This amazing trek runs beneath the magnificent Salkantay mountain (6271m / 20569ft), one of the highest and most stunning in the Peruvian Andes. Your first two days are dominated by the impressive “Apus” of Salkantay and Huamantay, as you pass through the high puna landscape. On the third day you descend to the warm cloud forest, to reach Aguas Calientes on the fourth day. The amazing Sacred Inca city of Machu Picchu is visited on the last day of the program. This tour is an interesting alternative to the Inca Trail trek to Machu Picchu. At times referred to as “the other inca trail, ” the Salkantay Trek (or Salcantay Trek) is a trek open to everybody, with no limitation on spaces or permits (for the moment!).
Highlights: doing the Salkantay trek in just four days and walking alongside the marvellous Apus Salkantay and Humantay, then down to the cloud forest & the ruins of Machu Picchu
Location: the Expreso Salkantay trek begins 2 hours drive west of Cusco, Peru. We pass the village of Mollepata and begin hiking at Soraypampa.
Duration: 4 days / 3nights
Inca trail alternative: yes, an excellent option though it is more nature focused than ruins focused.
Day 1: Cusco – Soraypampa – Huayracmachay
We will collect you at 5.00am (approximately) from your hotel and take private transport to the village of Mollepata (2.5 hours) where we will have breakfast or a snack (not included) and have a look around the village. This is the traditional starting point for the Salkantay trek. We also suggest if you want to buy any last minute supplies you can do so in Mollepata, thus supporting the local economy. We continue in our vehicle for 1.5 hours to Soraypampa. From here we climb gently for about three hours to Salkantaycocha. We have lunch very close to Salkantay mountain and the glaciers. After lunch and a rest we continue to climb steeply to the Salkantay pass where we will make small offerings to the Apus (mountain spirits). This is the highest point of the trip (4,600m / 13451ft). From here we descend for 2 to 3 hours to the campsite at Huayracmachay. Total walking time: 5 – 7 hours (L / D)
Day 2: Huayracmachay – Arrayanniyoc – Challhuay – La Playa
After breakfast we will continue to walk downhill for about three hours to Challhuay village, and then another half an hour more to Colpapampa, another small village, all the while enjoying increasingly lush vegetation. We continue walking past some waterfalls until we arrive at Wiñaypocco where we will have lunch. After lunch we walk through the high jungle (known in Spanish as the eyebrow of the jungle) enjoying the landscapes which offer us much natural beauty. The afternoon follows a gentle descent to the small high jungle village of La Playa where we will spend the night. Total walking time: 8-9 hours. (B / L / D)
Note: La Playa is NOT a remote campsite – for those that want to get away from the crowds you should talk to your guide about camping at Lucmabamba.
Day 3: La Playa – Hydroelectric – Aguas Calientes
You have THREE options here, depending on your interest and fitness. You should discuss each with your guide.
1. In the morning we head towards Santa Theresa in a bus or truck, then walk to the the impressive Machu Picchu Hydroelectric System where we will have lunch and visit some Inca ruins. After this, we will walk for 2.5 hours along the train tracks to arrive at the village of Aguas Calientes.
2. We leave early and climb for about three hours through the jungle before descending to the interesting, but largely covered, ruins of Llactapacta. Originally discovered by Hiram Bingham at the same time that he discovered Machu Picchu, modern day explorers Vincent Lee and Gary Ziegler recently established that these ruins are much bigger and more important than previously thought. From here we have our first view of Machu Picchu, in the saddle of the mountain opposite. We descend for two hours to the impressive Machu Picchu Hydroelectric System where we will have lunch and visit some Inca ruins.
3. For thrill seekers and adventurers: we offer you the chance highest and longest zipline in South America – Cola de Mono. After doing ‘Cola de Mono’ in the morning we can walk to the Hydroelectric Station or you can take a vehicle. ** Price of Cola de Mono is additional to the cost of your tour **
We include in the price of your tour a train ticket from the Hydroelectric Station to Aguas Calientes. The train leaves at 4.30pm, and you arrive in Aguas Calientes about one hour later, when you are transferred to your hotel. If you want to walk all the way to Aguas Calientes it’s a further 2.5 hours along the train tracks to arrive at the village of Aguas Calientes. Some people like this option, because its the closest you can get to walking to Machu Picchu (apart from the actual Inca trail) and its also nice to walk along, looking up at the ruins of Machu Picchu. Other people prefer the train. You need to talk to your guide and decide what is the most appropriate option for you. If you decide to walk along the tracks, your duffel bags go on the train to save you carrying them.
Lastly you can have a soak in the hot springs in Aguas Calientes – the perfect respite for aching muscles!!! (B / L / D)
Day 4: Machu Picchu
After breakfast we take an early bus up to the Sanctuary of Machu Picchu, where we have a guided visit of approximately two hours. After this you are free to explore this famous site, and if you feel energetic we recommend you climb Huayna Picchu for stunning views back to Machu Picchu! This hike takes about 2 hours (round trip) up a sometimes slippery path. You have the option to walk down from Machu Picchu, or to take the bus. We return to Cusco in the afternoon by the backpacker train and are met by a driver at Ollantaytambo who will transfer you directly back to your hotel. You will arrive approximately 4 hours after your train’s departure from Aguas Calientes. (B / L)
The Salkantay trek (also spelled Salcantay trek) is one of the most spectacular and varied hikes around Cusco. Given the new restrictions on the Inca trail, Salkantay is the second most popular hike in the region and can be fairly busy. (If you are a ‘purist’ and want a remote experience, consider one of our other treks).
The Salkantay Trek has wonderful mountain views but little or no interaction with local culture. If you would like to experience traditional culture, consider the Lares or Huchuy Qosqo trek.
* People who want to visit Huayna Picchu must let us know as soon as they can, because according to new rules, there is a limit of people (400) per day that can climb it.
– 1st Turn 07:00 am : 200 people.
– 2nd Turn 10:00 am : 200 people.
Collection from your hotel the morning of departure
Private transport from Cusco to Soraypampa, the starting point for your trek
Entry fee to Machu Picchu
English/Quechua/Spanish speaking professional guide (Assistant guide for groups over 8 people).
Tents – 2 people in a 4 person tent which allows for greater comfort, and also storage of backpacks
Basic foam mattress
Cook and Cooking equipment (Assistants are provided for larger groups)
Meals as indicated in the itinerary, vegetarian / special diets catered to on resquest. Our professional cooks prepare meals that incorporate elements of the western diet and also traditional Peruvian delicacies. (Please communicate with your guide/cook during the trek if you have a preference for certain types of dishes). Salads, if served, are washed in boiled water.
Horses (for equipment and personal items) including horsemen. They carry camping equipment, food and kitchen utensils.
Duffel bag given at your briefing for your personal items (up to 5 kg per person)
1 emergency horse which can be ridden if you are feeling ill or if you are a little slower than the others in your group.
Dining tent with camp tables and chairs & kitchen tent for the cook to prepare meals
Tents for our staff to sleep in
First aid kit including emergency oxygen bottle
Train ticket (Backpacker service) from Aguas Calientes – Ollantaytambo.
1 night accommodation in Aguas Calientes in Plaza Andina Hotel. If you wish to upgrade from this hotel, please speak to us about the options.
Train from Hydroelectric to Aguas Calientes
Bus up and down to Machu Picchu
Celebratory dinner in Aguas Calientes village
Lunch final day in Machu Picchu
What is not included?
Breakfast on the first morning
Entrance to the hot springs
Sleeping bags (can be hired from us)
Additional horses for passengers luggage. If there are any substantial items or backpacks, passengers will need to hire an additional mule.
We recommend that you bring:
A light day pack with a change of clothes for the whole period of the trek – prepare for a vast range of temperatures
Rain gear (jacket and pants if available) or rain poncho. Plastic ponchos can be bought for about $1 in Cusco.
Strong footwear, waterproof trekking boots recommended. Extra socks are a must.
Sandals or plastic slip on thongs are also good to give your feet a chance to breath in the evenings if you wish to carry them.
Warm clothes, including jacket, fleeces, gloves, scarf and beanie/touk. Thermal clothing is also recommended, especially for sleeping.
Torch/ Flashlight and spare batteries
Camera, films and batteries (batteries are consumed more quickly under colder conditions)
Hat or cap to protect you from the sun, rain and cold
After-sun cream or hydrating cream for face and body
Insect repellent – minimum recommended 20% DEET – although no malaria risk has been reported
Toilet paper, pack in & pack out
Snacks: biscuits, energy bars, chocolate, raw fruits, muesli, etc.
Non-disposable canteen and water for the first morning.
We advise you to bring water sterilizing tablets in case you collect water from streams
Your own medical kit with any special medications that you might require, paracetamol, altitude sickness tablets (if you are taking them) as well as blister treatments.
Small towel or sarong
Bathers/swimsuit (if you intend on swimming in hot springs)
Cash – sufficient for your final lunch in Aguas Calientes, tips and souvenirs.
Original passport & ISIC (International Student Identity Card) if you have one.
Walking sticks or poles (can be hired from us. Please note poles with metal tips cannot be carried into Machu Picchu)
Binoculars (if you have them)
Considering an extra night in Aguas Calientes? We can change the date of your train ticket to the following day. Hotel and other costs associated with returning to Machu Picchu the following day are additional to trek costs. Please also note that your entry ticket to Machu Picchu is valid for one day only, if you wish to visit the ruins on a second consecutive day you will need to purchase another ticket.
Aguas Calientes Extra Day Upgrade Package (optional)
With hikes that trek the traditional Inca Trail, the standard package has clients returning to Cusco at the end of the trek, and they don’t spend a night in Aguas Calientes. This package provides clients the opportunity to stay in Aguas Calientes for an extra night, visit Machu Picchu for a second day and then return to Cusco by the comfortable Vistadome train.
Cost: $195 per person on twin share basis. This price doesn’t change depending on the number of people in the group.
Second day’s entry to Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu, valued at $75
Bus up and down to ruins on extra day, valued at $24
1 night in a 3 star hotel, like Killa Inn Plaza Andina. These are nice hotels, well decorated, and clean.
With limited eating choices at Machu Picchu hunger tends to send clients to Aguas Calientes; by including the buffet lunch we find that clients can visit Machu Picchu early, then go to the buffet to try lots of different Peruvian (and Western) dishes, rest and go back for a second look at Machu Picchu.
Return in Vistadome train rather than Expedition train, which gives you the opportunity for a more varied timetable and to return in a nicer train, with big windows in the roof.
** Please contact us for a price for the same package but with 2 star accomodation and return in Expedition Train service **
Joing a group sign-up and save costs
2 people : US$750.00 per person
4 people : US$700.00 per person
6 people : US$650.00 per person
STUDENT DISCOUNT: $35 off per personStudent Discounts apply to anyone who has a valid GREEN ISIC card at the time of the trek or is 16 years old or younger. For those using an ISIC card to receive the discount, we do need to see a copy of the card at booking. For those booking children 16 years old or younger, we need a copy of their passport at booking time. Please send all to [email protected]
Under 15 years will pay as student: US$35.00
Under 7 years Discount: US$50.00
ADDITIONAL ITEMS:As you see in our Additional Items under Trip Overview, there are several optional upgrades you can include in this trip. Below is a quick list of prices, but check our Overview section for more details.
Huaynapicchu: $75 per person
Vistadome Train (One Way): $80 per person
Vistadome Train (One Way): $80 per person
Sacred Valley Tour:
City Tour: $
Maras Moray Tour: