Walk of the Week: The Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu
How about one of National Geographic Magazine's 'Best 25 Treks in the World' for this week's Walk of the Week?
This feature gives a little bit of the limelight to some of our favourite walking trails, and this one, the Salkantay Trek
, is one of those "tick off the list" lifetime achievements.
In a Nutshell
An alternative to the busier and better known Inca Trail
, this trek is a different perspective on the route to Machu Picchu, one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
4 Trekking Days, our tour is over 7 nights to allow acclimatisation and exploration time.
Moderate - Strenuous
The name of the trek comes from Salkantay, the highest peak in the Willkapampa range (part of the Andes), which you will camp at the base of.
Where is it?
You'll start in Cusco, southeastern Peru, in the Andes mountain range. After some time to acclimatise, with your bi-lingual expert guide a small group of fellow trekkers, you will trek from Mollepata across the Cordillera Vilcabamba, past the impressive peaks of Mt Humantay and the mighty Salkantay into the tranquil Santa Teresa valley.
Hiking through this cloud forest, you will traverse high passes with simply outstanding views, including views of Machu Picchu from the southern face which you wouldn't see on the Inca Trail.
Finally arrive by train at Machu Picchu, and marvel at the mystery and aura of what is possibly the world’s best known archaeological site.
Why walk it?
When most of us think about Machu Picchu, we think of the Inca Trail, which is indeed a wonderful and life-changing/life-affirming/transformative-adjective-of-your-choice experience.
If you want to walk the Inca Trail, you have to plan ahead. Only a limited number of permits to walk the trail are issued each year, and when they are released each January they are snapped up on a first-come-fist served basis. We've got some info on Inca Trail permits on our blog
too. No permits are needed for the Salkantay Trek (at the moment) as it doesn't have the same footfall, so you can book the Salkantay as an alternative to the Inca Trail.
However, we don't think the Salkantay is a "second choice" by any means. Both are wonderful experience, and many argue that the Salkantay Trek has far better scenery than the Inca Trail, describing the Inca Trail as a walk to the ruins, but the Salkantay Trek as being all about "the walk", which also happens to include a visit to the fascinating ruins at the end!
There is always an extra sense of adventure associated with taking the less-trodden path too, and just that little bit better of a story to tell the grandkids!
Planning to Walk the Salkantay Trek
The dry season runs from April to October when there is most sunshine and least chance of rain, however, both treks (and especially Machu Picchu itself) can be busy from June to July, so go for April-May or September-October.
Daytime temperatures reach 20-25 degrees during the day, but nights are often quite cold (especially in June and July – another reason for avoiding then!).
You'll need to plan in time to acclimatise, Cusco itself is 3400m above sea level. You can read more about altitude sickness here
if you have any concerns.
Macs Adventure offer an 8 Day & 7 Night itinerary which includes guides, porters, meals, and your accommodation in both hotels and quality tents, taking the hassle out of planning. You can see more on our website, or contact specialist Laura Paterson at [email protected] if you’d like more information.
We hope our Walk of the Week series inspires you to discover new trails. Happy trekking!