The Salkantay hike is considered among the best in the world, enjoy the tranquility and privacy that only an alternative route like this has. During 5 days a moderate road and a progressive ascent from the town of Mollepata to the salkantay pass, located at 4600 meters above sea level, is covered. Along the way we will appreciate diverse ecosystems such as towering mountains, giant rocks, snowy peaks, lush vegetation until we reach Machu Picchu.
This impressive excursion passes under the magnificent mountain Salkantay (6,710 m / 22,014 ft), one of the highest and most impressive of the Peruvian Andes. Its first two days will be dominated by the impressive snow-capped mountains of Salkantay and Humantay, as it travels through the high Andean landscape. The third day will descend to the warm cloud forest, to reach Aguas Calientes on the fourth day. The impressive sacred citadel of the Incas Machu Picchu is visited during the last day of the program. This excursion is an interesting alternative for those who have not found space on the route from the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. The excursion to Salkantay was recently named by the National Geographic Adventure Travel magazine among the 25 best excursions in the world.
Starting Altitude - 2900m / 9515ft.
Highest Altitude - 4650m / 15,200ft
Walking Distance - 60.5 km / 37.5 miles
Longest Day - Day 2, approximately 18 km/11 miles
Coldest Night - Day 1 around 0º celsius
Overall Difficulty - Difficult (depends on ypour level of fitness).
Acclimatization is Recommended
Day 1: Cusco - Mollepata - Soraypampa
Day 2: Soraypampa - Colcapampa
Day 3: Colpapampa - La Playa
Day 4: La Playa - Hidroelectrica - Aguas Calientes
Day 5: Machu Picchu!
Today's trek begins at the small village of Challacancha high above the Rio Blanco Valley. Following a wide, well established track we will gently make our way up the side of the valley covering a distance of about 16km /9.9 miles and climbing 1200m /3937ft. The views throughout the day are fantastic, all around us are verdant green mountains, along the path are a wide variety of native plants and flowers with birds flitting in and out and towards the end of the day we'll see the snow-capped peaks of Humantay and Salkantay (the Savage) looming high above us.
Our campsite for tonight is at Soraypampa (4000m / 12750ft.), the nights can get pretty chilly here so it's a good idea to put on your hat and gloves before you go to sleep.
Today is the longest and hardest day of the trek but also the most beautiful. The scenery throughout the day goes from one extreme to another; starting from the high Puna covered in Ichu grass we make our way up and over Salkantay pass where everything is rock and ice and then descend the far side down to the warm and lush cloud forest below. Along the way we'll see a variety of wildlife from the small finches that scrape by at the higher altitudes to hummingbirds and toucans in the cloud forest, there is also a chance to see Andean Fox, White Tailed Deer and Vizcacha (rabbit-like Chinchillas).
Our campsite for tonight is at Colpapampa (2900m / 9514ft), it is recommended you put on insect repellant from this point on as the mosquitoes in the area have a nasty bite.
Our destination today is the village of La Playa about 12km down the valley from Colpapampa. Our route takes us along the Lluskamayo River through an area that is teeming with life and that has various coffee and fruit plantations. The scenery in this area is not as stunning as the previous day but the warmth and lush vegetation are a welcome respite from the high mountains we've left behind.
Tonight we will stay at the village of La Playa (2400m / 7874ft.) which is well connected and there are plenty of places where you can buy snacks and refreshments, you can also try some of the locally grown coffee. If you are interested there is the option to visit some hot springs that are close by, let your guide know in advance so that he can organise this for you.
Today is the final stretch of the trek before we reach Aguas Calientes at the base of Machu Picchu. The main focus of today is a visit to the Inca site of Llactapata sat on the mountainside high above. Following an original Inca Trail we'll arrive to Llactapata by early to mid morning and can enjoy the fantastic views of Machu Picchu that we get from here.
After a tour of Llactapata in which we'll learn about the Inca people and their culture we'll head back down the mountainside to the Hydroelectric Station from where we'll walk to Aguas Calientes.
Waking up early we'll take the first bus back up to Machu Picchu to enter the site as it opens. We'll have a 2 hour guided tour of the site during which you'll learn about the Incas and visit all the most important areas of the citadel. After your tour you'll have free time to explore the site by yourself and if you have permits to climb either Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu mountain. In the afternoon you will take the train back to Ollantaytambo from where you will carry on by bus back to Cusco.