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Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu 5 Days

The classic Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu is an alternative to the traditional Inca Trail that is well known and sometimes saturated. The road to Salkantay is a high avant-garde adventure experience for travelers seeking a little more authenticity and adventure in snowy mountains. With more spectacular views, the Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu offers peace, and contemplation of the rich nature of the Machupicchu National Park and the Salkantay Reserve, as well as the different towns along the way that demonstrate great hospitality to our visitors. In addition to being an Inca route and being very famous for its topographical variety and diversity of ecosystems, the snowy Salkantay is at 6,240 meters above sea level, it is one of the «Sacred Apus» in Andean religiosity, even today it is venerated in the local tradition. This hike is assisted by mules which cross the Mollepata valley and also cross the Salkantay pass through this cold pass and then continue to a subtropical forest with a lot of mist and a variant in the weather when arriving on the banks of the river , which comes from the lower part of our destination «Machupicchu».

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What is the Salkantay trek?

The Salkantay Trek Peru is an alternative route to the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.

The Salkantay Trek is a walk of 5 days and 4 nights to the Inca Citadel accessing through the town of Aguas Calientes, located at the foot of the Wonder of the World.

The Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu route crosses landscapes even more impressive than the Inca Trail. Places such as the Salkantay Glacier, whose summit is at 6,721 meters above sea level. You will also visit places like the beautiful Mollepata Valley, the Llactapata ruins and tropical territories where flora and fauna abound. The last section is parallel to the Vilcanota river, until reaching Aguas Calientes. From there you go up to the Inca City.

The Salkantay Trek was chosen by National Geographic magazine as one of the 25 best hiking trails in the world. To access this adventure you can hire a tour operator. The other option is to do it on your own, but this requires experience and a lot of care.

Where does the Salkantay trek start?

Mollepata, the  Salkantay trek stars at the village of Mollepata, a few miles from Cusco. Mollepata is a typical town built on a mountain from where you can see the Apurimac valley.

A typical Salkantay trek tour starts in Cusco, where you are picked up from your hotel around 5:00 a.m., to take you to Mollepata for breakfast at a local restaurant, where we will arrive at 8.30 a.m. approximately. After breakfast, we will continue until we reach Challacancha 3,500msnm (11,482 ft) from where we will start our walk for approximately 2 hours to Soraypampa, where we will have lunch.

Why choose the Salkantay trek and Machu Picchu Tour?

Salkantay trek is definitely one of the best hikes you will find in Cusco and in Peru.

If you did not choose the Inca Trail, the Salkantay trek is the second most popular trek to Machu Picchu as well as being less requested but the most recommended.

Walking on the “Apu Salkantay” side and taking this route to the wonder of the world «Machu Picchu» will be one of the best experiences you will have in our country.

You will be able to find the most beautiful snowy mountain in the region, beautiful valleys, incredible waterfalls, an incredible ecosystem.

The Salkantay trek Peru was named as the best alternative route to Machu Picchu. Are you looking for a different route than the typical path to get to Machu Pichu? Don’t miss this list of the six best alternative routes to this Inca work of art, by Mark Adams. (National Geographic).

Is Salkantay trek worth it?

I would easily recommend the Salkantay Trek to anyone who is up for the challenge! It is so worth it!

If you still do not know this route, in this blog we will show you 5 reasons why it is worth taking this fascinating walk to get to Machu Picchu.

Rule the Wild Mountain

The majesty of this snowy mountain is recognized by its 6271 meters of altitude along with its snow-capped peaks and Andean landscape with a spectacular view, despite the fact that the highest pass is 4650 meters high. For this reason mastering this height can be considered an achievement that only the intrepid would achieve.

Get to know the Inca culture up close: «The Apachetas»

When you arrive in Salkantay you will notice an atmosphere of mysticism, and you will surely be curious about snow-covered stone clusters, located throughout the Salkantay pass. Apachetas are offerings to the Apus (the sacred mountains) made by walkers.

If you wish you can make an offering of coca leaves to ask for protection during the trip and to express gratitude, we recommend that you be careful with the apachetas.

The incredible Humantay lagoon

The Humantay lake is located at the foot of the Humantay snow-capped mountain is this fascinating turquoise glacial lake, a very popular destination and a jewel of nature on the Salkantay trek route.

Tour the authentic sub tropical plantations

Salkantay trek tour not only has Andean landscapes of mountains and snowy mountains, this trek also has sub tropical forests with plantations of tropical species and traditional cultivation methods. Since the people of the area live agriculture such as coffee, cocoa, granadilla, banana and other species that you can see depending on the season.

Enjoy the revitalizing hot springs of Cocalmayo

On the third day of the tour we will take some time in the hot springs of Cocalmayo, in Santa Teresa. Where you can relax your muscles in these medicinal waters surrounded by the vegetation of the jungle and enjoy this little paradise.

In short, in the world there are several places, which receive thousands of visitors a year for being more relevant than another, such as the most famous treks are Salkantay trek, Inca Trail, Inca Jungle, Mountain of Colors, etc. All these walks have something in common, and it is the combination of the spectacular landscapes with the climatic variations depending on the area where you are.

We invite you to explore this exciting route and discover more reasons to take the Salkantay to Machu Picchu tour.

Salkantay trek lake

The Salkantay trek lake or Humantay lagoon is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Peru. It is one of the most beautiful natural landscapes in Cusco. Its turquoise waters crowned by the imposing Salkantay snow cap give it a unique beauty. Since the time of the Incas, this lagoon was worshiped by the Andean people.

In addition to the visitors who take the 1-day tour to the lake, tourists who do the ‘Salkantay Trek’ have the opportunity to visit this lagoon.

What is the Salkantay trek lake? Why is it popular?

The Salkantay trek lake or Humantay is a lagoon, considered one of the most beautiful and sacred in Cusco. The snowy mountain Huamantay gaved the name to this impressive lagoon. Its fame is mainly due to its turquoise waters adorned by the white snows of the snow-capped Salkantay.

At what altitude is the Salkantay trek lake?

The lagoon is located 4,200 meters above sea level (13,779 ft).

Tip: To the left of the lake, there is a trail leading up to a ridge. Climb it to enjoy an incredible viewpoint of the lake and the Humantay mountain. This section requires walking on the saddle of a ridge which can be dangerous in strong winds.

When is the best time to go?

The best time of year to go to the Salkantay trek lake is during the dry season (April to October), when it is least likely to rain. During those months the snowy peaks are more majestic as they are whiter and more imposing. The sun can be uncomfortable during the walk but it reveals a splendid landscape once in the lagoon.

Can I swim in the Salkantay trek lake?

Currently it is not allowed to enter the icy waters of the Humantay lagoon. First, because the water is used for the consumption of the population that inhabits those mountains. Second, because human contact can alter the natural color of the lagoon. Also, the water temperature is not recommended for visitors.

What is the temperature in the Salkantay trek lake?

The climate in the Humantay lagoon is cold. It varies from 10ºC. (50ºF). at 0 ° C. (32ºF). Because its waters come from the melting of the snow, the temperature can be even lower. There are two seasons in the year: a) the dry season (without rain and colder) and the rainy season (with more probability of rain and less cold).

Salkantay trek hot springs

On your trip to Machu Picchu in Peru, you can take time to take a hot bath, in an impressive environment of abundant vegetation next to a huge river. The Salkantay trek hot springs looks like something out of a fantasy, but you can buy beers and snacks. Salkantay trek hot springs are a nature method of infusing tired bodies with relaxation. The Salkantay trek hot springs, which name is Cocalmayo, are a popular destination for travelers seeking a connection with the earth and its balance.

There is nothing better than taking a hot bath in nature, while enjoying a drink of «aguaymanto». Taking a bath in the Cocalmayo Thermal Baths is a great experience. It is situated between a huge river and a small mountain.

Where are the Salkantay trek hot springs located?

The thermal baths of Cocalmayo are in the valley of the Urubamba river (Vilcanota) in a cozy and relaxing place, its naturally heated pools reach 44 ºC. They are 20 minutes from the town of Santa Teresa in the province of La Convencion, in Cusco – Peru; precisely at kilometer 135 of the railway line between Cusco and Quillabamba, at 1,600 meters above sea level.

Characteristics of the medicinal waters of Salkantay trek hot springs

It consists of three large pools with crystalline and transparent waters coming from the subsoil, the water temperature varies between 38 ° and 45 ° degrees Celsius. The Salkantay trek hot springs has clear waters. Very close to the pools there are cold showers, the water comes from the Uripata lagoons and is very refreshing; the mixture of waters will give you a very comforting sensation.

These medicinal waters are attributed healing properties for skin problems, rheumatism or joint pain, being at the same time a natural source of hydromassage and relaxation. If what you want is to cool your body, you can calmly access the waterfalls of icy waters from the Uripata lagoon, located next to the hot pools.

The complex has changing rooms for both men and women, showers, camping areas, soccer fields, restaurants, bars, swimwear rental stands and parking lots.

History

Created on October 11, 1957, the district of Santa Teresa is one of the thirteen districts of the province of La Convencion, being known regionally and nationally for the production of fruit, coffee, coca leaves and many other products that grow abundantly in this place thanks to the mild and humid climate.

In 1998 this town was devastated by an immense landslide of stones, mud and trees from the Aobamba river that almost completely destroyed both the town center and the thermal baths, the town being later relocated 50 kilometers upriver.

Salkantay trek hot springs at night

Visit the Salkantay trek hot springs at night is an unforgettable experience because it must be taken into account that most of the animals and insects that inhabit the jungle come out at this time, creating an environment full of cicada noises and many other sounds unusual that create a very special atmosphere, which invites you to relax and enjoy the hot water and forget about everything else. An important piece of information for those travelers who have decided to come to explore this beautiful place is to bring mosquito repellent, because as you can imagine, the place is a jungle brow with abundant presence of insects.

How much does the Salkantay trek hot springs Entrance Ticket cost?

TYPE OF TICKETPRICE IN PEN
FOREIGN ADULT3 U$D
NATIONAL ADULT2 U$D
ADULT LOCAL1 U$D

What to expect of Salkantay trek?

This route as it passes through the slopes of the majestic Apu Salkantay of more than 6200 masl does not leave anyone indifferent. You can almost touch the glaciers that fall 1600 masl below their summit.

If you are asking what to expect of Salkantay trek? Well, it has absolutely everything:

  • High mountain
  • High jungle
  • Rain forest
  • Towns
  • Camps
  • Valleys
  • Peace and tranquility
  • Culture
  • Nature
  • Gastronomy…

A typical Salkantay trek tour begins in Cusco, where you are picked up at the hotel to take you to Mollepata or Soraypampa.

Part of the route runs through high-altitude mountain roads reaching the 4,600 m high of the Abra Salkantay on the second day of trekking.

After 2 days of pure landscape and mountains you arrive at the jungle.

Here the route becomes quiet and on the third day, first go a long descent to the town of Santa Teresa. A route full of flora, waterfalls, rivers and small towns.

Santa Teresa also offers the traveler some well-prepared and well-cared for thermal water pools. They are huge and really revitalize the tired body from so many hours of walking.

From here, a walk of about 5 hours separates us from the town of Aguas Calientes. It is a very pleasant terrain between the jungle trees and the river that comes from the very slopes of Machu Picchu.

A great attraction of the Salkantay trek is that you can see Llaqtapata. Llaqtapata is an archaeological site that in Inca times was a resting place on the way to Machu Picchu.

The last day comes the icing on the cake. The tour of the citadel of Machu Picchu is something incredible.

Enjoy the Salkantay Trek because it is worth it.

How long is Salkantay trek?

Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu is about 75 km (46 miles) in distance and about 3,000 m (10,000 ft) in altitude, making it a tough trek compared to other trekking options in the area.

Salkantay Trek Itinerary

The impressive Salkantay trek itinerary passes under the magnificent Salkantay Mountain (6,710 m / 22,014 ft), one of the highest and most impressive in the Peruvian Andes. Your first two days will be dominated by the impressive snow-capped mountains of Salkantay and Humantay, as you travel through the high Andean landscape. On the third day you will descend into the warm cloud forest, to reach Aguas Calientes on the fourth day. The impressive sacred citadel of the Incas Machu Picchu is visited during the last day of the program.

There are also two  options of Salkantay trek itinerary:

Salkantay trek itinerary 5 Days / 4 Nights

  • Day 01: Cusco – Mollepata – Challacancha – Soraypampa
  • Day 02: Soraypampa – Challway
  • Day 03: Challway – Playa Sahuayaco
  • Day 04: Beach – Llactapata – Aguas Calientes
  • Day 05: Aguas Calientes – Machu Picchu – Cusco

Salkantay trek itinerary 4 Days / 3 Nights

  • Day 01: Cusco – Mollepata – Challacancha – Soraypampa
  • Day 02: Soraypampa – Chaullay
  • Day 03: Chaullay – La Playa – Aguas Calientes
  • Day 04: Aguas Calientes – Machu Picchu – Cusco

Here is the detailed itinerary of both tours:

Detailed itinerary of Salkantay trek 5 Days

Day 01: Cusco – Mollepata – Challacancha -Humantay Lake – Soraypampa

This day will be full of adventure we will walk through an Inca channel, and we will visit the majestic Humantay lagoon at the foot of the snow-capped mountain of the same name, and we will have the first views of the “Apu Salkantay”, we will spend the night under a starry sky.

We start from your hotel from 04:30 am, then we will continue in our tourist transport passing through the towns of Izcuchaca and Limatambo arriving to Mollepata (2900 MASL-9514 FASL) we will arrive at 7:30 am, where we will have time free for our first breakfast and we can leave our 05 kilos for our support group, muleteers and cooks who will be responsible for our extra stuff for 3 days and will carry this luggage on the mules which will go in front of our group, then we will continue with our transport to Challacancha for 1 hour (3380 MASL-11089 FASL), from that point our walk will begin in approximately 3 hours the walk will be 7 kilometers this part of the walk is flat and crosses a glacial valley, in addition to this road It has an Inca aqueduct which, even these days, is used by local people and supplies water to farmers in low-lying areas, reaching Soraypampa (3900 MASL -12795 FASL) where we will be at 1.00 pm there we will take our first lunch and it will be our first camp, after lunch we will hike to the «Laguna de Humantay», the distance to this place is 5 km – 3.11 miles on average the Ascent will take us for 1 hour and 30 minutes and we will arrive at the impressive Humantay Lagoon (4220 MASL-13845 FASL) where we will be able to appreciate the turquoise color of the lagoon and the snow-capped “Apu Humantay”, then beginning to descend for 40 minutes to our camp in Soraypampa at the time of Tea that will be at 18.00 pm and then we will have our exquisite dinner prepared by our experienced chef, finally we will go to our sleeping tents or tents. 

  • Meals included: Lunch, Afternoon Tea, Dinner
  • Walking hours: 5
  • Walking distance: 12 KM. 7.45 miles
  • Maximum Altitude: 3950 masl- 12959 FASL
  • Minimum Altitude: 2850 masl-9350 FASL
  • Difficulty: medium.

Day 02: Soraypampa- Salkantay Pampa – Salkantay Pass – Huayracmachay – Challway

We will ascend to Abra Salkantay early, remember that it will be challenging, but you will have the best prize when you reach the finish line and enjoy the beauty of the “Apu Salkantay”, before noon everything will change and in the afternoon you will be even more fascinated by crossing the cloud forest on the way to Chaullay and you will be surprised to see almost all day our natural wonder Salkantay.

We will wake up early to continue the adventure and get our luggage ready for later at 5:00 am. We will take a nutritious breakfast and then continue with our walk, we start from the point of Soraypampa to the highest point of our walk of 7 km – 4.35 miles of ascent for about 3 hours through a winding valley at the foot of the snow-capped mountain towards Abra Salkantay (4650 MASL- 15255 FASL) where we can appreciate the imposing snowcapped mountains of Salkantay (6264 MSNM-20551 FASL) which is the second highest mountain in the region, Humantay (5473 MASL-17956 FASL), Tucarhuay (5910 MASL- 19389 FASL ) and Pumasillo (4650 MASL- 15255) passing through Salkantaypampa and Soyrococha where we will appreciate a small lagoon then we will begin the descent through a rocky and gravel area for a distance of 5km-3.1 miles to Huayracmachay (3800 MASL-12467 FASL) where we will take our Lunch then we will continue the walk where you will notice a dramatic change in the landscape, this walk is really impressive and we will cross through a cloud forest for an average of 3 hours and a distance of 10 km – 6.3 miles As this part of the walk is meandering and beautiful as it is full of beautiful landscapes and we will be able to appreciate the wildlife and the diversity of flora in the area we will have the Salkantay all the time behind us until Chaullay (2900 MSNM- 9514 FASL) where will be our second camp, after a long and beautiful day to regain strength and continue the adventure. 

  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Afternoon Tea, Dinner.
  • Walking hours: 10
  • Walking distance: 22 KM. 13.67 miles
  • Maximum Altitude: 4650 masl- 15255 FASL
  • Minimum Altitude: 2900 masl-9514 FASL
  • Difficulty: High – Medium. 

Day 03: Challway – Collpampa – Playa Sahuayaco – Santa Teresa.

Adventure with climate change, let’s keep warm clothes, greet the mosquitoes and continue the walk through the jungle eyebrow. This day we will leave Salkantay to continue to the Sahuayaco beach to have a delicious lunch and arrive in Santa Teresa where we will have a well-deserved rest, also to visit the relaxing hot springs of Cocalmayo (not included but highly recommended), the day will be to descend the mountain that We have just met and continue to our next goal Machupicchu.

Any change the warm weather wakes us up, we will have our breakfast at 06.00am, then we will walk for the time 6 hours towards the small town of Sahuayaco beach (2200 MASL-7218 FASL) all by our jungle with flat ascents and descents, in This route we will appreciate coffee plantations since most of the people of this area are dedicated to growing coffee, we will also see the diversity of flora, orchids, begonias, bromeliads and many natural plants used for natural medicine, not without before also be able to taste the products that this beautiful place gives us such as Passion Fruit, Orange, Tangerine, Granadilla, Palta or avocado, Pacay a local fruit and Mango, with a little luck we could even get to see the Peruvian national bird the Cock of the Rocks and soon We will arrive at our lunch point, Playa Sahuayaco, where we will have a “buffet” lunch and board a bus which is included from the lunch point to the camp in Santa Teresa (1550 MASL- 5085 FASL) Arriving at our camp we will have the option to rest a little or visit the thermal baths located in Cocalmayo known for being outdoor pools fed by natural hot springs, the water temperature varies from 38 ° to 44 ° C and it has crystal clear waters, in addition to having essential minerals such as sodium, magnesium, bicarbonate, calcium, sulfate and others. They are not included in our package, but it is a recommendation to visit this beautiful place and we return to our camp at 06.00 pm, for our tea and dinner in the camp and have part of the night to get to know the town of Santa Teresa since the next day we will leave a little late. 

  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Afternoon Tea, Dinner.
  • Walking hours: 6
  • Walking distance: 14 KM. 8.7 miles
  • Maximum Altitude: 2900 Masl- 9514 FASL
  • Minimum Altitude: 1550 Masl- 5085 FASL
  • Difficulty: low

Day 04: Santa Teresa – Hydroelectric – Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu Town).

Step by step we reach our goal, we will start with a quiet day without much difficulty and we will cross the Santa Teresa valley and we will arrive at the hydroelectric plant where we will have lunch, in the afternoon we continue calmly towards “Aguas Calientes” to have the afternoon free and get to know the town, we will sleep near of our destiny, the energy fills us and the emotion overwhelms us.

 The sunrise will be in a tropical area surrounded by nature after a well-deserved rest in the town of Santa Teresa, there our breakfast awaits us ready to taste and then continue our journey towards “Aguas Calientes” also known as Machupicchu Town, our goal will be to reach this town, it will take us approximately 7 hours and 14 km-8.7 miles, passing by the well-known rest center of the Hydroelectric power station, making stops at different places to simply appreciate the landscape and its environment full of waterfalls with impressive falls which come from the glaciers, we will also have the first views of the terraces of Machu Picchu and Huaynapicchu; we will arrive in the afternoon to the mentioned town that is popularly known as «Aguas Calientes» we will have free time to get to know this beautiful town visit the squares, parks and the thermal baths of Aguas Calientes (7 the name comes by that) (optional), there we will pass the night at the base of the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu between huge mountains and feeling the energy of the mountains around us. Our guide will give us the last details of our visit the next day and will give us all the guidelines of the tour.

  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner.
  • Walking hours: 7
  • Walking distance: 14 KM. 8.7 miles
  • Maximum Altitude: 2040 MSNM- 6692 FASL
  • Minimum Altitude: 1550 MSNM- 5085 FASL
  • Difficulty: low

Day 05: Machu Picchu – Cusco.

We have a meeting scheduled with a wonder, we start very early with the walk to the sanctuary of Machupicchu, we will have a day full of history, architecture, culture, mystery and spirituality. In the afternoon return us to Cusco after this incredible adventure.

We start the last day of our adventure to one of the 7 wonders of the world, we will have breakfast early remember that we still have a walk of around 2 hours ascending some steps to the sanctuary, or we can take the bus that will take us to the Inca city of Machupicchu (optional), The archaeological park is open from 6:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. We will make the visit at the time coordinated with the guide, we will have approximately 2 hours a visit to the most important sites with your guide through the most important places: viewpoint of the guardian’s house, the Inca palace, the priest’s house, the main square, intihuatana or sundial, the industrial sectors and the cultivation terraces. You will be amazed at the size of Machupicchu because it will still have many places to explore because later you will be able to explore the mysterious city at your own pace. If you still have energy you can also climb Huayna Picchu (2720 MANM / 8923 FASL) It takes 45 minutes to reach the top, this tour is additional and optional and you may have to leave the Machu Picchu tour to be able to get a Permission to climb this mountain needs to be booked well in advance (not included). The way back is the same 1 hour and 30 minutes’ walk back to Aguas Calientes or we can take the bus to the town of Aguas Calientes (optional) You will have free time to have lunch there (not included) according to the train schedule ( appear 30 minutes before) which we will take to Ollantaytambo where the transport will wait to move to Cusco as it was coordinated and organized according to the chosen program and itinerary.

  • Meals: Breakfast.
  • Walking hours: 3 -5
  • Walking distance: 14 KM. 8.7 miles
  • Maximum Altitude: 2430 MSNM-7972 FASL
  • Minimum Altitude: 2040 MSNM- 6692 FASL

Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu Map 5 days

Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu distances

DAYDISTANCEWALKING TIME
Day 1: From Cusco to Soraypampa16 kilometers (9.94 miles)7 hours
Day 2: From Soraypampa to Chaullay22 kilometers (13.67 miles)10 hours
Day 3: From Chaullay to Santa Teresa16 kilometers (9.94 miles)5 hours
Day 4: From Santa Teresa to Aguas Calientes19 kilometers (11.81 miles)6 hours
Day 5: From Machu Picchu to CuscoTravel by bus0 hours
TOTAL73 kilometers (45.36 miles)28 hours

Detailed itinerary of Salkantay trek 4 Days

Day 01: Cusco (3,300 m) – Mollepata – Challacancha (3,675 m) – Soraypampa

We will pick you up at your Hotel at 05:00 hrs. – 05:30 hrs. with the agency’s transportation to travel for approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes. We will arrive at the town of Mollepata (2,900 m / 9,514 ft) in this town we will have the option of having breakfast if you have not already done so and also doing last minute purchases (ponchos, batteries, sunscreen etc.).

Then we will take the transport again to travel for an hour to Challacancha (3,675 m / 12,057 ft). During this short tour you will observe the impressive valleys of Mollepata.

From Challacancha we will walk for 3 hours during our walk we will observe the Nevado de Humantay (5,917 m / 19,413 ft) the place to walk is flat Andean to better acclimatize for the rest of the way.

Arriving at our Soraypampa camp (3,850 m / 12,631 ft) we will observe the impressive Salkantay mountain, in the camp we will have lunch, after enjoying lunch we will have free time and then start our walk to the beautiful Humantay lagoon for approximately 1 hour and a half in ascending form.

After enjoying the beautiful landscape of the lagoon and the glaciers on the mountain, we must descend for 1 hour to the camp, we will arrive at tea time and then we will enjoy dinner and finally rest.

Day 02: Soraypampa – Chaullay (2,920 m)

The day starts early at 05:00 hrs., Then enjoy a good breakfast we will prepare to start the walk for approximately 1 hour to the site called Salkantaypampa (4,100 m / 13,451 ft), here we will have a short rest and continue walking in ascending for 1 hour to Soyrococha (4,400 m / 14,436 ft) ideal time to rest, rehydrate and enjoy the snack.

The path continues for 1 more hour to the highest point of the trek: the Abra Salkantay (4,632 m / 15,197 ft); the highest point is located between the 2 imposing peaks of Humantay (5,917 m / 19,413 ft) and Salkantay (6,271 m / 20,574 ft).

Then, we will descend for approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes to Wayracpampa where our team will be waiting for us with lunch. After enjoying lunch we will begin the descent to the cloud forest and we will observe the change of climate and vegetation, we will go down to Chaullay where our camp will be, here we will have tea time and dinner. And so ends the longest and hardest day of the trek.

Day 03: Chaullay – La Playa (2,200 m) – Hydroelectric – Aguas Calientes (2,160 m)

We will get up at 06:00 hrs., Have breakfast and start our walk.

We will walk for 40 minutes to the Town of Collpa (2,850 m / 9,350 ft), from this place, we will observe the beginning of the Santa Teresa valley, the Totora Valley. From here, the road continues for 2 and a half hours to the town of Wiñaypoco, during the walk we will have beautiful views of waterfalls, natural formations of hot springs, as well as orchids and strawberries.

Then, we will continue descending through the jungle to the place of the Beach (2,200 m / 7,218 ft), where we will have lunch.

After a short break we will take the transport to Hidroeléctrica, for approximately 1 hour. Once in Hidroeléctrica, we will again start walking for approximately 3 hours to Machupicchu Pueblo, the road is completely flat. Upon arriving at the town of Aguas Calientes or Machupicchu town, the Guide will take you to the Lodge and will coordinate the time and meeting point for dinner. Finally proceed to rest.

Day 04: Aguas Calientes – Machu Picchu (2,490 m) – Cusco

This day will only be dedicated to visiting the wonder of Machu Picchu (2,490 m / 8,169 ft) we will have a guided tour of approximately 2 hours and then enough time to explore on our own or climb Huayna Picchu.

After your visit to Machu Picchu we go to Aguas Calientes. In the town you will find many restaurants and you can choose to your liking, you will have to go to the train station and board it. After a trip of approximately 2 hours, you will arrive at the Ollantaytambo station, there the transport will be waiting for you with your name and the transfer will be made to the City of Cusco, the trip lasts approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes.

Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu Map

Salkantay trek 4 or 5 days

One of the most incredible ways to visit Machu Picchu is through the Salkantay trek and there are two ways to do this tour in 5 days or 4 days, but what is the difference between these two tours? To understand the difference we have gathered information on the places that are visited every day.

Differences between the Salkantay trek 4 or 5 days

Salkantay trek 5D / 4NSalkantay trek 4D / 3N
Duration:5 days and 4 nights4 days and 3 nights
Total distance:65 km – 40.4 miles65 km / 40.4 miles
Itinerary:1st day: Cusco -Mollepata- Chalacancha – Soraypampa
2nd day: Soraypampa – Salkantay Pass – Challhuay
3rd day: Challway – La Playa Sahuayaco (2,200 m)
4th day: Santa Teresa – Hydroelectric – Aguas Calientes
5th day: Tour in Machu Picchu and Return to Cusco
1st day: Cusco -Mollepata- Chalacancha – Soraypampa
2nd day: Soraypampa – Salkantay Pass – Chaullay
3rd day: Chaullay- La Playa- Hidroelectrica – Aguas Calientes
4th day: Aguas Calientes – Machu Picchu – Return to Cusco
Advantages:Walk through various ecological floors.
Walk accompanied by the extension of the eastern Cordillera of the Andes.
You can reach the foot of one of the highest snow-capped mountains in Cusco, the Salkantay.
You will visit the thermal baths of Colcalmayo
It allows you to reach Machu Picchu by a less congested route.
An adequate organization of your trip is guaranteed.
You will have an unforgettable experience.
Walk through various ecological floors.
Walk accompanied by the extension of the eastern Cordillera of the Andes.
You can be at the foot of one of the highest snow-capped mountains in Cusco, the Salkantay.
It allows you to reach Machu Picchu by a less congested route.
An adequate organization of your trip is guaranteed.
You will have an unforgettable experience.
Disadvantages:You need to acclimatize in the City of Cusco, for one or two days before starting the trek.
It can give you cold or altitude sickness.
We take a bus from the beach to the hydroelectric that means that we will not enjoy the thermal baths of Colcalmayo.

When you are deciding between the Salkantay trek 4 or 5 days, keep in mind that the main difference is that the Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu 5 days allows you to visit the thermal baths of Cocalmayo, located in the district of Santa Teresa.

And why visit the thermal baths of Colcalmayo? After a walk it is necessary to relax the muscles, so this day we take some time to enjoy the thermo-medicinal waters and appreciate the flora and fauna of the place. Therefore, each tour is a magnificent opportunity to get to know the Cusqueña biodiversity. Don’t wait another minute and live this great experience.

¿What is included in the Salkantay trek Peru tour?

If you book the Salkantay trek 4 or 5 days with any Salkantay trek tour operators, here we detail what the price of the tour includes:

INCLUDED:

  • Previous meeting with the guide prior to the departure of the Trek.
  • Transportation Cusco –Mollepata-Challacancha.
  • Professional guide service.
  • Chef.
  • Kitchen assistant.
  • Food: 04 breakfasts, 04 lunches and 04 dinners.
  • Pack horses and muleteers: For three days. (5 kilos per person).
  • Entrance ticket to Machupicchu.
  • Accommodation in Aguas Calientes.
  • Return train from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo.
  • Transfer Ollantaytambo / Cusco train station.
  • Camping equipment: dining tent, kitchen tent, quadruple sleeping tent for double use, mat, table, chairs.
  • Emergency medical kit: Oxygen bottle and first aid kit.

NOT INCLUDED:

  • Breakfast on the 1st day and Lunch on the 5th day.
  • Sleeping bag (necessary) and walking sticks.
  • Bus up and down in Machupicchu.
  • Entrance to the Salkantay in Mollepata s / 10.00 soles.

Optional:

We offer for rent sleeping bags for the 04 days: Fiber $ 15.00 and pen $ 20.00.

Likewise, for passengers who carry extra (excess) load horses during the 03 days in the US $ 90.00 each.

How high is Salkantay trek?

The Salcantay or Salkantay (in Quechua, Sallqantay) rises to 6,271 masl (20,574 feet).

The Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu 5 days has its highest point in the ‘Abra Salcantay’, at 4,650 m.a.s.l. From there you can see the peak of the snowy mountain.

The ‘Abra Salcantay’ is your biggest obstacle during the Salkantay trek. The pass has an elevation of 4600 masl (15,100 feet).

It is essential to take things slowly. If you are prone to altitude sickness, then this is where it can occur. Luckily once you cross it, you will descend quite quickly. This will aid acclimatization and should resolve the worst symptoms of altitude sickness.

Salkantay Trek Elevation day by day

DAYELEVATIONDISTANCE
Day 1: Cusco – SoraypampaStarting Elevation: 3,399 masl (2,112 ft)
Maximum altitude point: 3,800 masl (2,361 ft)
Campsite Elevation: 3,850 masl (12,631ft)
Total distance: 15 km
Walking time: 7 hours
Difficulty: Moderate
Day 2: Soraypampa – ChallwayStarting Elevation: 3850 masl / 12631ft
Maximum altitude point: 4,600 masl (15,090 ft)
Campsite Elevation: 3,000 masl (9,842 ft)
Total distance: 16 km
Walking time: 6 – 7 hours
Difficulty: Difficult
Day 3: Challway – Santa TeresaStarting Elevation: 3,000 masl (9,842 ft)
Maximum altitude point: 2,750 masl (1,708 ft)
Campsite Elevation: 1,811 masl (7,055 ft) 
Total distance: 16 km
Walking time: 6 – 7 hours
Difficulty: Moderate
Day 4: Santa Teresa – Aguas CalientesStarting Elevation: 1,811 masl (7,055 ft)
Maximum altitude point: 2,700 masl (1,677 ft)
Hotel Elevation: 2,050 masl (7,986 ft)
Total distance: 7 km
Walking time: 2 – 3 hours
Difficulty: Moderate
Day 5: Machu Picchu – CuscoStarting Elevation: 2,050 masl (7,986 ft)
Machupicchu Inca City: 2,430 masl (7,972 ft)
Huaynapicchu Mountain2,720 masl (8,924 ft) m)

Altitude sickness during the Salkantay Trek:

However, at 3,000 meters the symptoms can appear and the dangers of altitude sickness must be taken seriously. Our trekking experts always advise those interested in the Salkantay trek to spend at least one day in Cusco. Ideally, spend two days.

Recommendations to avoid altitude sickness in Salkantay Trek:

Listen to your body

When the body needs to rest, it tells you. Listen carefully to your body. You must be vigilant and talk about the symptoms of altitude sickness. Let your friends, the guide and the porters know how you feel and take a break. Don’t let it get worse. Eat all you can. Don’t skip meals, even if you don’t like what you have on your plate. Trust us, you will enjoy food in Peru. The body works hard and needs a lot of carbohydrates to go further and overcome altitude.

Drink a lot of water

You will have to increase your water consumption. This is much easier when it’s hot and you’re sweating, but at high altitude, you need to have discipline. Drink 3 to 5 liters a day and a little tea when you can.

Try a coca tea

The Incas used coca leaves as a remedy for illnesses and physical problems. Today, coca leaves are still used to suppress the effects of altitude sickness. Try them!

Choose a long itinerary

Last but not least: Choose a longer itinerary. You can do the Salkantay trek, but doing it in 5 days will not only make you enjoy it more, but will also help you acclimatize. The longer the better

How difficult is Salkantay trek?

The Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu 5 days has a medium-moderate difficulty. In the opinion of some tourists, this adventure is more demanding than the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.

You might believe that the Salkantay trek tour is extremely difficult. Don’t worry, it isn’t. You will not be climbing mountains like Everest or Mount Kilimanjaro. None of the itineraries of the tours to Machu Picchu are designed for mountaineers. They are designed for tourism, which means that all people with a moderate physical condition are capable of doing them. The same applies to the Salkantay trek. It is not easy, but it is not very difficult to achieve either.

When considering doing the Salkantay trek Peru, you just need to be aware of a few things:

  • Spend at least one additional day in Cusco to get used to the altitude.
  • The second day of the Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu 5 days is the hardest.
  • Do not rush. Enjoy.
  • Once you cross the Salkantay pass, it gets easier.

Salkantay trek difficulty day by day

DAYDIFFICULTY
DAY 1: Cusco – Mollepata – SoraypampaEASY
DAY 2: Soraypampa – Salkantay – ChaullayMODERATE
DAY 3: Chaullay – Sahuayaco – Santa TeresaDIFFICULT
DAY 4: Santa Teresa – Aguas CalientesMODERATE
DAY 5: Aguas Calientes – Machu Picchu – CuscoEASY

Weather in Salkantay Trek

The weather in Salkantay Trek is very rainy from December to March, that is why the track is closed in those months. The rest of the year, the weather in Salkantay Trek is very sunny and hot during the day, but cold at night. The temperature drops below 0 ° C (32 ° F) at night, especially from June to September.

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Weather
Day Temperature15°15°16°18°18°18°17°17°18°19°19°18°
Night Temperature
Rains (mm)142114102418338204896107
Salkantay Trek Weather

When is the best time to hike the Salkantay Trek?

The dry season (from April to September) is the best time to do the Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu 5 days. During those months, the passage through the ‘Abra Salkantay’ (the section closest to the snow) is easier to do due to the low possibility of rain. The roads are less slippery and the journey can be done in the shortest possible time.

How much does the Salkantay trek cosT?

The Salkantay trek of 5 days and 4 nights has an approximate cost of 350 U$D per person. There are more complete services (better camps, food and train service) that can cost 500 U $ D per person.

Most tourism agencies offer a discount of between 20 U$D and 50 U$D for minors (between 3 and 17 years old) and university students.

Price of Salkantay Trek with guide

The cost of the Salkantay trek with a guide depends largely on the trekking company that operates the trip.

Some trekking companies, for example, offer an extra night in Llaqtapata, while others just stop and go directly to Aguas Calientes.

The costs of the Salkantay trek with a guide vary between USD 350 and USD 780. It is a big difference if one takes into account that each trek follows the same route and ends in Machu Picchu.

Check the offers for the Salkantay route and compare the options.

The cost of the Salkantay trek with a guide are always without accommodation in Cusco.

Price of Salkantay Trek without guide

Although you will not have the benefit of a guide, organized accommodations, ready meals and porters, but you can do it on your own.

If you are thinking of crossing the Salkantay Trek without guide, you should consider the following prices:

Price in dollars
Bus from Cusco – Mollepata:5 U$D
Shared hosting:70 U$D
Machu Picchu Ticket:48 U$D
Train from Aguas Calientes – Ollantaytambo:70 U$D
Bus from Ollantaytambo – Cusco:5 U$D
Bus Aguas Calientes – Machu Picchu (round trip)24 U$D
Food, candicrafts and other expenses:50 U$D
TOTAL PRICE:272 U$D

* All prices are calculated based on the cost per person.

How much to tip in Salkantay trek?

We recommend bringing an additional US $ 25 to $ 30 (65 to 78 nuevos soles) per person to cover tips.

Tips for guides, assistants, cooks, porters and muleteers are not included in the price of the trek. Tips are optional according to the service provided.

On the Salkantay trek, tips are distributed among cooks, helpers, and muleteers on the third day of the trek after lunch.

This is because cooks, helpers and muleteers return to their communities after lunch.

We recommend having Peruvian soles in small denominations, and we also recommend that the cook should receive 50% more than the porters and muleteers.

The amount is entirely a personal preference: however as a guideline we suggest each hiker contributes 60 – 80 soles for the porters, and 150 soles for the chef. More is always appreciated 🙂

Salkantay Trek vs Inca Trail

There are several ways to get to the ruins of Machu Picchu, from one-day express tours to multi-day hikes to reach the magical citadel. Since the 70s, routes and trekking circuits have been added that have expanded the possibilities to reach the Sacred City. Here we show you the differences between the two main trekking routes: the popular Inca Trail vs the Salkantay Trek alternative.

Salkantay Trek vs Inca Trail

Classic Inca TrailSalkantay Trek
Description:It is known by the name of the Classic Inca Trail, a trek that starts from the Sacred Valley of the Incas and has as its final destination Machu Picchu.Is an alternative walk to the Traditional Inca Trail, it consists of reaching Machu Picchu through snowy mountains, abundant vegetation, fauna, lagoons and a high-Andean landscape.
Duration:4 days / 3 nights5 days / 4 nights
Total Route:43 km – 26.72 miles65 km – 40.4 miles
Starting point:Km 82, in HuayllabambaChallacancha town
Itinerary:1st day: Cusco – Huayllabamba (6-7 hrs.)
2nd day: Huayllabamba – Pacaymayo (7-8 hrs.)
3rd day: Pacaymayo – Wiñaywayna (7-8 hrs.)
4th day: Wiñaywayna – Machu Picchu (2 hrs.)
1st day: Cusco – Challacancha,(5-6 hrs.)
2nd day: Soraypampa – Challway, (7-8 hrs.)
3rd day: Challway – Playa Sahuayaco, (5-6 hrs.)
4th day: Llactapata – Aguas Calientes, (7-8 hrs.)
5th day: Aguas Calientes – Machu Picchu, (2 hrs.)
Difficulty:ModerateHigh
Landscape:From high Andean grasslands to humid tropical forest.High-Andean, presence of snow-covered areas of potato and corn, valleys, lagoons, cloud forests, waterfalls, hot springs.
Flora:More than 300 species of orchids, shrubs, ichu, straw and typical trees from Inca times.At first, straw or ichu, crops; then, a characteristic flora of the jungle will appear, as well as coffee, banana, avocado, pineapple and coca leaf crops.
Fauna:Privileged place of endemic species of birds, butterflies, insects. There are also species, such as spectacled bears, vizcachas, lizards, etc.South American camelids, llamas and guanacos, mainly skunks, vizcachas, in the lakes diversity of aquatic birds, butterflies and fauna of the jungle eyebrow.
Climate:Semi-tropical, hot and humid days, cold nights, rains (from November to April). Minimum 6º C – 11º C (June), Maximum 20º C – 26ºC (June).Rainy season from November to April, Minimum between 5º C – 11º C (June) in Abra Salkantay, Maximum between 20º C – 26º C (June) in Playa Sahuayaco.
Archaeological Attractions:Patallacta – Pueblo Alto, Warmiñanuska – Dead Woman’s Pass, Runkuracay – Pile of Stones, Sayaqmarca – Dominant Town, Conchamarca – Lodazal, Phuyupatamarca – City on the Clouds, Wiñaywayna – Forever Young, Inti Punku – Puerta del Sol, Inca City of Machu Picchu – Old Mountain.From Soraypampa to Challway, vestiges of an original Inca Trail. On the fourth day, Llactapata (a resting place) was seen in a Temple located, in front of Machu Picchu. Inca Llacta of Machu Picchu.
Entrance Ticket:Entrance to the Inca Trail route and the Inca City of Machu Picchu.Entrance to the Sacred City of Machu Picchu.
Advantage:Visit various archaeological centers along the way.
Enjoy a varied range of flora and fauna typical of the jungle.
Enjoy different climates.
It will be a positive and unforgettable experience.
Know one of the most visited tourist attractions in Perú.
Inca Trail Machu Picchu guarantees the proper execution of your trek.
Walk through different ecological floors.
Walk through various ecological floors.
Walk accompanied by the extension of the eastern Cordillera of the Andes.
You can be at the foot of one of the highest peaks in Cusco, the Salkantay.
It allows you to walk to Machu Picchu, by a less congested route.
An adequate organization of your trip is guaranteed.
You will have an unforgettable experience.
Disadvantages:Income is limited, only 500 people per day.
In high season (June – October), tickets are sold out
You need to acclimatize in the City of Cusco, for one or two days before starting the trek.
It can give you cold or altitude sickness.
Salkantay Trek vs Inca Trail

Frequently Asked Questions

Why I should Book Salkantay Trek in advance?

The entrance tickets for Machu Picchu are very limited, just there are 2,500 entrance tickets per day and it sold out very faster.

That is the main reason to book your tickets in advance (4-6 months in advance), and please note that during the high season (May – September) it is recommended to book min. 8 or 10 months in advance.

What happens if I get sick and need to go back?

This does not happen very often; However, if it happens, our guides are very experienced and know how to act in the event of any emergency or unexpected occurrence; They will do everything possible to help you complete your walk. In addition, first aid kits and oxygen tanks are carried for emergencies. However, if you become seriously ill and need to return to Cusco, you will be treated quickly and arrangements will be made for you.

I’m worried about being too slow for my group

The hike along the Salkantay Trekis considered among the best in the world and if you want to enjoy it, do not see it as a race. «Go at your own pace», enjoy the views, take photos and catch your breath. Even the most leisurely walkers arrive in the camp areas before nightfall.

The guide will always go with the last person in the group, giving instructions to the fastest walkers, so that they know where the stop and encounter points are located along the route, so keep calm and enjoy hiking with us!

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