The Salkantay trek is the second most popular route to Machu Picchu – after the Inca Trail – and it’s not difficult to see why. This route is one of the most varied and most beautiful. On this multiday hiking tour, you will make your way through breathtaking snowcapped mountains and picturesque valleys, past beautiful lakes and waterfalls.
This ultimate Salkantay trek was created to give you more time to enjoy these amazing places. The Salcantay Mountain is one of the most beautiful in Peru and is considered sacred by local villagers. You will take five unforgettable days to hike alongside the majestic mountains, taking time to enjoy each magical location and feel the energy of the area. As a final treat, you will hike the Inca Trail for a short section before arriving at Machu Picchu via the stunning Llaqtapata.
Day 1: Cusco – Soraypampa – Huayracpunku
Your tour guide will pick you up from your hotel between 4:30 am - 6: 30 am (depending on your location) and drive you to Soraypampa (3900 m), where you will arrive at approximately 8:30 am. After a delicious breakfast, you will start your Salkantay trek! It’s a 4-hour walk up to Soyrococha (4400 m / 14430 ft) where your tour chef will be waiting to serve you the highest lunch in the area. Along the way, you will see a variety of flora and fauna such as the Andean goose (the love birds), deer and vizcachas (which look a lot like a rabbit).
After lunch, you will continue climbing for one more hour to reach Salkantay Pass (4650 m/ 15255 ft). Once at the summit, you will take the time to explore the amazing landscape including a beautiful lake at the base of this majestic mountain. From the top, it will be another 3 hour downhill hike to the campsite at Wayracmachay (3800 m/ 12467 ft). Your tent, a snack and a hot drink will be waiting for you. You will then have some time to rest and have dinner before a well-earned nights sleep.
Day 2: Wayrampunku – Hallway– La Playa
Your guide will wake you up bright and early with a hot cup of coffee, cocoa or tea. When exiting your tent, a beautiful scenery consisting of huge plains and snow-capped mountain peaks will greet you. Enjoy the breathtaking views of the highest mountains in Peru. After breakfast, you will start descending from the highlands to the cloud forest. Today, you will experience the fastest change in the temperature, from the cold weather of the Andes to the warm tropical forest. Along the way, you will see an abundance of different types of flowers, hummingbirds and orchids before arriving at Colpapampa, located at 2770 meters.
Once there, you will take a break to have lunch and also say goodbye to your horsemen. The second part of your trek starts with a 4 hour gradual hike up and downhill until you get to La Playa, located at 2070 meters. Along the way, you will pass by a very beautiful waterfall, as well as coffee, avocado and banana plantations. Once at La Playa, end your night with dinner before it's time to sleep.
Day 3: La Playa – Llucmabamba – Llactapata
Day three is arguably the most beautiful of your Salkantay trek! After enjoying a delicious breakfast, you will make your way to Lucmabamba (2000 m / 6600 ft) where you will join an original Inca trail built in the 15th century. You will walk along part of the ancient, lost Inca trail that was only rediscovered a few years ago. Hike uphill for approximately 3 hours until you reach Llaqtapata, another extraordinary Inca ruin located right in front of Machu Picchu. Here, you will take some time to explore, learn about the history of the Incas, and enjoy the beauty of the site.
You will reach your campsite at approximately 1 pm to have lunch. Then you can enjoy some free time to relax and unwind. Later in the afternoon, your guide will organize an activity to keep you busy. You will then return to the campsite for tea and dinner and a special surprise!
Day 4: Llactapata – Hydroelectric – Aguas Calientes
Camping at Llactapata is particularly special as this is a very unique and isolated site that overlooks Machu Picchu. Here, it’s worth getting up early to sit and watch the sunrise as you sip a hot cup of coffee, cocoa or tea. After breakfast, it is a relatively easy 2 hour downhill trek to the hydroelectric satiation where you will have lunch and re-energize for the last stretch of your tour.
It is then a 3-hour walk along the railway to Aguas Calientes – a picturesque town located just below Machu Picchu. This section of the trek is steeped in history as it was used by the American professor, Hiram Bingham, to discoverer Machu Picchu in 1911. It is also extremely beautiful and is home to a variety of endemic birds such us the Rupicola Peruviana (locally known as the cock-of-the-rock), parrots, toucans, hummingbirds and more. Once in Aguas Calientes, your tour guide will take you to your hotel where you will have some time to rest and freshen up. In the evening, enjoy a final dinner with your tour group, chef and porters before spending the night in the hotel.
DAY 5: Machu Picchu (the Lost City of the Incas)
On your final day, you will have to get up very early to prepare for the highlight of your tour - visiting Machu Picchu, the Lost City of the Incas. You will go straight to the line to wait for the early bus going up to Machu Picchu at 5:30 am. Arriving as the sky brightens, you will walk up with incredible views of the city along the way. On a clear day, you can watch the spectacular sunrise over Machu Picchu. This is a truly unforgettable sight.
Your guide will take you on a 2 to 3-hour comprehensive tour of the city before leaving you in Machu Picchu to explore on your own or climb either Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain (tickets must be booked as far in advance as possible). Your guide will explain how to take the bus from Machu Picchu back to Aguas Calientes for lunch (not included) and then take the train and bus back to Cusco. Your guide will meet you off the train and return you safely to your hotel.