If nature is calling your name, a Salkantay to Machu Picchu trek may be the perfect expedition for you. Push yourself on the 5 day expedition through lush forests and sacred snow-capped mountains to the iconic Inca citadel of Machu Picchu. A popular alternative to the classic Inca Trail, Salkantay does not require an advanced permit.
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Named after Apu Salkantay, a sacred mountain in the Vilcabamba range, this challenging yet rewarding trek takes you through several distinct ecosystems from sub-tropical forests, to high mountain-passes, sometimes covered in snow. On offer is dynamic scenery, diverse flora and fauna, and breathtaking views, including of Machu Picchu citadel, your ultimate destination.
Contact our expert travel team to start planning your trip!
Meals during the trek
English speaking tour guides
Transfers and entrance fees
Lunches and dinners (unless specified otherwise)
Itinerary In Brief
Transfer by road to the town of Soraypampa, visiting the Tarawasi archaeological site en route, before beginning the trek. It’s a moderate ascent to Salkantaypampa, and then on to your campsite at Soyroqocha.
The toughest day, you’ll cross the rocky and icy Salkantay pass with stunning views, before descending through warm cloud forest to the campsite at Colpapampa in the Humantay valley.
A gentle day of hiking along the banks of the Santa Teresa river, and through native forests to the village of La Playa, where your campsite for the night is located.
Today you’ll walk through the Aobamba valley and visit the Llactapata archaeological site, before boarding a train to Aguas Calientes where you’ll spend the night at a hotel.
Rise early to take the bus to Machu Picchu. Enjoy a full tour of the iconic citadel, with the option to climb Huayna Picchu mountain, before transferring back to Cusco.
Itinerary In Detail
Day 1: Cusco – Soyroqocha
Leave Cusco early in the morning for the four-hour scenic drive to the town of Limatambo, where you’ll visit Tarawasi, an archaeological site, before continuing to the towns of Mollepata, and then Soraypampa where lunch is served before you begin the trek. On foot, you’ll start with a moderate ascent to Salkantaypampa (10,625ft / 3,268m above sea level), offering stunning views of snow-capped Apu Salkantay. Continuing the steep climb, you’ll reach the Soyroqocha campsite, where you’ll have dinner and spend the night. Expect cold temperatures overnight. Max altitude: 14,715ft / 4485m above sea level Distance covered: 3.1 miles / 5km Approx. trekking time: 3 hrs
Day 2: Soyroqocha – Colpapampa
Avoiding the freezing temperatures of the early morning, you can rise later, and set off for a 45-minute climb to the Salkantay pass, the toughest part of the trek, taking you to 15,255ft (4,650m) above sea level. Today is also the most beautiful, with breath-taking scenery all around. The terrain will slowly change, as we leave behind the dry Puna, covered in ichu grass, ascend to the rocky and icy pass and then descend to warm and tropical cloud forests with hummingbirds and toucans. Your campsite for the night is Colpapampa in the Humantay valley, where a well-deserved dinner and restful night awaits. Max altitude: 15,340ft / 4,650m above sea level Distance covered: 6.83 miles / 11km Approx. trekking time: 7 hrs
Day 3: Colpapampa – Playa Santa Teresa
Day 3 is a much gentler day of trekking, and you walk along the banks of the Santa Teresa river, through native forests, coffee and fruit plantations, and past a beautiful waterfall. While the views are not as breath-taking as the day before, the warmth and lush vegetation will be a welcome change from the cold and high altitude of the previous days. Tonight’s campsite is located near to the village of La Playa and there are some facilities and also a river to refresh yourself in. Max altitude: 9,372ft / 2,840m above sea level Distance covered: 6.21 miles / 10km Approx. trekking time: 7 hrs
Day 4: Playa Santa Teresa – Aguas Calientes
Setting off early, today you’ll walk along the road for about 45 minutes before turning off onto a footpath leading to the Aobamba valley. From here you’ll climb upwards for about 2 hours, through a forest with native trees, and stopping to admire the Llactapata archaeological site. From here there are stunning views of Machu Picchu mountain and Apu Salkantay. Continuing downhill, you’ll cross the Aobamba river and then board a train at Hidroélectrica (Hydroelectric Plant) to Aguas Calientes, where you’ll spend the night in a hotel.
For those who do not wish to visit Machu Picchu, there is the option to get a train to Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley or Cusco. Max altitude: 9,240ft / 2,800m above sea level Distance covered: 5.59 miles / 9km Approx. trekking time: 7 hrs
Day 5: Machu Picchu – Cusco
Early in the morning, take the bus from Aguas Clients to Machu Picchu, finally entering the breath-taking UNESCO Heritage site. You have the option to hike Huayna Picchu mountain with stunning views down at the ruins. Enjoy a full guided tour, taking in all the highlights – including the terraces, temples, burial sites and other sacred places. Your guide will show you the best spots for those classic Machu Picchu photos. At the end of the tour, you’ll transfer back to Cusco by bus and train. Max altitude: 7,995ft / 2,437m above sea level Distance covered: 0.93 miles / 1.5km Approx. trekking time: 3 hrs
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