Salkantay Trek Machu
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Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu

Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu

The best alternative hike to the traditional Inca Trail is the Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu, ranked as one of the most scenic hikes in the world. It boasts  a wide range flora and fauna and striking scenery. During the hike, you will  learn about how local people live off the land, practice their old traditions and the best is that you can share their daily activities with them. Salkantay Mountain (6,271 m/20,700 ft) considered a mountain god (Apu) meaning protector god and  "Guardian Spirit of the Jungle". 

Traverse the Salkantay Trail to Machu Picchu in 5 Days/ 4 Nights, considered one of the most scenic and biodiverse routes, boasting many different types of ecosystems such as Alpine area, tropical high jungle, cloud forest, and eyebrow of the jungle. Admire striking views of snow-topped Mt Salkantay towering at the head of the valley, and learn traditional culture being in remote andean villages inhabitted by farmers, and appreciate the view of Machu Picchu  from the Inca site of LLactapata located at the back of Machu Picchu.


Quick Itinerary:

Day 01: Cusco - Mollepata - Challacancha - Soraypampa

Day 02: Soyrapampa - Collpapampa - Challway

Day 03: Collpapampa - La Playa/Aobamba

Day 04: La Playa/Aobamba - Santa Teresa/Llactapata - Hidroelectrica - Aguas Calientes

Day 05: Santa Teresa/Aguas Calientes - Machu Picchu - Cusco


Highlights of the Salkantay 5 Day Trek: 

  • Explore the striking scenery of the Salkantay Trek;
  • Appreciate the sacred and imposing snow-topped mountain Salkantay;
  • Best alternative hike to the Inca Trail led by a professional and experienced English-speaking tour guide, Chef, Horseman/Muleteer, and horses/mules;
  • Glacial Lake Humantay;
  • Wide range biodiversity;
  • Enjoyed the scenic trail of the Salkantay to Machu Picchu
  • Guided tour of the Inca site of Llactapata Inca siteor enjoy the thermal baths (hot springs) of Santa Teresa;
  • Guided tour of Machu Picchu.


Salkantay 5 Day Trek Altitude:

The Peru Salkantay Trek is one of the most scenic hikes, located in the Vilcabamba range, where snow-topped  Mt Salkantay is located. It has numerous tall peaks, such as Pumasillo(6,070mt),Tucarhuay (5,910 m), Soray(5,010mt) and are all  visible from Phuyu Patamarca site while hiking the Inca Trail walk to Machu Picchu. The Salkantay trek  has deep ravines, which makes this route interesting but at the same time challenging.  Apu "Salkantay" means the spirit guardian of the jungle soaring to  6,271 metres above sea level. Our Salkantay Trek lasts 5 days with striking natural beauties, wide range of birds such as condors, falcons, andean gulls, andean goose, etc., and flora such as: Agave andina, orchid flowers, begonias, bamboo, etc. 

Best Time to Hike Salkantay: 

Cusco Region has two types of marked climates, a rainy season (November to April) and dry season (May to October). The best  season to travel is between May and October. However the Salkantay Trek is available to hike all year round, except in February, the wettest month.

Salkantay Peru Hiking Difficulty:

What to expect during the hike on the Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu? The degree of difficulty of any walk depends as well  on physical condition, health condition and whether you are an experience hiker. This trekking route is rated as moderate to difficult. For this reason, experts recommend pre-training, such as long uphill walks, ideally in the mountains and you have to gradually increase the number of hours you spend walking and as a result, your heart will pump blood more efficiently. It is also highly recommended to arrive in Cusco at least two days prior trek departure to acclimatize. 

Why 5 Day Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu?

The 5D/4N Salkantay Trek route offers outstanding views of Humantay and Salkantay snow-topped peaks with  turquoise-coloured glacial lakes, striking scenery and sacred natural places. 
The melting ice fomed two lakes of the same names and have been highly visited by andean people to enjoy its natural beauty and leave offerings to Pachamama (the goddess Mother earth), the route has a wide range variety of flora and fauna. The Andean ecosystem later changes to subtropical forest, surrounded by green and increasing warm temperatures. Appreciate the stonework of Inca structure remains left to us by our ancestors as a legacy. Enjoy magical and mystical nights with a starry sky making us think and say that it was worth the effort!

Responsible Travel:

Some trekking companies promote themselves as being responsible, however, they have built hotels and sleeping domes along the Salkantay route destroying nature and ruining landscape. We Salkantay Trek Machu do not use igloos neither hotels along the route. We focus on using tents which can be collapsed and taken away after camping. We are a responsible travel company so we leave only footprints behind us on the Salkantay 5 day trek.

Please be aware of using responsible companies when travelling, do not support spoiling nature. 

Day 01: Cusco - Mollepata - Challacancha - Soraypampa

After collecting you from your hotel in the morning, we leave Cusco and after about 4 hours on the road, we arrive at the small village of Mollepata. Upon arrival, we have a delicious breakfast to be able to start hiking this Machu Picchu trek. On the way, we hike through valleys and along snowy mountains observing in the distance the most significant of them: Humantay and Salkantay. This day also brings us the opportunity to explore the beauty of the Humantay Lagoon! In the end, we ascend to Soraypampa where we spend the night in a camp. 

Day 02: Soraypampa - Collpapampa - Challway

With recharged forces, we continue on our way through the Andean "Puna" (highland tundra). During the second day, we reach the highest point of the route: the Salkantay Pass, which is located at an altitude of 4,600 meters above sea level. From here, we descend through a subtropical forest while admiring the transformation of the landscape from Andean highland to subtropically abundant and diverse biodiversity. Eventually, we arrive at the Challway camp, where we spend the night after being served dinner.

Day 03: Challway - La Playa/Aobamba

We begin the third day leaving behind Challway and crossing paths of subtropical forests. During the tour, we can feel the heat and mosquitoes typical of this area, but we also see a big variety of orchids and bromeliads that turn this part of the route into pleasure for the senses. Later, we visit the town of Wiñaypoco to later arrive at "La Playa", a village and place where we are given the chance to choose from 2 options:


1. Hiking to Santa Teresa on the following day.

In this case, you set the next campsite in La Playa to be later served a buffet dinner and spend the night there. 


2. Hiking to Llactapata the next day.

If you choose this option, you keep walking for 2 hours from La Playa to Aobamba, where you camp and have dinner.

Day 04: La Playa/Aobamba - Santa Teresa/Llactapata - Hidroelectrica - Aguas Calientes

During the fourth day, we either trek to the archaeological complex of Llactapata or hike towards Santa Teresa depending on our group. Anyway, we begin the day by having breakfast. 


1. If you are in the group heading to the town of Santa Teresa, you descend to a valley and walk until you get to Santa Maria town. There you get on a bus (for additional 10 soles) and ride to Santa Teresa where you enjoy its thermal baths (hot springs), likely the best in the whole Cusco region!! You spend the night at a hostel in Santa Teresa.


Optional activity: ZIP Line in Santa Teresa for an extra US$ 40.


2. If you are in the group towards Llactapata, then you hike for 4 hours to the hidden archaeological complex of Llactapata (2,840 m) located at the confluence of the Cusichaca and Urubamba rivers. Here, you receive a guided tour and you can observe the mystical mountain of Machu Picchu in the distance. Afterwards, you descend for 4 hours to Hidroeléctrica (a hydroelectric plant and a same-named railway station). At Hidroeléctrica, we walk again, this time along rails, to get to Aguas Calientes town after 2 hours. (Optional: you can take a train). In Aguas Calientes, we accommodate ourselves in a comfortable hostel and then we can relax at the local thermal bath (hot springs). We spend the night in the town and get ready for the last day of the Salkantay Trek 4 day adventure.

Day 05: Santa Teresa/Aguas Calientes - Machu Picchu - Cusco

Today is the most important day of this Machu Picchu trek!

1. If you are at the group in Santa Teresa, you are picked up from your hostel after a very early breakfast and taken by private vehicle to Hidroeléctrica (a hydroelectric plant and a same-named railway station) where you board a train to Aguas Calientes (then, the program is same as for the second group below). 


2. If you are in the group already in Aguas Calientes, then you wake up at around 04:30 am and start climbing up after breakfast towards Machu Picchu. We climb up for 2 hours till we arrive at the Machu Picchu Sanctuary at 06:00 am to begin our guided tour of approximately 2 hours. Our professional guide takes us through the most important places of this archaeological complex. After the tour, we are given free time to be spent either at the site or by a visit to the mountain of Wayna Picchu or the Machu Picchu Mountain (both are optional and must be booked in advance!). In the afternoon, we return to the town of Aguas Calientes where we board the return train to the town of Ollantaytambo. This is where our transport awaits us to bring us back to Cusco City, where we finish this Salkantay Trek 4 days tour.

What is included?

  • Pre-trek briefing (Your guide visits your hotel a day before the trek to give you a briefing);
  • Early morning transfer by private vehicle to Mollepata - the trailhead;
  • Accommodation: Campsite 3 nights and a Hotel in Machu Picchu Town (1 nights);
  • Entrance fee to Humantay, Salkantay and Machu Picchu;
  • Meals: 4x breakfast, 4x lunch, 4x dinner, 4x afternoon hot beverages and snacks every morning (Meals are usually served as a buffet. If you are a vegetarian or have any diet restriction, please advise us in advance. A vegetarian option is for NO extra cost!);
  • Professional bilingual Tour Guide (a group of up to 8 participants receives 1 Guide, a group of over 8 persons receives 2 Guides);
  • Professional Cook;
  • Horseman/Muleteer;
  • Horses/mules to carry food, camping and cooking equipment, and up to 7 kg of each passenger belongings; 
  • An emergency horse can be ridden in case you feel ill.;

  • Boiled and filtered water every day (excluding the first 4 hours of the trek, when you need to bring your own water) to refill your bottle during each meal.
  • Camping equipment: Personal double tents (a 3-person capacity tent to allow our customers greater comfort and also storage for their backpacks), tables and chairs, a cooking tent with cooking equipment, a dining tent, bottled gas, and a toilet tent;
  • Inflatable mattress (Term-A-Rest); 
  • Feather sleeping bag (for up to -16°C!);
  • A pair of hiking poles;
  • A blanket per person;
  • A pillow;
  • Daypack rain cover;
  • Rain poncho;
  • Duffel bag (for your personal belongings);
  • A T-shirt of the Salkantay Trek Map;
  • A shuttle bus down from Machu Picchu to Aguas Calientes Town;
  • Tourist train from Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu) to Ollantaytambo;
  • Private bus from Cusco to Mollepata - the initial point of the Salkantay hike.
  • Private transportation from Ollantaytambo to Cusco;
  • First-aid kit and emergency oxygen bottle.

Not Included

  • Breakfast on day 1 and lunch on the last day;
  • Travel insurance;
  • Entrance fee to Huayna Picchu (extra $25);
  • A shuttle bus up from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu ($12 - one way);
  • Tips to local staff (please note: it is a custom to give tips in Peru; however, it is not obligatory);
  • Other extras not mentioned;
  • Local flights: No local flights are included in the trek´s price!

Meal budget: Please allow USD 20-30 for meals not included.

Inca Trail Vs Alternative Treks

Many people include Cusco Peru in their “Things to Do” list. The main reason is they would like to trek the Classic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. But it is a pity that they do not know there are various authentic Inca Trails Trips to Machu Picchu in the Cusco Region. The difference lies in what kind of an experience you like, whether hiking in the mountains, enjoying subtropical areas, visiting Inca sites; or how difficult your trek would like to be.


Usually, the Inca Trail needs to book many months beforehand. However, if it is fully booked, we suggest other excellent alternatives to reach Machu Picchu:

There are also other alternative treks leading to other not less interesting sites such as:

Salkantay Tour Operators

Salkantay Trek Machu is an experienced, established, and dynamic tour operator. We run Salkantay Treks to Machu Picchu. We have been providing tours for more than 8 years! Our reliable, friendly and personal service is the reason why our customers return year after year. We count on staff who are highly prepared and always ready to offer personalized services. Salkantay Trek Machu operator offers adventure trips with a wide range of diverse styles to suit any person's needs. We would like to welcome you to our Salkantay family and make your trip an unforgettable reality.

Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu Information


  • Up to 7 kg of your personal belonging (including a sleeping bag!) is included in the price of the Short Salkantay Trek and this is carried by horses/mules. If you would like to take extra stuff with you, you can request this at our office - 3 kg extra costs USD 20. 
  • If you have some doubts about your ability to hike, you can hire an extra emergency horse for USD 80.
  • Single Room/Tent: Please note that if you have booked the "Single Room" option for this trek, you receive your own single room and a tent.



Generally speaking, you should pack as lightly as possible! The horses carry your luggage from Soraypampa (1st day) to La Playa camping (3rd day). On the 4th day, your chef takes your luggage by bus to Hidrolectrica. From there to Aguas Calientes, you are expected to carry your own luggage (2-3 hours). We advise keeping the weight under 7 kg/14lb. You need to carry clothes as well as a sleeping bag. It is also advisable to take a cover of your backpack because the weather on the Salkantay Trek might change very quickly. If you do not have it, we recommended you to put your clothes and sleeping bag inside the plastic bag.




It is very important to take some EXTRA MONEY. You should take at least 200-300 Soles with you in case of urgency/need. You might need, for instance:

  • Your first breakfast and/or last lunch (which are not included).
  • Entrance fee to thermal baths (hot springs) that costs around 10 Soles.
  • If you cannot walk on the 5-day Salkantay Trek, you can ride an emergency horse.
  • Local people tend to build small tents on the route where you can find bottled beverages, snacks, chocolate, biscuits, etc.
  • If you feel at the end of your trek that your Guide(s), and other staff have done an excellent job, tipping is always highly appreciated. The amount is entirely up to you, however as a guideline, we suggest each hiker contributes USD 50 per person to a collective tipping pool (more is always appreciated).

What to Bring with You:

  • Original passport (+ copies in case of lost);
  • Original ISIC (an international student card if applicable);
  • Travel insurance (+ copies in case of lost);
  • Pocket money in Nuevos Soles (PEN - Peruvian currency);
  • A backpack;
  • A small rucksack;
  • Rain gear (a rain-jacket and waterproof trousers or a rain poncho - this can be purchased in Cusco);
  • Resistible footwear, waterproof trekking shoes are recommended;
  • Sandals (for a higher comfort while at a campsite);
  • Warm clothes such as a jacket, a fleece (thermal clothing is also recommended for cold nights during camping);
  • Hat or a cap (to protect you against the rain, sun, or cold);
  • Sunscreen or sunblock;
  • After-sun cream or hydrating cream;
  • Insect repellent – a minimum recommended is 20% DEET;
  • Mobile phone with a camera and/or a camera and its charger/batteries (please note that batteries are consumed quickly under cold conditions);
  • Flashlight/headlamp + batteries,
  • Handkerchiefs and toilet paper;
  • Small towel and toiletries;
  • Sufficient reserve of underwear;
  • Swimsuit (if you like to visit the thermal baths of Santa Teresa and/or Aguas Calientes);
  • Snacks (biscuits, energy bars, chocolate, raw fruits, muesli, etc.);
  • Bottled water for the first morning and a water bottle to be refilled.
  • Please note: we provide filtered boiled water during the entire trek, but if you like to use water from streams along the trail, you need to take some water-purifying tablets with you.

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