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The Salkantay Treks: all the information about the Alternative Trek to Machu Picchu

Trekking Salkantay Trail to Machu Picchu is the best option to explore the wonderful nature and the mysterious history in Peru

One of the most amazing ways to visit Machu Picchu is by hiking the Salkantay treks in its different modalities:  The 5-day, 4-days or 3-day trekking itinerary crosses the imposing snow Mountain of Salkantay and then runs through the cloud forest and reaches the iconic Machu Picchu. Would you like to know Machu Picchu with this adventure surrounded by incredible landscapes? Know everything you need to know about the our organized Salkantay Treks to Machu Picchu.

The snow Mountaon of Salkantay: complete information

What does Salkantay mean?

The Salkantay is a mountain whose name translated from Quechua language means “Wild Mountain”, “Savage Mountain” or “Non domesticated Mountain”. This peak is known as an important “APU” “spiritual Lord” for its majesty and elevation.

Where is it situated Salkantay Mountain?

Apu Salkantay or Salkantay Mountain is located in the Cordillera de Vilcanota, in the Andes of southern Peru. The Salkantay Mountain is the second biggest in Cusco, after Ausangate Mountain where the famous rainbow Mountain is situated.

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How high is the Mountain of Salkantay?

The snow-capped Mountain of Salkantay reaches an altitude of 6271 meters or 20574.15 ft above sea level. The hiking route that leads to Machu Picchu reaches to the highest point in the “Abra Salcantay”, at an altitude of 4,650 meters / 15255 ft. From here you can see the top of many mountain and bellow several picturesque valleys.

How is the climate?

The snow itself presents an extremely cold climate (several degrees Celsius below 0º).

The climate during the Salkantay Treks, is varied. The intense sun during the day and the night cold on the first days and the last days are modified by the tropical environment.

What do the flora and fauna look like?

When you hike the 5-day Top Salkantay Trek, you will cross landscapes with a wide variety of flora and fauna. Among the species of flowers and plants, the orchid and the ichu (Andean grass) stand out. Among the species of birds and animals, it is worth mentioning the llama, alpaca, vizcacha, condor, spectacle bear and cook of the rocks (national bird of Peru)

The Salkantay Trek: everything you need to know

What is the Salkantay trek?

The Salkantay trek is a hiking route that takes the visitor to the Inca city of Machu Picchu. The total distance on foot is about 70 kilometers (5 days of route).

The Salkantay trek is considered one of the 25 best excursions in the world by National Geographic Adventure Travel magazine.

How is the tour of Machu Picchu with the Salkantay trek?

The most common way to do the Salkantay Trek is with an organized tour company. On the Internet (and in the historic center of Cusco), many tourist agencies offer this adventure.

Bollow are the information of the 5-day Top Salkantay Trek including visit the iconic Machu Picchu.

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Day 1 (16 km walk):

The tour begins very early in the city of Cusco. The agency picks you up by car from your hotel and transfer you to the town of Mollepata. Then you climb for about 7 hours to Soraypampa camp passing through the Huamantay lagoon. There the tours organize food and tent for tourists to rest.

Day 2 (22 km walk):

The walk begins after breakfast. The highlight of the trip is covered in the “Abra Salcantay”. Then it continues downhill to the town of Chaullay, where the cold climate begins turn to tropical. This day is considered the most difficult of the entire trail.

Day 3 (16 km walk):

The trek on this day is easy. It begins with a descent to the so-called “Playa Sahuayaco”. After lunch, the walk to the town of Santa Teresa. In this touristic town, you can enjoy the thermal baths of Cocalmayo. There he spends the night.

Day 4 (16 km walk):

This day is one of the most fun of the trek. It starts with a walk of a few kilometers to the hydroelectric power station. After lunch, the journey continues parallel to the Vilcanota River (and the railway line) until reaching the town of Aguas Calientes, at the foot of Machu Picchu Mountain.

Day 5 (ascent by bus to Machu Picchu)

This day starts very early with a bus ride to the entrance gate of Machu Picchu. Another option is to cover the 9 km ascent to the mountain. The rest of the day is spent enjoying the wonder of the world. The return to the city of Cusco is done by a train and bus trip.

How to do the Salkantay trek without a Tour company and alone?

Unlike the Inca Trail, the Salkantay trek can be done without a tour company, alone and without a guide. To perform this walk, all necessary precautions must be taken.

Follow these recommendations to do the Salkantay Trek on your own:

  • Book tickets to Machu Picchu in advance before you commence the Salkantay Trek. Otherwise, you can come back without knowing the wonder of the world – Machu Picchu!
  • The route to follow is the same as the Salkantay Trek with circuit. The trip alone may take more or less days, depending on the capacity of the visitor.
  • The first step is to get to the town of Mollepata from the city of Cusco. Cars are taken from the “Arcopata” bus station, in the city of Cusco.
  • From Mollepata, the ascent begins. It is advisable to bring what is strictly necessary (food for 5 days and sleeping material) to avoid carrying excessive luggage.

What to pack for the Salkantay Trek?

  • Sleeping bags.
  • Cap or hat.
  • Trekking shoes.
  • Hiking backpack.
  • Waterproof jacket.
  • Hiking pants.
  • Poncho for the rain.
  • Canteen with water.
  • Water purifying tablets.
  • Solar cream.
  • Personal hygiene items.
  • Snacks.
  • Cash.

What does a trek to Salkantay include?

In general, hikes in Salkantay include the following:

  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner.
  • Sleeping tents.
  • Tourist guides.
  • Entrance to Machu Picchu.
  • Transport from Cusco to Mollepata.
  • Transport by train from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo.
  • Bus from Ollantaytambo to Cusco.
  • Horses to transport luggage (7kilos).

When is the best time to do the Salkantay trek?

The best time to visit Machu Picchu is the dry season (April to October). During these months there is less chance of rain, so the roads are in better condition.

During the dry season, however, the days are sunnier and the nights cooler. According to mountaineering experts, June, July and August; This is the best time to do the Salkantay Trek.

Tips for the Salkantay Trek

  • Acclimatize for a day or two in the city of Cusco before you start the Salkantay trek.
  • Avoid alcoholic drinks or foods high in fat. One of the biggest challenges is altitude sickness or “Soroche” in Salkantay and Machu Picchu.
  • Do some exercise before the Salkantay trek. You don’t need to be in great physical shape, but a little exercise will help.
  • Whatever the time of year, wear warm clothes during the Salkantay trek. The nights are particularly cold the first two days.
  • Plan the Salkantay trek by yourself in great detail.

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Salkantay trek: price, difficulty and more

How much does a Tour to Machu Picchu cost with the Salkantay trek?

The Top Salkantay Trek 5-day, 4-night costs approximately U $ D 460 per person. There are more comprehensive services (better camps, catering and train services) which can cost U $ D 600 per person.

Most tourist agencies offer a reduction of between U $ 20 and U $ 50 for minors (aged 3 to 17) and university students.

Tourists doing the Salkantay trek

How much does it cost to do the Salkantay trek alone?

Doing the Salkantay trek alone costs nothing. The only major expenses are the entrance to Machu Picchu, the train services from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo, Your hotel and your meals during the trek.

How much does the Salkantay trek cost alone? Price in dollars

  • Bus from Cusco to Mollepata starting point US$ 20
  • Entrance Machu Picchu US$60
  • Train service (Aguas Calientes – Ollantaytambo) US$70
  • Bus from Ollantaytambo – Cusco US$10
  • Bus Aguas Calientes – Machu Picchu (round trip) US$ 24
  • Food, accessories and other expenses US$ 80

TOTAL PRICE US$ 264 approximately

Is it difficult to do the Salkantay trek?

The Salkantay trek has medium to moderate difficulty. In the opinion of some tourists, this adventure is more demanding than the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.

Who can do the Salkantay trek?

There is no age limit to do the Salkantay trek. Many tourist agencies do not allow this adventure accompanied by children. Seniors should consult their doctor before hiking.

Summary of the Salkantay trek

Salkantay Trek Destination Trek Duration

  • Day 1 From Cusco to Soraypampa 16 kilometers 7 hours
  • Day 2 From Soraypampa to Chaullay 22 kilometers 10 hours
  • Day 3 From Chaullay to Santa Teresa 16 kilometers 5 hours
  • Day 4 From Santa Teresa to the city of Machu Picchu 16 kilometers 6 hours
  • Day 5 From Machu Picchu to Cusco Travel by bus 0 hours

See here the best itineraries for Salkantay Treks to Machu Picchu