sure to return with amazing photos and unbelievable memories. If you are looking for a beautiful trek to Machu Picchu, without the traffic of the traditional Inca Trail, the Salkantay Trek may be just for you and your group for your Peru travel.
|Medium – Hard||75 km / 66 mi||5100 m / 16,700 ft|
Season : mid April-November
Departure Dates: On Request
Prices Start at : $1150.00 USD
Minimum : 2 Trekkers
The night before your trek there will be a pre-trek talk (briefing) in our office at either 6 or 7pm (exact time will be confirmed).
We pick you up from your hotel at 5am (Peruvian time zone) to begin our journey to ‘Tarawasi’ (2600m/8530ft) an important Inca archaeological complex, 2 hours from Cusco. We will have our breakfast in Mollepata – this is where we also will meet our horsemen and horses and begin our hike. We will walk for around 3 hours until we reach our 1st campsite which is called Marqocasa (3500m/11482ft). From there we will have views of the magnificent snow-capped mountain, Rayuska, which is more than 5350m/17552ft above sea level. At day’s end, we will make camp at Challhuay.
This day begins with a nice breakfast at our camp, from where we will begin hiking for around four and a half hours towards Soraypampa (3900m/12795ft). This point has impressive views of the snow-capped mountains of Humantay (5917m/19412ft), Tucarway (5910m/19389ft), Rayuska (5350m/17552ft) and Salcantay (6271/20573ft). We will have lunch and rest there. We will then climb in an easterly direction for about an hour until we arrive at Salkantay pampa which is located at the height of 4100m/13451ft. We stay there for the night.
Meanwhile, we hike downwards; we will find some water streams and many different kinds of birds. Our hike will bring us to our campsite of Challhuay where we will have a nice dinner and spend the night. From there, the climate begins to take a semitropical change, because of the cloud forest.
Meanwhile we hike downwards; we will find some water streams and many different kinds of birds. Our hike will bring us to our campsite of Challhuay where we will have a nice dinner and spend the night. From there, the climate begins to take a semitropical change, because of the cloud forest.
The day begins with a nice breakfast, so we can get some energy to begin our trek towards the Incachiriasca pass which is located at a height of 5028m/16495ft. This is the highest point on our hike and from there we will have a magnificent view of Salkantay or the “Savage Mountain” (6271m/20573ft) as well as the remarkably colored small lakes, which are located on the sides of this imposing snow-capped mountain. There will also be possibility of seeing condors and wild rabbits as well as other typical native animals of the Peruvian Andes – llamas, guanacos and vicuñas. After arriving to the pass, we will descend to the Pampacawana community (4000m/13123ft), where we also will set our camp.
We begin the day with the usual delicious breakfast and then we start walking in the direction of the archaeological site of ‘Paucarcancha’ and thereafter towards the village of Wayllabamba. There we will join the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu and our horseman and horses will be replaced by porters. The trail continues to Llulluchapampa (3850m/12631ft), where we will spend the night.
After breakfast, we will start hiking a steep slope towards the Huarmihuañusca pass (also called ‘Dead Woman’s Pass’ due to its image from afar), which is located at 4200m/13750ft above sea level. From there we will have an amazing view over the impressive Inca Trail. Then we descend to Pacamayu where we will have lunch. After resting, we climb again to visit the archaeological site of ‘Runcuracay’ and to reach the Runkurakay pass (4000m/13080ft). Views of the mountains and surrounding area, from these points, are spectacular.
Thereafter begins a steep descend from the pass leading to the Inca site ‘Sayacmarca’. We will have a short rest there, before continuing on towards Chaquicocha (3660m/12007ft), where we will spend the night.
On this day we will hike towards the beautiful Inca monument, Wiñay Wayna. On the way we pass the archaeological sites of ‘Phuyupatamarca’ (‘Town in the Clouds’) and ‘Intipata’. We will spend the night at Wiñay Wayna campsite (2680m/8792ft).
A short distance from this campsite is located the Inca site of the same name ‘Wiñay Wayna’ (‘Forever Young’). Even if you are tired after the long trek, don’t miss out visiting the most impressive site on the trail.
On the final day of our adventure, the breakfast will be served early at 4 am in the morning and we leave the campsite at 5 am, walking in the direction of the city of Machu Picchu, which is about 6 km away. We will arrive at ‘Inti Punku’ (Sun gate) (2730m/8792ft) and wait there to observe the beautiful Andean sunrise over the spectacular city of Machu Picchu (2400m/7873ft). Then we will walk down the last part of the trail to the spot where you can take the classic photo (picture postcard shot) of this ancient city. Finally we visit Machu Picchu itself!
A walking tour (approximately 2 hours) is given by your English-speaking guide; afterwards you are free to explore the mysterious city by yourself. If you have made your advance reservation to hike Huayna Picchu (2,720 m/8,923 ft), your guided tour will begin after your hike. It takes 45 minutes on average to reach the top of Huayna Picchu, where you will get a magnificent view over Machu Picchu and its surroundings.
After the visit, you will meet your guide in Aguas Calientes (the trip down to Aguas Calientes can be reached by bus or by foot) for lunch and the guide will give the train tickets back to Cusco. The train usually leaves at 3:55pm and we will arrive back in Cusco at about 8:45pm.
If you desire an extra night in Aguas Calientes it can be arranged. This option is very popular as it allows more time to explore Machu Picchu. You can also go to the thermal springs in the town – a real treat after finishing the trail!
Campsites may be subject to change depending on allocations by the official group who controls access to the Inca Trail (Unidad de Gestión de Machu Picchu-UGM).
The Expedition Train is included in all tours (to/from Ollantaytambo). Departure times of the train can only be confirmed close to the time of the trek, if you join a group late in the day we can’t guarantee that you will travel on the same train as the rest of the group.
Departure times are subject to change depending on Peru rail schedule and availability. If this is organized in advance, the train can be upgraded to Vistadome (larger windows than the Expedition train) for an increased price.
*To qualify as a student, it is necessary to have a valid student id card.
Machu Picchu Trekking is a licensed tour operator comprised of certified and licensed local tour guides. We are a local company with professional employees and guides who are knowledgeable in traditional (Inca Trail) and alternative (Lares to Machu Picchu) treks; all tours booked with Machu Picchu Trekking are led and staffed by Machu Picchu Trekking employees. We value your trust and never pass our valued clients onto other tour companies.
You may need to cancel your Inca Trail Trek due to personal emergency, illness or flight delay. Because we schedule and purchase permits well in advance of your travel, we are not able to refund you your full amount.
To be refunded (see our refund chart below), please notify us as soon as possible in writing (email). Cancellation charges in addition to the non-refundable deposit will be applied as shown below, calculated from the day written notification is received by Cusco Native. (Please consider purchasing optional travel insurance to cover emergency cancellations.)
Our refund table is as follows:
|Days Prior to Start of Trek||Percentage Lost of Total Trek Price|
|29 to 22||40%|
|21 to 9||20%|
|8 to 0||0%|
In the event of partial cancellations, the remaining passenger may have to pay any remaining charges (e.g. single room supplements or double-occupancy).