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 wonderfully scenic to hike 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, Inca sanctuary of Machupichu. Finally, you will explore the Inca sanctuary of Machupicchu, one of the seven wonders of the world.


Responsible Travel Salkantay Trek Machu


Essential Information

Sustainable Tourism: At Salkantay Trek Machu, we are happy to promote and practice sustainable tourism and supporting local communities..

Difficulty Hike: 3 Demanding.

Age Requirements: 12+ 

Crew: A Salkantay Trek Machu representative in Cusco and a professional Tour Guide, Cook and a 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 mattres, feather sleeping bag (-5 grade), a pair of hiking poles, inflatable pillow camping and others (More details, please check the section Included).


Quick Itinerary:

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


Highlights of the Salkantay 5 Day Trek: 

  • Admire the striking scenery of the Salkantay Trek
  • Best alternative hike to the Inca Trail
  • Enjoy the sacred and imposing snow-topped mountain Salkantay
  • Impressive brillantly tourquoise colored Lake Humantay;
  • Wide range biodiversity;
  • Enjoy the scenic trail of the Salkantay to Machu Picchu
  • Guided tour of the Inca site of Llactapata Inca site and view of the back of Machupicchu Inca site
  • Conducted tour of Inca sanctuary of Machu Picchu.

Salkantay Trek Map

Salkantay Trek Map

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(6,271mt) towers above the head of the valley. The range of Vilcabamba has numerous tall peaks, such as Pumasillo(6,070mt),Tucarhuay (5,910 m), Soray(5,010mt) and they are all  visible from Phuyu Patamarca site and top of Mt Machupichu while hiking the Inca Trail walk to Machu Picchu. The Salkantay trek goes through  a deep valley, which makes of  this route challenging but with impressive views of the surrounding scenery.  Mt Salkantay soars to 6,271 meters and it is considered as a god mountain called Apu "Salkantay" meaning the spirit guardian of the jungle. 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?  This hike is rated as moderate to difficult but also depends on the person fitness, health condition, and hiking experience. Therefore, it is highly recommended to do pre-training, such as running, long walks, and breathing excersises to  strenghten your lungs, ideally in the mountains and you have to gradually increase the number of hours you spend exercising so 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, wide range of flora 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 with 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! and admire the effort and skill of stone work made by the incas in the inca sanctuary of  Machupichu.

Responsible Travel:

Some trekking companies promote themselves as being eco-friendly, however, they have built hotels and glamping domes along the Salkantay route destroying nature, spoiling the natural beauty, and polluting nature with sewage, etc. Salkantay Trek Machu use tents which can be dismantled and taken away with us, and essentially leave no trace. We are a eco-friendly and  responsible travel company operating tours on the Salkantay 5 day trek.

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

Salkantay Trek Peru Tours:

Salkantay Trek Peru Advisor:

Day 01: Cusco - Mollepata - Challacancha - Soraypampa

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. 


Day 02: Soraypampa - Collpapampa - Challway

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.

Day 03: Challway - La Playa-Lucmabamba/Santa Teresa

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) 

Day 04: Lucmabamba- Llactapata -Hidroelectrica - Aguas Calientes

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.




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

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


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 Chef
  • Muleteer/mule driver
  • Horses/mules to carry food, camping and cooking equipment, and up to 7 kg of each passenger's belongings 
  • Emergency riding horse

  • Cold boiled or  purified water for the road (Day 1 not included, please take a water container to refill)
  • Camping equipment: Personal double tents (a 3-person capacity tent to allow our customers greater comfort and also vestibule for their backpacks), tables and chairs, cooking tent and cooking equipment,dining tent, propane gas bottle, and toilet tent;
  • Inflatable mattress (Term-A-Rest); 
  • Down sleeping bags (-16°C)
  • A pair of hiking poles;
  • A blanket per person;
  • A pillow;
  • Daypack rain cover;
  • Rain poncho;
  • Duffel bag (for your personal belongings);
  • Salkantay Trek Map t-shirt
  • 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 starting 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

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:

Salkantay Tour Operators

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.

Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu Information


  • Up to 7 kg of your personal belongingS (including sleeping bag!) is included in the tour package price of the Short Salkantay Trek. If you would like to take extra stuff with you, you can request this onsite at our office - 3 kg extra costs USD 20. 
  • If you have some extra questions or doubts about your fitness to hike, you can hire an extra emergency riding horse for USD 80.
  • Single Room/Tent: Please note that if you have booked the "Single Room/Tent" option, you will get a single tent or room



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:

  • 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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