The Salkantay trail is frequently voted one of the best hikes in the World. The trek takes 5 days and follows a quiet but well-trodden path through the wild North-west of Cusco.
The main highlight on the trek is the snow-capped peak of Mount Salkantay (6,271m), which dominates the landscape and provides an awesome backdrop to an unforgettable trek.
The trail finishes at the small town of Aguas Calientes, situated just below Machu Picchu.
START & ENDS
Easy Moderate Challenge Hard
- DAY 1
- day 2
- day 3
- Day 4
- DAY 5
CUSCO – MOLLEPATA – SORAYPAMPA – HUMANTAY LAKE
Drive: 3 hours. Hike: 12km
Starting Elevation (3350 m)
Highest Elevation (4200 m)
Campsite Elevation (3900 m)
We will leave Cusco around 4:30 am by bus to the town of Mollepata (2,900 m) where we will arrive at about 8:00 am. Here we will stop for last-minute supplies, a quick stretch and restroom break. We will then continue upwards by bus to our trek starting point at Challacancha.
At Challacancha we will meet with our support staff, load our equipment onto horses and mules, and by 9:00 am we begin our walk towards Soraypampa (3,900 m). During this part of the trek, we already can have (weather permitting) panoramic views of the majestic Salkantay and Humantay mountains. By midday its time for a classic Peruvian lunch. After lunch, our trail continues upwards toward Humantay Lake, turquoise waters right at the foot of the glacier. Upon descending back to our camp, our tents will be ready for you, as well dinner.
SORAYPAMPA – CHALLWAY
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Hike 22 km (8 hours)
Starting Elevation (3900 m)
Highest Elevation (4630 m)
Campsite Elevation (2920 m)
Today, is the toughest on our schedule. After a nutritious breakfast, we will start the most difficult part of the trek. We will hike to a place called Salkantay Pampa, continuing left upwards towards the face of Mount Salkantay. By midday we will reach the highest point of the trek, Salkantay Pass (4,630 m). The views from here are breathtaking. After descending sometime we will reach Huayracmachay where we will stop for lunch. We'll then continue on for another 3 hours to our campsite in Challway (2,920 m).
CHALLWAY – LA PLAYA – LUCMABAMBA
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Hike 18 km (6 hours)
Starting Elevation (2920 m)
Campsite Elevation (2000 m)
Early in the morning we will start our trek through the high jungles. After about 5 hours we will arrive at Playa Sahuayaco near the town of Collpabamba, traversing an area known as the “eyebrow of the Amazon,” where waterfalls, fruit-bearing trees, and diverse flora and fauna manifest in absolute abundance. If we are lucky, the famous Andean bird known as the “Cock of the Rocks’ may appear to bless us with its beauty. Once at Playa Sahuayaco we will rest and have lunch. In the afternoon, continuing downstream a few more hours, we arrive at the town of Lucmabamba, which is our last campsite and also the beginning of the Inca Trail to Llactapata.
LUCMABAMBA – LLACTAPATA – HIDROELECTRICA – AGUAS CALIENTES
Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Hike 17 km (7 hours)
Starting Elevation (2000 m)
Highest Elevation (2700 m)
Final Elevation (2050 m)
This morning we will gradually hike upwards for about 2 hours to the archeological site of Llactapata, an impressive ruin with connections to Machu Picchu and Sayacmarka. We will have plenty of time to explore this beautiful Inca site before descending to the Hydro-Electrica (hydro station) which takes roughly 1.5 hours. From here, a gentle 3-hour walk will bring us to the town of Aguas Calientes where we will check-in to a hotel for the night. After check-in and freshening up, we will meet up again for dinner together at one of the many restaurants in town.
AGUAS CALIENTES – MACHU PICCHU – CUSCO
Hike 9 km (2 hours), Drive: 3.5 hours.
Starting Elevation (2050 m)
Machu Picchu (2400 m)
Cusco (3350 m)
Our last day together starts very early – we will wake up at around 5:00 am for breakfast and catch one of the first buses up to Machu Picchu. It is important to start early today to avoid the main crowds and also see the citadel during the first rays of morning light. Our guide will start the day with a tour of the most important locations, altars and constructions around Machu Picchu. During this walk, he will also share with you what we know about the history of this place and the people who lived here. Around 13:00 a bus will take us back to Aguas Calientes for lunch (not included). After lunch, we will board the train to Ollantaytambo and from there continue by bus to Cusco.
Dates & Prices
Below are our open group dates for the Salkantay Trek. If the dates below don't suit, please get in touch as we can open a new group on any day as long as you have at least 2 people in your party.
Please note: January and February are the rainy season and we therefore don't recommend trekking during this period.
If the dates below don't suit, please get in touch as we can open a new group on any day as long as you have at least 2 people in your party.
The evening before departure we ask guests to visit the offices of Inkayni Peru Tours in Cusco at 19:00 for a pre-departure briefing. You will be sent details for this briefing once your trip is booked.
When is the best time to complete this adventure?
The Salkantay trek can be completed all year round, however, during the rainy season of January and February we highly recommend avoiding this adventure.
When should I arrive in Cusco prior to this adventure?
Cusco is situated at high elevation (3,350m). To properly acclimatise we recommend that all guests arrive in Cusco at least 48 hours before their trip start date. Our local operator runs a pre-departure briefing in their Cusco offices at 19:00 o'clock the evening before trip departure. It is important you attend this.
How fit do I need to be?
You will need to be in good health and relatively fit for this hike. You will be hiking on average 10km per day at high altitude. We recommend doing 6-8 weeks aerobic gym / hiking training before embarking on this adventure.
Do I need a visa for Peru?
Most country nationals, including the UK, US, Canada and the EU, can enter Peru visa-free for 183 days. Check eligibility and exempt countries here.
What immunisations should I get?
We recommend reviewing the UK NHS fit-for-travel website for Peru: https://www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk/destinations/south-america-antarctica/peru
Are vegetarian and other special dietary needs available?
Of course! And without any additional cost! When you make your reservation, please inform us of any dietary needs or requirements, including allergies!
Vegetarian foods will not include any meats, chicken, or fish. But we will assume that eggs and cheese or other lactose products are OK.
Most of our main meals are buffet-style, leaving you the option to avoid anything undesirable to you.
If there are any food items that you can not stomach, perhaps onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, etc., upon your request, we will ask our chef to leave them out or separate this item.
We can also cater for lactose-intolerant or gluten-intolerant diets.
We can not accept individuals with severe allergic or life-threatening reactions.
How big are the groups?
Group size is limited to 10 people.
Can I do the trek privately?
Yes, if you would like a private trek just contact us and we can arrange this. There may be a single supplement charge.
Is there a minimum age requirement?
Yes, the minimum age to join this adventure is 18. Children over the age of 16 can join this adventure but will need to be accompanied by a parent / legal guardian.
How much should I tip the crew?
Tipping is discretionary. But as a rough guideline you should budget 10-15% of your trek cost. Tips should be given to the guide at the end of the trek and can be given in US$ or Peruvian Soles. Your guide will distribute tips fairly to porters and the cook.
What are your cancellation terms?
Should you need to cancel the following terms apply.
- Less than 4 weeks from departure: No refund
- Between 4-8 weeks from departure: 100% refund less full deposit
- More than 8 weeks before departure: 100% refund less 3% refund transaction fee.
Cancellation fees are set our in our Terms and Conditions. You may be able to reclaim refund charges if your reason for cancellation is covered by your travel insurance policy.
- 2 x hiking shirt + 1 x long-sleeve hiking shirt
- 1 x hiking trousers and 1 x shorts
- Base layer
- Mid-weight fleece jacket
- Hard shell rain jacket
- Insulating down or synthetic jacket / gilet
- Light gloves and warm insulating gloves
- Sun hat + Sunglasses
- Beanie for the nights
- Neck warmer
- Mid-weight hiking boots
- 3-4 x hiking socks
- Trainers for camp
- 20-25L daypack
- 45-55L Backpack (carried by mules, needs to be no heavier than 7kg). Only pack what is necessary for the 5 days of the trip. The rest of your luggage can be left in a storeroom at your hotel/hostel in Cusco or our office.
- Plastic bags to protect sleeping bag and other gear from rain
- 4-season sleeping bags
- Sleeping mat (optional)
- Original passport (you need this to enter Machu Picchu)
- Hiking poles
- Headlamp with new batteries
- Water bottle / hydration bladder
- Water treatment tablets
- Sun cream
We highly recommend getting travel insurance for your trip. We recommend World Nomads as they provide comprehensive cover for adventurous activities and are very affordable. Get a quote below.
Night 1, 2 and 3: Great quality camping tents for 2 trekkers sharing.
Night 4: Golden Sunrise Machu Picchu Hotel or similar 3 star hotel.
Accommodation in Cusco
Accommodation in Cusco is not included in this tour. We recommend arriving in Cusco 48 hours before the tour to properly acclimatise to the high altitude. There are many hotel options in Cusco. See deals on Agoda.
LOCAL TOUR OPERATOR
GO TO MOUNT KENYA
Inkayni Peru Tours are a fantastic local operator based in Cusco, Peru. The company is run by Edgar, Alex, and Percy, spiritual brothers and natives of the town of Chinchero in the Sacred Valley. Together they are united by their ambition of offering personalised services of great quality, aiming to make every experience unique and unforgettable. With Inkayni Peru Tours you can expect a professional tour to the highest standard!
Mountain IQ is a platform for travellers to book holiday services available from tour operators, accommodation providers and other service providers available around the world. We act as an authorised agent for these Suppliers. Please read our booking and cancellation terms here.
Touring around Cusco, Salkantay and Machu Picchu with Franco was more like touring around with a friend than someone I had just met! He was extremely personable and knowledgeable. I learned a ton, saw beautiful sights and had great conversation.
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