Note: On the evening before this day there will be a briefing with your guide in Cusco. After an early breakfast, we are picked up starting at 7:00 am at your Cusco hotel by a MLP guide and vehicle. En route we take a short break to visit the Inca ruins of Tarawasi near the town of Limatambo (approx. 1.5 hrs from Cusco). After leaving Limatambo, we pass through the mountain village of Mollepata where we stop for a short coffee break before ascending a winding mountain road to Coronilla Ranch. Here, after a short period of familiarization with the equestrian team and the horses, we begin our ride to Soraypampa. This is a good opportunity for everyone to acclimate while enjoying a beautiful 3-4 hour ride. Salkantay Lodge takes its name from the majestic peak at the head of the valley—Mt. Salkantay, the second most sacred peak in Inca mythology and, at 6,270m (20,600 ft), the highest in the region. After a warm welcome by our friendly staff, we are shown to our rooms and have time to freshen-up, before tea and cookies. The trip leader will hold a briefing by the fireplace, followed by aperitifs and dinner.
Riding Time: Approximately 5 hours (including picnic lunch en route)
Ride and Terrain: Walk, trot, canter, gallop on open roads, some steep ascending trails Non-rider activities: Direct transfer or hiking to the lodge
Overnight: at Salkantay Lodge at 3,869 m/12,690 ft
Today’s excursion takes us first to Humantay Lake, fed by glaciers far above on the slopes of the impressive Mt. Humantay. Our 1-hour ride there is followed by a short 20-minute walk, which is necessary in order to reach the lake, but the view is well worth it and those brave enough can go for a swim! After a short snack break we hike back down to where we left the horses, and from where we begin a 30-minute ride to our next dismount spot: the gateway to the “Chakana” (the mystical Cross of the Incas, located on a view point high above Soraypampa). From here, we begin a one-hour excursion on foot to our destination, the actual “Chakana”. This excursion allows guests to enjoy the best views of the Soraypampa Valley, Mt. Salkantay and Mt. Humantay, and is truly one of the high points of our journey…which should not be missed! A mystical offering to Mother Earth (or “Pachamama”) at the Chakana, performed by a local Shaman, in full view of the awe-inspiring Mt. Salkantay, tops off this unique experience. We return to the lodge for lunch with your afternoon at leisure, after which you may choose to trade the glacial swim for a relaxing soak in our outdoor jacuzzi. Additionally there is the option of riding out again for a couple of hours in the surrounding area. In the evening, the guide briefs us on gear and the itinerary for the following day. All meals are served at the Lodge.
Riding Time: Approximately 4 hours
Ride and Terrain: Walk, trot, canter on open roads, some steep ascending trails and open fields Non-rider activity: Hike to Humantay Lake
Overnight: at Salkantay Lodge at 3,869 m/12,690 ft
Today we continue our journey towards Machu Picchu, riding up the Rio Blanco valley and circling Humantay Peak across from Salkantay Peak. The highest point of the ride is the Salkantay Pass at 4,638 meters (15,213 ft). At the pass we stop to take in views of snow-capped peaks of the Vilcabamba Range in every direction, with the glaciated south face of Salkantay towering above us. We will keep our eyes out for Andean condors, often visible in this area. From the pass we descend towards the Wayra Lodge, (“Wayra”: wind; from the name of the location “Wayracmachay”: ‘the cave where the wind lives’) our destination for the evening. A hot lunch is taken en route; dinner and overnight at the Lodge.
Riding Time: Approximately 5 hours (including hot lunch en route)
Ride and Terrain: Walk, trot on mostly steep trails, and some open slopes Non-rider activity: Transfer to Ollantaytambo or Cusco or hiking along the trail
Overnight: at Wayra Lodge at 3,906 m/12,812 ft
On this day we enjoy a leisurely breakfast at Wayra Lodge, and then we continue downhill above the Salkantay River, descending into the cloud forest, through increasingly verdant scenery. We can feel the warm air rising from the jungle, accompanied by colorful butterflies and striking orchids. Upon arrival at Colpa Lodge we are greeted with a Pachamanca, a traditional festive Peruvian meal cooked by layering meat and vegetables with hot stones. Everything is then covered with hot stones, plantain leaves, high Andean grass and local herbs and the contents are baked in this underground oven. Colpa Lodge is located on an open plateau at the confluence of three rivers. The outdoor jacuzzi has panoramic views of lush green mountains. We spend the afternoon relaxing or exploring the nearby orchid trail. Dinner and overnight at the lodge.
Riding Time: Approximately 4 hours
Ride and Terrain: Walk or trot, on narrow trails Non-rider activity: Free day in Ollantaytambo or hiking along the trail
Overnight: at Colpa Lodge at 2,870 m/9,414 ft
Today we ride along the Santa Teresa river valley, through more populated rural areas. We pass through banana, passion fruit, avocado orchards and coffee plantations. The coffee grown here is said to be one of the best organic coffees in the world. Our ride takes us to the beginning of the “Llactapata Inca Trail”, which is where we say goodbye to our horses and equestrian staff. A short 30-minute walk through an avocado orchard brings us to Lucma Lodge. Dinner and overnight at the lodge.
Riding Time: Approximately 5 hours
Ride and Terrain: Walk, trot, and canter on steep trails and some open roads Non-rider activity: Transfer by train and vehicle to Lucma Lodge, hiking along trail, or Canopy Zip Line Tour (please see page 9 for detailed information)
Overnight: at Lucma Lodge at 2,135 m/7,003 ft
After a hearty breakfast, we tackle the last day of our trek. We head uphill for 2-3 hours towards Llactapata Pass (2,736 m/8,974ft), where we come upon a distant but spectacular view of Machu Picchu Sanctuary from the southeast, a view few travelers ever get a chance to admire. We take a short break to explore the Llactapata Ruins, which have recently been restored. Lunch is served at a scenic viewpoint, looking out to Machu Picchu. After which we begin our final descent to the Aobamba River through lush bamboo forests, orchards and coffee plantations. We then board a train for a scenic ride (approx. 1 hour) to Aguas Calientes, the town of Machu Picchu. Upon arrival, we check into an award-wining hotel for a celebration dinner with our guide and one last briefing! Note – Those who prefer not to hike can go to the train station by van after a leisurely morning including breakfast and lunch at the lodge. They will meet the rest of the group at the train station for the ride to Aguas Calientes together. (The guide confirms your preferences the night before.)
Hiking Time: 4–6 hours
Hiking Level: Moderate to challenging
Overnight: in Aguas Calientes at 1,900 m/6,232 ft
After a very early buffet breakfast at the hotel, we make our way to the bus station for the ride up to Machu Picchu Sanctuary (30 min). Our trip leader will give an introductory 2 hour guided tour of the ruins, after which we have the option of climbing the steep staircase of Huayna Picchu, a steep and vertically quite challenging hike that takes about 2 hours which affords great views of Machu Picchu. Afterwards, we meet up with our guide again and return by bus to Aguas Calientes for a late lunch and to catch our train. The ride from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo takes about 1½ hours, and then a private vehicle will drive us back to Cusco (an additional 1½ hour). Upon arrival in Cusco (approximately 7 or 8 p.m.), we are dropped off at your hotel.
Return to Cusco at 3,360 m/11,021 ft
During Trip Canopy Zip Line Tour On Day 5 of the trekking itinerary. Looking for more adventure? Join our exclusive half-day excursion on an exciting and scenic canopy zip line tour. This optional activity includes vehicle transfer, a 2½ hour guided canopy zip line tour, all necessary safety equipment, training, and lunch. Please let your MLP Travel Specialist know if you would like to book this activity in advance (limited spaces available). If you are unsure at this time, you can book the excursion anytime until the afternoon on Day 4 of the itinerary (just let your trip leader know). This optional activity will run with a minimum of 2 guests.
We recommend that our guests spend at least 2 nights in Cusco prior to departure. This helps with acclimatization to the altitude and also provides an opportunity to explore the beautiful city of Cusco. Travelers can feel the effects of higher altitudes as low as 6000 feet (2000 meters) above sea level. They differ in their tolerance for high altitude conditions and how their bodies react to the changes in air pressure and oxygen level. Therefore we encourage our guests to undergo appropriate preparation by regular cardio-vascular exercise, even if conducted at low elevation, and to adopt a healthy, balanced diet prior to the trip. Beginner to Advanced Novice Riders: Allow 4 weeks of 3 1-hour lessons per week to prepare. Week 1 should include lessons on basic control of your horse both on the ground and in the saddle. Week 2 should include lessons on body positioning to balance and control your horse and allow you to ride for 3 to 5 hours in comfort. Week 3 should include trail riding experience with a small group of horses. Trail etiquette and hand signals should be practiced. Week 4 should include lessons on riding along moderately steep, narrow trails, in hilly terrain. Suggested Reading: “50 – 5 Minute Fixes to Improve Your Riding” by Wendy Murdoch. Horses Mountain Lodges of Peru has bred a number of its own Quarter Horses which are specially exercised and trained for this trip, so they are highly aware and accustomed to the local terrain, wildlife and to performing at high altitude, making them a very secure ride. They combine responsiveness, energy, bravery and manners to produce the perfect trail horse. All horses are picked from a pre-selected pool especially for each trip, according to their level of fitness at the time. For extra precautions horses are fitted with boots or bandages to protect their extremities. Our horses are trained Western so they are used to neck reining and going on a loose rein. We mostly use American endurance saddles, but there are English saddles available for those who prefer them. We are very careful in checking that the saddles fit each horse well and we constantly ensure that the tack and shoeing are in excellent condition. We keep groups small, carefully match horses to riders, see that people of similar skills ride together, and train ride leaders carefully.
Please, no hard suitcases or wheeled bags
Soft duffel bags and / or backpacks (“soft” luggage) are recommended.
We provide a limited amount of hair-dryers at each lodge, due to limited energy supply and environmental concerns.
Shampoo, conditioners and bath gel are provided at each lodge. • Bathrooms are equipped with drying lines.
Any additional clothing and luggage that you will not be needing on the trek can be stored at your hotel in Cusco.
If you do not have an appropriate sized duffel bag, we can provide a duffel bag on loan at the pre-trek briefing (the night before departure from Cusco). Please return it to your trip leader after the trek.
Though we do not establish a weight limit for luggage or charge for excess baggage, we inform guests that luggage is mainly transported by mules and/or porters along the trail.
We kindly ask that you consider restricting the weight of your luggage on the trail up to 10Kg/22Lbs.
All four mountain lodges have been designed and built in accordance with traditional building techniques, Inca architectural & mythological concepts, and respect for the surrounding environment. The Salkantay Lodge has 12 private double, twin or triple rooms with private bathroom facilities, while the other lodges (Wayra, Colpa, Lucma) have 6 private double, twin or triple rooms, all with private facilities. Salkantay, Wayra, and Colpa lodges have an outdoor jacuzzi. Every lodge guarantees an ample supply of hot water for showers; there are no bathtubs in any of the lodges. Heating ensures the temperature remains a comfortable 68° F (20° C).
Massage Services. We offer professional massage services at all lodges. The cost for a 50-minute massage service is US$60.
Check-In: Signature Account At check-in at the Salkantay Lodge, you will be asked to open a voucher on your credit card for potential extras to be purchased during the trip, such as alcoholic beverages, massage, souvenirs, and others items of personal nature. At the Lucma Lodge (last day of the trek) you will need to settle your bill by charging the credit card previously presented or by paying in cash. If paying in cash, please take note that we only accept notes of US$5, US$10, US$20, and US$50 dollar bills; we do not accept notes of US$1, US$100, or coins. We accept Peruvian currency. If paying with a credit card, please note you will not be able to present a new credit card when settling the bill.
Communications. We offer satellite-based communications at all four lodges along the Salkantay Trail to Machu Picchu. Due to the satellite-based nature of the system, signal reception may not be guaranteed in cases of continuous or extremely bad weather conditions.
Rural Satellite Phone. Each Lodge has a stationary rural satellite phone which our guests can use. These phones require phone cards that can be purchased at the lodges. International calls can be placed and received. However, we kindly ask to refrain from receiving incoming calls unless in case of an emergency, as a sign of respect and courtesy for other guests. As a reference, a US$10 phone card provides 10 minutes to the US/Canada and 5 minutes to Europe.
Rural Satellite Internet. We believe it’s important for our guests to fully immerse themselves in the unique outdoor and nature experience provided by this trek. However, we understand that the Internet has become a necessary service for some of our guests. Thus, we provide rural wi-fi internet service at all four lodges free of charge. If you decide to bring any electronic devices like laptops, iPads, or others, please keep in mind that you are responsible for their protection.
We recommend appropriate covers for such sensitive devices (water proof, and anti-impact). Also, tell your guide that you are carrying the device so that extra measures can be taken for its protection.
Low Season: US$3,450 (March 1 – 31, November 1 – December 14)
High Season: US$3,950 (April 1 – October 31, December 15 – 31)
Rates are per person for the 7-day/6-night lodge trek program, based on shared accommodations in a twin, double or triple room.