The awesome Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu is one of the most acclaimed hikes in Cusco and the best alternative trail to get to Machu Picchu. It takes you through various types of terrains from the classic Andean landscape up to the frost-topped mountains and down to the tropical forests and eventually gets you into the jungle, the Salkantay Trek is named among the 25 best treks in the world, by National Geographic Adventure Travel Magazine. If you are considering a trekking tour to Machu Picchu and want to get off the usual tourist path and be in contact with the outdoors; the Salkantay Trek is the finest option. The magisterial feature is the huge mountain, regionally known as “Apu Salcantay”. If you adore nature and action, this is a chance to encounter this region’s different ecosystems: the Andes, with frost-topped mountains that reach up to 6271 meters into the sky and cloud forest where plant life becomes denser. Take advantage of this unique opportunity!
Day 1: Drive to the trailhead, hike to the highest point (the Apacheta pass), then reach Andenes, camp overnight.
Day 2: Hike to Lluscamayo, lunch, then, continue to La Playa. Then choose between 2 options. A) Llactapata Ruins – this option involves hiking to Aobamba, where you camp. Or B) Take a bus to Santa Teresa and visit the hot springs. Hike to Aguas Calientes.
Day 3: If you chose option A, you will hike to the Llactapata ruins, after continuing the trek to the Hidroelectrica. If you chose option B, we will take a bus and then hike past the Urubamba River to the Hidroelectrica. Hike to Aguas Calientes
Day 4: Hike the last stretch to Machu Picchu. Entrance, guided tour of the legendary citadel, return to Cusco by train.
We leave Cusco very early in the morning, in private transport and start a two and a half hour picturesque morning bus ride, through the Anta plains to Mollepata, we pass Limatambo (2100m/6888ft), an essential location of admission to the city of Cusco in the Inca Empire times, where the archaeological site of Tarawasi is situated. The road continues up a trail along the left bank of the Apurimac River and crosses the town of Mollepata (2900m above sea level), where we stop for breakfast and the small community of Cruzpata (2750m/9020ft) to eventually arrive our trailhead at Soraypampa (3850m above sea level), where we encounter our wranglers and horses and pack all our equipment onto the horses. We then commence a gradual ascent of 570 meters, hiking through pure Andean valley terrain for 4 hours. In the first hours of the trek you will see that plant life is sparse, mostly just grass that has adapted to the altitude. We finally get to the Apacheta Pass (4590m). Here we can appreciate the wonderful vistas of glacial-topped mountains, like Salkantay (6271m above sea level), Huamantay, Huayanay, white rivers and small lakes. At the Apacheta Pass you can leave a chunk of rock carried from the bottom as a gift to the Apu Salkantay (mountain god). In the Inca times hikers would leave their shoes, clothes, jewels or simply a piece of rock as an offering. We continue hiking for 2 hours downhill, the vegetation and temperature increases, to 2890 meters above sea level where the campsite is.
Salkantay is a Quechua word that means “wild mountain”.
We leave our campsite early in the morning and begin our trek with Salkantay snow peak behind us. Fauna and flora change as we enter a tropical cloud forest and see wild bromelias, orchids and beautiful birds. We descend through the forest, passing bamboo groves. We pass the fast flowing Luscamayo River and traverse across some beautiful pristine paths, where strawberries grow at our feet and passionfruits hang from above, the landscape adorned with begonias and purple orchids.
After a five hour trek we reach the settlement of Lluscamayo and have lunch. We then continue our hike for 3 more hours, reaching a warmer area of banana and avocado trees, corn fields and coffee plantations. Eventually we arrive at the village of La Playa (2,050m).
From this point you can choose from 2 options for your hike to Machu Picchu, depending on your preference and fitness. Discuss the options with your guide.
The options are decided by group majority. If you have a personal or private group you can decide beforehand.
Accommodation is at a hostel in Aguas Calientes.
Early in the morning (before dawn) we hike up 1 hour to Machu Picchu. We aim to be the first ones into Macchu Picchu to enjoy the view of the sunrise over the ruins. If you have obtained a permit for Huayna Picchu ahead of time you will ascend the mountain (at 7am or 10am – time will be ascertained in advance depending on availability) . We will have a two hour guided visit of Machu Picchu, then you have free time to explore on your own. You need to descend to Aguas Calientes at least 30 minutes before your train departs. Transport will be awaiting you at Ollantaytambo to bring you back to Cusco. You will arrive at about 10pm.