Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu

Best Salkantay Trek 5 Days / 4 Nights

About Salkantay trek and Inca Trail

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 Trek?

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 Salcantay 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

DAY 01 : CUSCO – MOLLEPATA – SORAYPAMPA

We will leave from Cusco approximately between 4:30 a.m. and 5:00 a.m.

Our bus will take us to the town of Mollepata (2900 meters above sea level) where we will arrive approximately at 8 in the morning to have breakfast.

During the trip we will have amazing views of the majestic Salkantay mountain, other mountains covered with snow, and the Valley of Apurimac River. We will meet with our support staff, and they will load the equipment on horses and mules.

Around 9:00 a.m. We will begin our trek toward Sayllapata (3200 meters above sea level).

About 1:00p.m., we will have a Peruvian lunch. After lunch, we will continue hiking toward the Soraypampa villages (3850 meters above sea level).

In the afternoon around 5:30, we will arrive to our camp where the tents will be ready for you as well as our dinner.

DAY 02 : SORAYPAMPA – SALKANTAY PASS – HUAYRACPUNKU – CHAULLAY

The second day the nature will change drastically from dry sceneries to snowy peaks and tropical areas.

After our breakfast, we will start the most difficult part of the trek. We will start the hike around 7:00 in the morning. We will hike to a place called Pampas Salkantay, then go toward the left side of the snowy peaks of Umantay located next to the Apu Salkantay.

At midday, we will be on the highest point, witch it is 4600 meters above sea level. Here we will appreciate incredible views of the mountains and the imposing snowy peaks of the Salkantay (6264 meters above sea level) which is known as the second highest mountain of the Cusco region.

Around 1:00 p.m. We will have our lunch in Huayracmachay. After a trek of approximately 3 hours, we will arrive to our camp in Challway (2920 meters above sea level).

Around 7:00p.m., we will rest from the trek and eat dinner.

DAY 03 : CHAULLAY – COLLPAPAMPA – LA PLAYA – SANTA TERESA

The third day will start around 7:00a.m. We will walk for about 6 hours toward Playa Sahuayaco and during this trail; we will observe a town called Collpabamba where waterfalls, thermal hot springs, fruit-bearing trees, varied flora, and birds can be observed. If we are lucky, we will be able to observe the famous bird called the Cock of the Rocks (Gallito de las Rocas), the national bird of Peru!.

From Playa Sahuayaco, we will head to the campsite located at the hot springs of Santa Teresa. It is recommended to bring a bath suit.

Here we will have our dinner and rest.

DAY 04 : SANTA TERESA – HIDROELECTRYC – AGUAS CALIENTES

The fourth day will start with a delicious breakfast.

Around 8:30 a.m we will begin our trek to the village Colpani, we follow this rising trail, from which we will see plantations of coffee, banana, passion fruit and a lovely view of the Santa Teresa Valley.

After that we will arrive a Llactapata ruins, this Inca site is right in front of Machu Picchu.

After the Llactapata, we will continue our trek with a 2 hour downhill hike. On this part of the trail, you are always able to view Machu Picchu until we arrive at the Hidroelectrica train station to have lunch.

DAY 05: AGUAS CALIENTES – MACHU PICCHU SANCTUARY – AGUAS CALIENTES – OLLANTAYTAMBO – CUSCO

In our last day of the trek, we will be able to choose between waking up at 4:30a.m. and walking up to Machu Picchu or taking a bus to Machu Picchu at 7:00a.m.

In Machu Picchu, you will have a guided tour for about two hours and after that you will be free to explore the Citadel and take pictures, or if you desire, ascent toward the Huaynapicchu Mountain. At 2:26p.m. or 6:03p.m. (depending on availability).

At the end we will be taking a train to Ollantaytambo and from there a bus will drive you to your hotel in Cusco.

End of the Amazing Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu.

WHAT IS INCLUDED?

  • Transport.
  • Experienced Guide.
  • Camping equipment.
  • Entry ticket to Machu Picchu Archeological Site.
  • Hostel in Aguas Calientes.
  • 1 Duffle Bag.
  • Cargo Mules.
  • Trekking Cook.
  • Meals: 4 Breakfasts, 4 Lunches, 4 Dinners
  • Medical kit.
  • Train tickets.

WHAT IS NOT INCLUDED?

  • Entrance fee to Salkantay Trail (3 USD).
  • Sleeping Bags.
  • Walking Sticks.
  • First day Breakfast
  • Last Day Lunch and Dinner.
  • Personal clothing and gear.
  • Travel Insurance.
  • Tips for our staff.
  • Additional costs.
  • Optional: If you feel tired after the trek, from Llactapata, you have a option take a train from Hidroelectrica to Aguas Calientes. (Cost: USD $31.00) 

Salkantay Trek Price

Price From: $450 USD

Group service2 People3 People4 People+
Price USD (per Person)450.00440.00420.00

Salkantay Trek Tips and Advices

We list some important salkantay trek tips and advices to go to Machu Picchu by one of the best alternative to Inca Trail.

  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 Tips

  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. Entry 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 Budget

This is a normal budget for the Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu 5 Days, from Cusco and back to Cusco

Budget for Salkantay Trek 5 days / 4 nights

  • Price of the Tour: $ 450 USD
  • Huayna Picchu climb +$15.00 (Optional)
  • Machu Picchu mountain climb +$15.00 (Optional)
  • Rent a sleeping bag +$15.00 (Optional)
  • Rent trekking poles +$15.00 (Optional)
  • Extra horse to carry personal bags +$80.00 (Optional)

If choose all options avobe the Budget for this trek will be: $ 510 USD.

Salkantay Trek Altitude Sickness

Altitude sickness in Salkantay Trek and Cusco can never be predicted; You may not even have it. Physical condition, age and gender are not related to the possibility of nausea.

However, people at higher risk of feeling its effects are those with heart or lung problems. Those with sleep apnea may also experience worse problems at high altitudes.

Symptoms of Altitude Sickness

  • Dizziness, lightheadedness
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Heart racing

Is altitude sickness a problem? What should I do to avoid altitude sickness?

Ways to Avoid Altitude Sickness in Salkantay Trek

First of all do not worry too much, it is not such a serious problem.

  • Take deep breaths.
  • Avoid to drink alcohol.
  • Drink lots of water: Some Headaches goes away only drinking water.
  • Take Diamox: You need to take it 24 hours before arriving in Cusco.
  • Drink coca tea: You will find in many places in Cusco.
  • Buy Oxishot.

Check this video About the explanation about the altitude and oxygen.

Salkantay Trek Reviews

We collect some important reviews from travel websites blog and put to our website, because we consider these comments are very helpful for you.

Review 1 – Trek to Machu Picchu by Salkantay

On the first day of trekking you climb a hill very inclined towards the Humantay Lagoon. Depending on the schedule the color of the water is more green or blue. The second day is very hard because you walk up and down rocks and the climate changes from extreme cold to the heat of the jungle with mosquitoes. Potadores carry up to 5kg of luggage per person (tours parcticulares). But watch the scale because they told me that I had 1kg more than on the first day and I had exactly the same backpack… The food is basic and so are the camps. Beware of the water in the juices and mates. It is quite cold at night and you have to bring repellent and sunscreen for the walks. I thought I was going to touch the snow and be closer to Salkantay, but I didn’t think so. We just passed the Salkantay Abra at 4,600m above sea level and went on, which was a little frustrating. To get to Machu Picchu I recommend taking the bus for $12 because the stairs are very, very hard and you get up too tired to enjoy the guided tour. The hydropower-Aguas Calientes road is also long, but quiet. I recommend lunch at the restaurant El Bailón with menu a s/.10 in Hidroeléctrica.

Traveler On TripAvisor

Review 2 – 5 days Trek to Machu Picchu

The Salkantay trek was one of the most important we had to do on our trip around the world. So, we did a lot of research. We wanted a small group to be able to enjoy that unique experience.
We were as lucky as we were (3 people: my wife, her sister and me) we had a private tour with no other person. Probably the agency is a bit more expensive than others, but in the end it was worth every dollar! The guides were just great! They explained many things to me and it was also fun. Every day he told us what to expect and we took him with us the next day! Excellent expectation management! And he also motivated us, even the weather (snow and rain on the second day). Very important for such Trekking and motivation is the food.

The walk is not easy and you should be prepared. Especially the second day. There is a great altitude and long and steep climbs. In our case, the weather was too. First it rained, then it snowed and it rained again. And there was a very cold wind at the top and the snow felt like little needles. Even for us, who spent the previous weeks in Bolivia at high altitude, it was hard.

Traveler On TripAvisor

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