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Tours and Activities in Salkantay trek

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This is a cultural adventure and a trekking adventure. You will get to experience Peru... ... Read More

Inkayni Peru Tours

Trek Along The Salkantay - Machu Picchu

  • Starts/Ends Cusco/Cusco
  • Operator Inkayni Peru Tours
  • Next Departures Jul 23 Jul 24
From US$ 870 8 days

If you did not manage to reserve permits for the Inca Trail, we highly recommend... ... Read More

Condor Expeditions

Salkantay Trek To Machu Picchu

  • Starts/Ends Cusco/Cusco
  • Operator Condor Expeditions
  • Next Departures Jul 23 Jul 24
From US$ 770 5 days

This is a cultural adventure and a trekking adventure. You will get to experience Peru... ... Read More

Inkayni Peru Tours

Trek Along Salkantay To Machu Picchu

  • Starts/Ends Cusco/Cusco
  • Operator Inkayni Peru Tours
  • Next Departures Jul 23 Jul 24
From US$ 1,100 8 days

Our classic Salkantay Trek is a customized alternative to the usual Inca Trail. Not on... ... Read More

Tierras Vivas

Salkantay Trek To Machu Picchu

  • Starts/Ends Cusco/Cusco
  • Operator Tierras Vivas
  • Next Departures Jul 23 Jul 24
From US$ 450 5 days

The Salkantay Trek

While no trip to Peru can be considered complete without a visit to the mystical mountaintop ruins of Machu Picchu, more intrepid travellers are now looking for alternatives to the overcrowded and overpriced experience of the Inca Trail. While this trail is deservedly one of the most famous in South America, the Salkantay Trek offers a wilder and perhaps more authentic approach to the Incas’ most famous monument.

Trek Facts

  • Difficulty: Challenging. Five days of walking for up to eight hours a day through tough, mountainous terrain.
  • Trek Duration: 5 days. Both longer and shorter itineraries also exist.
  • Remoteness: Remote. The route passes through remote villages, desolate mountain scenery and 15 distinct ecosystems. While some of the settlements at either end of the trek have road or rail connections, most of the trek is on mountain paths inaccessible except on foot or horseback.
  • Maximum altitude: 4,600 m
  • Accommodation type: Tents on the mountain campsites. Although some hikes include stays in luxury lodges on the trail.
  • Best season: April to October
    • The dry season is from around April to October and it is best to attempt the trek during these months since the wet season (November to March) sees the trail muddy and wet with an increased risk of slipping.
    • The trail is busiest from June to September but the weather is at its best during May and October when it is also less busy, meaning these are possibly the two best months to go.
    • The distinct seasons on the Salkantay Trek are the ‘dry season’ and the ‘wet season’. There is no ‘winter’ and the trek can be attempted year-round. However, the coldest months are during the dry season and at this time, you will require a four-season sleeping bag and possibly extra clothes since night time temperatures at high altitude can plummet.
  • Transport to/from trek: Either Mollepata or Soraypampa
  • Permits required: No for the trek. If you plan to visit Machu Picchu, you should reserve your tickets in advance and you will need your passport to enter the site.

5 – day Salkantay Trek: A standard itinerary

  • Day 1: Mollepata - Soraypampa The trek starts at Mollepata (2900 m) and includes a steady climb of around seven or eight hours through verdant, rugged mountains as the peak of Mount Salkantay rears its snow-topped head in the distance. Camp is made at Soraypampa, and at an altitude of 3850 m, temperatures can be very cold, especially at night.
  • Day 2: Soraypampa – Collpapampa This is the most gruelling part of the trek as the trail leads up to the vertiginous Salkantay Pass at 4600 m, from where there are spectacular views if the weather is clear. Having crossed the pass, the trail descends into the mysterious cloud forest on the way to Collpapampa at 2800 m where camp is set for the night.
  • Day 3: Collpapampa – La Playa The trekkers will follow the Lluskamayo River through an area rich in wildlife down to the jungle town of La Playa, at an altitude of 2200 m.
  • Day 4: La Playa – Aguas Calientes The day starts with the ascent to the Inca ruins of Llactapata, affording spectacular views of Machu Picchu nestling on a mountaintop below. From here, it is possible to hike either to Santa Teresa or to the hydroelectric station, the second option being the more demanding but also more rewarding. There is a train connection to Aguas Calientes (also known as Machu Picchu Pueblo), from where visitors can access Machu Picchu itself.
  • Day 5: Aguas Calientes – Machu Picchu involves the ascent from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu, on foot or by bus, for a visit to the world-famous ruins.

7-day Salkantay Trek: An alternative

A seven-day option is also available, with a drive to Soraypampa on the first day, a trek out to Lake Humantay on the second day and the crossing of the Salkantay Pass on day three. Trekkers arrive at Llactapata on day six before heading to Aguas Calientes by train and making the ascent to Machu Picchu on the final day.

Safety Considerations

  • This trek is not particularly dangerous if participants are fully prepared but it should not be taken lightly. At no point does the trek descend below 2000 m, and at its highest point, it reaches well above 4000 m. At these altitudes, it is easy to become fatigued and trekkers should not push themselves to do more than they can manage.
  • The weather in the mountains is unpredictable and at the highest parts of the trek, including the camp at Soraypampa, it is certain to be cold, so trekkers should ensure they have the proper clothing and equipment.
  • It is possible to walk the trail without a guide or porters and those who do so are free to choose their own itinerary – it is even possible to finish in four days. Attempting the Salkantay Trek without a guide is only recommended for experienced trekkers and should only be undertaken with the proper equipment and supplies.

Altitude sickness

Altitude sickness can be a problem at altitudes of above 2000 m - 2500 m and it is highly recommended to spend two days in Cusco to acclimatise before attempting the trail. Early symptoms include nausea, vomiting, fatigue, headache and dizziness, and anyone displaying these symptoms should immediately descend to a lower altitude to recover.

Physical fitness

You don’t need to be super-fit to complete the Salkantay Trek but a good level of physical fitness is required. Once you are up in the mountains, if you are struggling to keep up with the group, you will spend the whole time suffering and this will significantly detract from your enjoyment. You can prepare for the trek by eating healthily and, if possible, trying some easier hikes to prepare your body for the rigours ahead.

A challenging alternative

For those looking to escape the crowds of the Inca Trail – or for those who do not manage to book a place on the more famous walk – the Salkantay Trek offers a challenging and rewarding alternative. The sight of Mount Salkantay looming above as you traverse the Salkantay Pass or the view of the magical ruins of Machu Picchu perched on a ledge far below as you reach Llactapata will be some of the sights that far fewer visitors to Peru are fortunate to experience.

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