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This is one of the most famous alternative treks to Machu Picchu. The Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu is located in the Vilcabamba mountain range and passes through stunning landscapes varying from cloud forest to high mountains. The trek has fantastic views of the second highest mountain in the Cusco area, Salkantay (6215m), and passes through little visited areas. It is the perfect mix of Andean culture and tradition with the incredible flora and fauna offered by Peru. You will be in the real Andes, in remote regions, and in the perfect conditions to get a sense of the life in this area.

This trek can be booked by itself, or added to any of our holidays - just enquire for details.

Trek Information:

Cusco Region – 5 days / 4 nights.

Highlights: Andean vistas, glaciated mountains, views of Salkantay mountain, the UNESCO World Heritage site of Machu Picchu, Aguas Calientes town, the Inca ruin of Llactapata, local farmland, much less crowded than the “Inca Trail”… and fabulous variation in hiking environment including high-Andean landscape, high jungle, cloud forest and tropical forest.

City of Departure: Cusco

Altitude: 1870m to 4600m

Difficulty: Moderate

Accommodation: 3 nights camping, 1 night hotel


Day 1, Cusco – Mollepata – Soraypampa:

You will be collected from Cusco by private car to start the journey by road towards the trek. The journey will pass through some local villages before stopping at a fabulous lookout point for breakfast with outstanding views. The journey then continues to Mollepata (2900m), arriving at around 9am, from where the trek will begin. Here you will meet your Arrieros (horsemen) who will take your duffle bags. The morning hike will take around 3 hours, passing through Andean farming terrain and constantly spectacular views. At noon you will arrive at a place called Chuñu Saruna (3550m) which is where you will stop for lunch and a short rest, before continuing in the afternoon for a further 4 hour trek to the campsite for the evening. The afternoon trekking route follows a water channel, and there is a great variety of flora and fauna along the way, including the possibility to see condors, falcons and other species of bird. Upon arrival at the campsite (3800m) the tents will already be set up ready for you to use, and hot water and an evening meal will be provided.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Evening Meal

Campsite altitude: 3800m

Distance travelled: 17km

Difficulty: Moderate

Environment: Andes

Day 2, Soraypampa – Arrayanniyoc:

After an early rise (5.30am) and an early breakfast and some hot chocolate to warm you through you will start trekking early today, up a moderate slope with excellent views of Salkantay Mountain. After a 3 hours trek you will reach the Apacheta Pass (4600m), which is at the bottom of the Salkantay glacier. Mount Salkantay, Cusco's second highest peak, will be towering above you, as well as the snow-capped peaks of Humantay and Pumasillo mountains. At this location it may also be possible to see some avalanches falling off some of the mountain you can see in the distance. You’ll also have a rest here, and the porters will serve traditional hot coca tea while you enjoy the views and take photos. Before leaving the pass you will partake in an ancient and important local ceremony to the mountains and Pachamama, by leaving a piece of rock carried from the bottom of the mountain as a present to Pachamama. From this point onwards it’s a downhill descent for the remainder of the day, as you hike for 2 hours to reach Huayracmachay at the bottom of Salkantay Mountain, before entering into amazing cloud forest where the weather gets warmer. After a further 2 hours you will arrive at your campsite for the evening, Rayan-niyoc, where you can see beautiful orchids and possibly hummingbirds.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Evening Meal

Campsite altitude: 3400m

Distance travelled: 17km

Difficulty: Difficult

Environment: Andes and Forest

Day 3, Arrayanniyoc – Lluscamayo – La playa:

This days trekking will take you through the high jungle zone, also called the “Jungle’s Edge”, and begins with an hour descent to Challway. Trekking through this kind of environment will give you many opportunities to see different types of plants, fruits, flowers, birds and orchids. Later in the day you will have the chance to swim in amazing water falls, which are great for creating some amazing photos of your trip. If you're lucky, you may also get to see birds such as quetzals, tanagers, finches, mosquito eaters and the famous Peruvian National Bird “Gallito de las Rocas”. At lunch time you will arrive at Lluscamayo (2400m), which is a great place to stop, rest, and admire the beauty of your location. The afternoon trekking continues for a further 2 hours and passes a small village where you will see the famous passion fruit “granadilla”, and some plantations including coffee, bananas, oranges and the famous coca leaves. You will arrive at the last campsite, La Playa (2350m), at around 4.30pm and will be able to celebrate your last night of camping with a cold beer and, if possible, a game of football with some village locals or your porters.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Evening Meal

Campsite altitude: 2350m

Distance travelled: 16km

Difficulty: Easy

Environment: High Jungle and Cloud Forest

Day 4, La Playa – Llactapata Inca Ruin – Aguas Calientes:

After an early breakfast you will begin your trek with a 1 hour downhill journey to the village of Lucmabamba. At this point you will join the original Inca trail, which was the original route to Vilcabamba and was restored when the area was designated a national park. You will follow this trail for around 3 hours, passing coffee, banana, jungle potato, sweet potato, avocado, and passion fruit plantations along the way, with lovely views of the Santa Teresa Valley. After reaching a pass at 2750m you will start to descend down hill to the fabulous Inca Ruin of Llaqtapata (2700m), a famous Inca site. Your guide will explain to you about the site, while you enjoy the amazing views and some free time to rest and observe the mountain of Machu Picchu from afar. From the Inca ruin a further 2 hour trek will bring you to the Hydroelectric Plant (1870m) where you will have the last lunch of the trek all together with the porters and chef. You will have around 1 hour free time to relax, or to visit the astronomical rock which was connected with Machu Picchu's sun dial rock, and then at 4.30pm you'll take a train to the town of Aguas Calientes. Upon arrival you will check in to your hotel, have a nice hot shower, and will be able to unwind in the hot springs (not included). Afterwards you will have dinner in one of the restaurants.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Evening Meal

Hotel altitude: 2000m

Distance travelled: 12km

Difficulty: Moderate

Environment: Tropical Forest

Day 5, Travel to Machu Picchu, The Lost City of the Inca:

Today you will wake very early in the morning in order to reach Machu Picchu in time to see the sunrise: following a breakfast in the hotel you will depart by bus to Machu Picchu, which opens at 6.00am. You will arrive early and will visit the famous “postcard” photograph location to wait for the sun to rise over the majestic UNESCO World Heritage site. Afterwards your guide will take you for a 3 hour tour around the site, showing you all the most important locations within the world-famous site. You’ll then have plenty of free time to explore the site by yourself, or, if you wish, to climb Huayna Picchu (the mountain behind Machu Picchu). Afterwards you will take the bus down to Aguas Calientes to enjoy a final lunch (not included) with your trekking group before taking the train back to Cusco.

Meals: Breakfast

Machu Picchu altitude: 2400m

Distance travelled: 1km

Difficulty: Easy

Environment: Tropical Forest


  • Collection from Cusco on day 1
  • Transfer in private transport to Mollepata
  • 2 person tents
  • Foam mattresses (Carried by horses)
  • Dining and cooking tents with tables and chairs
  • English speaking professional guide (2 guides for groups over 10 people)
  • 3 meals per day, a tea break “happy hour” every afternoon and snacks every morning
  • First aid kit including emergency oxygen tank
  • Chef, cooking equipment and kitchen tent
  • Porters, horsemen and horses (to carry tents, food, cooking equipment)
  • Extra personal porter of 7kg / 14 pounds
  • Emergency horse
  • Boiled water every morning, lunch, “happy hour”, and dinner time
  • Hot water for your plastic bottle to sleep and water for washing
  • Train from the Hydroelectric Plant to Aguas Calientes
  • Backpacker-class Tourist Train from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo and transfer back to Cusco
  • Entrance fee to Machu Picchu Archaeological Complex
  • Return bus ticket from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu
  • Guided tour of Machu Picchu
  • Hotel in Aguas Calientes
  • Duffel bag for your belongings

Not Included:

  • Lunch on the final day in Aguas Calientes
  • Sleeping bag (can be rented – please ask for further details)
  • Walking sticks (can be purchased in Cusco, or rented – please ask for further details)
  • Entrance to climb Huayna Picchu (if this is something you would like to do please let us know in advance when making your booking so we can reserve entry for you, as there are only a limited number of places per day)
  • Tips for staffs (Guide, cook, donkey driver, porters)

Trekking Check-List of Things to Bring:

  • Good backpack or daypack
  • Good sleeping bag
  • Hiking boots
  • Walking sticks
  • Hat / Gloves
  • Warm clothes + spare clothes (the temperature changes - you might experience 4 seasons all in one day)
  • Camera
  • Sun Cream
  • Sunglasses
  • Sun Hat
  • Insect repellent
  • Rain poncho (you can buy this in Cusco or on the trek)
  • Toiletries, toilet paper, towel
  • Swimming Shorts / Swimming Suit (if you want to go to the hot springs)
  • Sandals are recommended to get changed in the evenings
  • Scarf
  • Bottle for carrying drinking water
  • Personal medical kit
  • Passport (original required, copies are not sufficient for entrance to Machu Picchu)
  • Torch
  • Plastic bags (to keep things dry)
  • Snacks

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