Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu 5D/4N
Massive snowcapped mountains collide with lush tropical cloud forest as you travel along the ancient Salkantay Trail in Peru. The Salkantay trek meanders across amazing landscapes strewn with glittering lakes and magestic glaciers. This path that connects Cusco to Machu Picchu has also been acknowledged as one of top 25 trekkings in Peru and in the world by National Geographic’s Adventure Travel magazine. It is noteworthy to mention that to travel this trail, there is no need to acquire a permit meaning that it’s open to everyone. Although the Classic Inca Trail is the most popular route to take when hiking to the ancient city of Machu Picchu, the stunning Salkantay Trail allows you to explore and appreciate much more of the natural beauty Peru has to offer. Also, if you prefer to experience a more secluded trail, then this adventure is the best one for you.
Our company, Inka Trail Explorer, organizes exemplerary 5-day treks that meet the needs of every customer. Our guides are well-versed in the rich history and local culture of this beautiful country and are a delight to converse with. In order to ensure that you will have the best experience, possible, you’d do well to remember that you will be anywhere from 11,000 (3353m) to 16,000 (4880m) feet closer to the sun. It would be very beneficial for you to spend at least 2 days in Cusco (3 days is better) prior to beginning this trek so as to acclimate to the elevation; however, we are always incredibly flexible with the location of our campsites and breaktimes so as to guarantee the comfort of everyone.
Salkantay Trek – Overview
- Starting altitude – 9515ft. / 2900m
- Highest altitude – 15200ft. / 4645m
- Trekking distance – 37.5 miles / 60.5km
- Longest day – Day 2, approximately 11 miles / 18km
- Coldest night – Day 1 around 0°C
- Overall difficulty – very difficult
- Trip style: Hiking, Camping, Historal and Cultural
Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu – Itinerary
Day 1: Cusco – Mollepata – Soraypampa
The Salkantay trek begins in the small town of Marko Q’asa which is situated high above the Mollepata Village. Following a well-established trail, we will slowly make our way up the side of the valley, covering a distance of about 16km (9.9 miles) and climbing 1200m (3937ft). The views throughout the journey are fantastic—all verdant green mountains, a wide variety of native plants and flowers with birds flitting in and out of them. Towards the end of our hike, we will see the snow-capped peaks of the Umantay and the Salkantay also known as—”the Savage Mountain”—looming high above us.
Our campsite on this night will be at Soraypampa (3,800m/12,084ft). The temperature at night is below 0°C, so we highly recommend that you be prepared for freezing conditions.
- Trekking time: 6 to 7 hours
- Distance: 16km
- Difficulty Level: Difficult
Day 2: Soraypamapa – Collpapamapa
We begin our second day with a great breakfast. This trek is considered to be the longest and most strenuous of the Salkantay trekking, but one could argue that it also offers some of the best views of Peru’s natural beauty. The stunning scenery throughout the trip transitions from one extreme to another. It starts from the high Puna which is covered in Ichu grass, but as we make our way up and over the Salkantay pass, you frequently can spot wild animals and many beautiful lakes just off of the trail. Meanwhile, the Salkantay Mountain towers over us in the background.
After a great adventure up to and through the pass, we will start descending down the other side of the mountain where you will have your first experience of the warm, lush cloud forest. There, we will have the chance to see Andean foxes, white-tailed deer and viscacha (wild rabbit). Our campsite will be in Collpapampa—a small town located in the middle of the mountains (2900m /9514ft).
- Trekking time: 8 to 9 Hours
- Trekking Distance: 21km
- Difficulty level: Challenging
Day 3: Collpamapa – Lugmabamba
Our next destination is Lugmabamba which is about 13km down the valley from Collpapampa. Our trail takes us along the Lluscamayo River, and we will pass an area that is teeming with life along with various coffee and fruit plantations. By midday, we should arrive to the campsite. After lunch, we are going to meet the locals for a coffee tour in order to learn about all of the processes of coffee production. We will even get to harvest, roast and grind our own coffee. These amazing experiences are all included in the Salkantay Tour.
In the afternoon, we’ll have the option to go to the hot springs in Santa Teresa which is about an hour’s travel via car from our campsite. If you are interested in going there, it would be a good idea for you to book it ahead of time. That way, your guide will be able to organize this for you.
- Trekking time: 5 to 6 hours
- Trekking Distance: 17km
- Difficulty level: Moderate
Day 4: Lugmabamba – Llactapata – Aguas Calientes
This is the final stretch of the Salkantay Trekking before we reach Aguas Calientes. The main objective of this trek is to visit the Incan site of Llaqtapata which sits high up on the mountainside. By following an original Inca route, we’ll reach Llaqtapata by early mid-morning which will be just in time to enjoy the wonderful views of Machu Picchu in the far distance. After an amazing history lesson, we’ll head back down the mountainside to the hydroelectric station. From there, we’ll catch our train to Aguas Calientes.
- Trekking time: 6 to 7 hours
- Trekking distance: 13km
- Difficulty level: Difficult
Day 5 Machu Picchu – Cusco
After having spent days on the Salkantay trek, you will be ready to enter the ancient city of the Incas. The natural and cultural beauty of Machu Picchu makes for a great experience. You are going to explore the ruins with a professional tour operator, who is going to take you throughout the beautiful temples and palaces of the site. It takes approximately 3 hours, and afterward, you will have free time to explore the site on your own. If you have obtained a permit to climb Huayna Picchu Mountain, then this when you will begin your next adventure.
The hike up to the Sun Gate (Inti Punku) is another good option. If you have time to pass through and view this incredible structure, especially during the summer solstice, you should seize the opportunity. It takes 1 hour to hike and is free and available to all. It’s the entrance that the hikers on the Classic Inca Trail enter through in order to arrive to Machu Picchu. After Machu Picchu, we conclude our trip by taking the train which usually departs in the afternoon from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo. From there, we bus back to Cusco.
What is Included on the Salkantay trek?
Airport/Hotel: Inka Trail Explorer includes a one-way transfer from the airport to your hotel. We will need to know your flight schedule so that one of our representatives will be awaiting your arrival to Cusco. They will be there holding a poster with our company logo on it.
Professional Tour Operator: Our staff of tour guides have all obtained their degrees from universities where they studied tourism and English. They all are passionate about the history, archeology, nature and astronomy of Peru. They are always delighted to teach you about their heritage and to answer any questions you may have.
Briefing: The night before the Salkantay trek, your guide will explain everything concerning the trek in detail. This includes the Salkantay Trek schedule and a few tips on how to make the Salkantay Trail easier. You also will receive your duffel bag which is meant to contain all of your personal belongings. It can be no more than 7kg (14lbs) which must include your sleeping bag and air mattress. These are both available for rent.
Horses: We do use horses for the Salkantay Expedition. Horses are going to carry all camping equipment, food supplies and your duffle bags. We also include an emergency horse in case you feel tired or need a break and would like to ride for a while.
Hotel: The Salkantay Trek is an alternative route to Machu Picchu with the primary path being the Classic Inca Trail. This course includes a 1-night stay in a hotel in Aguas Calientes—the town below Machu Picchu. Your booked hotel will be listed on your confirmed invoice.
This is a 3-star hotel and is the rooms are meant to be shared with the options of a double, matrimonial or triple. You may also upgrade to a single room, but there is a surcharge of $30 USD per person. All rooms include private bathrooms with hot showers and Wi-Fi. We can also upgrade your hotel if you prefer something a little fancier.
Transportation: All modes of transportation are included on this Salkantay trek. From beginning to end, our train service is Expedition Class which can be upgraded to the Vistadome train.
Camping Equipment: Our camping equipment is of the best quality and is very comfortable. Each tent will be shared by 2 people unless you place a request for a single tent ($30 USD). We also provide a spacious dining tent and a kitchen tent.
Entrance Fee: Entrance fees for the trail, the Machu Picchu ruins, and either Huayna Picchu Mt. or Machu Picchu Mt. are all included.
Huayna (Wayna) Picchu / Machu Picchu Mountain: Huayna Picchu mountain stands behind Machu Picchu. The views from the top are spectacular, and it only takes 45 minutes to go each way, but the route is quite steep. Machu Picchu Mt. stands just to the left of the citidal. This climb takes about a total of 3 hours to go up and down. The view from the top is absolutely phenomenal.
If you are interested in either of these experiences, you should contact us immediately in order to secure your booking. We suggest you book in advance because only 400 people are permitted to climb per day, and tickets can sell out very quickly. Also, we highly recommend climbing Huayna Picchu with the second group which is scheduled for 10am because the views during this time are so much better.
Food: Our amazing and experienced chefs make magic happen as they prepare all meals during the trek in a small tent over a single flame. Taking care of our customers’ health is always paramount which is why we provide only all-natural, fresh vegetables, and our meat is specially selected meat from the Peruvian Andes. We honor all food restrictions, but you should mention any that you may have while you are booking your Salkantay hike. Our traditional Peruvian and Cuscanian dishes are served family-style, and every morning, your chef will provide you with a snack to enjoy along the trail.
Water: Beginning from your first lunch until your last breakfast, Inka Trail Explorer will supply all the water you need. The water will be fresh because it comes straight from the glaciers and streams that we pass by. It will first be boiled, filtered and subsequently cooled before being distributed. You must bring your own water bottle or Camelbak. It is highly recommended that you carry about 3L of water with you during the hikes. At each meal, you will have the chance to refill your bottle.
What is not Included on the Salkantay Trek?
Santa Teresa – Cocalmayo Hot springs: This is considered the most beautiful natural hot springs in Santa Teresa, Cusco – Peru. When you do the Salkantay trekking with us you have the awesome opportunity to go and enjoy the natural hot springs which are only an hour away from the Lugmabamba campsite. The entrance fee is S/10 soles, but remember transportation to the hot springs is not included.
Sleeping Bag: You really need a sleeping bag when you choose the camping option. The first campsites are above (3,800m /12,388ft) and 2 others are below (3000m /9780ft). We highly recommend bring a sleeping bag for -10°C. Appropriate sleeping bags can be rented from the company.
Inflatable Air Mattress: It is optional, but it helps with getting a good night’s sleep. You can rent one from us, but if you have your own, we highly recommend that you bring it with you.
Walking Poles: Having at least one hiking pole is highly recommended because it helps you keep your balance. We will frequently be hiking down steep hills so it is very important that your pole(s) must have a rubber tip. You are more than welcome to bring your own with you, but we also have aluminous professional walking poles available for rent.
Breakfast: On the Salkantay Trekking, we do not include breakfast on the morning of the first day, but we do stop in a little town called Mollepata, where you can buy breakfast before you start hiking.
Lunch: Lunch is only not included on the last day of the Salkantay Trek, but there are many places to eat in Aguas Calientes. This is where we’ll break after your tour in Machu Picchu, so you’ll have plenty of time to stop and find a great restaurant.
Salkantay Trekking Prices
We warmly welcome you to allow us to take part in creating some of your most memorable experiences to date on the Salkantay Trail. Our treks can depart on any day of the week during any month of the year.
*Group Service Price: $620 USD Per Person*
A group service means that other hikers are able to join you. Your group will have varying hiking and fitness abilities. Our Professional Tour Guides are experts on how to keep the group moving and happy no matter how fast you go.
*Private Tour Service is also available and is priced by party size.*
The Salkantay trekking is one of the best treks to Machu Picchu. It is even more fantastic if you share this special moment with just your friends and family. Inka Trail Explorer offers the wonderful option of a private tour which is ideal for families with children and for inexperienced hikers. On the private tour, you are able to set your own pace without having to worry about slowing down or waiting for others in your group. Our private Salkantay trek can start with any size, and we will do all our best to make this an experience of a lifetime for you.
- 2 Hikers: $690 per person
- 3 Hikers: $660 per person
- 4 Hikers: $630 per person
- 5 Hikers: $600 per person
- 6 Hikers: $570 per person
- 7 Hikers: $540 per person
- 8 or more Trekkers: $510 per person
Student Discount: $20 USD (Requires ISIC Card to qualify)
Student Discounts apply to anyone who has a valid GREEN ISIC card at the time of the journey or is 16 years old or younger. We do need to see a copy of your student card at the time of booking. For people of 16 years of age or younger, we will need a copy of the passport at booking time. Please send all documents to firstname.lastname@example.org
Optional Extras for the Salkantay trekking
- Sleeping Bag $25 USD
- Walking Pole $8 USD each
- Inflatable Mattress $25 USD
- Single Tent Supplement $30 USD
Additional Free Tours
If you are traveling with 4 or more of your friends or family in your group, you will automatically get one of our additional tours for free. You may choose whichever one of the tours that suites your fancy from the list below. Please, keep in mind that we do not include the entrance fees for these tours. What we do provide is the transportation and a professional tour guide.
Do not worry single travelers! If you travel with us, you will also get special discounts on any of our additional tours.
- South Valley Tour
- Maras Moray Tour
- Sacred Valley Tour
- Cusco City Tour
- Vistadome train: (One-Way): $65 USD per person
- Santuario Hotel: +$45 USD per person if sharing a room (+$110 for a single)
- Casa Andina Hotel: $55 USD per person if sharing ($110 for a single)
- El Mapi Hotel: +$65 USD per person if sharing (+$170 for a single)
Packing List for the trek to Salkantay
- Valid GREEN ISIC card (if you booked as a student)
- Immigration Card (given on the plane as you enter Peru)
- A small daypack
- Water storage: Water reservoirs like Camelbaks are highly recommended. No matter which type, be sure you are able to carry at least 2-3 liters.
- Comfortable hiking boots with ankle support
What I need to pack in my Duffle Bag?
Remember you are packing for 3 nights of camping and 1 night in a hotel. Horses will carry up to 8 kg of your personal items. This must include your sleeping bag and air matt if you bring them yourself. If you decide to rent them from us them they will weigh a total of 3.5 kg.
- 4 wicking t-shirts
- 2 hiking pants at least
- 4 sets of undergarments
- 4 sets of hiking socks
- 1 Fleece jacket
- Warm, down jacket: this trek includes 2 cold nights of camping
- Headlamp (**essential)
- Waterproof gloves
- Comfortable shoes for camp
- Quickdry towel. Whilst we provide small ones, you might enjoy something a little larger.
- Soap: Warm water will be provided each day for cleaning purposes.
- Battery Charger: There are some places to plug in at the camping areas.
- Large plastic bags to help organize and keep the trail clean.
- Sleeping bag: Recommend down bags for at least -10°C
- Face moisturizer
- Wet wipes
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Toilet paper
What do I need to pack in my Daypack?
Daypacks can be any size for hiking, but we recommend using a small one. During the Machu Picchu tour, no bag larger than 25L will be allowed in. If it is larger, you will need to store it outside the citadel gates.
- Water: We supply clean water during each meal, but you are responsible for your first morning of water because we won’t have time to filter water until your lunch.
- Bug spray
- Rain gear
- Fleece jacket
- First-aid kit: band aids, moleskin, etc.
- Toilet paper and small plastic bags for waste
- Extra Money for Souvenirs, Drinks & Tips
Salkantay trail – Booking
How to book
It’s always better to contact us directly and to confirm with us before you book. Once you are ready, please fill in our Booking Form and pay the Deposit of $200 USD per person. Our office will email you back that same day with your confirmation. We always send out confirmations, so if you don’t hear from us, check your spam or e-mail us again and we will resend them.
We are so excited to take you on the trail, and thank you for choosing Inka Trail Explorers.
We Are: Inka Trail Explorer
We are an adventure tour company; we operate treks on the Inca trail, Salkantay, Ausangate, as well as to Choquekirao and Lares. We provide adventures with authentic life, changing experiences in each of our treks. We ensure the quality of our trips, by operating our own programs in Cusco