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The Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu
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Highlights

  • Walking quieter trails on a rewarding and classic trek to Machu Picchu.
  • Completing one of National Geographic Magazine's 'Best 25 Treks in the World'.
  • Enjoy the changing scenery from dramatic mountains to lush cloud forests.
  • Exploring lively Cusco, with its colonial and Inca architecture, and markets.
  • Taking in views of the mighty Salkantay with its snowcapped peaks.

A fine alternative to the Inca Trail, the quieter Salkantay Trek offers five days of exhilarating trekking, culminating in a visit to the world-renowned Inca city of Machu Picchu.

Starting with two essential acclimatisation days in the Andes, you will explore the colonial architecture, colourful markets and impressive Inca ruins of Cusco, Pisac and Ollantaytambo. Travel from Cusco across the Antapampa into the Apurimac watershed and the start of your trek at Mollepata. In the company of an expert bi-lingual guide, and in a small group of up to 12 fellow trekkers, you will trek across the Cordillera Vilcabamba, past Mt Humantay and the mighty Salkantay into the tranquil Santa Teresa valley. Hiking through this cloud forest, traversing high passes with incredible views, you will enjoy views of Machu Picchu from the southern face offering a different perspective to the views from the classic Inca Trail, and finally arrive by train to Machu Picchu, one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

Day 1: Arrive Cusco, afternoon at leisure

Arriving in Cusco you’ll be met by our team and whisked away to your hotel. We recommend that you take the rest of the day to relax and slowly acclimatise as Cusco is at 3400m above sea level.


Cusco is famed for its colonial monuments as well as its Inca relics, and this afternoon you may wish to take a gentle stroll around the fascinating market, or even take an optional tour to the nearby ruins at Sacsayhuaman.


Overnight: Amaru, Cusco


Day 2: Explore the Sacred Valley

A full day’s guided excursion to the Sacred Valley ensures you make the most of your time in Peru. Visit the Pisac ruins and market, then continue down the Urubamba Valley. Following a delicious lunch at a local restaurant, reach the small town of Ollantaytambo, which is surrounded by an Inca fortress. Learn all about the history of this area from your friendly expert guide.


Overnight: Amaru, Cusco


Day 3: Transfer to Soraypampa/Trek to Salkantaypampa

Leaving Cusco, you are transferred to the start of your trek. You pass Cruzpata, Oncopata and Checchicancha and glimpse your first view of the impressive Mt. Humantay before reaching Soraypampa at 3900m.  Encounter small settlements of cattle herders before continuing to your first camp at the base of the mighty Mt Salkantay with its snow-capped peaks.


Trek: Approx 3-4 hours.


Dinner & Overnight: Tented camp, Salkantaypampa (4145m)


You’ll sleep at quiet campsites in good quality two-man tents (usually Eureka! Tents, approx 2.23m x 1.93m), on flexible mattresses. Sleeping bags can be hired if you so wish. The camp crew includes cooks, porters carrying equipment, and assistants. There is a kitchen and dining tent with stools.


Day 4: Trek to Collpapampa

Today you will head up a winding switchback trail to a glacial moraine before reaching the highest pass of the trek, Apacheta Pass. Take in incredible views which include Incachiriaska pass, and the vast expanse of the moraine. From here the trail winds its way downhill to the Santa Teresa River.


Trek: 12km, approx 8 hours 


Overnight: Tented camp, Collpapampa (2,950m)


Day 5: Trek to Lucmabamba

Descend to Lucmabamba today through the Santa Teresa river valley. The surrounding terrain changes from dramatic mountains to lush vegetation as you trek through this tranquil cloud forest. After two hours walking, reach Playa Sahuayaco, and then another two hours bring you down to Lucmabamba.


Trek: 7km, approx 4 hours


Overnight: Tented camp, Lucmabamba (2,050m)


Day 6: Trek to Hidro. Train to Machu Picchu Village

Today you begin your ascent to Q’elloqasa pass at 2875m. Continuing through dense cloud forest surrounded by diverse flora and fauna, you will be rewarded with your first view from the distance of  the southern face of Machu Picchu. Descend to the junction of the Aobamba and Urubamba valleys before arriving at the hydroelectric station, from where you will take a short train ride to Machu Picchu village, where you spend the night at a lovely local hotel.


Trek: 10km, approx 7 Hours.


Overnight: Inka Town Hotel, Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu Village)


Day 7: Explore Machu Picchu, train to Cusco

This morning is dedicated to a guided tour of Machu Picchu—an in-depth exploration of the ancient citadel’s remains, learning about past and present Andean life. In the afternoon, take the expedition train back to Cusco then transfer back to your hotel.


Overnight: Amaru, Cusco


Day 8: Onward Travel

Your adventure comes to an end after breakfast, when you will be transferred to Cusco airport.

Accommodation

In Cusco, Ollantaytambo and Aguas Calientes you will stay in the properties listed or in comparable/similar accommodation (dependent on availability), all are around a 3* standard and conveniently located for local attractions.


Amaru Hostal, Cusco


Charming Amaru Hostal is located in the heart of Cusco’s artistic ‘San Blas’ area, just two blocks from the main plaza. Stay in lovely rooms with private facilities, with coca tea and WiFi provided.



Inka Town Hotel


Inka Town has 20 comfortable en suite rooms, all with views, cable TV, telephone, and hairdryer. It is also possible to take advantage of the laundry service (payable locally).


Eureka Tents


Whilst on trek you will stay at quiet campsites in good quality two-man tents—usual information is as follows: Eureka! Tent Fits 3 Persons max. (used for 2 persons), floor dimensions: 2.23m x 1.93m, weight: 3.6kg, aluminium poles, 2 doors, 2 windows, 2 lobbies.


You can rent sleeping bags—please ask us in advance.


Single Rooms and Solo Walkers

A supplement is payable for single occupancy—please note that we do not place strangers together in a tent, so if you are a solo traveller or travelling in a group with uneven numbers, then a single occupancy supplement will apply.


Meals

In Cusco you will stay on a breakfast basis, and on Days 2 and 7 (which are transfers-in-excursion) you will enjoy a lovely lunch at a local restaurant. Breakfast, snacks, lunch and dinner are included whilst on the trek (excluding alcoholic drinks). Food whilst on trek is simple but tasty.


A typical trekking day may look something like this:



06:00 Wake-up cup of tea



07:00 Breakfast of yoghurt, granola, chuta bread, sliced cheese, tea/coffee Mid-morning: Snack of fruit (banana, apple), chocolate, munay nuts



13:00 Lunch of asparagus soup, grilled chicken & mashed potato



Late afternoon tea: cake, popcorn, tea/coffee



19:00 Dinner of corn soup, beef stew & quinoa, vanilla pudding

Availability

The trekking season runs from March to December. You can start this tour on Fridays during the season.


This tour operates with a minimum of two participants, therefore if you are a solo traveller we will need to check first that minimum numbers are reached. Please do not book your flights until we have confirmed your space.


Permits are not required to hike the Salkantay Trek so as long as there are spaces available and a minimum 2 people are booked on the departure will go ahead.


Grade & Terrain

This tour is graded moderate to strenuous, and on walking days you will be trekking for between 5 and 8 hours. You will be trekking at high altitude and we recommend that you enjoy a good level of physical fitness before tackling this trek. The trails are generally well maintained and are a good walking surface.


Equipment

While trekking you will only have to carry a day bag with water, snacks, spare clothes and your camera. Your main bag will be moved by a porter. You must limit your luggage to one bag of up to 8kg per person. It is possible to store excess luggage at your hotel in Cusco.


We will supply you with a detailed equipment list as part of your pre-departure information pack. You will need normal walking and travelling gear as well as a sleeping bag and warm clothes.


Meals

In Cusco you will stay on a breakfast basis, and on Days 2 and 7 (which are transfers-in-excursion) you will enjoy a lovely lunch at a local restaurant. Breakfast, snacks, lunch and dinner are included whilst on the trek (excluding alcoholic drinks). Food whilst on trek is simple but tasty.


A typical trekking day may look something like this:


06:00 Wake-up cup of tea


07:00 Breakfast of yoghurt, granola, chuta bread, sliced cheese, tea/coffee


Mid-morning: Snack of fruit (banana, apple), chocolate, munay nuts


13:00 Lunch of asparagus soup, grilled chicken & mashed potato


Late afternoon tea: cake, popcorn, tea/coffee


19:00 Dinner of corn soup, beef stew & quinoa, vanilla pudding


Guide & Porters

Quality guides make the difference between a great trip and an wonderful experience. Our Peruvian guides are fully qualified and trained. All have many years experience of guiding trekkers in Peru, and speak excellent English. They bring a wealth of knowledge to your journey, opening your eyes to the legends, culture, food, flora and fauna of the Andes. Additionally they are first aid trained and fully trained and experienced in dealing with cases of altitude sickness. They also carry a comprehensive first aid kit.


Your luggage and the camp equipment will be transported by porters who come from the local communities (Soqma, Pallata, Willoq etc) around the Sacred Valley. This kind of work allows them to support their family and communities. All porters have a specific task, dependent on the size of the group: cook, porters’ chief, assistant cook, tent attendant, WC attendant. Weight is an essential variable on the Salkantay Trek (each porter carries max. 24kg). All camp equipment weight is pre-measured to fit within the weight requirements for the porters’ health and safety. Tips are not included in our arrangements, and guidance will be given on this in our information pack. Each group tends to contribute approx $300 in total to the whole crew.


General Information:

The distances and ascents/descents are approximations of the recommended routes. Please be prepared by packing all necessary items, (for example, proper rain gear jacket and pants, sun hat, sunscreen). Your information pack has a detailed equipment list which includes standard walking gear such as good walking boots or shoes, warm and waterproof clothes for the cooler months and lightweight clothing for summer, and a day pack.


Travel Information

Flights to Cusco


Flights to Cusco are available via Lima (Cusco-Lima is approx. 1h10 by air) from the UK, Europe and worldwide. Airlines include British Airways, KLM, LAN Peru, and United Airlines.


Travel Insurance

It is a requirement of booking this trip that you have adequate travel insurance in place, including for emergency medical evacuation and/or curtailment of your trip. Please ensure that you check your policy as it should include cover for trekking at altitude.

Flights to Cusco

Flights to Cusco are available via Lima (Cusco-Lima is approx. 1h10 by air) from the UK, Europe and worldwide. Airlines include British Airways, KLM, LAN Peru, and United Airlines.


Travel Insurance

It is a requirement of booking this trip that you have adequate travel insurance in place, including for emergency medical evacuation and/or curtailment of your trip. Please ensure that you check your policy as it should include cover for trekking at altitude.


 


Included

  • Return transfers from Cusco Airport to Cusco accommodation (Days 1 & 8).
  • 4 Nights 3* standard accommodation (3 nts in Cusco, 1 nt Aguas Calientes) in a room with en suite facilities.
  • 3 Nights accommodation on a full board basis in a two-man tent whilst on trek.
  • Lunch on Days 2, 6 and 7.
  • Full day excursion to the Sacred Valley.
  • Transportation to the start of the trek.
  • Bilingual trekking guide services during the trek and tour of the citadel of Machu Picchu.
  • All Peruvian staff and porters insurance and wages.
  • Train from Hidro to Machu Picchu Village on Day 6.
  • Expedition train from Aguas Calientes to Cusco (Poroy Station).
  • Transfer from Cusco station to hotel on Day 7.
  • Detailed pre-departure information pack and guide book.

Excluded

  • International flights to/from Lima and Cusco.
  • Lunches on Days 1 & 8.
  • Dinners in Cusco & Aguas Calientes.
  • Travel Insurance.
  • Personal equipment.
  • Extra drinks (including all alcoholic drinks), snacks, laundry.
  • Tips for your trekking crew (expected, but not mandatory).

Extras

  • Additional nights in Cusco or elsewhere in Peru.
  • Single room supplement for hotels if single rooms required.
  • Solo Trekker supplement (if single occupancy of a two-man tent, or uneven number in the group means a single tent is required).
  • Sleeping bag hire for during trek.

How far in advance do I need to book?

The Salkantay Trek is very popular and spaces are limited, so we recommend early booking to make sure you are not disappointed. 

Do I need a permit to do the Salkantay Trek?

You do not require a permit to do the Salkantay Trek which is good news if you have tried to book on the busier Inca Trail and the permits are sold out. 

How does it work with the guide and porters on the trek?

Quality guides make the difference between a great trip and an wonderful experience. Our Peruvian guides are fully qualified and trained. All have many years experience of guiding trekkers in Peru, and speak excellent English.

They bring a wealth of knowledge to your journey, opening your eyes to the legends, culture, food, flora and fauna of the Andes.

Additionally they are first aid trained and fully trained and experienced in dealing with cases of altitude sickness. They also carry a comprehensive first aid kit.

Your luggage and the camp equipment will be transported by porters who come from the local communities (Soqma, Pallata, Willoq etc) around the Sacred Valley. This kind of work allows them to support their family and communities. All porters have a specific task, dependent on the size of the group: cook, porters’ chief, assistant cook, tent attendant, WC attendant. Weight is an essential variable on the Salkantay Trek (each porter carries max. 24kg). All of our equipment weight is pre-measured to fit within the weight requirements for our porters’ health and safety. Tips are not included in our arrangements, and guidance will be given on this in our information pack..

What equipment do I need?

While trekking you will only have to carry a day bag with water, snacks, spare clothes and your camera. Your main bag will be moved by a porter. You must limit your luggage to one bag of up to 8kg per person. It is possible to store excess luggage at your hotel in Cusco.

We will supply you with a detailed equipment list as part of your pre-departure information pack. You will need normal walking and travelling gear as well as a sleeping bag and warm clothes.

How fit do I need to be?

This tour is graded moderate to strenuous, and on walking days you will be trekking for between 5 and 8 hours. You will be trekking at high altitude and we recommend that you enjoy a good level of physical fitness before tackling this trek. The trails are generally well maintained and are a good walking surface.

When is the best time of year?

The trekking season on the Salkantay Trek is from March to December. Many consider the best months to do the Salkantay Trek are from May to September when the conditions are fairly dry and the weather generally sunny. Please bear in mind however that you'll be trekking at altitude, and the months of  June, July and August can also be very cold at night.


REVIEW SNAPSHOT®

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macs adventureThe Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu
 
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5.0

Awesome Trip- Thank you Macs

By Jen

from Duluth MN USA

About Me Occasional Traveller

Verified Buyer

Pros

  • Fun
  • Great Accommodations
  • Once in a Lifetime Experience
  • Well Organised

Cons

    Best Uses

    • Holiday
    • Trying Something New

    Comments about macs adventure The Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu:

    We had a fabulous trip. Our family of five extended the typical Salkantay trek by a couple extra days on the front to explore Cusco and the Sacred Valley area (and acclimate, as we're not used to being at this altitude) as well as one extra day in Machu Picchu on the back end. Our trip could not have been better. The local partners that Macs worked with in Peru provided a fantastic guide that was with us for a majority of our trip. Logistics were smooth and seamless and the mule drivers and chefs that joined us for the trek were wonderful. Our guide very quickly caught on to what kind of a family we are and modified our trip to fit our style/pace/desires. We ended up hiking a bit faster than some groups, so explored/camped at a town beyond the planned spot which was an added bonus. Our time at Machu Picchu was enhanced by having a local, knowledgeable guide to usher us through the crowds and help us navigate this amazing but much-visited place. Our hotel accommodations in Cusco were authentic and charming. I can sincerely say that there's not anything we would have changed about our time in Peru, and that this won't be the last trip we do with Macs.

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