Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu – Complete Guide 2019
If you are passionate enough about trekking, you will surely consider the Salkantay Trek, especially when you hear that this mountain is one of the wonders of the Andes region in Peru. Although every blog articles about Salkantay trek is a spoiler alert, what you will see is more than what you expect. This enchanting mountain trail will surprise you.
Salkantay trek has established its popularity by being the alternative route going to the iconic Inca trail to hit the ancient citadel. But that was before. Because of the magnificent scenery around the Mount Salkantay, travelers no longer associate Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu. The descent of 1000m above the sea level is astonishingly not too steep. Now, National Geographic Adventure Travel Magazine recognized Salkantay trek as one of the best treks in the world.
Salkantay Trek Facts
- Salkantay trek has an altitude of 74km or 63 miles when you start in Mollepata; a town that is 100km away from Cusco. Before you reach one of the world wonders, the route passes through the edgy peaks of Vilcabamba mountain range.
- The highest point of this route is the Salkantay pass which has approximately 4600m altitude.
- This route requires travelers to take the trail for 5 days.
It is recommended to come to Cusco two or three days ahead of your scheduled trekking to prevent altitude sickness. By doing so, you could get familiar with the atmosphere and perform physical activities afterward.
Salkantay Trek Itinerary
Day 1: CUZCO – SORAYPAMPA -SALKANTAYTAMPA – SALKANTAY PASS – WAYRACMACHAY
Your first destination is the basecamp of Soraypampa where the trek begins. Expect hiking for approximately seven hours a day. Tour package inclusions are all meals (Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner), camping mats, and camping equipment. Trekking poles, personal porters, and sleeping bags are excluded but available upon request.
Day 2: WAYRACMACHAY – CHAULLAY – CCOLLPAPAMPA LORETA (PRIVATE CAMPSITE)
On this day, you will walk through the valleys where you have to experience total isolation from the busy cities. Walk in the nurturing valleys of Wayracmachay, Chaullay, and Ccollpapampa La Playa; when it seems you, the earth at your feet and the sky are the only elements that exist, you will come across a wonderful flora and fauna, waterfalls, and rivers.
Day 3: LORETA – LA PLAYA SAHUAYAKU – LUCMABAMBA COFFEE FARM – INCA TRAIL – LLACTAPATA
For coffee enthusiast, here is something to look forward. You will get a chance to Lucmabamba coffee farm and sets foot at the historical ancient Incan site of Llaqtapata.
Another interesting fact is: behind those brick walls were once home of an Inca chieftain and his family. Prepare your sleeping bags at the campsite of Machu Picchu.
Day 4: LLACTAPATA MIRADOR – HYDROELECTRIC WATERFALLS & MANDOR HIRAM BINGHAM FARM – AGUAS CALIENTES
After your breakfast, the journey to isolated mountain trails, yet enchanting continues. This time you will be guided to the striking Peruvian valleys to Aguas Calientes.
Seize the moment as you pass the Mandor Waterfalls today where water uncloaks on the rock surface but besieged by the banana trees and orchids.
Day 5: MACHU PICCHU – AGUAS CALIENTES – CUZCO
Finally, the long wait is over, the majestic Machu Picchu, an ancient Incan citadel, sits on the peak of Andes. Andes peak is 2,430 meters above sea level. You will be acquainted by your tour guide significant places around Inca such as Palace of the Princess, the Temple of the Sun and the ritual baths.
When to hike the Salkantay Trek?
The best time to hike at Salkantay Trek is from April to September which is the driest season. Along the Inca trail and Machu Picchu, seasons are distinguished by two pairs. First is the dry-winter season, and the other one is the wet-summer season.
Locals don’t recommend trekking in December, January, and February. Thus, Inca trail is closed in February for rehabilitation purposes.
Accommodation and Campsites
In the first stop, which is in Soraypampa, there are many established camping area. Shower, toilet, and tap with running water are available in the campsite vicinity.
Fret has no room at Soraypampa campsite. The trekking staff will take care of your duffel bags and the tent set-up. After a warm wash, they will prepare a hot choco and coffee for you. Delectable will be ready afterward.
Elevation Gained: 850 meters
Elevation Descended: 850 meters
For the second campsite, anticipate a free hot shower and jacuzzi. At this site, the trekking staff will walk you around the ecological garden where you would see plants such as avocado, chilies, pineapples, and coffee. Dinner might overwhelm you because you will enjoy the scenic overlooking view of the Salkantay River.
Night Elevation: 2,400 meters
Elevation Descended: 1,400 meters
Sahuayaku is a campsite owned by a local family. This campsite is the right point for sunrise and sunset. Here, you can rest and relax with tea and coffee.
Campsite Elevation: 2,700 meters
Weather: During day time hot and humid, chilly at nigh
You will savor your packed lunch and experience the hotel accommodation in Aguas Calientes. Again, a hot shower is available. Popular hot springs are also around the vicinity.
Aguas Calientes Elevation: 2,000 meters
Accommodations: Inti Punku
Packing List for Salkantay Trek
Essential Accessories and Medical Items
- Water Bottle or Hydration Bladder -2 X 1L Camelbak Water Bottles.
- Sleeping Bags that has a rating of at least -10 degrees C.
- Headlamp with spare batteries
- Sunglasses with UV protection minimum to 80% light deduction
- Adjustable trekking poles (weighs 350 grams per pair)
- Duffel Bag (recommended weight: 7 kg/15.4 lbs) with approximately 30-liter backpack
- Inner/Outer Gloves
- Neck Gaiter/ Balaclava
Additional Gear and Medicine
- Basic First Aid Kit
- Diamox (medicine for anti-altitude sickness)
- Isotonic Powder
- Suncream / Lip balm
- Blister Plasters
- Hand Sanitizer
- Baby wipes
- Waterproof Ziplock Bag
- Small Padlock
- Sporty undergarment (breathable)
- Windproof and waterproof insulated jacket
- Fleece jacket (for layering)
- Trekking trousers and shorts ( 2 pairs)
- Trekking Shirts (4-7 shirts)
- Base layers (2X top and 1base layers)
- Trekking boots/Hiking boots
- Trekking shoes (recommended: Merrel shoes)
- Hiking socks (5 to 6 hiking socks and 4 to 5 pairs of high wicking sock liners) recommended brand: Coolmax hiking socks
- Thermal Socks 1 pairs
- Waterproof gaiters that are up to the top of your calve and extended up to your boots.
How to select a good company for the Salkantay Trek?
A good company’s services reflect on their customers’ feedback and reviews. You will never go wrong to live testimonials on YouTube or videos. Also, do not forget to check the years of the company in the industry. When did they establish their travel company? Choose the company with experience with an expert tour guide. You can visit the company’s social media networks and websites to get more information. Reading the terms and condition before signing up is essential too.