This alternative Inca Trek takes you through the Andes on a journey with spectacular scenery where you reach Salkantay (Nevado Salkantay), the highest peak of the Cordillera Vilcabamba, part of the Peruvian Andes. It is located in the Cusco Region, about 60 km (40 mi) west-northwest of the city of Cusco.
Salkantay is a large, steep peak, “the most spectacular peak of the region with great vertical relief, particularly above the low valleys to the north, which are tributaries of the Amazon River”. Salcantay was first climbed in 1952 by a French-American expedition comprising Fred D. Ayres, David Michael, Jr., John C. Oberlin, W. V. Graham Matthews, Austen F. Riggs, George I. Bell, Claude Kogan, M. Bernard Pierre, and Jean Guillemin. All except Oberlin, Riggs, and Guillemin made the summit. The standard route on the mountain is the Northeast ridge. Accessing the route typically involves three days of travel from Cusco. The climb involves about 1,800m (5,900ft) of vertical gain, on glacier, snow, ice, and some rock. The route is graded AD on the French adjectival scale. The name Salkantay is from sallqa, a Quechua word meaning wild, uncivilized, savage, or invincible, and was recorded as early as 1583. The name is thus often translated as “Savage Mountain”. Directly to the north of Salkantay lies Machu Picchu, which is at the end of a ridge that extends down from this mountain. Viewed from Machu Picchu’s main sundial, the Southern Cross is above Salkantay’s summit when at its highest point in the sky during the rainy season. The Incas associated this alignment with concepts of rain and fertility, and considered Salkantay to be one of the principal deities controlling weather and fertility in the region west of Cusco.
Day 1: Cusco (3,350m) – Mollepata (2,900m) – Markocasa – Soraypampa (3,850m)
An early rise at around 5am! We drive from Cusco by bus for approximately 4 hours to Mollepata – we can stop here for a short while and have breakfast in a restaurant if you desire (not included in cost). We drive a further 30 minutes to Markocasa from where our trek begins. Here we meet up with our wranglers and their horses. We commence walking for approximately 1 hour before reaching Cruzpata, from where we get our first view of the magnificent snow mountain of Humantay (5,917m). We pass many rivers continuing on our trek for about another 3 hours before reaching the small community and picturesque spot of Checchicancha. We stop here to take a break and have our lunch. In the afternoon we continue walking for about 3-4 hours to reach Soraypampa, which is nestled in-between the snow mountains. We camp here overnight. (L / D)
Day 2: Soraypampa – Chaullay (3,050m)
An early start to the day as we have a steep climb ahead of us. Our ascent takes around 3 hours until we reach the high pass at 4,800m near the magnificent glacier peaks of Salkantay (6,271m) and Humantay (6,100m). After admiring the beautiful landscape, we begin our descent to Wayracmachay (3,800m) where we have our lunch and a good rest. After lunch we continue walking for around 3-4 hours until we arrive at our campsite at Chaullay. (B / L / D)
Day 3: Chaullay – La Playa (2,200m)
We leave from Chaullay early as well, after our breakfast, and pass through Collcapampa. In this part of the trek we will walk on a narrow trail on the mountainside, finding some species of orchids and other kinds of native plants, and some cornfields and fruit fields. We have the opportunity to see the most beautiful waterfall on the trail. After walking for 5 hours we will reach La Playa. In the evening we have dinner at our campsite and rest up for the night. (B / L / D)
Day 4: Llactapata – Puente Ruinas
We will have breakfast at 6:30am and leave our campsite to head for Llactapata (3 hours of steady climbing). Llactapata is an incredible Inca fort from which we will see Machu Picchu! After taking some photos and having a rest we will continue walking dowhill for a further 2 hours, passing a variety of crop plantations such as coffee, coca, banana etc. until we reach the hydroelectric station. At about 4pm, we will go by train to Puentes Ruinas (near Aguas Calientes) where we will spend the night. In Aguas Calientes, you can take advantage of the hot springs in the town (entrance not included).
Alternative for Day 4 – please discuss with your guide
Early in the morning a taxi will take us to the Cola de Mono zip line. For those who do not want to take on the challenge of the zip line you have the option of taking a forest walk at Cola de Mono. After lunch in Santa Teresa, we will drive to the Hydroelectric Station. Here you have the chance to see a small but interesting Inca ruin then arrive at Aguas Calientes. En route you can look up and see Machu Picchu above you.
We will stay the night in Aguas Calientes and enjoy a celebratory dinner in a local restaurant. (B / L / D)
Day 5: Aguas Calientes – Machu Picchu – Cusco
It is an early start to get to Machu Picchu to see the sun rise over this magnificent ancient city! We take the first bus up to the ruins of Machu Picchu and have a fully guided tour of around 2 hours. After the tour you have plenty of time to explore the citadel on your own, and climb Huayna Picchu or the Inca Bridge. Afterwards it is optional as to whether you walk down to the town of Aguas Calientes or take the bus back. In the afternoon we take the train back to Cusco/Ollantaytambo. If Ollantaytambo we transfer you back to Cusco in private transportation, dropping you at your hotel. (B)
* 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.
When to go: Best from April to December although can be done year round.
Altitude: 2400m to 4650m
Difficulty: Moderate to difficult
The Salkantay – Santa Teresa – Machu Picchu is often referred to as the “alternative Inca Trail”. In recent years it has become popular due to restrictions and price increases on the Classic 4 day Inca Trail. Trek permits are not required for this alternative route so reservations can easily be made upon arrival in Cusco even as late as just one day before departure! Although many guide books and travel agencies often describe this route as “the-road-less-travelled” or a great trek to “get away from the crowds” this can be misleading. There is currently no control over the maximum number of trekkers so during the peak season (June – September) there can sometimes be more trekkers than the Classic Inca Trail and each year it is becoming more popular. So if you are searching for peace & quiet, we recommend the Salkantay trek via Ancascocha.
- Professional, bilingual Tour Guide
- Collection from hotel
- Return transportation (bus to start of trail and tourist train back to Ollantaytambo)**
- Entrance fee to Machu Picchu
- Dining tent with tables and chairs
- 2-people tents
- Sleeping mattresses
- Horseman and mules (they carry cooking and camping equipment and up to 8 kilos of tourist’s belongings)
- 1 night accommodation in Aguas Calientes
- Extra oxygen
- First Aid kit
- Vegetarian/special diet options available on request
**Train included in all tours is the backpacker train. Times will only be confirmed once full amount of tour is paid. We will organize the transport back to Cusco (by taxi or by bus).
What is not included?
- Travel insurance
- Last lunch
- Entrance to hot springs
We recommend that you bring:
- Original passport and Student card
- Sleeping bag (can be hired from us)
- Walking boots
- Waterproof jacket/rain poncho
- Warm jacket
- Hat and gloves
- Comfortable trousers
- Sun hat
- Sun protection cream
- Insect Repellent
- Water purification tablets (Micropur recommended)
- Personal medication
- Camera and films
- Torch with spare batteries
Optional items to take:
- Walking stick
- Plasters and bandages
- Extra money
- Bathing suit for hot springs in Santa Teresa or/and in Aguas Calientes
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$800.00 per person
- 4 people : US$750.00 per person
- 6 people : US$700.00 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: