The best alternative hike to the traditional Inca Trail is the Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu, ranked as one of the wonderfully scenic hikes in the world boasting a great diversity of ecosystems. During the total length of the hike, you will be amazed by the surrounding scenery, food crops, medicinal plants, bamboos, colorful flowers like begonias, orchids, etc. Traversing the Salkantay Trail to Machu Picchu in 5 Days/ 4 Nights leads you through the most scenic and biodiverse routes with different ecosystems such as Alpine area, tropical high jungle, cloud forest, etc. The Andean people live off the land, farm cattle, poultry, and guinea pigs, and keep practicing their old traditions. The Salkantay Mountain soars to 6,271 m/20,700 ft considered by the local people a protector mountain god (Apu), and "Guardian Spirit of the Jungle". Enjoy the striking views of snow-topped Mt Salkantay towering at the head of the valley, and admire views of the valley mountains with remote Andean villages located at the base of them. On the penultimate day of the tour, you will be astounded by the view of Machu Picchu from the Inca site of LLactapata located at the back of Machu Picchu, the Inca sanctuary of Machupicchu. Finally, you will explore the Inca sanctuary of Machupicchu, one of the seven wonders of the world.
Sustainable Tourism: At Salkantay Trek Machu, we are happy to promote and practice sustainable tourism and support local communities.
Difficulty Hike: 3 Demanding.
Age Requirements: 12+
Crew: A Salkantay Trek Machu representative in Cusco and a professional Tour Guide, Cook, and Horseman with horses.
Accommodation: 3x Campsite, 1x Hotel.
Meals: 4x breakfast, 4x lunch, 4x dinner, 3x afternoon hot beverage
Transportation: Private transportation, train ticket return to Cusco.
Camping Equipment: A double tent, Inflatable sleeping roll mattress, feather sleeping bag (-5 grade), a pair of hiking poles, inflatable pillow camping, and others (More details, please check the section Included).
Day 01: Cusco - Mollepata - Challacancha - Soraypampa
Day 02: Soyrapampa - Collpapampa - Challway
Day 03: Collpapampa - La Playa-Lucmabamba/Santa Teresa
Day 04: Lucmabamba -Llactapata - Hidroelectric- Aguas Calientes/Santa Teresa-Hydroelectric-Aguas Calientes
Day 05: Machu Picchu - Cusco
You will be picked up from your hotel in the morning early.Then you will drive to the town of Mollepata for breakfast and here last chance to buy more supplies. Rejoining the drive, you will head to trailhead located in Challacancha. Enjoy the scenic views of country farms, lush vegetation and scenic view of snow-topped Mt Humantay (5,473mt). Upon arriving, you will start warming up and getting ready for the hike and also meet the rest of the crew. The trail gently ascends the slopes and descends to Soraypampa campsite. As you go on the trail, you are surrounded by lusg green and the views of snow-topped mountain Salkantay become larger. Upon arriving at the campsite, you will rest and enjoy lunch with the view of the imposing snow-topped mountain Salkantay(6,271mt). Afterwards, you will go up to Humantay lake (4,200mt). The trail gradually gets steeper but the lake is located from a short distance from trailhead. Back at Soraypampa campsite, you will rest and later have dinner.
Enjoy breakfast with the morning view of Salkantay mountain.The trail gradually ascends from the head of the valley to pass Salkantay (4,615mt/15,141ft). As you climb up the valley, the Salkantay mountain become larger into view. Upon arriving at the pass, you will admire the imposing mountain and learn about offferings to this god mountain.Then, the trail descends all the way to the valley of Huayracmachay and have a lunch break. After recovering from the previous hike, the trail continues down the valley into a subtropical ecosystem with lush vegetation and food crops. Enjoy the sights of the scenery adorned with begonias, orchid flowers, bamboos , chonta palm tree, colorful birds, etc. Campsite at Challway.
Today is a leisurely hike with lush vegetation of trees, flowers and food crops. The trail undulates its way to La Playa village located in a subtropical forest ecosystem. The balmy weather makes of your trip pleasant and enjoyable to admire the surrrounding scenery and the rivers are quite inviting for a soak in. Walk past agricultural hamlets and fruit trees like passion fruit, peach, banana, avocado, etc. Upon arriving at La Playa town, you will enjoy lunch and decide for 2 different options:
1. La Playa town to Lucmabamba campsite (30 minutes walk)
After lunch, you will walk to Lucmabamba village following a scenic road with coffee plantations, avocado trees, banana trees, ect and colourful blooming flowers
2. Bus journey to Santa Teresa
You will bus to Santa Teresa town (not included) and set up campsite, then you can soak up in the hotsprings (optional)
There are two itineraries on the fourth day:
1.-Lucmabamba-Llactapata inca site-Hydroelectric -Aguas calientes town
From Lucmabamba, you will hike to Llactapata, this is a 3 hour climb to the hidden archaeological site of Llactapata (2,840 m) located at the back of Machupicchu. After enjoying the view of the back of Machupicchu inca town and guided tour of the inca site of LLactapata, you will descend to Hydroeléctric settlement and then,you will walk alongside the railway to Aguas Calientes town ( train is optional). Upon arriving in Aguas Calientes, you will go to the hotel and get settled, and then you can go to the hot springs to relax. After dinner, you will go back to the hotel and rest so the next day you will enjoy the last day of the Salkantay Trek 5 day adventure visiting the inca sacntuary of Machupicchu.
2.-Santa Teresa town-Hydroelectric settlement-Aguas Calientes town
You will walk to the hydroelectric settlement and then continue to Aguas Calientes walking alongside the railway, do not miss to enjoy the views of the back of Machupicchu inca site, Urubamba river with birds sunbathing on top of the rocks, and sitting on top of the trees singing melodious voices,etc. Upon arriving in Aguas Calientes, you will go to the hotel and get settled, and then you can go to the hotspeings to relax. After dinner, you will go back to the hotel and rest so the next day you will be rested to enjoy the last day of the Salkantay Trek 5 day adventure visiting the Inca sanctuary of Machupicchu.
Today is the most important day of this Machu Picchu trek!
After breakfast, you will either bus or walk up to the historic inca site of Machupicchu and then check in the site by showing your original passport and machupicchu pass,then you will start exploring Machupicchu conducted by your tour guide for approximately 2h:30min. After the tour, you can stay by yourself to keep exploring the site or hike Wayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain (both are optional and must be booked in advance!).Afterwards, you will bus down to Aguas calientes for a well-deserved rest and lunch. After completion of the Salkantay Trek 4 Days, you will take the train to Ollantaytambo and change for a bus back to your hotel in Cusco
Emergency riding horse
Meal budget: Please allow USD 20-30 for meals not included.
Generally speaking, you should pack as light 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 on a 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:
The Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu passes through stunning landscapes varying from the cloud forest to the high mountains. Along the way you will see the fantastic views of second highest mountain in the Cusco area - Salkantay ("Savage mountain" from Quechua) standing at 20,574' (6,271 m). Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu goes through unfrequented areas and combines culture and tradition with the incredible flora and fauna offered by Peru. You will be in the real Andes and the perfect conditions to get a sense of the life in the area.
The mountain in itself presents an extremely cold climate (several degrees centigrade below 0º). The climate during the Salkantay trail, on the other hand, is varied. The intense sun and the cold night in the first days change for the tropical environment of the last. Now talking about the flora and fauna, the 5 days and 4 nights that the Salkantay trek lasts covers landscapes with a great variety of flora and fauna. Among the species of flowers and plants stand out the orchid and the ichu (Andean grass). Among the species of birds and animals, we should mention the llama, alpaca, vizcacha, condor, spectacled bear and the cock of the rocks (national bird of Peru).
During Salkantay Trekking, you will observe many kind of orchids, some of them have a history. It is said that this beauty orchids are tears of an inca princess. The legend is called " The wakankis" Now We will tell you more about this love history:
In the kingdom of the Andes there was a beautiful young princess. She fell in love with a brave and attractive Inca warrior. Once their father found out about the relationship, forbid them to see each other since the princess was destined for the Sun God. When the princess learned of her decision, she ran across the Andes, crying for her forbidden love and became the beautiful "Waqanki" flower. So, every time the warrior found this flower in the Andes, He also cried remembering his lost love. "The spirit of beauty is still there, also expressed in our days in a song that we can hear even now:
"You will cry, my most beautiful flower with your beautiful eyes, for you envy surrounds me, I am committed to you, beautiful Waqanki, flower that you bloom in the heights, How will your song be when I take you In my heart"
This is the only testimony of appreciation that orchids existed in the empire of the Incas and has been preserved to this day orally transmitted from one to another. It is believed that there are about 350 native species in the Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu. More than 100 of these species can be easily seen in these orchid trails in their natural habitat.
Salkantay Trek Machu is an experienced, established, and dynamic tour operator. We run Salkantay Treks to Machu Picchu and have been providing tours for more than 8 years! Our experience, knowledgeable, reliable, friendly personnel and personalized customer service and it is the main reason why our customers return year after year. Salkantay Trek Machu operator offers a wide range of different types of adventure trips to suit any person's needs. We would like to welcome you to our Salkantay family and make your trip an unforgettable reality.
According to some authors, the name of this mountain is a contraction that comes from wild Salqa and Antay produce avalanches. The name of Apu, which in the Quechua language comes to mean lord, is usually defined in front of the great mountains that mean something sacred above the valleys. For example Apu Salkantay in the Vilcabamba mountain range.
Salkantay Mountain, also known as Salccantay, snow capped peak of Peru located in the department of Cusco; It constitutes one of the main elevations of the Cordillera de Vilcabamba, an extension of the Eastern Cordillera, a mountain branch of the Peruvian Andes. It reaches an altitude of 6,271 meters. It presents two peaks covered by snow, known as Salcantay China and Salcantay female, separated by a port that opens to the Santa Ana Valley in the province of Urubamba. Both the mountain pass and the fluvial course that is born there are called Salcantay. This river pours its waters into the Urubamba on its left bank. But you know why this mountain is sacred?
The Apus of the mountains are superior spirits considered protective of men and peoples. The Apus do not speak to humans, it is humans, through invocations, payments, rituals and prayers, who speak to the Apus asking for protection. The Apus are typically male spirits, although there are also female deities. In the Quechua language; spoken by the Incas, the plural of APU is apukuna.
It could be based on an ecological reality, since meteorological phenomena such as snow, hail, rain, clouds, lightning and thunder often originate in the mountains. However, other common elements give clues to better understand the reverence that the ancient Peruvians felt for the mountains.
Worship of the sacred mountains
It is possible that a social cohesion has revolved around the cult of the sacred mountains. As the cases of ethnic identity that have been observed in many regions of the Andes. The mountains were perceived as a kind of gods of war; In the Inca culture, the mountains were Apus protectors of the people who lived nearby and they worshiped them. It is said that the Incas tried to appropriate the admiration felt by the pre-Inca peoples through the mountains, building places of worship such as the city of Machu Picchu. This in order to consolidate your government.
A very common belief in the Andes of Peru, is that the mountains (Apus deities Incas) are the owners of wild animals, so the hunting practiced by the Incas is linked to the mountains. The rugged territory of Machu Picchu hosts an enormous variety of fauna, bears, pumas, snakes, birds, etc. The building of the city would have provided additional reasons for the cult of the mountains. One of the deities that protects Machu Picchu, is the imposing Salkantay mountain. The word "wild" is "salqa" in Quechua and it is possible that this was the hunting place of Pachacútec, builder of Machu Picchu.
Now discover the most amazing adventure on Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu the incredible alternative path to Machu Picchu. Explore The Salkantay Mountain the popular wild mountain in Peru and Enjoy the best views of natural landscapes along the Salkantay Trek.
To achieve this route, you must have a reasonable level of physical condition, but age should not be a barrier. The most important thing is to be well acclimatized at a good altitude. The highest point will be 4, 650 masl. A day of acclimatization before the trek is ideal.
Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu passes through stunning landscapes varying from the cloud forest to the high mountains. Along the way you will see the fantastic views of second highest mountain in the Cusco, we are talking about the imposing Apu Salkantay ("Savage mountain" from Quechua) standing at 20,574' (6,271 m). This trek to Machu Picchu goes through unfrequented areas and combines culture and tradition with the incredible flora and fauna offered by Peru. You will be in the real Andes and the perfect conditions to get a sense of the life in the area. Now we present you the distances that you will hike during Salkantay Trek :
Most people include Cusco-Peru in their bucket list when visiting south America. The main reason is to hike the Classic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, however we want to let you know that there are various original Inca Trail hikes to Machu Picchu in the Cusco Region. The difference lies in what kind of hike you would like to experience, whether hiking in the mountains, enjoying subtropical areas, visiting Inca sites or strenous hikes but with incredible scenic beauty
Usually, the Inca Trail needs booking in advance. However, if it is booked up, we suggest other excellent alternatives hikes to reach Machu Picchu:
There are also other alternative treks leading to other not less interesting sites such as: