All you need to know about Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu

The Salkantay Trek is one of the most popular trekking routes to Machu Picchu. It's a strenuous hike that takes you through some of the most beautiful scenery in Peru, from snow-capped mountains to lush rainforests. The trail is named after Mount Salkantay (6271 m - 20574 ft), one of the tallest peaks in the Cusco region. At its highest point, the Salkantay Trek reaches an altitude of 4,630 meters (15190 feet). The Salkantay Trail is not for the faint of heart. It's a challenging hike that requires a good level of fitness. But if you're up for the challenge, the rewards are more than worth it. 

The Salkantay Trek is an alternative hike to the traditional Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. The Salkantay trail starts near the village of Soraypampa (3800 m - 12467 ft), a few hours away from Cusco, and ends at the great citadel of Machu Picchu.

This trek is the second most popular hike after the Classic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. This trek is recommended for travelers seeking a more adventurous and challenging hike. During the hike, you will visit Andean lakes, enjoy the views of the Salkantay and Humantay snowcapped mountains, hike through the dense cloud forest, and visit the local villages where coffee, coca, and fruit are grown.

Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu
Distance from Cusco   From Cusco to the starting point is 3 hours approx.
Walking distance   About 70 km or 43.50 mill
What to do?   Cocalmayo Hot Springs, Coffee tour, Zipline
How many days?   From 4 to 7 days
What to see?   Salkantay snow caped mountain, Humantay lake, Llactapata Inca site


Salkantay Mountain is located in the Peruvian Andes. It is about 60 miles (100 kilometers) from Cusco. The mountain is part of the Cordillera Vilcabamba, which includes some of the highest peaks in the Andes. Salkantay Mountain is a popular destination for climbers and hikers. There are several routes to the top of the mountain. The most popular route is the Salkantay Trek, which takes about four or five days to complete.


Salkantay is derived from the Quechua word Salqa, which means wild, uncivilized, savage, or invincible. According to some sources, Salkantay is a Salqa (Wild) contraction, and Antay means to cause avalanches. The Salkantay Mountain means Wild Mountain. 

The Incas connected this mountain with rain and fertility. They believed Salkantay to be one of the main Apus (deities) in charge of weather and fertility in the region west of Cusco.

Salkantay Mountain

A French-American expedition led by Fred D. Ayres first climbed Salcantay in 1952. Since then, it has become a popular destination for hikers and climbers from all over the world. The Salkantay trek was just rated one of the top 25 adventures in the world by National Geographic Adventure Travel magazine.


The Salkantay Weather can vary depending on what time of year you visit. For example, the weather in December is generally cool and dry, while the weather in May is hot and humid. That said, there are some general things to remember when considering the Salkantay weather.

  • First, Salkantay is located in the Andes Mountains so the weather can be pretty variable.
  • Second, the weather can sometimes be extreme because the Salkantay is so high in elevation (it reaches 6,271 meters above sea level).
  • Finally, because Salkantay is located in Peru, it experiences the wet season (November to April) and the dry season (May to October).

With all of that in mind, here are some general tips for dealing with the weather of the Salkantay:

  • Dress in layers. The temperature can change quickly, so it's essential to be able to add or remove layers as needed.
  • Bring sunscreen and a hat. The sun is intense at altitude, so protecting yourself from sunburn is important.
  • Be prepared for rain. If you're visiting during the wet season, make sure you pack a raincoat or an umbrella.
  • Drink plenty of water. Dehydration is a common problem at altitude

Highlights of the Salkantay Trek

The Salkantay Trek is one of the most popular treks in Peru, and for a good reason! The trail takes you through some of the most stunning scenery in the country, including the magnificent snow-capped peak of Mount Salkantay. You'll also experience traditional Andean villages and meet friendly locals along the way. Here are some of the highlights of the Salkantay Trek:

  • The scenery: The Salkantay Trek takes you through some of the most beautiful landscapes in Peru. From lush rainforests to high-altitude mountain passes, you'll be constantly amazed by the natural beauty around you.
  • The people: One of the best things about trekking in Peru is meeting friendly locals and learning about their culture. You'll be warmly welcomed by everyone you meet on the Salkantay Trek, and you'll even have a chance to try some traditional Andean dishes!
  • The challenge: While the Salkantay Trek is undoubtedly challenging, it's also gratifying. Reaching the summit of Mount Salkantay is an unforgettable experience that will stay with you long after your trip.


The Salkantay trek is one of the most challenging treks in Peru. It is a very long and strenuous hike, and the altitude makes it even more difficult. The highest point on the trek is the Pass of Salkantay, which is 4,630 meters (15190 feet) above sea level. This is a very high altitude, and many people have difficulty hiking at this elevation; it's essential to acclimate before embarking on the trek. Another difficulty is the distance - at around 80km; it's one of the longer treks in Peru. 

Facts about the Salkantay Trek

  • You do not require to purchase a permit. However, it would be best if you still had Machu Picchu Tickets.
  • There is no limited number of visitors.
  • The trail starts near the village of Soraypampa.
  • After hiking in the mountain, you will arrive hiking to Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu pueblo)
  • Salkantay trail is named after one of the highest peaks in Southern Peru: The Salkantay mountain, with 6,271m (20,574 ft).
  • The trek has been rated as one of the top 25 treks in the world by National Geographic Adventure Magazine.
  • The Salkantay trek is approximately 72 km (45 miles).
  • Depending on the itinerary, the trek can be completed in 5-7 days.

Preparing for the Salkantay Trek

When most people think of Peru, they think of Machu Picchu. And while that is worth the trip, there is much more to see in this great country. The Salkantay Trek is a must-do for any adventure lover visiting Peru. Here are a few tips to help you prepare for this epic journey.

  • Train for the trek. This is not your average hike. The Salkantay Trek is a challenging five-day trek that takes you through some of the most breathtaking scenery in the world. Make sure you are physically prepared for the challenge by training before you go.
  • Pack light but smart. You will carry everything you need on your back, so pack wisely. Choose lightweight, versatile items that can be used in multiple ways.
  • Don't forget your camera! The views on the Salkantay Trek are incredible. Make sure you have an excellent camera to capture all the memories.
  • Be prepared for anything. The weather in the mountains can be unpredictable, so come ready for all conditions. Bring plenty of warm clothes and layers you can add or remove as needed.
  • Enjoy the experience! The Salkantay Trek is a fantastic adventure that will stay with you forever. Savor every moment and take it all in!

What to Pack for Salkantay

When packing for the Salkantay trek, it is important to pack light and to pack items that will be versatile and can be used for multiple purposes. Here is a list of suggested things to pack:

  • Hiking boots or shoes: These should be comfortable and broken, so you don't get blisters on the trail.
  • Warm clothing: Even though it is summer in Peru, the nights can be cold at high altitudes, so bring a few layers you can put on as needed.
  • Rain gear: It is always a good idea to have a rain jacket or poncho handy in case of rain.
  • Sunscreen and sunglasses: The sun is intense at high altitudes, so protect your skin and eyes from UV rays.
  • Hat or beanie: A hat or beanie will help keep you warm in the colder parts of the trek and can shield your face from the sun.
  • First aid kit: Always bring a basic one with you on any hike, just in case. Include items like Band-Aids, antiseptic wipes, pain relievers, etc.
  • Snacks and water: Bring enough food and water to fuel the trek. High-protein snacks like nuts or granola bars are ideal since they give you sustained energy.

When is the best time to hike the Salkantay Trek?

Although it is open all year, the Peruvian Andes has two seasons; wet and dry. The wet season is from mid-October to late April, while the dry season starts in late April and ends in mid-October. The rainiest months it was December to February.

The best time to go trekking would be from Late April to mid-October. However, the busiest months tend to be from May to September. The trail remains less crowded than the Inca trail even during these times.

The best months to visit are April and October; despite the possibility of rain, the skies are more transparent, and the landscapes are more apparent than in the drier months. I guarantee the holiday will cleanse your mind, body, and soul while giving you a worthwhile experience. Travel is not an escape from life's troubles but a plea to meet lifetime happiness.

A place to visit during the Salkantay Trek

The Salkantay Trek scenery is stunning, and there are plenty of places to visit. Here are a few of our favorite places to visit during the Salkantay Trek:

Humantay Lake
  • Humantay Lake

Humantay Lake is a beautiful, turquoise blue lake located in the Cordillera Vilcanota mountain range in the Cusco Region of Peru. The lake is about 4,200 meters (13,780 feet) above sea level and is fed by glacial runoff from the nearby Humantay Glacier.

  • Salkantay Mountain

Salkantay Mountain is a majestic and imposing peak in the Peruvian Andes. Standing at an impressive 6,271 meters (20,574 feet), Salkantay is the highest peak in the Vilcabamba mountain range. The name Salkantay comes from the Quechua words meaning "wild mountain," and it's certainly a fitting name for this rugged and remote peak.

  • Cloud Forest

The Cloud Forest is a dense jungle covering the Machu Picchu mountains. The forest is so thick that it is often difficult to see the sun or the sky, which makes it a very calm and humid place—home to many different species of animals, including pumas, ocelots, and tapirs.

The Cloud Forest is also home to many birds, including cock of the Rocks and parrots. There are ancient ruins from abandoned Inca settlements that the Spanish Conquistadors destroyed. These ruins are well-preserved and offer visitors a glimpse into the past.

  • The Inca Trails

The Inca Trails are ancient, stone-paved roads that wind through the Andes Mountains. They were built by the Inca civilization and used for trade and transportation. Today, the Inca Trails are a popular tourist destination, and hikers can choose from several different routes to explore the area. The most popular trail is the Classic Inca Trail, which leads to the ruins of Machu Picchu.

  • Llaqtapata Inca site

Llaqtapata Inca site is on a mountain top right in front of Machu Picchu. The site was built in the 15th century and served as a Tambo, or resting place, for Inca pilgrims traveling from the sacred city of Machu Picchu to Vilcabamba and other Inca settlements in the cloud forest region. 

  • Machu Picchu hidroelectric Station

Machu Picchu hydroelectric power plant is located in Machu Picchu District, Peru. It is the only hydroelectric power plant in the region and supplies electricity to Cusco and the surrounding areas. The plant was built in the early 20th century and is currently operated by the Peruvian government. The Machu Picchu hydroelectric station is situated on the Rio Urubamba, which flows through the Sacred Valley of the Incas. The river provides a reliable water source for the power plant, which has a capacity of 30 megawatts. In this place, we can find a Sundial aligned with the Intiwatana (Sun dial in Machu Picchu)

  • Mandor Gardens

The gardens are home to various plant and animal species and many historical and cultural artifacts. Visitors to the gardens can expect to see a wide variety of plant life, including trees, shrubs, and flowers. The gardens also feature some waterfalls, ponds, and streams.

In 1911, Hiram Bingham led an expedition to Machu Picchu; he stayed on a farm in Mandor. Yale University and the National Geographic Society financed the expedition. Bingham wrote a book about the expedition, which was published in 1912. The book was a bestseller and helped to popularize the Inca site.

  • Aguas Calientes Town (Machu Picchu Pueblo)

Aguas Calientes Town, also known as Machu Picchu Pueblo, is the gateway town to Machu Picchu. It is located in the Cusco Region of Peru, about 2,040 meters (6,690 ft) above sea level. The city has a population of approximately 3,000 people. The main street of Aguas Calientes is lined with restaurants, hotels, and souvenir shops.

There are also a few museums and art galleries in the town. The main attraction in Aguas Calientes is the Inca Citadel of Machu Picchu, located about 5 kilometers (3 mi) from the city. Aguas Calientes is connected to Cusco by rail. The journey from Cusco to Aguas Calientes takes about 3 hours. From Aguas Calientes, visitors can take a bus or hike up to Machu Picchu. It is possible to visit the hot springs in the town.

  • Machu Picchu Citadel

The Machu Picchu Citadel is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of Peru's most popular tourist destinations. The citadel is located in the Andes Mountains, about 2,430 meters (7,970 ft) above sea level. It was built by the Inca Empire in the 15th century and is believed to have been used as a royal estate or a religious site.

Activities in the Salkantay Trek

  • Hiking

Hiking to Machu Picchu is a fantastic experience. The Salkantay Trek itself is challenging, but the views are incredible. The scenery is breathtaking, and the history is fascinating. 

  • Pachamanca

Pachamanca is a traditional Peruvian dish prepared in a unique earthenware pot. The pot is lined with hot stones, and the ingredients are placed inside. The pool is then sealed with hot stones and covered with earth, which cooks the food. Pachamanca is usually made with beef, lamb, or chicken, as well as potatoes, beans, and other vegetables. The meat and vegetables are marinated in spices overnight to absorb all the flavors. 

Pachamanca barbecue Salkantay Trek

During the Salkantay Trek, we will prepare this delicacy on day 3. 

  • Coffee Farms Tour

Coffee tours during the Salkantay trek are a great way to see how your favorite cup of coffee is made. From picking the coffee beans to roasting them, a lot goes into making a good cup of coffee. By taking a tour of a coffee farm, you can learn all about the process and even try your hand at picking or roasting the beans. 

Coffee Tour Salkantay Trek
  • The hot springs of Cocalmayo

They are located in Santa Teresa, a small Peruvian Andes town located about 4 hours from Cusco. It is home to some of the most beautiful hot springs in the country. The springs are located in a valley surrounded by mountains, varying in temperature from hot to boiling. There are also cold springs, which are perfect for cooling off after a dip in the hot springs. There are several pools of different sizes and depths, so you can find one that suits your needs. The water is crystal clear and has a very high mineral content, which is good for your health. The springs are open to the public, with a small entrance fee. You can also buy drinks and snacks from the vendors outside the springs.

Hot Springs of Cocalmayo
  • Zip Line in Santa Teresa

Are you looking for an adrenaline-pumping activity while in Santa Teresa? Then look no further than the zip line! Located just a short drive from downtown Santa Teresa, the zip line offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. After being strapped into your harness, you'll go up to the first platform, taking in the view before zipping off to the next platform.

Similar pages you might be interested in: 


Add new comment