Salkantay Trek, sport trekking: an unforgettable adventure following the footsteps of the Incas to Machu Picchu, the enigmatic Inca citadel.
This is a short version of the famous Salkantay trek, which is usually done in 5 days, perfect for those who have a short time. Thanks to this itinerary, you can explore the interior of Cusco without missing out on the attractions of Peruvian culture. The Salkantay Trek is an excellent alternative to the Inca Trail.
This trek will bring you back to the Inca times and awaken the spirits of the mountains of Nevado Tucarhuay and Nevado Humantay at more than 5,000m. A hike that will allow you to discover the peaks and snow-capped mountains, high altitude vegetation, the Puna region, cloud forests and the exuberant flora and fauna.
Creating incredible memories!
Explore the snow-capped mountains and the local immersion of the Amazon Rainforest.
Discover the fascinating history and culture of the Inca civilization.
Get to know the production and coffee culture in the area.
Taste the varied Peruvian gastronomy and promote the consumption of local products of the region.
Visit the historic legacy of Machu Picchu, one of the 7 World Wonders.
Day 1: Cusco – Mollepata – Challacancha – Soray Pampa – Humantay lake
We’ll leave Cusco at about 5.30 am towards Challacancha (3,750 m). On the way, we’ll go past Mollepata village, where we’ll stop for breakfast. In Challacancha, we’ll meet the muleteers and we’ll start hiking along a beautiful valley surrounded by impressive mountains and snow-capped peaks, such as the Nevado Humantay (5,217 m) and the Salkantay peak. On the way to our first campsite, we’ll go through the Pampa de Soraypampa where you can get to know the local culture with its own customs and traditions. On an alternative route, we’ll visit a new touristic attraction known as Humantay lake (4,220 m), a beautiful colourful lake located at the foot of the Nevado de Humantay. At SorayPampa (3,900 m), our cook awaits you with lunch and an aperitif before dinner. This first night can be very cold at 3,900 m; a good sleeping bag is strongly recommended.
After breakfast, we’ll start walking to the summit of the Salkantay pass (4,600 m), which offers an exceptional view of the snow-capped Salkantay (6,264 m). This morning will be the most difficult of the trek, but very rewarding and, weather permitting, we will spend some time at the summit. The hike then continues downhill to enter an ecosystem of lush vegetation. Having settled in Chaullay (2,950 m), we’ll have dinner and spend our second night camping.
Walking time: 8h-9h.
Distance: 19 Km
Difficulty level: challenging
Meals: B = breakfast, L = lunch, D =dinner.
Climate: mild during the day with mosquitoes and cold at nightElevation: Soray Pampa (3,900m) – Salkantay pass (4,600m) – Chaullay (2,950m).
After breakfast, we’ll take a local transport to the community of Lucmabamba (2,000 m/ 5,651 ft), from where, we’ll continue walking along the vestiges of the Inca Trail to the archaeological site of Llactapata 2,650 m/ 8,694 ft. You’ll get to see evidence of the Inca culture and its natural resources. From Llactapata, we will have the opportunity to observe the Machu Picchu mountain and the deepest part of the Vilcanota canyon. After a short rest, we’ll descend to the Hydroelectric station (1,950 m/ 6,398 ft), and then take the train to the town of Aguas Calientes (2,050 m/ 6,726 ft). You’ll spend the night at a hotel in Aguas Calientes.
Walking time: 8 hours.
Distance: 18 Km
Difficulty level: challenging
Meals: B = breakfast, L = lunch, D = dinner.
Climate: warm during the day with mosquitoes and moderate cold at night
We’ll leave our hotel after breakfast, and take the bus up to Machu Picchu (2,400 m). We enter the Inca citadel at around 7:00 am, just in time to enjoy the sunrise at the site. After a guided tour of the archaeological site, which includes information about the life and customs of the Incas, you’ll have enough time to enjoy Machu Picchu and the option to hike up Huayna Picchu mountain (2,750 m).
We’ll return to Ollantaytambo by train and then take a minivan to Cusco. While waiting for the train, you will have time for lunch in one of the restaurants of your choice in Aguas Calientes.
Visiting time: 3h.
Difficulty level: easy
Meals: B = breakfast
Overnight: on your own
Climate: warm during the day with mosquitoes and cold at night
Informative briefing in your accommodation 1 or 2 days before the hike. We’ll confirm the details after booking is made.
Private transportation from your accommodation in Cusco to Challacancha, the beginning of the hike.
Train from the Hydroelectric station to Aguas Calientes.
Expedition train Aguas Calientes-Ollantaytambo and transportation to Cusco. Drop off at your accommodation.
Round trip bus Aguas Caliente-Machu Picchu-Aguas Calientes.
Machu Picchu entrance fee.
Camping gear: 2-people professional tents (Doite Pro Aconcagua 3 or Eureka tent), mats, toilet and utility tents (toilet, kitchen and dining tents with tables and chairs).
Hotel in Machu Picchu town (Flower’s House, Terraza de Luna or similar category hotels).
Meals: breakfasts, lunches and dinner. We pay special attention to dietary restrictions (vegetarian, vegan and allergies). Meals are prepared by an expert cook and they include: pancakes, omelettes, soups, spaghetti, rice, chicken, fish, beef, fresh fruit, hot drinks (including coca leaves infusions which are great for altitude) among others.
Professional, bilingual tour guide (English-Spanish). For other languages contact us in advance. Bear in mind there may be extra charges.
Boiled water to refill your water bottles.
Hand biodegradable liquid soap.
Biodegradable dishwasher for the kitchen gear.
Hot water for personal use in the camp in the morning and evening.
Muleteer and mules to transport the camping gear and food.
Transportation of participant’s personal bags (up to 7kg, including the sleeping bag).
A safety horse during the hike.
Duffel bag for personal use.
First-aid kit (including oximeter and thermometer) and oxygen bottle.
Breakfast on day 1 or lunch on day 4.
Sleeping bag (in case you need one, you can rent it from us).
Train services included
If you are looking for an adventure on your way to Machu Picchu at an unbeatable price, the Peru Rail Expedition train has just what you need, with all the on-board services you could wish for.
(*) The carriages of the Peru Rail Expedition train are infused with the designs of the Inca culture, making them the perfect way to begin your journey to the citadel of Machu Picchu. Peru Rail Expedition gives you the opportunity to enjoy the incredible scenery and take amazing panoramic photographs of a journey like no other.
The Salkantay trek may vary from what is described in our itinerary due to constant weather changes, landslides on the route, walking pace of the participant or other factors that could affect it. Therefore, our guide will make the best decision for the benefit and safety of the group.
The Andean weather is quite unpredictable. Thus, we suggest bringing warm clothes, a hat/cap, sunglasses, a scarf, gloves, jacket, high protection sun cream and 2 liters of mineral water per person.
During this trek we’ll reach 4600 masl. This combined with the weather conditions can make the daily hiking even harder. As to enjoy the trek better, we recommend you to be healthy and in good physical condition and to acclimatize in Cusco for at least 2 days before the trek.
Camping sites: The camping sites on the route may vary from those described in our itinerary, due to the limited number of campsites that are known to the general public. Our guide and representative will recommend to the group the best option given the circumstances.
Optional services to be hired
To make the most of Machu Picchu, we suggest taking the buffet lunch at the Tinkuy, Sanctuary Lodge restaurant, located right next to the archaeological site. We also recommend the buffet lunch option at El Mapi hotel Machu Picchu by Inkaterra in Aguas Calientes.
Extra Porter / Horseman: In accordance with the law (31614) of the Ministry of Labour, the collaboration of an extra porter will be granted at the request of the client. However, the customer’s luggage must not exceed 12 kilograms. The service of an extra porter / horsemen has a cost of 140 USD, which includes transportation, entrance to the Inca Trail, food and camping equipment.
Note: The group of Porters/Horsemen and horses are only present in the trekking part.
Optional train services: It is possible to travel in a superior luxury category on the Vistadome or Hiram Bingham trains; contact us for more information.
On Demand – Vistadome Train
The “Vistadome” train offers you breathtaking views during your journey to Cusco, offers fashion shows, dinners, a refined service and premium travel conditions. In addition, the carriage is built with large windows that offer unparalleled panoramic views and the possibility to take beautiful photographs. The Vistadome also has air-conditioning and heating, and ergonomic leather seats that are very comfortable after so many hours of walking.
The Vistadome offers you a first class service, which will allow you to immerse yourself in the Andean culture, through the landscapes, the music, the dance and even the food carefully prepared with local ingredients.
On Demand – Hiram Bingham Train
The Hiram Bingham Train category is optional and it is a luxury service of the Orient Express, operated by the company “Peru Rail”. You will experience an exceptional journey. The Hiram Bingham carriages are distinguished by their blue and gold colour, their warm and cosy interior and their elegant upholstery. The service includes 4 carriages, 2 restaurant carriages, as well as a panoramic view carriage with bar. Brunch and dinner on board are also included.
For the optional services, contact our staff to check availability.
What we recommend that you bring
An ergonomic day backpack for hiking with waterproof cover (30 or 40 liters).
A waterproof backpack otherwise requests a duffel bag at your agency for carrying your personal belongings on the horse.
Sleeping bag (-10º degrees).
Clothing for cold and hot weather.
Waterproof jacket, rain pants and light pants, rain poncho, hat or cap.
▪ Flip flops or sandals (for showers and hot springs in Aguas Calientes).
Wool or cotton socks.
T-shirts with short and long sleeves.
Towel easy dry and swimsuit (in case you want to relax in the hot mineral spring).
Anti-mosquito spray – minimum recommended 20% DEET (non-toxic – we suggest nature-friendly repellents). No malaria risk has been reported.
Disinfectant hand gel.
Plastic water or metal container and water-sterilizing tablets in case you pick up water from streams or rivers along the route. Otherwise, we provide filtered boiled water, which is safe to drink.
Camera (wrapped in a plastic pouch).
Flashlight and spare batteries.
Snacks, like chocolate bars and dried fruits.
Original ISIC Student Card (in case you have applied for a student discount).
Extra money in soles.
Optional: walking sticks or poles are recommended which can help you to reduce the amount of time you spend pounding the trail, taking the pressure off your joints.
1. During high season (May to September), it is difficult to ensure the exact date of entry, due to the restrictions set by the Ministry of Culture to limit the number of entries to the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu; therefore, the date of entry to the Inca Trail could vary for one or two days; then we will adapt the program so you can make the most of it.
2.Entrance tickets to Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu mountain: To hike up Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu mountain, it is required to book well in advance, because the entrance tickets are limited to a certain number of people daily. Therefore, we’ll take care of the reservation and confirm your entrance with an additional charge of 75 USD for adults and 55 USD for students.
Note: If you wish to visit any of the extra mountains, please inform us in due time before purchasing the entrance tickets to the Machu Picchu citadel.
3.From Challacancha to Chaullay (Day 1 to Day 3), we’ll be accompanied by a team of muleteers and mules, who will carry all camping gear, food and personal belongings (maximum 7 kg per person). On the third day, our chef will take it by car to the Hydroelectric train station where you’ll get it back.
4. Student card: To qualify for the 20 USD student discount, you must have a valid ISIC student card when you book, not just when you arrive in Cusco! It must be valid for the current year. When booking, we need a picture of the card sent to the contact email. The Ministry of Culture is strict when verifying student cards. If you do not have a valid ISIC student card, you will be charged the regular price.
5. A solidarity trip: Feel free to bring pens, notebooks, picture books or other school supplies to give to the school children in Huacawasi. The villagers will be very grateful. You can also buy bread on the way to share with the locals you meet.
6. Tips: for porters, cooks and guides tips are always welcome. Porters are also very grateful for a small donation, such as school clothes or supplies for their children.
7. Cancellation policy: For any cancellation; the costs already incurred by the travel agency will be at your expense. For more details on the cost of cancellations by certain participants, please refer to articles 6, 6.4 and our cancellation policies in the sales terms and conditions.
For more information, you may wish to check or consult our FAQ, Safe and Healthy Travel, and Flexible Booking with Explorandino.
Entrance to the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu citadel having been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1983. Entrance to Machu Picchu is limited to 4,044 visitors per day. Thus, it is important to book at least 3 months in advance, especially during the high season (between May and September). During the low season, between December and January, it is possible to still have some places available before your visit. However, it’s always best to book in advance.
If you are interested in this trek, please contact us for more information.
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What our clients say on Tripadvisor
Trek with the Local Pros!
An incredible experience! Our guide Christian is a local expert and we were in good hands the entire trek. I enjoyed learning history from Christian and he knows so much about the land and how people use natural remedies for ...
Ausengate 7 Lagunas
Our guides were so friendly and were very patient when teaching us Quechua words. They brought a lunch for us that was absolutely delicious and very filling. They were also so attentive to food restrictions and allergies. Would recommend to friends
I was originally scheduled for the Inca trail hike but ended up doing the sacred valley and Machu Pichu tours due to some last minute schedule issues. The tour operator was very accommodating in setting me up with hotels, train tickets and entry passes. Guides were knowledgeable and they...