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Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu 5 Days

Salkantay Trek Live ExplorersDiscover a different side to the Andes mountain range by taking this alternative route to Machu Picchu through spectacular scenery.

This trek takes you around Mount Salkantay, the second largest mountain in the Cusco region (6271m/20,568ft),  On the first night, you'll camp within clear sight of the snow capped peak of Salkantay mountain.  The second day will be the longest day of the tour, and while you work a bit harder to get there, the views at the top are even more rewarding.  The walk to reach the famous Apacheta Pass at 4,600m/15,088ft) (the Inca Trail's 'Dead Woman's Pass' is only 4,200m/13,776ft)) is not strenuous neither very steep, afterward it is mainly descent into a more tropical area passing Andenes and Chaullay on the far side of the mountain.  We`ll take the forty five minute train ride from the famous Hydro Electric Dam and then spend the rest of the 4th evening relaxing in the town and hotsprings of Aguas Calientes.  Early in the morning you take the bus (or walk if desired) up to Machu Picchu for your guided tour, a well deserved reward but many say the trek is a prize in itself!

  • Overview
  • Itinerary
  • Included / Prices

Discover a different side to the Andes mountain range by taking this alternative route to Machu Picchu. It ascends to 4,650m providing incredible views of the massive Salkantay and Humantay mountain peaks which are among the highest in Peru. Trek through the jungle, crossing rivers and enjoying unspoilt trails through exquisite valleys to discover indigenous mountain communities. On arrival in Aguas Calientes refresh yourself in the hot springs before getting an early night. It’s an early start to get to Machu Picchu in time for a magical sunrise.

Day 1: Cusco–Mollepata–Soraypampa

We pick you up from the hotel around 5:00 AM and travel by local bus or car to Mollepata (2,800 m/9,186 ft). Mollepata is a small community located along the main road from Cusco to Abancay. Mollepata is where we start our trip and meet our arrieros(horsemen) and trek crew to help us with our hike.
This morning we walk approximately 3 hours appreciating the diversity of the flora and fauna along the way, and then we stop to enjoy our delicious lunch at the quiet site of  Sayllapata.
In the afternoon we have a relaxing 3 hour hike before we arrive at our first camp site of Soraypampa (3,800 m/12,467 ft). In the early evening we have dinner and pass the first night.

Day 2: Soraypampa–Seven Snakes Pass–Challhuay

We wake up very early and after a good breakfast, we depart from Soraypampa. This is the harder day because we have to climb to Seven Snakes Pass (4,600 m/15,000 ft), the highest part of our trek. From here we can get a spectacular view of Salkantay, a stunning snow-capped mountain (6,271 m/20,574 ft), the Humantay and Huayanay mountains, small lakes, morraines, and the flora and fauna of the climate. The first part of the day will take approximately five hours.

Upon descent we will find some streams and many kind of birds. Our hike will bring us to our campsite of Challhuay where we will have dinner and spend the night. From here, the climate begins to take on semitropical characteristics because of the cloud forest.

Day 3: Challhuay–La Playa–Santa Teresa

We rise at 6:00 AM to have breakfast and begin our third day of hiking to La Playa. At La Playa is where we stop to have lunch.
After lunch we will have an easy downhill hike through the jungle highland of Ceja de Selva. In this jungle you will be able to see coca, coffee and several native plantation fruits.
Later in the afternoon we have a two-hour bus ride downhill to the village of Santa Teresa. There, we will have dinner and spend the night in tents.

- Option for quality shower at the thermal springs in Santa Teresa, Entrance  US$4.00 and bus US$4.00 

Day 4: Santa Teresa–Aguas Calientes

We have breakfast and after an hour-long bus ride, we walkfor two hours to get to the Urubamba River the hydroelectric station for lunch.  We then continue on our three-hour walk towards the town of Aguas Calientes. There, we will check into our hostel, dine, and rest up before the next day in Machu Picchu!

NOTE: If you don't want to walk after lunch, you can take a train from the hydroelectric station to Aguas Calientes, but it only leaves in the late afternoons and can be a long wait.

Day 5: Machu Picchu–Cusco

We wake up at 5:00 AM for breakfast. We leave our luggage at the hostel and take an early bus up to Machu Picchu, which includes an English-speaking guide. We arrive at Machu Picchu early in the morning. This early in the morning it is empty and we will have the best chance to enjoy the beauty and the magic of Machu Picchu.

A walking tour (approximately 2 hours) is given by your guide and after this you can explore the mysterious city by yourselves. If you still have energy, you can also climb Huayna Picchu (2,720 m/8,923 ft). It takes 45 minutes to reach the top of Huayna Picchu.

We suggest that after visiting Machu Picchu that you take the bus down to Aguas Calientes by 13:00 PM at the latest (assuming the train from Aguas Calientes to Cusco departs at 18:45). Buses to Aguas Calientes depart every 10 minutes. Check with the guide for actual times.

You can expect to arrive back in Cusco by 10:00 PM. From there we will provide you a transfer back to your hostel.

Arrival into Cusco might change depending on availability of train


  • Professional, bilingual (English and Spanish) tour guide
  • Collection from your hotel on Day 1 to the start of the trail
  • Spacious, personal tents
  • Sleeping mat
  • Hot water every morning and evening for washing purposes (while hiking). With adequate advance notice, we can supply boiled water to fill your water bottle or hydration pack.
  • Accommodations: 3 nights camping, 1 night hostel
  • Horses for days 1-3 (for equipment and 6 kg of your personal items), including horsemen
  • Excellent Meals (4 Breakfast, 4 Lunch, 4 Dinner)
  • Food includes pancakes, omelettes, soups, fresh fruit, avocado, pasta, chicken, fish, meat, rice, all rich in carbohydrates and suitable for trekking
  • Tea time before dinner (tea, coffee, biscuits, popcorn)
  • First aid kit including emergency oxygen bottle
  • Bus from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu
  • Machu Picchu entrance fee
  • Trail entrance fee
  • Train ticket from Aguas Calientes to Cusco

What You Need to Bring:

  • Original passport (and *International Student card (ISIC), if applicable)
  • Travel insurance (strongly recommended but not required)
  • Sleeping bag (also can be rented from us)
  • Walking boots
  • Waterproof jacket/rain poncho
  • Warm jacket
  • Hat and gloves
  • T-shirts
  • Comfortable trousers
  • Sun hat
  • Sun protection cream (SPF 35 or higher recommended)
  • Insect repellent
  • Re-usable plastic or metal water container or a hydration pack such as Camelbak
  • Water (only for first 4 hours of trek, then we will provide you with previously-boiled drinking water throughout the trek)
  • Toiletries (including toilet paper)
  • Personal medication
  • Camera
  • Torch with spare batteries (headlamps are useful)
  • Cash in local currency (Peruvian Soles) to purchase items along the trail and tips for porters