SALKANTAY TREK TO MACHU PICCHU 5 DAYS
The Salkantay trek is a walk through diverse landscapes that culminates with a tour of the magical city of Machu Picchu on the 5th day.
This trip offers spectacular views of snow-capped mountains, glaciers, turquoise lakes, Andean plateaus, waterfalls and high jungle. It even includes an original Inca trail to a small Inca ruin and a distant view of Machu Picchu, before arriving at the famous city. This hike is approximately 60 km long and reaches an altitude of 4,600 m. This is the second most popular hike in the Cusco region (after the Inca Trail), so it is quite busy.
Day 1: Cusco – Humantay Lake – Suyrucocha
We will leave Cusco at 5:00 am, in the private transportation to Mollepata (3 850 masl.)( 12,631.23 ft.).
We will arrive at our destination around 07:30 a.m., where we will stop for forty minutes for a complimentary breakfast. Here I will be accompanied by our chef and muleteer, who will help us during our expedition (Salkantay trekking tour).
Then we will travel by bus for one hour to Soraypampa where we will start our first day of trekking. Our one and a half hour hike will take us to the very famous Humantay Lagoon, where we will enjoy one of the most beautiful views this trek has to offer.
After visiting this lagoon, an hour of descent will find us our lunch point. After a brief rest we will continue the trek for three hours until we reach our first campsite in Suyruccocha at an altitude of (4,300 masl.)(14,107.61 ft).
Then we will take a moment to appreciate the Andean night sky and the snowy peaks of Salkantay and Humantay an experience that only exists in this camp. After dinner, our guide will give us the details for the next day of the tour.
The next day we will reach the highest point of our trek and for many it is the highest walking altitude of their lives!
Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner
Day 2: Suyrucocha – Salkantay Pass – Collpapampa
After breakfast we will prepare for our promotion. We will do different stretching exercises to avoid any physical injury because this day will be the longest and most difficult yet. Our reward will be to reach the highest point of our journey.
Our ascent will take one and a half hours from our camp to the Salkantay pass (4,600 meters above sea level). During the ascent, we will be able to appreciate the different snow-capped mountains that surround us. At the same time, we will experience the change of ecological zones from the Quechua zone to the Puna zone.
If the weather is favorable, we will be able to appreciate the majestic Apu Salkantay (6,500 meters above sea level), which is one of the most important mountains within the Inca religion. At this point, our guide will explain the importance of this Inca Trail (Salkantay trekking) and also the role that these majestic mountains had for our ancestors.
We will continue our hike down to the small town of Huayraq, where we will be able to rest and enjoy our snacks included in the tour. From this point on the climate, vegetation and views will change drastically because for the second time we will move from one ecological zone to another.
We will now enter an area full of orchids, medicinal plants and bamboo plantations. Here we will stop for lunch and after a break, we will continue with the descent to our second camp in the town of Collpapampa.
Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Day 3: Collpapampa – Sahuayaco – Lucmabamba
Today will be unforgettable and it’s like nothing you’ve ever seen before! During the walk we will see a great variety of flora and fauna as we pass through different agricultural fields of the local people, giving us the opportunity to appreciate the local vegetation.
The terrain this day is softer, with moderate ups and downs, and most importantly, a lower altitude than the previous days.
Along the way we will have the opportunity to appreciate different rivers whose headwaters are located in the nearby snow-capped mountains, as well as some waterfalls.
The change of climate will be a unique experience, since we will go from the glacial cold of the previous days to a warm and humid climate characteristic of the jungle or high forest brow.
We will arrive at our camp at lunch time. In the afternoon we will visit the house of a local family, heir to local traditions in agricultural techniques. In this visit we will learn about the economy and how it depends on agricultural crops, mainly coffee.
They will teach us how to produce Peruvian organic coffee (Cusco coffee), which in recent years has won several international awards. We will also have the option of visiting the thermal baths of Cocalmayo, by local transportation.
You can coordinate with your guide at this time if you wish to visit the hot springs. Transportation and entrance fees are not included in the tour.
Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner
Day 4: Lucmabamba – Llactapapa – Aguas Calientes
After breakfast we will start walking along a historically important part of the Inca Trail, which not only connected Machu Picchu with the jungle, but was also used as an escape route by many of the inhabitants of Machu Picchu during the conquest.
The two-hour ascent will be gradual to the top of the mountain, where the archaeological site of Llactapata is located (2,740 meters above sea level).
The most majestic quality of this site is that it offers us our first glimpse of Machu Picchu and Mount Huayna Picchu in the distance. From this point you can also see part of the traditional Inca Trail, the main connection between the sacred valley and Machu Picchu.
After a well-deserved rest, we will continue the hike (now all downhill) to the banks of the Aobamba River, whose waters come from the snow-capped mountains of the Salkantay.
From there we will walk through this valley until we reach the hydroelectric plant and the government control point to enter the Machu Picchu Historical Sanctuary. Here we will enjoy a lunch prepared by our adventure chef.
The last three hours of the hike will be along the banks of the Vilcanota River until we reach the town of Aguas Calientes.
We will spend our last night at the company hotel. In the evening we will have dinner with our group and the coordinators, waiting for the most important day of our trip our visit to Machu Picchu! (B, L and D / Hotel).
NOTE: For those who wish to take the train from the hydroelectric station to Aguas Calientes instead of walking, there will be an additional charge of $30 USD per person. This is a good option for those who feel tired from the trip or suffer some kind of discomfort.
Day 5: Machu Picchu
Today we will meet our guide at the entrance of the archaeological site of Machu Picchu, to begin our two-hour guided tour.
Our guide will take us through the most important buildings and temples of the citadel, both in the agricultural and urban areas.
At the end of our guided tour, you will have free time to explore Machu Picchu on your own.
You have the option to return to the mentioned areas you visited with your guide or you can take one of the different walks that leave the citadel.
Two less strenuous options are the Puerta del Sol (INTIPUNKU) or the Inca Bridge. You also have the option of doing one of the more physically difficult hikes, the Huayna Picchu mountain or the Machu Picchu mountain.
The entrance fee to one of the mountains is included in the package (both subject to availability). Please ask at the time of booking.
At the end of your visit you will have to return to the town of Aguas Calientes by bus or walking, where the train station is located.
This train will travel for two hours from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo station.
In Ollantaytambo our private bus will be waiting for us to take us to our hotel in Cusco two hours away.
End of the service of the Salkantay trek.
What to bring
The Salkantay trail is at a high altitude, so the weather can be quite cold and unpredictable. The nights on this trip are usually around 20F/-7C. During the day it can be quite hot if the sun is out; anywhere from 60-75F/15-24C. Keep in mind that if the weather is rainy or cloudy, it will be colder, and that the weather can change in an instant, particularly when passing at high altitude. Often there is also quite a bit of wind at the top of the passes. As with any high-altitude hike, you will need to wear many layers to adjust to fluctuations in temperature and conditions, as well as adequate protection from sun and rain.
The hike to Salcantay can be done all year round, but the best months are from March to November.
This hike is classified as a moderate to strenuous hike considering the high altitudes, the multiple steps and the duration of the hike, especially on the 2nd day. It is recommended that you acclimatize in Cusco at least 2 or 3 days before the hike.
You don’t have to worry about the entrance fees, this tour includes entrance fees for both Machu Picchu and Laguna Humantay.
If you want to climb Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain, you have to add 15 USD and book the tour well in advance, like 3 months or more, especially for the months of May, June and July.
If you wish to volunteer or donate, we can put you in touch with various communities in Cusco, who need help in various aspects, our main contact is:
Cristo Rey Tikari School: Located in Ocongate distric, close to Ausangate Mountain. They need some basic things like: clothes, toys, books, pens, pencils, brushes, etc.