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Salkantay Trail & Inca Trail to Machu Picchu 7 days

    Recommended
Duration 7 days - 6 nights
Travel Style Adventure, hike
Difficulty Challenging
Group size Min 2 - Max 8

Embark on an unforgettable journey with 69 Explorer Peru as we guide you through the iconic Salkantay Trail & Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, a trek that melds breathtaking natural beauty with rich historical tapestry. This classic Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu spans seven days of hiking, immersing you in the heart of the Cusco region’s majestic landscapes and fascinating archaeological sites.

Our adventure begins with a challenging yet rewarding ascent to the Salkantay Pass. At 4,630 meters (15,190 ft), the highest elevation of the trek, you’ll be greeted with awe-inspiring views that make every step worth it. We will then descend into lush cloud forests, bridging the gap between soaring peaks and verdant jungles.

As we continue our journey, the nights will be spent under the starlit skies of the Andes. In remote campsites, you’ll snuggle into your sleeping bag, reflecting on the day’s wonders. Embrace the unique opportunity to spend the night near Santa Teresa, a tranquil spot offering a blend of cultural encounters and natural beauty.

Each day, we will traverse a blend of terrains, from rugged mountain paths to ancient Incan trails. The anticipation builds as we near the Sun Gate, the final stretch before beholding the mystical Machu Picchu. The sense of achievement as you gaze upon this ancient wonder from the Sun Gate is unparalleled.

The Salkantay & Inca Trail to Machu Picchu trek is a must for avid hikers and history enthusiasts alike. It’s essential to book months in advance, ensuring you secure your spot on this sought-after trail as tickets sell out quickly. Along the way, we will share cups of coca tea, a traditional remedy to help you acclimatize to the high altitudes.

Your journey with us will be both safe and comfortable. We recommend bringing travel insurance for peace of mind. The trek’s starts at 3,869 meters (12,690 ft) above sea level and can be demanding, so physical preparation is key. Our experienced guides will be with you every step, ensuring a memorable and safe expedition.

While the classic Inca Trail is a renowned path to Machu Picchu, the Salkantay Trek offers a unique blend of adventure, culture, and natural splendor. Remember, the rainy season can impact the trekking experience, so planning your adventure during the drier months is advisable for the best experience.

Embark on this life-changing journey with 69 Explorer, where the Salkantay Inca Trail to Machu Picchu awaits, promising an adventure filled with breathtaking landscapes, historical wonders, and personal triumphs.

From US$ 947

95% of travelers recommend this experience

Important information

Includes

  • Transportation: This typically includes:
    • Pickup from your hotel in Cusco and transfer to the trailhead.
    • Return transportation from the end of the trek back to Cusco.
    • Bus tickets from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu and back.
  • Accommodation: Depending on the package, this may include:
    • Tents for camping along the trail.
    • A night in a hotel in Aguas Calientes.
  • Meals and Drinks:
    • All meals during the trek, which usually include breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks.
    • Drinking water is provided, but it’s advisable to carry purification tablets or a water filter.
  • Professional Guides:
    • Experienced, English-speaking guides familiar with the trail and Incan history.
  • Porters and Support Staff: 
    • Porters to carry the main luggage (personal belongings up to a certain weight limit).
    • Cooks and support staff to prepare meals.
  • Entrance Fees and Permits:
    • Permits for the Salkantay Trek and the Inca Trail.
    • Entrance fee to Machu Picchu.
  • Camping Equipment: 
    • High-quality camping equipment including tents, sleeping pads, and cooking gear.
    • Dining tents with tables and chairs for meals.
  • First Aid:
    • Basic first aid kit and emergency oxygen for altitude sickness.
  • Additional Activities (if pre-booked):
    • Tickets for additional hikes like Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain, if applicable.
  • Miscellaneous:
    • Briefing before the trek to go over details and answer questions.
    • Celebration dinner in Aguas Calientes.
    • Train tickets from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo.

Excludes

  • International and Domestic Flights: Travelers usually need to arrange their flights to Peru and any internal flights separately from the trek package.
  • Travel Insurance: Participants are often required to have their own travel insurance covering high-altitude trekking.
  • Meals in Cities: While meals on the trail are typically included, those in cities like Cusco or Aguas Calientes are usually not covered.
  • Entrance Fees for Optional Sites: Entry to certain additional sites, not on the standard trek route, might require separate fees.
  • Personal Trekking Gear: Items like hiking boots, warm clothing, and sleeping bags are generally not included, though some companies offer rentals.
  • Tips for Guides and Porters: It’s customary to tip guides and porters, but this is not included in the trek cost.

Recommend to carry

  • Clothing
    • Quick-Dry Clothing: Shirts, pants, and underwear.
    • Insulating Layers: Fleece, light down jacket, or a synthetic insulator.
    • Waterproof Jacket: A good quality raincoat.
    • Hiking Pants and Shorts: Convertible pants are a great option.
    • Thermal Underwear: For cold nights at high altitudes.
    • Hats: Both for sun protection and warmth.
    • Gloves: Lightweight and warm ones.
    • Hiking Boots: Waterproof and broken-in.
    • Camp Shoes: For relaxing at the campsite.
    • Socks: Wool or synthetic, plus extra pairs.
  • Gear and Equipment
    • Backpack: With a rain cover.
    • Sleeping Bag: Suitable for freezing temperatures.
    • Trekking Poles: Especially helpful for the descents.
    • Headlamp: With extra batteries.
    • Water Bottles or Hydration System: Minimum 2-liter capacity.
    • Sunglasses: UV-protection.
    • Personal First-Aid Kit: Include altitude sickness medication.
    • Insect Repellent: Preferably with DEET.
  • Personal Items
    • Sunscreen: High SPF.
    • Lip Balm: With sun protection.
    • Toiletries: Toothbrush, toothpaste, small towel.
    • Hand Sanitizer: For hygiene on the trail.
    • Toilet Paper: And a small plastic bag for disposal.
    • Camera: With extra memory cards and batteries.
    • Portable Power Bank: For charging electronics.
    • Snacks: Energy bars, trail mix, etc.
  • Documents and Money
    • Passport: A must for entering Machu Picchu.
    • Insurance Documents: In case of emergencies.
    • Cash: For small purchases, tips, and at small communities where cards aren’t accepted.
  • Optional
    • Swimsuit: For the hot springs in Aguas Calientes.
    • Travel Pillow: For extra comfort at night.
    • Reading Material or Journal: For downtime in the evenings.
    • Binoculars: For bird watching and distant views.
  • Tips
    • Layering is key: Temperatures can vary drastically.
    • Keep it light: Only bring essentials to minimize backpack weight.
    • Waterproof everything: Weather can be unpredictable.
    • Respect local customs: Pack clothes that are culturally appropriate.

Itinerary

Your exhilarating journey on the Salkantay Inca Trail to Machu Picchu commences at the break of dawn. As we collectively embark on this remarkable trek, our first day is filled with awe-inspiring landscapes and a taste of the rich Andean culture. Here’s what we will experience together:

We will begin our Andean mountain adventure at 5 am with a pickup from your hotel in a private van. Our destination for the day is the scenic trailhead at Soraypampa. During our drive, we will pass through the charming indigenous villages of Iscuchaca and Limatambo. Keep your cameras ready, as this route offers spectacular views of valleys and the snow-capped, renowned Salkantay Mountain.

Upon reaching Soraypampa, we will energize ourselves with a hearty breakfast. Here, we’re surrounded by the magnificent mountain glaciers of Humantay (5,900 meters or 19,356 feet) and Salkantay (6,220 meters or 20,396 feet). The sight of these towering peaks serves as an inspiring backdrop for the start of our hike.

Our first challenge is a completing the 2.5-hour hike to the stunning Humantay Lake. The lake’s vibrant turquoise waters, set against the backdrop of the snow-covered Humantay, offer a breathtaking sight, making this hike a memorable experience.

After soaking in the beauty of Humantay Lake, we’ll ascend for approximately one and a half hours to reach camp Salkantaypampa. Appetizers and hot drinks will be waiting for us once we arrive at the campsite, offering a warm welcome in the cool mountain air. Here, in front of the majestic glacier, we will have ample time to settle into our tents, which will be already set up for your comfort.

Before dinner, there will be time to relax and reflect on the day’s adventures, surrounded by the serene beauty of the Andes.

Key Statistics for Day 1 of the Salkantay Inca Trail:

  • Total distance covered: Approximately 12 kilometers (7.5 miles)
  • Highest altitude: 4,200 meters (13,780 feet) at Salkantay pampa
  • Lowest altitude: 3,900 meters (12,795 feet) at Soraypampa
  • Level of difficulty: Moderate, with acclimatization to high altitude being the main challenge

This first day on the Salkantay Inca Trail is just the beginning of our seven-day journey to Machu Picchu, setting the tone for an adventure filled with natural wonders and cultural insights.

On the second day of our captivating journey, we’ll delve deeper into the heart of the Peruvian Andes. This day is marked by stunning natural scenery, a closer encounter with the majestic Salkantay Mountain, and an immersive trekking experience.

Our day begins early, as your guide gently wakes you with a hot mug of tea or coffee, enjoyed right in the comfort of your tent. This warm start sets the tone for the day’s adventure. After savoring a nutritious breakfast, we gear up for a day filled with breathtaking landscapes and physical challenges.

We embark on our trek from Salkantaypampa, heading towards Pampajaponesa. The trail leads us off the beaten path, immersing us in the unspoiled beauty of the Andes. The first segment of our hike involves about 3 hours of uphill hiking. As we ascend, the magnificent views of snow-capped mountains, glacial lakes, and amazing valleys unfold around us, offering a visual feast.

Midway through our hike, we will pause to enjoy a well-deserved lunch in the midst of these awe-inspiring surroundings. The break also provides an opportunity to refuel and prepare for the next phase of our trek.

The journey continues for another 3 hours until we reach our campsite, located approximately one kilometer from the snow-capped Salkantay Mountain. The proximity to this iconic peak is truly a highlight, offering an up-close view this massive mountain.

Upon arrival at our campsite, we will have some time to relax and soak in the natural beauty. The afternoon will be marked by a delightful tea and small snack. Take this opportunity to share your trail experiences with your follow hikers.

As the evening approaches, we will gather for dinner, capping off another memorable day on the Salkantay Inca Trail.

Key Statistics for Day 2 of the Salkantay Inca Trail:

  • Total distance covered: Approximately 15 kilometers (9.3 miles).
  • Highest altitude: 4,630 meters (15,190 feet) near the Salkantay Mountain.
  • Lowest altitude: 3,900 meters (12,795 feet) at Salkantaypampa.
  • Level of difficulty: Challenging, with significant uphill trekking.

This second day on the trail is not just a journey through the Andes, but a journey into the heart of the Peruvian wilderness, bringing us one step closer to the mystical Machu Picchu.

As we start the third day of our journey, be prepare for a day filled with natural wonders. Our route from Pampajaponesa to Sisaypampa will take us through diverse landscapes and if we’re lucky we’ll get a glimpse of the sacred Andean Condor.

The day will start in the same fashion as before, with a nice hot drink in your sleeping bag, followed by a tasty and hearty breakfast. This nourishing start is crucial for the day ahead, as we gear up for a significant ascent.

Our trek begins with a steady uphill climb, lasting approximately 4 hours. We will make our way towards the Incachiriaska Pass, which stands at an impressive 4,880 meters (16,010 feet). The name Incachiriaska translates to “the place where the Inca cools down,” a nod to the historical significance and natural beauty of this spot. As we summit the pass, the breathtaking vistas of the Andes unfold before us, providing a stunning backdrop for pictures.

One of the day’s highlights is the chance to spot the Andean Condor, South America’s largest flying bird. These majestic creatures inhabit the rocky crags around the Incachiriaska Pass. Our guide will help you scan the skies, hoping to catch a glimpse of this remarkable bird.

After reaching the pass, our trail transitions to a downhill path. This part of the hike offers a different perspective of the Andes, as we descend towards our campsite for the night at Sisaypampa. The change in altitude provides a varied landscape, adding to the day’s dynamic trekking experience.

As we settle in at Sisaypampa, we will have the opportunity to relax and reflect on the day’s journey. Surrounded by the serene beauty of the Andes, this campsite offers a peaceful end to an exhilarating day.

Key Statistics for Day 3 of the Salkantay Inca Trail:

  • Total distance covered: Approximately 12 kilometers (7.5 miles).
  • Highest altitude: 4,880 meters (16,010 feet) at Incachiriaska Pass.
  • Lowest altitude: 3,900 meters (12,795 feet) at Sisaypampa.
  • Level of difficulty: Moderate to challenging, with a significant uphill climb.

This third day on the Salkantay Inca Trail is a bit more difficult; providing an adventurous trek through the heart of the Andes, bringing us closer to the world of the Incas and the environment they lived in.

On the fourth day of our hike we transition into a new phase of our adventure, blending ancient Inca history with the stunning natural scenery of the Andes. Our trek from Sisaypampa to Wayllabamba and then to Llulluchapampa is a journey through time and landscapes, filled with captivating moments.

We start our day with a hot cup of coffee or tea and a delicious breakfast, fueling up for the hike ahead. We bid farewell to our horsemen, as from this point onward, your camping equipment will be carried by porters. This change marks a new chapter in our trek, as we delve deeper into the heart of the Inca trail.

Our hike begins by heading towards the end of the valley, which opens up into a wider valley named Pampacahua. Here, we encounter a historical marvel—an Inca Canal, still fully functional and used by local farming settlements. This encounter with living history is a unique aspect of our journey.

As we reach the end of the Pampapacahua, we come across our first Inca archaeological site, Paucarcancha. We’ll pass by this site, immersing ourselves in the rich cultural heritage of the Inca civilization. Our arrival at Wayllabamba for lunch marks a significant moment on our trek – we are now on the Classic Inca Trail, literally walking in the footsteps of the Inca!

After another hearty and delicious lunch, we will continue our journey for 3 more hours through the scenic Llullucha Valley. This part of the trek offers a blend of lush vegetation and mountain views, adding to the day’s diverse experiences.

Our campsite for the night is at Llulluchapampa, a location known for its expansive mountain views. Here, we will enjoy our afternoon tea, surrounded by the breathtaking beauty of the Andes. This serene setting provides the perfect backdrop to relax and reflect on the day’s adventures.

Key Statistics for Day 4 of the Salkantay Inca Trail:

  • Total distance covered: Approximately 12 kilometers (7.5 miles).
  • Highest altitude: 3,850 meters (12,631 feet) at Llulluchapampa.
  • Lowest altitude: 3,000 meters (9,843 feet) at Wayllabamba.
  • Level of difficulty: Moderate, with a steady increase in elevation.

This fourth day on the Salkantay Inca Trail is more than just a hike; it’s a journey through the heart of Incan history, offering a unique blend of cultural insights and natural beauty. As we continue our trek towards Machu Picchu, each step brings us closer to understanding the legacy of the Inca civilization.

On the fifth day of our thrilling trek along the Salkantay Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, we will experience some of the most iconic parts of the trail, combining challenging ascents, breathtaking views, and a deeper understanding of Incan engineering. Our journey from Llulluchapampa to Pacaymayu, and then onto Phuyupatamarca, is a testament to the incredible endurance and ingenuity of the Inca civilization.

Our day begins early with a hearty breakfast, fueling us for the challenging climb ahead. We start our ascent on an original Inca path, heading towards the Warmiwañusqa Pass, also known as Dead Woman’s Pass. This climb, lasting about 2 hours, takes us to an elevation of 4,217 m (14,047 ft), the highest point of the Inca Trail. At the summit, we are rewarded with a magnificent view, offering a sweeping panorama of the valley below.

After enjoying the views at Warmiwañusqa Pass, we’ll begin our descent on the Inca Trail. This part of the trail showcases the remarkable stone construction, some of which has been reconstructed, leading us down to the Pacaymayu River. Here, we will pause for a well-deserved lunch.

After lunch we’ll embark on another uphill trek for about 2 hours, aiming for the Runcurakay Pass at 3,977 m (13,127 ft). Once we reach the top we’ll have unbelievable views of the surrounding mountains, a moment that truly captures the essence of the Andes.

Our journey continues with a 3-hour descent to our campsite at Phuyupatamarca, located at 3,650 m (12,047 ft). Phuyupatamarca, known as the “town above the clouds,” offers a spectacular setting to spend the night. Surrounded by the majestic mountains and under a starlit sky, this is an ideal place to rest and reflect on the day’s incredible experiences.

Key Statistics for Day 5 of the Salkantay Inca Trail:

  • Total distance covered: Approximately 15 kilometers (9.3 miles).
  • Highest altitude: 4,217 meters (14,047 feet) at Warmiwañusqa Pass.
  • Lowest altitude: 3,650 meters (12,047 feet) at Phuyupatamarca.
  • Level of difficulty: Challenging, with significant elevation changes.

The fifth day on the Salkantay Inca Trail is a journey that pushes you to the limit and rewards with unparalleled views of the Andean landscape. As we move closer to our final destination, Machu Picchu, each step is filled with anticipation and awe at the marvels of this ancient trail.

On the sixth day of our incredible Salkantay Inca Trail journey to Machu Picchu, we will experience some of the most visually stunning and culturally rich parts of the trail. Our path from Phuyupatamarca through Wiñay Wayna to Aguas Calientes is a journey through the essence of the Inca civilization, culminating in our first view of Machu Picchu.

We start our day early, with breakfast amidst the sunrise. This is a special moment where we enjoy the breathtaking views of the Urubamba Canyon, Machu Picchu Mountain, and the surrounding Inca sites. The early morning light casting over these ancient structures is a truly unforgettable experience.

Following breakfast, we embark on a 2-hour descent through the enchanting cloud forest, leading us to the Incan ruins of Wiñay Wayna which means “forever young” in Quechua. This part of the trek showcases lush vegetation and a variety of flora, characteristic of the cloud forest ecosystem. At Wiñay Wayna, we will pause for lunch, and enjoy the serene beauty of our surroundings.

After Lunch, we’ll continue on our journey for about 1 hour towards the Sun Gate, also known as Intipunku. Being the main entrance to Machu Picchu during the Inca empire, the Sun Gate is an important landmark offering the first views of MAchu Picchu! The sight of the iconic citadel, nestled amongst the mountains, is a reward for the days of trekking and the highlight of our adventure.

After taking in the views from the Sun Gate, we’ll descend towards The Incan Citadel of Machu Picchu. We’ll enter the Citadel from the top and pass by the “Guard House”. Here, you will have the opportunity to take those famous postcard pictures of Machu Picchu, capturing the essence of this ancient wonder.

Having soaked in the views and captured memories, we take a shuttle down to Aguas Calientes. In this charming town, we will gather for dinner at a local restaurant, enjoying a meal together and sharing experiences from our trek. The night will be spent in the comfort of a hotel in Aguas Calientes, allowing us to rest and prepare for the final day of our journey.

Key Statistics for Day 6 of the Salkantay Inca Trail:

  • Total distance covered: Approximately 10 kilometers (6.2 miles).
  • Highest altitude: 3,650 meters (12,047 feet) at Phuyupatamarca.
  • Lowest altitude: 2,040 meters (6,693 feet) at Aguas Calientes.
  • Level of difficulty: Moderate, with a significant downhill walk.

The sixth day on the Salkantay Inca Trail is a day filled with anticipation, and awe. As we approach the Sun Gate we’ll get the first views of Machu Picchu which stands as a testament to the incredible journey we, and the Inca Pilgrims of old, have completed.

Today is the seventh and final day of our journey ending with the main event of Machu Picchu! This day is dedicated to exploring the awe-inspiring Machu Picchu Citadel, a global symbol of Incan architectural ingenuity and endurance. Our route from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu and then back to Cusco is filled with unforgettable experiences and breathtaking sights.

We start our day with an early breakfast at the hotel in Aguas Calientes. After breakfast we’ll catch one of the first buses up to Machu Picchu, ensuring that we arrive in time to witness the magical sunrise over the citadel. Watching the first rays of sunlight illuminate Machu Picchu is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, offering a profound sense of wonder and achievement.

Upon arrival at Machu Picchu, your guide will lead you on a two-hour tour of the citadel. This guided exploration covers many of the most important and iconic parts of Machu Picchu, providing insights into its historical significance and architectural brilliance.

For those who have booked the extra hike up Huayna Picchu in advance, you will have the opportunity to embark on this additional adventure, enjoying spectacular views from this unique vantage point.

After immersing ourselves in the wonders of Machu Picchu, we will take the bus back down to Aguas Calientes. Here, you’ll have time for lunch (not included) and, depending on your train departure time, the chance to explore the town. You might choose to do some shopping, sightseeing, visit the local museum, or even relax in the hot springs.

Our return journey to Cusco begins with the Expedition train ride from Aguas Calientes back to Ollantaytambo. This train journey departs at either 2:55 pm or 3:20 pm and follows the beautiful Urubamba River. The journey offers stunning views of whitewater sections of the river and glimpses of Wiñay Wayna high on the steep canyon wall.

Once we arrive in Ollantaytambo, our driver will be waiting to escort us back to Cusco in a private vehicle. The drive back is an opportunity to reflect on the amazing experiences of the past week. We expect to arrive at your hotel in Cusco by 7:00 pm, marking the end of our remarkable journey on the Salkantay Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.

Key Statistics for Day 7 of the Salkantay Inca Trail:

  • Total distance covered: Approximately 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu.
  • Highest altitude: 2,430 meters (7,972 feet) at Machu Picchu.
  • Level of difficulty: Easy to moderate, with most of the day spent exploring Machu Picchu.
  • Transport: Bus from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu and return, train to Ollantaytambo, and private vehicle to Cusco.

The seventh day of our trek not only brings us to one of the Seven Modern Wonders of the World, Machu Picchu, but also concludes our journey with a deep sense of accomplishment providing us with a better understanding of Incan heritage.

FAQs about Salkantay Trail & Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

The Salkantay Inca Trail Trek is a popular alternative to the traditional Inca Trail, taking hikers through diverse landscapes including high mountains, cloud forests, and jungle. It culminates at the iconic Machu Picchu.

The trek is typically completed in 7 days and covers approximately 60 kilometers (37 miles). It’s considered challenging due to high altitudes, steep ascents, and long hiking days.

Unlike the classic Inca Trail, the Salkantay Trek doesn’t require a permit, making it a more accessible option during peak seasons.

The best time for the Salkantay Trek is during the dry season, from April to October. The weather is more stable with less rain.

Essentials include hiking boots, warm and waterproof clothing, a sleeping bag suitable for cold temperatures, a daypack, sunscreen, insect repellent, and personal medications.

Yes, it’s recommended to spend 2-3 days in Cusco or a similar altitude to acclimatize before starting the trek to avoid altitude sickness.

We do provide all meals during the trek. This includes breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks.

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Why choose us

These popular destinations have a lot to offer

At 69 Explorer, we are committed to providing an exceptional experience. Your safety, comfort, and enjoyment are our top priorities. We continuously strive to exceed expectations and ensure that every trip with us becomes a cherished memory.

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Local Experience

Our guides are locals with extensive knowledge about the history, myths, and secrets of the region.

Small personalized groups

Our groups never exceed 10 people, giving you an unforgettable experience

Our experience

Our With seven years of experience and more than 20 packages to Machu Picchu alone, our team knows how to carry out a successful expedition.

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We believe in responsible tourism. Our tours are designed to respect the local communities and environment, ensuring a positive impact.