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Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu - 5 Days

Lose the crowds on this lesser known trek to the sacred ruins of Machu Picchu. Walk amongst local cultures and experience life in the rugged snowcapped peaks, before dropping into the lower lying cloud forest on your approach to the magical Incan ruins.

Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu - 5 Days

Lose the crowds on this lesser known trek to the sacred ruins of Machu Picchu. Walk amongst local cultures and experience life in the rugged snowcapped peaks, before dropping into the lower lying cloud forest on your approach to the magical Incan ruins.

The Salkantay trek is the perfect alternative for those looking to get away from the crowded Inca trail trek and still enjoy an breathtaking trek to Machu Picchu. Packed with big mountain scenery, colorful lakes, and local culture and tradition, this trek is sure to be the highlight of your trip to Peru.

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Trip Itinerary


Distance: 14 km / 8.7 mi
Elevation: 3850 m / 12,631 ft

Your adventure starts with a pick up from your hotel in Cusco around 5am. We proceed to drive nearly 3 hours to Mollepata. During the bus ride, you will see the snowcapped mountains of Salkantay and Veronica: the Holy Gods of the Incas, as well as a spectacular view of the colorful valleys below. After two hours of driving we will make the first stop in Mollepata, a small village where you can grab last minute snacks or breakfast. The drive will then continue until Challacancha (the starting point of our hike). Here we will meet with our support staff, organize all the equipment, and have introductory meeting. At approximately 9:30am we start our trek to Soraypampa (3900m). After about 3 hours of hiking (9km) we reach our lunch location and the basecamp for the evening. We will have a full lunch, and take a break before trekking up to the breathtaking Humantay Lake (4200m). This is an additional 5km hike that will take 3 hours round trip- but trust us, it's worth it! Once we reach the lake, we can observe the Humantay glacier and the stunning sunset. Soraypampa is located on the middle of the glacier valleys where at night, it is so dark it is a perfect spot to appreciate the constellations and the milky way.


Distance: 21 km / 13 mi
Elevation: 4650 m / 15,256 ft

With another early start today in order to make it up the highest pass of the trek, we deliver coca tea to your tent and prepare a hearty breakfast to fuel you up for the morning. The distance to the top of the pass is 7 km and will take around 4 hours to complete. During the ascent through the rocky valley we will see the magnificent Salkantay peak and possibly even chinchillas running around. At the top of the pass you will see the imposing snowy peaks of the Salkantay, Humantay, and Pumasillo. Salkantay is the second highest mountain of the Cusco region and one of the main Inca Gods known as “Apu salkantay”. Hiking to the top is the most difficult part of the trek and a great accomplishment! The next 3 hours are spent descending along gravel and rocky path to reach Huayracmachay, our lunch spot. In the afternoon we arrive at the upper part of the rain forest, also called a cloud forest. Another 3 more hours before we arrive to Challway Village (2900m) our campsite. The second half of the day, we will see the thick forest, decorated with colorful orchids and native plants. The majority of the year the weather is warm and pleasant.


Distance: 16 km / 10 mi
Elevation: 2900 m / 9,515 ft

Today we begin our hike toward la Playa, walking through thick jungle and following the Salkantay river on a gradual trail. On the way we stop at several family hamlets to enjoy local fruits and vegetables (passion fruit, banana, coffee, avocado, mango, orange and papaya). If we are lucky, the famous bird called “the Cock of the Rocks” will make an appearance. Lucmabamba, our camp for the evening is small town surrounded by coffee trees and is home to many local families- here you can roam around the area and shop for souvenirs. In the afternoon you have the option of going for a soak in the hot springs to relax your sore muscles. It's about a one hour drive to the hot springs and is highly recommended after the hard journey on the mountain (additional fee). Later that evening we will enjoy a full dinner.


Distance: 24 km / 14.9 mi
Elevation: 2600 m / 8530 ft

Before setting out on the trail your guide will give an explanation about the coffee we will be tasting at our plantation stop. While hiking, we pass through coffee plantations and an artisan coffee mill on the way to Llactapata. Here we follow a wide, well-preserved and original Inca trail which once ran to Quito. Following the trail up the side of the ridge, we can see a multitude of butterflies, citronella, orchids, rocky streams, and stunning views of the Santa Teresa valley. From the pass we can also see the first glimpse of Machu Picchu. From the pass it is a short walk to Llactapata.  Still covered under vines, jungle vegetation and trees, we will explore the site before descending to the Rio Aobamba and then on to the Hidroelectrica train where we have our last lunch with our cook. From there, we will have the option of taking the train or to walk along the train tracks until we reach Aguas Calientes. Once in town, we check into our hotel and get some much deserved dinner at a local restaurant.


Elevation: 2400 m / 7874 ft

Today is the most magical day of your journey. Depending on your entrance time to Machu Picchu your guide will help you determine the best time to wake up for your tour. If you have the early entrance you will wake up around 4am to catch the first bus up to Machu Picchu and see the sun rise over the ruins. If you have a later entrance you will be able to enjoy a it more sleep before taking the bus up to the ruins (entrance times will be assigned to you depending on how far in advance you book). Your guide will take about 2 hours explaining the highlights of Machu Picchu and the beautiful sites. Afterwards, if you have booked the option to hike Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu mountain you will have time for your hike and have free time to walk the ruins on your own. In the afternoon, you will get back on the bus and head to Aguas Calientes town. You will then board the train back to Ollantaytambo, where a private van will be waiting for your ride back to Cusco arriving between 6-8pm.

Additional Information

This itinerary is subject to change without prior notice according to weather conditions, strikes, roadblocks, or other events which are beyond our control. We will always do our best to follow the itinerary as closely as possible.

Accommodation Information

It is assumed you will share a room, either a double, matrimonial or triple. If you prefer your own room when booking alone there will be a single supplement charge assed which must be requested in advance. Rooms include private bathrooms with hot showers and wifi. We can also upgrade your hotel, if you prefer something fancier. Please remember that the services in Aguas Calientes may not be comparable to that of Cusco.

La Cabaña Machu Picchu is a warm Boutique Hotel that comes with a privileged location in the heart of Machu Picchu Pueblo, no more than 10 minutes away from the Bus Station to the Machu Picchu Sanctuary, the Train Station to Cusco and Aguas Calientes, and the curative Hot Springs of Aguas Calientes. Its traditional and rustic Kichwa style was designed to make guests feel connected with this ancient culture when they're visiting the Machu Picchu Sanctuary, one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Additional Trip Info

  • Transportation to and from your hotel in Cusco
  • All meals/drinks prepared by private cook
  • Coca tea served each morning in your tent
  • Boiled water and snacks
  • Fluent English/ Spanish speaking guide
  • All gear and camping supplies
  • Large Dining tent, table, stools, all cutlery, and kitchen tent
  • Portable toilet
  • Horseman/Pack horses to carry all of the gear
  • Duffel bag for you to pack your personal belongings into
  • Fees to access private land
  • First Aid kit including oxygen tank
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad
  • Hotel in Aguas Calientes- La Cabaña or similar
  • Hydroelectric train to Aguas Calientes
  • Entrance into Machu Picchu
  • Guided tour of the ruins
  • Round trip bus from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu
  • Train back to Ollantaytambo and then transportation to your hotel in Cusco
  • First day breakfast
  • Last day Lunch/ dinner
  • Trekking poles
  • Entrance in to Huayna Picchu (optional)
  • Horseback available for additional cost
  • Gratuity
  • Insurance


1st Layer:

  • Underware
  • Long sleeved Thermal Shirt
  • Thermal form- fitting pants

2nd Layer:

  • Polar Fleece
  • Trekking pants
  • Thick socks

3rd Layer:

  • Waterproof Jacket
  • Waterproof pants (optional)
  • Insulated Jacket
  • Scarf
  • Cold weather Hat
  • Gloves
  • Buff/ handkerchief
  • Sun hat


  • Backpack 20-30 L
  • Waterproof cover for backpack
  • Trekking shoes (waterproof and firm)
  • Sport shoes/ sandals for campsites
  • Camping pillow
  • Sleeping bag liner (optional)
  • Sturdy water bottle
  • Trekking poles
  • Headlamp
  • Plastic bags for wet items
  • Toiletry kit (toothbrush, wet wipes, etc)
  • Swimsuit/ towel
  • Sunscreen (SPF 50+ recommended)
  • Sunscreen lip protector
  • Sunglasses
  • Insect repellent


  • Personal Medications
  • Motion sickness tablets for van ride
  • Camera/ Extra battery
  • Personal snacks
  • Hand warmers (optional)
  • Leisure book for evenings
  • Cash


Weather in the Andes can be unpredictable ranging from hot and sunny to rain, wind and cold. Hikers should be prepared with proper gear and be ready for variable weather conditions throughout the day. Small changes in the itinerary are a possibility as well as trip cancellations due to bad weather. We reserve the right to cancel a trip prior to departing Cusco if we feel conditions are unsafe. If this happens you will be refunded your deposit in full, or have the opportunity to reschedule, however trips still depart when there is rain, snow or fog and refunds are not granted due to poor weather conditions. Temperatures can range from 0 degrees Celsius in the morning to 15 degrees Celsius in the afternoon. The sun can get intense in the afternoon and we highly recommend bringing sun protection.


Our treks take place anywhere from 10,000 feet up to 17,000 feet. It is essential to spend 2-3 days minimum in the Cusco region or similar elevation prior to taking any trek with us. We recommend staying well hydrated while you are in elevation and to get plenty of rest prior to your trek. FlashpackerConnect is not responsible if you get altitude sickness. Please consult your doctor is you are concerned with the altitude.


Our guides and staff are paid on a per trip basis based on the number of days they spend on the trail. While tipping is not required, it is a common practice in Latin America. If you feel your guide, and crew went above and beyond to make your trip special gratuity is greatly appreciated. A common tip is 10-15% of your total trip cost


We recommend booking 3-4 months prior to ensure availability. If your dates are flexible we can take reservations on short notice, however our treks tend to book out as we keep our group sizes very small. In order to book we send out an invoice for deposit via PayPal, and your final payment is due at least 30 days prior to your trip departure date.


Our treks depart everyday upon request with a minimum of 2 guests (Solo travelers can be matched up with existing groups)


We take pride in preparing a wonderful variety of food throughout your trek. You will always be served local Peruvian style dishes in a family style manner and you will never go hungry. We can cater to any dietary needs, but ask that you notify us of your request at the time of booking. If we are not informed during your booking we cannot guarantee that we will be able to accommodate.

First Aid

Trekking in the Andes and in high altitude can be dangerous and because of this our staff always carries a proper first aid kit along with emergency oxygen for our guests to use if they are feeling ill.


All accommodation on multi-day treks is tent camping. We bring quality 4 person tents but sleep a maximum of 2 persons to each tent. For tours that require hotels, accommodation is based on double or triple occupancy. Solo travelers will be matched with another guest of the same gender unless a single supplement is paid.

Group Sizes

Our treks depart everyday with a minimum of 2 guests and a maximum of 8 guests. We can also accommodate private trips and large group trips. Group pricing is available if your group is 4 or more people.


Travel protection is essential for your peace of mind and safety throughout the trip. Unexpected medical emergencies or illnesses prior to or during your trip could make you lose pre-paid, non-refundable payments. Emergency medical transport and air ambulances in remote locations can be extremely expensive and will probably not be covered by your medical health plan so it is compulsory that you purchase personal adequate travel insurance which is appropriate for your trip. This insurance must cover personal accident, medical expenses, air ambulance, loss of effects, repatriation costs and all other expenses which may arise as a result of loss, damage, injury, delay or inconvenience during your trip. We also suggest you purchase cancellation and curtailment insurance. When obtaining travel insurance, you must inform the insurer of the type of travel to be undertaken, especially when "adventure activities" are included in your trip. There are several insurance companies offering travel protection plans available for purchase online.

Visiting Machu Picchu

We suggest booking activities such as Machu Picchu & the Sacred Valley prior to trekking the Rainbow Mountain. This will allow for proper acclamation, and prevent altitude sickness. Check out our tour packages linking the Rainbow Mountain hike with Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail. If you are wanting a longer trek check out our Ausangate trek+ Rainbow mountain we offer 2,4 and 6 days options.

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