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Salkantay Trek: Coronavirus and catastrophic glacier collapse and mudflow in Salkantay

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Breaking News: a catastrophic glacier collapse and mudflow in Salkantay, Peru

On 23 February 2020 (corrected – this was erroneously reported as 24 February 2020) an enormous, catastrophic debris flow tore down the Salkantay River in Santa Teresa, Peru. This event has killed at least four people, with a further 22 reported to be missing. Given the magnitude of the flow, this number is probably uncertain.


A mudflow on this scale usually requires an extraordinary cause. Diario Correo in Peru has an explanation – this event was caused by glacial collapse on Salkantay mountain. This hypothesis is proposed by Oscar Vilca Gómez, who the article describes as a specialist in Hydrology and Glaciology. He visited the site site of the detachment as part of a research team from the National Institute for Glacier Research of the Ministry of Environment. They propose that an ice / rock avalanche detached from the mountain, crossed the Salkantay Cocha lake, and generated the huge debris flow.


In first inspection this appears to be a wedge failure in the rock mass that has fragmented to generate the rock / ice avalanche. The photographer appears to be standing on the landslide deposit.


Salkantay Trek - Today

All travellers booked the Salkantay trek in advance, but this catastrophic, everything its changing. Its closed the classic trail between to Soraypampa - Salkantaypampa - Chaullay - Colcapampa - La Playa - Llactapata Inca Trail or Santa Teresa - Machu Picchu. There are irresponsible tour operator are offer this trail, but it's dangerous, because between to Colcapampa to  Santa Teresa, you need to crosses the river and mountains. There are not bridges.


The Salkantay Trek Machu Tour Operator are offers the alternative hike to the Salkantay Mountain. This trail is startiong from Soraypampa (Salkantay Mountain) to finishing on the Inca Trail (km 82). There you will take the train to Aguas Calientes and spend a night, the next day, you can take a shuttle bus to Machu Picchu and guided tour in the lost city of the Incas. In the afternoon you will return to Cusco. This name for this alternative is 5 Day Salkantay Trek Expedition. You didn´t loose the most beautiful of the sacred valley and the flora and fauna.


The others alternative hike is 4 Day Lares Trek, 4 Day Inca Quarry or Huchuyqosqo Trail 4 Days.


Coronavirus Travel Advisory Update  

There are four travel advisory levels:

  • Level 4—do not travel;
  • Level 3--reconsider travel;
  • Level 2—exercise increased caution;
  • Level 1—exercise normal precautions.

In Peru are Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution: COVID-19 outbreak. Special Precautions for High-Risk Travelers.


  • Sustained community spread of respiratory illness caused by the novel (new) coronavirus (COVID-19) is occurring globally. Some countries have widespread sustained spread.
  • Older adults and people of any age with serious chronic medical conditions are at increased risk for severe disease and should consider postponing nonessential travel.
  • Travelers should avoid contact with sick people and wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Travelers should monitor their health and limit interactions with others for 14 days after returning from travel.
  • Travelers that are sick with fever, cough, or have trouble breathing should stay home and call ahead before seeking medical care

In Peru, with 22 cases, President Martin Vizcarra said gatherings of more than 300 people would be banned and extended the suspension of school to universities and colleges. The Andean nation said later in the day it would suspend flights from Europe and Asia.




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