This 7 day Salkantay Trek takes you on a less traveled path around the Sacred Salkantay mountain (6.271m/20569ft), this is one of the highest and most stunning mountain in the Peruvian Andes, as you pass through the highlands you will be able to join the famous Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, where you will follow in the steps of the Inca and discover the spectacular city of Machu Picchu.
This Salkantay Trek & Inca Trail is an interesting alternative for those who are looking after having a complete experience, combining the best of both worlds – stunning high mountain trekking and also the ruins of Inca Trail on your way to Machu Picchu.
The itinerary below is a sample. Hiking times are an average and will vary depending on the group. Additionally, lunch and camp sites may change to meet the needs of the group and conditions.
Before the Salkantay Trek, your guide will meet you at your hotel for an in-depth briefing. This provides an opportunity to ask questions and do any last-minute shopping before leaving Cusco.
Starting early in the morning we leave Cusco and cross the broad Anta Valley, where we see small villages of adobe houses with thatched or red tiled roofs, fields of grain, and herds of cattle. Our first stop is to visit the Inca site of Quillarumiyoc (Temple of the Moon). This religious center contains walls, buildings, fountains, and its centerpiece, the Moonstone. A limestone boulder with a base relief of the moon that is found only here, the Moonstone is still used by shamans. We have breakfast near the site and, if lucky, talk to the archeologists excavating the site. We then continue to the trailhead at Soraypampa, where we meet our wranglers and pack animals. Our Salkantay trek begins by hiking up Salkantaypampa and past glacial moraines to our camp at Pampa Japonesa, where we have spectacular views of Salkantay and the Cordillera Vilcabamba, the last refuge of the Incas.
After a delicious breakfast next to Salkantay mountain view, we start a 2 hour ascent to the highest pass of the Salkantay Trek, Inkachiriasca (4700m). After the pass we descend 4 or 5 hours to the next camp site, breaking for lunch in the middle of the day at a place call Ichupata, right next to the east face of Salkantay. We camp in a community called Pampacahua by the only school in the area (3700m). Besides spectacular views, we will see llamas, alpacas, sheep, and perhaps wild deer.
In the morning we continue descending, walking through a changing landscape as the vegetation becomes thicker and more verdant. After half a day hiking, we arrive at the community called Paucarcancha, where we will camp. After lunch, we will have time to relax, visit the nearby Inca site of Paucarcancha, go to the riverside, and take showers.
Today we change pace as we join the classic Inca Trail and meet up with other trekkers, too. We will lso say goodbye to our wranglers and horses and meet our porter who will carry the food and equipment on the rest of the trail. We start by descending for the first to the community of Huayllabamba and then begin a 4-hour ascent up the valley of Llulluchapampa to our campsite (3700m).
After a nutritious breakfast, we start the longest day on trek with a 2-hour climb to Warmiwañusca, or Dead Woman’s Pass(4200m). After conquering the highest pass on the Inca Trail, we descend for 2 hours to the valley of Pacaymayu before climbing again to the Inca site of Runkuracay. We visit the achaeological site and then continue going up for about an hour to Runkuracay Pass (3900m). Here we will be in the high jungle and as we start another descent to Sayacmarca, another archaeological site. From here, the path is easier, with thick vegetation and amazing views for the 2 hour walk to camp at Phuyupatamarca (3600 m). This is a challenging day, but there is a lot of variety, a lot to learn, and the camp is stunning with views of the Sacred Valley as well as the Vilcabamba, Salkantay, Veronica, and Machu Picchu mountains.
Today is easier, as we go mostly downhill to the next campsite a four hours walk away. The remainder of the day is spent visiting archaeological sites like Phuyupatamarca, Intipata, and Wiñaywayna. We will explore and learn more about the Incan people as we get closer and closer to the city of Machu Picchu. From Wiñayhuayna we will walk to the Sun Gate and watch the city of Machu Picchu. After taking in the view, we descend in to Machu Picchu where we will have a short break before going to Aguas Calientes on to the comforts of your hotel.
We will get up early in order to catch the bus up to Machu Picchu for a second time in time to watch the sunrise over the mountains. After enjoying the views, we will have a two hour tour of the city. Afterwards, you have free time to explore the ruins, hike Huayna Picchu, go to the Temple of the Moon and Inca Bridge, or simply relax and soak in the atmosphere. In the afternoon we will return to Aguas Calientes to catch the train to return to Cusco.
Much of this trek is isolated and rugged. It is advised that trekkers acclimate by spending a few days at Cusco (3400m) or similar before attempting the trek. Trekkers should be in good physical condition and be experienced hikers. Additionally, weather and trail conditions can vary. Temperatures range from warm and humid to below freezing.
Trekkers should be prepared for changes to the itinerary and to meet unexpected challenges with an open-mind and sense of adventure. Climbing Huayna Picchu is an excellent addition to a trip to Machu Picchu. It offers superlative views, but is a steep climb that can take about three hours. Entrance to Huayna Picchu is limited and at scheduled times; visitors must sign up for a spot in advance.
If you would like to consider doing the climb, it is important to book it in advance. Inca Trail permits are required for this trek. It is important to book as soon as possible as permits can sell out months in advance.
The traditional Salkantay is a shorter version of this trek which does not require permits. Additionally, a more challenging and less crowded alternative route goes along the eastern flank of the mountain and down to Ollantaytambo, ending with a train journey to Aguas Calientes and Machu Picchu.