The Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu
A challenging lodge to lodge trek...
The Salkantay Trek, is fast becoming one of the most popular alternative ways to get to Machu Picchu other than the traditional Inca Trail. Named after Mount Salkantay; the second most sacred peak in Inca Mythology and also one of the highest mountains in the region, it is one of the more challenging treks to Machu Picchu, taking you through an impressive nine different bio-zones and up to towering mountain passes. The Mountain Lodges of Peru Program is unique in offering accommodation at remote mountain eco-lodges, which have been developed with local Andean communities and allow guests to enjoy the trail when it is more or less deserted.
Cusco to Sorayampa
Met at your hotel in Cusco in the morning and transferred with the rest of your group to Marcoccasa, stopping at the Inca Ruins of Tarawasi and the mountain village of Mollepata on route. At Marcoccasa you will begin your trek to Soraypampa, on an ancient route called the “Camino Real” (6 hours of trekking - Moderate to Challenging).
Overnight at the Salkantay Lodge.
Hike to Humantay Lake
A chance to acclimatise to the high altitudes, you will hike on the slopes behind the lodge to Lake Humantay, which is fed by the hanging glaciers of nearby Mount Humantay (4 hours of hiking - Moderate).
There is also the option to do horse riding at an additional cost:
Chakana Excursion: 5–6 hours horseback and trekking trip to a nearby high view point, where a huge Inca cross (chakana) has been placed (includes 1 - 2 hrs riding on a steep hillside). This excursion replaces the hike to Lake Humantay.
Short Excursion: 2 hour horse ride around Soraypampa in the afternoon (following hike to glacial lake).
Overnight at the Salkantay Lodge.
Crossing the Salkantay Pass
The big day! After an early start, you will hike up the Rio Blanco Valley to the Salkantay mountain pass at 4,638m. From the pass there are views of the snowcapped peaks of the Vilcabamba Range in every direction.The glaciated south face of Salkantay towers above you and you'll also need to keep an eye out for Andean condors, which are often visible in this area. (6-8 hours - Challenging).
There is also the option to swap the day's hike for horse riding (entirely or partly at additional cost).
Overnight at the Wayra Lodge.
Descending into the Cloud Forest
On day 4 of the trek you will continue your descent along the left bank of the Salkantay River, through ever more verdant surroundings; filled with colourful butterflies and orchids (3-4 hours - Easy to Moderate). Lunch is a traditional Pachamanca, cooked in an underground oven and the afternoon you have free to relax or explore your surroundings.
Overnight at the Colpa Lodge.
Following the Santa Teresa River Valley
Day 5 includes a hike along the Santa Teresa river valley, through more populated rural areas with banana and advocado orchards and coffee plantations (5-6 hours trekking - Moderate to Challenging; because of distance rather than terrain).
Overnight at the Lucma Lodge.
First views of Machu Picchu from Llactapata Pass
This is the last day of the Salkantay Trek. You will walk uphill for 2-3 hours towards the Llactapata Pass (2,736m), where you will be able to see Machu Picchu in the distance. Approaching from the South East, this is a rare view of Machu Picchu, which few travellers get to see (4-6 hours - Moderate to Challenging).
After descending through lush bamboo forests, orchards and coffee plantations to the Hidroelectrica stop you will take the train to Aguas Calientes.
Overnight at Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel.
Visit Machu Picchu Citadel
After an early breakfast you will take the bus up to Machu Picchu Sanctuary to explore the site at first light.
Those keen to see Machu Picchu from a different perspective, have the option to hike Huayna Picchu Mountain.
Upon returning to Aguas Calientes, and after lunch at the hotel, you will take the train back to Ollantaytambo and be transferred back to your hotel in Cusco.
Click here to see a video about the Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu.