Cusco to Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu is the most popular alternative route to the Classic Inca Trail. Primarily because Salkantay Trail requires no permit and offers captivating views at every turn.
We have curated the five days of Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu itinerary to give you an experience of nature, culture, and history. This incredible trek begins up in the Andes closer to the snow-capped mountains and takes you down to down to the lush cloud forests.
Unlike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, Salkantay Trek seldom has any Inca ruins on the way. It is more of an adventure and nature. On the first day of your Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu, you will have the option of visiting the hidden gem of the Andes, the famous turquoise lake, Laguna Humantay.
On the second day of this five-day Salkantay Trail, we will be hiking up to the Salkantay Pass. The fourth day of this experience takes you to one of the most spectacular Inca ruins, Llactapata. The final day is all for the tour to the Lost City of the Incas.
Renowned travel magazine, National Geographic, recognized Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu as one of the best 25 treks in the world.
On the last day of the trek, after visiting Machu Picchu, you will have the option of climbing Huayna Picchu mountain or Machu Pichu mountain. Please note, you will need a permit to hike
Salkantay Trail is a challenging experience. The highest point is Salkantay Pass at 4630 meters above sea level (15,190 ft.). You will need to be reasonably fit, physically to enjoy the trek the most.
To avoid altitude sickness, we highly recommend that you spend at least 3 to 4 days in Cusco to acclimatize. You may choose to visit the Sacred Valley or hike Rainbow Mountain. Doing some physical activity will help you acclimate sooner.
Salkantay is a part of the Peruvian Andes. It is subject to two seasons, dry season and rainy season. It will be ideal to do Salkantay Trekking during the dry season, between March and November.
FLY CUSCO PERU Travel Agency is one of the main tour operators in Peru. We are trusted by our travelers, with comfortable, efficient, and friendly services. We have developed the optimal routes and services that adapt perfectly to your needs. Focus on exploration, enjoy the trip, and safety, first and foremost.
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Cusco Hotel Transfer
Your adventure to Salkantay begins with an early morning pickup from your hotel in Cusco at 0400 AM. We will embark on a two hours drive to Mollepata. Our vehicles are equipped with state of the art facilities to offer you the utmost comfort on your trip. You can wink a nap so you will arrive fresh to start your Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu.
We will be having a brief stop in Mollepata, you can stop for an optional breakfast. Then we will continue to Challacancha. Here we will begin our five-day trek.
Our crew, horsemen, and chef will be meeting us here. After a short safety briefing and equipment checks, we will gradually begin our three hours trek to Soraypampa. It is a small village at 3900m/12,795 ft. above sea level.
The first section of the trek is a lot easier, you will then start hiking up the hill through sights of deep valleys and glaciers. We will also be hiking along the restored Inca Water channel which serves the local communities even today. It is 7kms/4.35 miles.
At Soraypampa, we will be heading straight to our campsite. Our Andean chef will be serving you a traditional lunch.
After lunch, you will have an option of hiking up to the Andean turquoise lake, Laguna Humantay. It nestles at 4,200m /13,780 ft.
It normally takes three hours to hike back and forth on this 3kms./1.86 miles stretch. Humantay Lake is a hidden gem, high up in the Peruvian Andes. It is snuggled in between the Salkantay Mountain and Humantay Mountain.
This glacier lake is fed by the melting snow of Mount Humantay. It is truly an unmissable sight.
After visiting the lake, we will be returning to our campsite where we will be serving you dinner before you crawl into your tent to sleep under the clear dark Andean sky dotted with constellations.
Our crew will be waking you up to a cup of freshly brewed Peruvian coffee or tea. We will then serve a nutritious traditional breakfast.
After breakfast, we will be hiking to the Salkantay Pass. At 4630m/15,190ft this is the highest point of the Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu. We normally hike the 7km./4.34miles stretch in three hours.
Locals refer to this challenging part of the trek as the “trail of the seven snakes” because of several switchbacks.
From the summit, you will be getting a magnificent view of the mighty Salkantay Peak (6,271m / 20,574 ft) and the valley below. Salkantay is the second highest peak in the region, after Ausangate. It is a sacred entity in the Andean mythology and locals refer to it as “Apus” – a father figure.
After soaking in the views and catching up with breath, we will begin a downhill hike on a 6kms/3.72 miles stretch to Huayracmachay. It is a small village at 3,850m / 12,631 ft. Here we will be stopping for lunch.
After relishing a traditional Andean lunch, we will be hiking down the hill to the cloud forest in the Amazon Jungle. The 9-kilometres/ 5.59 miles stretch can easily be hiked in three hours. You will witness a drastic change in view as we will be descending from the Andes to the Amazon rainforest.
You will get to see many distinct species of flora and fauna here. Our guide will be explaining them to you.
Once in Chaullay (2,900m / 9,514 ft), we will be heading to our exclusive campsite where you will be spending the night after a lavish dinner.
The third day of the Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu is a relatively easier day. We will be waking you up at 0600 AM for breakfast. Then we will embark on a hike to La Playa through the picturesque Santa Teresa Valley.
We will be having more downhill than uphill hikes. The route offers stunning views of the lush tropical jungle, waterfalls, orchids, and many native plantations like Avocados, Banana, and more.
Along the way, we will be having a brief stop in Collpapampa. This village is home to the Peruvian National Bird, the Andean Cock of the Rock. Collpapampa is also home to many coffee farms and hot springs. You can spend the afternoon taking a dip in the fresh natural thermal waters.
We will then continue our hike to La Playa where we will serve a traditional lunch. After lunch, we will continue for an hour to Lucmabamba (2,000m/6,562 ft). We will be camping here for the night.
After settling in our accommodation, we will be spending the evening touring the coffee farms. This region produces the best coffee and exports a large quantity to North America, Europe and Asia.
Our tour guide along with a local farmer will be explaining the coffee farming, roasting and brewing process. We will then visit an Avocado farm and an Orange farm.
After the tour, we will be returning you to our campsite for dinner. You will fall asleep to the sounds of chirping birds.
The last trek on this five days Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu. After a typical breakfast, we will be hiking through the renowned Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. We will be hiking for two hours up the hill with captivating views of Santa Teresa Valley to the Llactapata Archaeological site. It nestles at 2,700m / 8,858 ft and sits overlooking Machu Picchu.
Llactapata is the first Inca ruin that we will be visiting on this five days Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu. Our local expert will be giving you a detailed tour of the complex where you will be getting an insight into the Inca civilization.
You will also get a first view of the world wonder, Machu Picchu citadel snuggled between Huayna Picchu and Manchu Picchu peaks.
We will then hike for two hours down the hill with a view of Machu Picchu on one side. We will be having a brief stop in Aobamba for lunch before continuing to Hidro Electrica (1,800m / 5,906ft).
Once in Aguas Calientes, we will be accommodating you in a three-star hotel room for the night. Aguas Calientes is also famous for hot springs. You can spend the evening taking a refreshing dip in the thermal waters.
Early in the morning, after breakfast, we will be taking the 25 minutes bus ride up the hill to the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu. Our tour guide will assist you in passing through the security control here.
Please note that it is imperative that you carry your original passport which will be verified against your ticket to let you enter.
Once inside the citadel, you will be witnessing the glorious rays of the sun beaming its light on the walls of the Inca citadel. Our local expert will begin the tour with a brief introduction to the Inca civilization.
On this two hours guided tour, we will be visiting the strategic parts of the citadel. The main plaza, remains the Inca temples and royal quarters, a ceremonial center, and more. After this immersive tour, you will have some free time to explore the citadel on your own.
If you have permits to climb Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu mountain, our tour guide will be directing you to the respective trailhead. Alternatively, you can hike to the Sungate. This is the point through which those hiking the esteemed Inca Trail to Machu Picchu enter Machu Picchu from.
You won’t need any permits to visit the sun gate nor does it have any cost. It offers a panoramic view of the citadel.
Once you have had your fill of Machu Picchu, you will be taking the bus back to Aguas Calientes. You will have some free time here. You can stop for lunch at a local restaurant or take a quiet saunter through the narrow cobblestoned streets rimmed with markets selling souvenirs.
Later in the evening, you will be boarding the train back to Ollantaytambo. Our representative will be meeting you on arrival and will transfer you back to your hotel in Cusco. We will be reaching Cusco by 09:00 PM.