Salkantay is a popular alternative to the very crowded classic Inca Trail. It offers more distance, more mountains, more scenery, and a wider variety of landscapes, but still concludes with a visit to the iconic city of Machu Picchu. As the route does not have as many regulations as the Inca Trail, this also means that it can provide a “back door” trek to Machu Picchu when Inca Trail permits are sold out. This new itinerary includes many of the highlights of other Salkantay treks, but avoids many of the areas that are becoming crowded with other trekkers.
CUSCO – SORAYPAMPA – SOYROCOCHA
Distance: 8 km
Walking hours: 4-5 hours
Low altitude: 3,750m / 12,300 ft (trail head, Soraypampa)
High altitude: 4,180 / 13,710 ft
Campsite altitude: 4, 180m / 13,710 ft
We will pick you up very early from your hotel in one of our private vehicles to transport you 4 hours from Cusco to the trail head. On the way, we will see quiet Andean villages and also visit the Killarumiyuc site where the Incas constructed their calendar. After our visit, we will have breakfast and then continue to the Limatambo Valley. We will briefly stop in the Mollepata village to see the streets and relax for a few minutes before continuing to Soraypampa (trail head). We will have two options before we begin walking:
1. The first choice is to ascend the mountain on the left side to observe the beauty of an Andean Lake and its mountains. We will return there to take the route that leads towards to our camp.
2. The second option is to take the main road that leads to our camp. The Soraypampa road climbs gradually while approaching the more imposing snow covered Salkantay. Along the way you will appreciate native populations, shepherds and Andean, or traditional, farming which is preserved to this day. We will continue to climb through switchbacks roads with stunning views of the lagoon of Soyrococha, where we will spend the night.
SOYROCOCHA – COLLPAPAMPA
Distance: 16 Km
Walking hours: 7-9 hours.
Low altitude: 2,950m / 9,676 ft
High altitude: 4, 570m / 14,989 ft
Campsite altitude: 2,950m / 9,676 ft
After breakfast we will continue ascending to the high pass and enjoy the beauty of our surroundings. After one and a half hours we will reach the highest pass at 14,989 feet (4,570 meters). Here, we will have a stunning view of the sacred mountains and lakes of Salkantay and Umantay. We will also be able to see a pile of stones that grows daily due to each passing traveler adding one as he or she passes. When a tourist adds to this pile, he or she thanks the Apus (mountain spirits) for a safe trip. We will then descend to a site called Andenes at 12,500 feet (3,800 meters) before continuing to Umantay (pyramid-shaped peak). We will then arrive to Huayracpampa where we will have lunch. After re-energizing, we will enter the tropical cloud forest and discover its lush vegetation of wild orchids, bromeliads and other flowers, as well as hummingbirds. We will then continue our descent through the bamboo groves and after 4 hours heading downhill, we will arrive to the village of Collpapampa where we will have dinner and camp for the night.
COLLPAPAMPA – LA PLAYA
Distance: 15 Km
Walking hours: 6-7 hours
Low altitude: 1,850m / 6,068 ft
High altitude: 2,950m / 9,676 ft
Campsite altitude: 1,850m / 6,068 ft
After a healthy breakfast, we will continue down into the valley towards the forest that contains groves of bamboo and great bird watching opportunities. Flocks of colorful tropical birds roam the forest and waterfalls cascade down cliffs with water warm enough for you to bathe in. The stretch is also filled with begonias, purple orchids and strawberries lying on the path. We will then walk to our camp site, the beach village. From there, we will set up camp, have lunch and have the afternoon to explore the surrounding area. There is a school where many tourists like to play soccer with local children.
THE BEACH – LLACTAPATA – HIDROELÉCTRICA – AGUAS CALIENTES
Distance: 12 km
Walking hours: 4-6 hours.
Low altitude: 1,850m / 6,068 ft
High altitude: 2,700m / 8,900 ft
Aguas Calientes: 2,050m / 6,724 ft
In the early morning, we will begin our difficult climb to the Llactapata Pass at 8,900 feet (2,700 meters). Llactapata is an Inca construction that is located in the rear of Machu Picchu. From here you will be able to see the Machu Picchu citadel and part of the third day of the classic Inca trail. From Llactapata we will descend through thick vegetation, tall trees, and incredible bird diversity. After we reach the hydroelectric site, we will take a local train to the Aguas Calientes village where we will spend the night.
AGUAS CALIENTES – MACHUPICCHU – CUSCO
After an early morning breakfast at 5:00 am, we will take the first bus to Machu Picchu where we will arrive to the Citadel and be among the very first visitors to the site that day. We will be able to enjoy the magic and the beauty of its buildings, landscapes surrounded by mountains, valleys, rivers, and magical landscapes with minimal interference from other tourists as we will be there before people arriving from the classic Inca trail and tourists arriving by train. Guidance will be approximately 2 hours long by the most important sites, then you will have a free time to explore around the Citadel or have the opportunity to climb the Huaynapicchu. We will take the bus to Aguas calientes to board the train back to Cusco in the afternoon.
- English-speaking tour guide (additional tour guide for groups of 8 people or more)
- Pre-departure briefing at your hotel 1 or 2 days before your salkantay Trail
- Pick up from your hotel and transportation to Soqma village trail head
- Four-person tent for every 2 people
- Inflatable mattress
- Kitchen tent
- Dinning tent with tables and chairs
- Toilet tent
- Horses to carry all the equipment (food, tents, chairs, table, etc)
- Horse to transport 8 kg of your personal gear
- Duffel bag for your personal gear
- Emergency horse in case we need it
- Four breakfasts, four lunches, and four dinners
- Emergency oxygen bottle and medical kit
- Vistadome train ticket from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes
- Expedition train ticket from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo
- One-night hotel accommodation in Aguas Calientes (double room)
- Ticket for Huayna Picchu Mountain
- Entrance to Machu Picchu
- Roundtrip bus from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu
- Sleeping bag (can be rented from us)
- Day 1 Breakfast
- Day 5 Lunch in Aguas Calientes, after you tour Machu Picchu on your own
- Gratuity for the crew (guide, chef, porters, about 10 people total)
What to bring:
- Original passport (if you have acquired a new one after you made your booking, bring both)
- Down or synthetic feather sleeping bag (can be rented from us)
- Clothes (trekking boots, warm fleece jacket, tops, a few t-shirts, socks, sun hat, thermal underwear, light long pants, gloves, poncho, rain jacket)
- Toiletries (toilet paper, wet wipes, personal towel)
- Sunblock (SPF 35+ recommended)
- Head lamp
- Sunglasses and sun hat
- Trekking poles (recommended especially for the steep descents, can be rented from us)
- Insect repellent