For those of you who want a taste of trekking in the high Andes before visiting Machu Picchu but are not willing to compromise on comfort, the Machu Picchu lodge trek is perfect for you! The Machu Picchu lodge trek offers all the pleasures of trekking in the mountains – with luxury accommodation, a comfortable bed, a good meal and a glass of wine awaiting you at the end of each day’s exertions. Now, doesn’t that sound lovely?
The Machu Picchu Lodge trek usually takes seven days and follows the same trail as the Salkantay trek. The first day involves travelling by car from Cusco to Marcoccasa and then hiking up to the Salkantay Lodge, while the second day is devoted to an acclimatization hike to Humantay Lake and back. On the third day, the real trek begins. Over the next few days, trekkers cross several high passes, including the Salkantay Pass at 4,640m, and are treated to some classic Andean scenery. At the end of each day, a cozy lodge and delicious hot meal is the reward for your efforts. The final night is spent in Aguas Calientes (aka Machu Picchu Town). On the final morning, you will be given a guided tour of Machu Picchu before taking transport back to Cuzco.
- Luxury lodge accommodation and delicious sit-down meals every evening
- Spectacular scenery including views of Salkantay mountain
- Crossing the Salkantay Pass (at 4,640m), which provides stunning views
- Views of Machu Picchu from the Llactapata Pass (at 2,736m)
- Less crowds than the classic Inca Trail
- High altitude trek, proper acclimatization necessary to avoid altitude sickness
- More expensive than most other treks in Peru
|Trek duration:||7 days / 6 nights|
|Remoteness:||Remote trail. Far from significant settlements.|
|Maximum altitude:||4,640 m while crossing the Salkantay Pass|
|Accommodation type:||Luxury lodges along the trail, luxury hotel in Aguas Calientes on the final night|
|Best season:||April – October|
|Start / end locations:||Cusco|
|Permits required:||No permit required|
|Physical fitness required:||Good|
Day 1: Cusco – Marcoccasa (by car), Marcoccasa – Salkantay Lodge, 3,869m (6 hours)
Day one starts at 7am with a drive to Marcoccasa and the start of the trek. From here, it is a six-hour hike to the first night’s accommodation at Salkantay Lodge.
Day 2: Hike to Humantay Lake
In order to continue acclimatizing before the trek, take a day hike to Humantay Lake. This is a challenging four-hour walk. Accommodation is in Salkantay Lodge.
Day 3: Salkantay Lodge – Wayra Lodge, 3,906m (6–8 hours)
Day three is the start of the real trek and also the most difficult day since it involves crossing the Salkantay Pass (4,640 m).
Day 4: Wayra Lodge – Colpa Lodge, 2,870m (3–4 hours)
The fourth day is much easier and enjoyable and only requires three or four hours of walking as the trail descends into the warmer air of the cloud forest.
Day 5: Colpa Lodge – Lucma Lodge, 2,135m (5–6 hours)
This day is slightly more challenging than the previous one and requires around five or six hours of walking through areas where fruit is cultivated. A short 30-minute drive is required before a final trek to the night’s accommodation at Lucma Lodge.
Day 6: Lucma Lodge – Aguas Calientes 1,900m (4–6 hours)
The highlight of the final day of trekking is crossing the Llactapata Pass (2,736 m) from where it is possible to see Machu Picchu below. The Salkantay Trek is the only trail offering such a view. The final part of the journey to Aguas Calientes is completed by train. Accommodation is at the Inkaterra Hotel.
Day 7: Visit to Machu Picchu and return to Cusco
The final day starts with a guided tour of Machu Picchu, after which transport is organised for the trip back to Cusco.
Currently, the Machu Picchu lodge trek is the only trail that offers the chance to complete a point-to-point trek while staying in luxury lodges each night. However, an alternative is a tour of the Lares region with cultural activities or various hikes organized during the days and accommodation in lodges similar to those on the Machu Picchu lodge trek at night. Treks can be organized for either five days and four nights or seven days and six nights.
This trek is not particularly dangerous if participants are fully prepared, but it should not be undertaken lightly. At no point does the trek descend below 2,000m and at its highest point, it reaches well above 4,000m. At these altitudes, it is easy to become fatigued and trekkers should not push themselves to do more than they can manage.
Altitude sickness can be a problem at altitudes of above 2,000-2,500m and proper acclimatization is essential before attempting the trail. Spending a couple of days in Cusco before the tour together with the acclimatisation treks to the Salkantay Lodge and Humantay Lake should be sufficient. Read more on how to prepare yourself against altitude sickness.
The Machu Picchu lodge trek is the ideal solution for if you do not want to endure the discomfort of sleeping in a tent on a hard floor in freezing conditions. It may not be the classic Inca Trail that leads right to the ruins themselves, but the chance to conquer a formidable trekking route while staying in luxury accommodation along the way is an enticing alternative. For more to see while visiting Machu Picchu, see things to do in Machu Picchu.
Has Machu Picchu always been on your bucket list? Check out some of the best Machu Picchu tours we are offering. Since Machu Picchu has seasonal weather, please do read our guide on the best time to visit Machu Picchu before planning your tour.