Salkantay or Salcantay

Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu

When we want to hike through Machu Picchu, the first thing that comes to our mind is the famous Inca Trail and when we found out that there is no longer available, we just look for Salkantay Trek.

Many travelers want to go to Machu Picchu by Inca Trail, and thats why the Peruvian government decided not only to limit daily access but also to impose strict Inca Trail Regulations.

We know how frustrating and hard it is to not be able to get or find a permit because if you want to book you have to do it 4 months in advance and sometimes there are no permits left.

What is Salkantay Trail?

The Salkantay trek is one of the most popular alternative treks to Machu Picchu besides Inca Trail, the reason is because it offers to hikers an incredibly diverse trekking experience.

The National Geographic Adventure Magazine rated this Salkantay trek as one for the 25 Best Treks in the World.

This popular trek is one that you completed in 5 Days /4 Night; however it is possible to do the trek on a 4 Days.

The name of the trek comes from the mountain named as Salkantay (Quechua) Salcantay (Spanish).

The Salkantay Mountain

Salkantay Mountain or Nevado Salcantay is one of the most iconic mountains in the Cusco region and the highest mountain on the Willkapampa range, it is 6,271 m (20,574 ft). It is 12th highest mountain in Peru and the 38th highest in the Andes.

If you want to read more about this mountain read in wikipedia

The Best Experience Ever

All our treks to Salkantay are custom-designed tours alternative to the traditional Inca Trail. Off the beaten path, this is a cutting edge experience for adventure travelers looking for a little more privacy and authenticity. With more spectacular views, the salkantay trek offers the solitude and quiet contemplation such a sacred path deserves.

Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu: The best alternative trek to Inca Trail​

The Salkantay hike crosses the Salkantay Pass, witch it is at 4600 m above sea level. Then descends into the cloud forest and passes Llactapata ruins, a Inca citadel, the trek includes an incredible view of Machu Picchu.

  • Altitude: 6,271 m / 20,574 ft.
  • High Season: April – November
  • Duration: 5 days / 4 nights
  • Level of Difficulty: Challenging due to the altitude: we recommend a period of at least 2 days for acclimatization in Cusco or over 3000m/9840ft.
  • Route: Open all year round, there are no permit limitations like Inca Trail.
  • Type of Tour: Best Alternative Trek to Machu Picchu
  • Departures Day: Daily departures are available during the year.

Salkantay Trek Tour Itinerary


Salkantay Trek Tips and Advices

  1. No matter what time of year, the road cools at night. Bring a warm sleeping bag and put your clothes in layers.
  2. You will need a good warm sleeping bag. Whenever possible, we recommend that you bring your own sleeping bag, however, the appropriate ones can be hired locally (for approximately US $ 25) but we can not assume any responsibility for the standard.
  3. If you plan to hire a bag, it is a good idea to bring a silk sleeping bag liner to use on the inside for extra warmth and comfort. A bag of four seasons (or -10) is recommended for the winter months.
  4. At other times, it will probably be fine in a bag of 3 stations (or -4 / -5), although this depends on how much you feel the cold and is administered only as a guide. On the trip from Salkantay to Machu Picchu wheeled mats are provided; However, for comfort and warmth, the thermal-style mattresses can also be purchased in Cusco for US $ 15.

Traveling in right season and what to bring

  1. If you travel in winter and do not want to invest in a 4-season bag, you can consider buying a bag of 3 more stations a sleeping bag liner and bring additional clothes.
  2. Whatever you wear on your feet, the most important thing is comfort. It is vital to make sure your boots are well-placed and light.
  3. The ankle and waterproofing is recommended, but if you already have something comfortable with a good grip on the rocks, do not rush to buy new boots. You’ll be better off with your well-used pair!
  4. Other mandatory items: sturdy shoes, a flashlight (with new batteries), tablets to purify water, high-calorie snacks and a basic first aid kit. Swimsuit for the hot springs of Aguas Calientes.
  5. You can rent towels for 3 soles. Flipflops / thongs / jandals – If you want to take a shower on the third night.

Some tips for Altitude sickness

  1. Altitude sickness is serious and can ruin your trip. The biggest mistake you can make is to fly directly to Cuzco (3326 m / 10,910 ft) and expect to walk the next day. Take a few days to adjust to the altitude first.

What Company Choose?

  1. Choose your trekking agency with care. Compare and ask many questions: what will you have to take, how many people will go to the tent, how many porters for the group, if there are arrangements for special diets. It is worth paying more for a reputable agency that treats its porters well and respects the environment.

About weather

  1. At any time of the year, the weather in Machu Picchu can change in an instant. Prepare with a poncho or a light rain jacket, only in the case.

Other advices

  1. Be sure to get your passport stamped with the Machu Picchu seal. There is a small office just after the entrance where you can do this.
  2. Only small backpacks of less than 20 kg are allowed in Machu Picchu. There is a storage office just after the main entrance that charges 3 soles (US $ 1) to store your things for the day.
  3. To the left of the entrance to Machu Picchu there is a pharmacy and a medical service available. The service is operated by Clinica ‘s Pardo and San José (from Cusco).
  4. The entrance to the Huayna Picchu mountain is limited to 400 people per day, 200 at 7-8 a.m. and another 200 from 10-11 a.m. Machu Picchu tickets must be purchased in advance.
  5. If you are afraid of heights, it is not recommended to walk through Huayna Picchu. At the top, the road is very narrow and very steep.

Salkantay Trek Without Guide

Is it possible to go to Machu Picchu by Salkantay Trek Without Guide?

The answer is yes, but you have to take several things in mind before going on your own and without a guide.

  1. Be prepared for height.
  2. Be in good physical condition
  3. Wanting to go to Machu Picchu.
  4. Check the cost below.

Costs of Salkantay Trek Solo

Going to salkantay trek without guide will be not a good idea, but even we don’t recommended you can do it.

Here a list of Cost for going to Machu Picchu by Salkantay Alone or Without a Guide.

  • Bus from Cusco to Mollepata (Colectivo – like public trasnportation): 15 soles
  • Taxi from Mollepata to Soraypampa: 80 soles for 3 people
  • Mollepata Tickets: 10 soles
  • Rent a tent in Chaullay: 10 soles
  • Sahuayaco to Hidroelectrica (Colectivo): 15 soles
  • Hostel in Aguas Calientes: 30 soles
  • Machu Picchu main grounds ticket: 152 soles
  • Group tour in Machu Picchu: 30 soles
  • Bus from Hidroelectrica to Cusco: 30 soles

Total food costs (food we packed for camping, one restaurant meal in Aguas Calientes): 50 soles

TOTAL COST: 422 soles ≈ $125 USD (Price will change, and depends what time of the year you are going)

Other optional prices below.

  • Hostel bed/tent at a guesthouse in Chaulley: 20-30 soles
  • Macchu Pichu main grounds + Montaña Machu Picchu ticket: 200 soles
  • Macchu Pichu main grounds + Huayna Picchu ticket: 200 soles

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