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Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu

Highlights

  • Guides Choice trip to Machu Picchu
  • The most scenic trek to Machu Picchu
  • Cloud forests, highlands, & alpine valleys
  • Stunning and mystical Mount Salkantay
  • Top elevation of over 15,000 feet
  • Premier camping accommodations
  • Authentic Pervian cuisine
  • Charming mountain culture of the Quechua
  • An entire day at Machu Picchu

Description

The Salkantay Trek is considered one of the "25 Best Treks in the World" by National Geographic Adventure Magazine. This trek will take you through unique and varying landscapes, from cloud forests to grassy highlands and where sub-alpine passes meet colossal snow-capped mountains. This trek is for the adventurous. Since the ancient Incan times, Mount Salkantay has been considered sacred and the protector of the Quechua people. The name Salkantay derives from the Quechua language and means "Savage Mountain". Mount Salkantay (20,574 feet) is the highest peak in the Vilcabamba mountain range and in the Cusco area of the Southern Peruvian Andes.
The Salkantay trek begins on the south side of Mount Salkantay and Machu Picchu and circumnavigates the mountain and ancient ruin to the town of Agua Calientes. The Salkantay trek contains parts of the original Inca trail and provides mysterious and magical feelings associated with the history of the Inca and conquest of the Spanish empire. This trek is simply Amazing!
Click here to have a detailed PDF information packet emailed to you, or request a reservation today. You can also call us at 888-966-TREK.

 

Photos of this Trip

Trip Itinerary

Day 1

On this hiking tour to Machu Picchu we will pick you up from the airport in Cusco, Peru. We will drive to our hotel (link), have showers and meet for our orientation meeting to get acquainted with our group, itinerary, gear for the trek...etc. After our orientation meeting we will go to our favorite, local Peruvian restaurant for dinner. Be sure to drink copious amounts of water throughout today, as flying and traveling will certainly dehydrate you. Cusco is over 11,000 feet in elevation and being hydrated (lots of water and limiting alcohol) is a critical component of dealing with significant elevation changes. Self-care begins immediately.


Day 2

This morning we will enjoy our first Peruvian breakfast in Cusco. After breakfast, we will meet for our educational and historical visit to the ruin of Saksaywaman, an ancient cathedral in Cusco, and the Qoricancha (Sun Temple). For lunch we will meet our chef for the week and enjoy the organic and local foods of Cusco. After the tour, we have some free time to relax before dinner. At dinner your guides will provide the plan for the following day and answer any last minute questions.


Day 3

This morning will serve as an additional acclimatization and rest day. We will sleep in and regain strength from the International flights, meeting today after breakfast. Our first stop of the day will take us to the village of Chinchero, where we will visit a Wildland-supported weaving center. The Chincherinas (local women) will show us the process of weaving beautiful blankets, dying with colors and making clothes. Subsequently, we will head towards salt mines / Salineras that date back over 2,000 years with over 3,000 salt pools carved into the mountain side. After the Salineras visit, we will go to an amazing lunch spot with phenomenal mountain views. After lunch we will move on to the fascinating terraces of Moray, once used for agricultural experimentation by the Incas. After Moray we will head back to Cusco and enjoy free time until we meet for dinner at our favorite restaurant. Your guides will deliver the plan for the following day.


Day 4

Hiking Mileage: 3.1 miles
Lowest Elevation: 12,467 feet
Highest Elevation: 14,435 feet
Trekking Duration: 3-4 hours


Today we will wake up early and enjoy a light breakfast before departing Cusco around 6am. We will drive roughly 3.5 hours to our trail head at Soraypampa (12,467 feet). In route to Soraypampa, we will stop in the quaint town of Mollepata to use the bathrooms, have a snack and grab a cup of coffee or tea. Once we arrive we will meet our donkeys (gear porters) and have a thorough brief on the pertinent aspects of trekking in the Andes. We will immediately be over shadowed by the giant, Mount Salkantay. We will go on a 1.5 hour day hike to aide in acclimatization and to see the beautiful, teal waters of lake Humantay.

We will hike back to Soraypampa where a delicious lunch will be prepared by our chef. After lunch, we will begin to slowly ascend a mild incline for roughly 3.5 hours to the village of Soyroqocha (13,779 feet).

Upon arrival at camp, you will find your tents ready and waiting, as well as hot drinks and popcorn. We will have some free time to change clothes, get warm and rehydrate until our delicious dinner is served. This camp is especially beautiful at night, when the milky way is splashed across the sky. Photographers, this is the perfect place to take long exposures of the stars!


Day 5

Hiking Mileage: 9.9 miles
Lowest Elevation: 10,170 feet
Highest Elevation: 15,091 feet
Trekking Duration: 8-9 hours


Today we will wake up to a steaming cup of coca tea and gaze upon the stunning, snow-covered Salkantay Mountain. Today we will travel through a diverse range of climatic zones, from golden grasslands to sub-alpine zones to cloud forests. After a nutritious breakfast we will begin to trek slowly towards Salkantay Pass (15,091 feet), which takes roughly 1 hour. At the pass we will have a break to drink water, eat snacks and take in the spectacular views of Mount Salkantay. Subsequently, we will hike down to Huayraqmachay village, where we will have a delicious lunch prepared for us by our kitchen crew. After lunch we will hike down to Qollpapampa village (10,170 feet) where we will camp for the night.


Day 6

Hiking Mileage: 8 miles
Lowest Elevation: 6,725 feet
Highest Elevation: 12,540 feet
Trekking Duration: 5-6 hours


Today we will be trekking through the tranquil cloud forest. We will hike for about five hours following the Lluskamayo River, with the prospect of seeing a variety of orchids, birds, and a magnificent waterfall. Today's trek ends at La Playa town (6,725 feet) where we will have lunch and camp for the night. After we relax for a while, we will go meet Freddy the owner of our camp and a local coffee plantation. Here we will be able to pick our own coffee beans, roast them and make our own coffee. In addition, Freddy will teach us many local traditions of the Quechua people and you can potentially buy some souvenir coffee from him.


Day 7

Hiking Mileage: 8 miles
Lowest Elevation: 5,905 feet
Highest Elevation: 10,107 feet
Trekking Duration: 6-7 hours


After an early breakfast accompanied by Freddie’s local coffee from the farm, we will begin our hike which ascends to the Llaqtapata Inca ruins. This section of the trail is part of the Inca Trail, used in the past to connect Machu Picchu with the city of Vilcabamba. Once we arrive at Llaqtapata we will have our first glimpse of the ancient city of the Incas, Machu Picchu. Our local guide and interpreter will introduce us to the history and culture of the Inca and Quechua people. After the lessons we will descend roughly three hours to the hydroelectric power station. From the power station, we will take the train to the town of Aguas Calientes, where we will take showers, change clothes and go out for an amazing dinner in town. Your guides will deliver the plan for the next morning.


Day 8

Hiking Mileage: varies
Lowest Elevation: 6,726 feet
Highest Elevation: 7,874 feet
Trekking Duration: 6-8 hours


This morning we have some flexibility and a couple of different options dependent on how the group is feeling. One option is to wake up early and take the tourist bus to Machu Picchu for the sunrise. Another option is to sleep in a bit, let the tourist crowds subside and take the bus to Machu Picchu around 10 am. We will discuss the options the night before and decide as a group which strategy we want to employ.

At Machu Picchu our local Peruvian guide will lead us on a thorough and fascinating tour of the ancient Inca city for the next 3-4 hours. We will learn about the amazing cultural history of the Inca and Machu Picchu, and delve into some of the mysteries that surround the remote mountain city. After the Machu Picchu tour we'll relax with a scenic picnic lunch or head back to Aguas Calientes for lunch. We will then board a train back to Cusco in the mid to late afternoon and enjoy one last evening in Cusco. What a week it's been!


Day 9

This morning we will have our last Peruvian breakfast in Cusco and a relaxing morning before we say our good-byes, re-pack at Tierra Viva and de-issue group gear before heading to the airport. From here it's of course your option to continue exploring Peru on your own or have a flight booked to return home.


Please Note: We always do everything in our power to follow the set itinerary, however occasionally trips are subject to itinerary changes based on a variety of circumstances, including but not limited to: extreme weather, political or bureacratic obstacles, earthquakes, fires, flooding and more.

Trip Details

What's Included

  • A detailed trip packet that takes the guesswork out of your travel, training, packing, and preparing for the trip
  • Access to our Adventure Consultant team 7 days a week
  • A professional U.S. Wildland guide, trained in 1st Aid, risk management and assessment and responsibility to provide overall standard of excellence in service quality.
  • Local Peruvian guide(s), expert in cultural and natural history, the local area, fauna and flora, etc.
  • Transportation for the duration of the tour starting on Day 1 and ending on the day you depart
  • Luxury Vistadome train tickets from Aguas Calientes to Cusco
  • Accommodations at Aguas Calientes, a 3-star hotel. (If you would prefer a higher quality hotel, we can arrange that for the difference in price.)
  • Lodging before and after the trekking portion of the trip
  • All camping gear and supplies (including a dining tent and kitchen tent)
  • Porters to transport all gear, food, and most personal items
  • Professional camp chef
  • Drinking water and hot water for washing face, hands...etc.
  • Use of a day pack and trekking poles
  • All meals for the duration of the tour
  • Professional, knowledgeable, certified Peru hiking guides (U.S. and local)
  • Emergency equipment including a company-issued first-aid kit and satellite phone
  • You will receive a Lifetime Hiking Membership entitling you, your spouse and kids to a lifetime discount of 10% off any Wildland Trekking hiking trip after your first one!

What's Not Included

  • Transportation to Cusco, Peru
  • Trip insurance that includes medical coverage and at least $200,000 in evacuation and repatriation coverage (strongly encouraged)
  • Clothes, raingear, and footwear
  • Sunscreen, toiletries and personal items
  • Water bottles and a headlamp or flashlight
  • Gratuities (industry recommendation is 10-15% of the trip cost, distributed between their guides and porters.)
See the Packing Lists page for more information.


Meals: What To Expect

This Peru hiking tour features a combination of in-town meals and meals prepared by your guide. We'll have dinners at carefully selected, wonderful restaurants in Cusco as well as meals prepared on the trail by a professional camp chef. Some staples you may find are potatoes (papas), quinoa, rice, beans, meat, fish, various grains and vegetables.

For optimal taste and energy, we supplement all our meals with spices, herbs, oils, cheeses, butter, sugar, and fruits and vegetables. In addition, we provide you with with an assortment of trail mix, snacks, and dried fruits to eat at your own discretion.

We can often accommodate vegan, vegetarian, kosher and non-gluten diets and make adjustments for food allergies. These and other special dietary requests may require an additional fee, and in some countries may be more difficult to accommodate than others. Please inquire with us for more information about the specific trip you're interested in.


Gear We Provide

We provide all group gear which includes the following:
  • Backpacks
  • Trekking poles
  • Tents, sleeping bags, sleeping pads
  • Company-issued first-aid kit
  • Satellite phone


What Gear To Bring

We ask that you supply a couple of gear items on your hiking tour. These items are two 1-liter water bottles per person and basic items like sunscreen, bug repellent (where and when applicable), lip balm, and toiletries are also important. All of these items are available online at Wildland Trekking Outfitters.


What Clothes to Bring

Please refer to the trip packet for a recommended clothing list (we email you a detailed trip packet when you inquire and when you register). All trips require a sturdy pair of hiking shoes or hiking boots (reliable brands include Montrail, Lowa, Merrell, Vasque, and Salomon), rain gear, and non-cotton and cotton clothing layers. A minimum of three pairs of wool or synthetic hiking socks are also required. All of these items are available online at Wildland Trekking Outfitters.

Trip Logistics

How do I Register?

Ready to hike? Simply click here and complete the form to get the ball rolling. Our adventure consultants will confirm availability, and if you're ready to register we'll email you a link to a registration profile. You'll have 48 hours to complete your profile (and that of any dependents) and pay the deposit ($500).

Feel free to call us for more info - we're here 7 days a week!


Where Do We Meet?

We will meet you at the airport on Day 1 and transport you to the first night's hotel (included), where we'll conduct an orientation meeting at 5:00 PM the first evening (your flight should arrive before 3PM). Your guide will be in contact approximately 4 weeks before your trip to coordinate your rendezvous and answer any last-minute questions you have.


Safety Considerations

Your safety is our top priority. Our Global Destination trips are led by professional hiking guides (U.S. and local) along with additional support staff. All of our guides are wilderness-certified first responders or EMT's, each with years of guiding and wilderness experience. Finally, we've developed comprehensive risk management protocols that our guides adhere to in case of an emergency, and all tours carry a satellite phone. If you have any further questions about safety, please contact us at 1-888-966-TREK (8735) for more information.

In the interest of your safety, it's important to refer to the Center for Disease Control website for up-to-date recommendations on immunizations before your trip.


Guides

Your tour will be led by trained, experienced professionals (both U.S.-based and local, click here to learn more) with a solid guiding background, years of personal wilderness and hiking experience, medical certifications, and a passion for leading people into breathtaking landscapes. Check out our Meet Our Team page for staff bios.


Group Size and Age Restrictions

The standard group size on this hiking tour is 10 guests and 2-3 guides, with a minimum of 2 guests and 1 guide. If you have more questions about group size, please give us a call at 888-966-TREK (8735) and we'll answer all your questions.

Age restrictions are as follows:
  • 12 and older to join scheduled tours (mixed groups)
  • 5 and older to join private tours, with final approval and specific logistical requirements (such as porter or stock assist) determined on a case by case basis


Weather in Peru

Peru is home to part of the Amazon Rainforest as well as the towering Andes Mountains. Machu Picchu is at an elevation of 7,710 feet (2,350 meters), but most of our treks in the region reach elevations well above 10,000 feet, some reaching nearly 15,000 feet. Because of the wild elevation changes, the temperatures and weather can also vary wildly.

The average temperatures and precipitation in the Machu Picchu region are:

Month Hi Low Precip
March 70° F 45° F 11 days
April 72° F 40° F 8 days
May 70° F 36° F 3 days
June 70° F 34° F 2 days
July 70° F 30° F 2 days
August 70° F 34° F 2 days
September 72° F 40° F 7 days
October 72° F 43° F 8 days