All you need to know about Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu

Many visitors to Machu Picchu opt for the Salkantay Trek while in Peru. Although difficult, you'll enjoy stunning mountainous and rainforest landscapes along the Salkantay Trek trail in Peru. Dubbed Mount Salkantay Trail after one of Cusco's highest peaks at 6271 meters or 20574 feet high; at its highest point on this trek it reaches 4,630 meters (15,190 feet). Although challenging, taking on this adventure's challenge will most definitely pay dividends; its benefits outweigh its complexity!

The Salkantay Trek offers another means of reaching Machu Picchu outside of taking the Inca Trail. Starting in Soraypampa village about three hours away from Cusco, this trek ends up at Machu Picchu citadel; its starting point sits at an elevation of 3800 meters or 12467 feet.

This hike is highly-acclaimed and the second-most-popular Inca Trail trek to Machu Picchu. Suggested for people seeking an exciting yet challenging trek, you will see Andean lakes, stunning snow-covered mountain vistas of Salkantay and Humantay mountains as you pass thick cloud forests before visiting local villages that specialize in growing coffee, coca leaves and fruits!

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 miles

What to do?:

  Pachamanca, 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 can be found in Peru's Andes and lies 100 kilometers (60 miles) northeast of Cusco. Part of Cordillera Vilcabamba which houses some of the tallest mountains in Peru's Andes. Climbers and hikers frequent Salkantay Mountain; visitors can access different paths leading up to its summit; among these routes is Salkantay Trek which generally takes four or five days to finish.


Salkantay comes from the Quechua word Salqa, meaning wild or invincible in Spanish. Other sources state that its name derives from two words in this dialect - "Salqa" meaning wildness and "Antay," which refers to creating avalanches - so Salkantay Mountain can also be considered Wild Mountain.

The Incas believed that Salkantay Mountain was associated with rain and fertility, making him an essential deity who controlled weather and fertility in areas west of Cusco.

Salkantay Mountain

Fred D. Ayres led a team of French and American climbers successfully scaling Salcantay in 1952. Today, hikers and climbers from around the globe visit it frequently; National Geographic Adventure Travel magazine recently recognized it as one of its Top 25 adventures worldwide.


The climate at Salkantay can vary dramatically depending on which month of travel. December often offers cool, dry conditions while May's heat and humidity is often overwhelming.

Below are a few important details when thinking of visiting Salkantay and considering its weather.

  • Salkantay lies within the Andes Mountains and therefore, weather patterns can often vary significantly.
  • At an elevation of 6,271 meters above sea level, Salkantay experiences extreme temperature swings.
  • With two distinct wet seasons from November through April and dry ones between May and October, visitors should expect a unique experience when traveling here in Peru.

Highlights of the Salkantay Trek

The Salkantay Trek offers many rewards.lungul It's no wonder why so many trekkers enjoy Peru's Salkantay Trek; its beauty alone makes it stand out. Along its course lies snowcapped Mount Salkantay as well as traditional Andean villages where welcoming locals offer hospitality - some of its highlights! This trip truly stands out among them all.

  • The Salkantay Trek offers some of the most breathtaking vistas Peru has to offer, from lush rainforests to high-altitude mountain passes and more!
  • Trekking in Peru gives you the chance to meet friendly locals and gain insight into their culture, making the Salkantay Trek an incredible journey with friendly locals that welcome visitors while providing delicious Andean cuisine!


The Salkantay Trek in Peru is one of the more challenging treks. Not only is the journey long and difficult, but its high altitude adds even greater difficulty to hiking this trail. At its highest point is known as The Pass of Salkantay which sits 4,630 meters (15,190 feet). As altitude can make hiking difficult for some individuals it's essential that people adjust before embarking on this adventure; one challenge in particular being its length - around 80km making this one of Peru's longer treks!

Facts about the Salkantay Trek

  • You don't require a permit but should still hold Machu Picchu tickets; visitors are allowed to join you as many times as you like; the trail starts near Soraypampa village.
  • After hiking through the mountains, you will arrive in Aguas Calientes (also known as Machu Picchu pueblo).
  • The Salkantay trail takes its name from a 6.271m (20,574 ft) mountain in Southern Peru called Salkantay and named for this giant of an area.
  • National Geographic Adventure Magazine has recognized this trek as one of the top 25 treks worldwide.
  • t 72 km or 45 miles long, this journey may last between 5-7 days depending on your itinerary.

Preparing for the Salkantay Trek

When most people think of Peru, Machu Picchu often comes to mind first. But there's much more to explore in this great country that makes visiting worthwhile if you enjoy adventure travel - especially if that means embarking on the Salkantay Trek! Here are some helpful tips that can get your adventure off the ground smoothly.

  • Make sure you're physically prepared. The Salkantay Trek is no ordinary hike - its difficult five-day course takes in some of the world's most stunning landscapes and requires some training before setting out. Before setting out on this incredible challenge, be sure to train as part of a training plan so you're physically up for it.
  • Travel with minimal luggage but bring all essentials. Pack smartly as everything will be carried on your back; select lightweight yet multipurpose items that can help make life easier on the trip.
  • Make sure to bring a camera on the Salkantay Trek! You won't want to forget all of those unforgettable views - be sure to bring along a good camera to capture all those precious memories.
  • Make sure that you come prepared for all situations, as mountain weather can often be unpredictable. Bring enough warm clothes that you can easily add or take off depending on temperature fluctuations.

Enjoy every moment and pay close attention to all that surrounds you during this amazing experience. Take note of what is around you as you trek! You won't forget it for years.

What to Pack for Salkantay

When packing for your Salkantay trek, be sure to pack light. Include items with multiple purposes in your suitcase such as these suggested essentials:

  • Before hitting the trail, ensure your hiking boots or shoes are comfortable and broken in. Pack warm clothing: While Peru may be hot during the daytime months, high altitudes can still become cold at night; be prepared by packing some layers that you can put on as necessary.
  • Carry a rain jacket or poncho just in case the skies open up unexpectedly, and use sunscreen and sunglasses when traveling at higher altitudes with intense sunlight. To protect both skin and eyes from UV rays, sunscreen must be applied frequently and sunglasses worn when necessary.
  • Hats or beanies can keep your head warm on longer treks as well as protect it from the sun's harsh rays.
  • Always bring along a basic first aid kit containing Band-Aids, antiseptic wipes, pain relievers, and similar items just in case something unexpected arises along your trek.
  • Bring along enough snacks and water to stay energized during your hike. Protein-rich snacks, such as nuts or granola bars, provide long-lasting energy.

When is the best time to hike the Salkantay Trek?

The Peruvian Andes has two seasons: wet and dry. Although open all year, these seasons take place from mid-October until late April (wet season), and late April through October (dry season), with December through February seeing most rainfall.

Ideal trekking dates should fall between late April and mid-October, with May to September typically being the busiest months on this trail compared to Inca Trail (though still far less congested).

April and October are ideal months for traveling. While it may rain occasionally, skies tend to be clearer and landscapes more noticeable compared to drier months. Your vacation will leave you feeling rejuvenated and provide valuable experiences for mind, body, and soul - travelling isn't about running from life's issues; rather it provides opportunities for lasting happiness!

A place to visit during the Salkantay Trek

Salkantay Trek provides beautiful scenery and many places for exploration. Here are our recommended stops while on this incredible trek:

Humantay Lake
  • Humantay Lake

Humantay Lake is an amazing blue lake located within Peru's Cordillera Vilcanota mountain range in Cusco Region. At 4,200 meters (13.780 feet), this stunning blue oasis lies 4,200 meters (13,780 feet). Water for this stunning blue oasis comes from nearby Humantay Glacier which produces glacial runoff.

  • Salkantay Mountain

Salkantay Mountain, situated in Peru's Andes Mountains, is an impressive peak. At 6,271 meters (20,574 feet), Salkantay stands out as being both beautiful and impressive - perfect for exploring! In Quechua it means "wild mountain", making Salkantay's name quite appropriate as this remote peak offers breathtaking vistas.

  • Cloud Forest

Machu Picchu's Cloud Forest is an immense jungle located high on its mountain slopes, growing dense enough that sunlight or sky are hard to spot through its branches. However, this tranquil and humid space is home to various animals like pumas, ocelots and tapirs who make this space their home.

Cloud Forests are home to numerous birds such as Cock of the Rocks and Parrots. Due to Spanish Conquistadors' destruction of ancient Inca settlements, their ancient ruins remain in excellent condition allowing people to gain insight into life in past centuries.

  • The Inca Trails

The Inca Trails are ancient stone roads carved out by Inca civilization to trade goods through the Andes Mountains. Hikers now flock to them in droves for outdoor adventures; one popular trail leads directly to Machu Picchu itself!

  • Llaqtapata Inca site

Llaqtapata was constructed as part of the 15th-century Inca site on a mountaintop facing Machu Picchu. This rest stop provided rest for Inca pilgrims traveling from Machu Picchu's sacred city status towards Vilcabamba and other settlements located within cloud forest regions.

  • Machu Picchu hidroelectric Station

The Machu Picchu Hydroelectric Power Plant can be found in Peru's Machu Picchu District and uses water as its sole energy source, providing power to Cusco and nearby places. Established by Peru in the early 1900s, this hydroelectric station can generate 30 megawatts of electricity using river water sourced from Rio Urubamba in Sacred Valley of Incas; we can find here an ancient sundial which lines up with Intiwatana located within Machu Picchu itself! Here we can also find another sundial that aligns perfectly with Intiwatana at Machu Picchu itself!

  • Mandor Gardens

Mandor Gardens boast an abundance of plants, animals, historical items and cultural artifacts for visitors to enjoy. When touring these beautiful grounds they will see many varieties of trees, shrubs and flowers to enjoy while there are waterfalls, ponds and streams within its borders - an unparalleled experience in itself.

Hiram Bingham first visited Machu Picchu in 1911 while staying on a farm near Mandor. His expedition was funded by Yale University and the National Geographic Society; upon return home he published his account of it all as an immensely popular book that brought greater awareness of Inca sites like Machu Picchu.

  • Aguas Calientes Town (Machu Picchu Pueblo)

Aguas Calientes Town, commonly referred to as Machu Picchu Pueblo, serves as your gateway to Machu Picchu in Peru's Cusco Region at an elevation of 2,040 meters (6,690 ft). Home to approximately 3,000 residents with many restaurants, hotels and souvenir shops located along its main street - Aguas Calientes also is often called Machu Picchu Pueblo.

Aguas Calientes offers several museums and art galleries for visitors to Aguas Calientes to enjoy, with Machu Picchu--an Inca Citadel situated 5 kilometers (3 miles) away--being its main draw. From Cusco you can travel by train directly to Aguas Calientes which takes around three hours; visitors from Aguas Calientes can then travel directly to Machu Picchu either by taking a bus ride or hiking or by visiting its hot springs located here as well.

  • Machu Picchu Citadel

Machu Picchu Citadel, situated high up in Peru's Andes Mountains at 2,430 meters (7,970 ft), was constructed during the 15th century by the Inca Empire as either a royal estate or religious site. Today it attracts millions of tourists every year and is listed on UNESCO World Heritage list as a World Heritage site.

Activities in the Salkantay Trek

  • Hiking

Hiking is an amazing adventure; The Salkantay Trek can be challenging but offers breathtaking scenery and historical interest. With stunning vistas along its route and historical discoveries to unearth along its journey.

  • Pachamanca

Pachamanca is a Peruvian dish prepared in a special clay pot. As its name implies, this traditional meal utilizes hot stones placed inside to seal and cook the ingredients, followed by earth to seal off the pool for further cooking of food. Pachamanca typically features beef, lamb or chicken along with potatoes beans and various other vegetables marinated overnight to take in all their flavors and aromas.

Pachamanca barbecue Salkantay Trek

On day 3 of our Salkantay Trek, we will make this delectable meal. 

  • Coffee Farms Tour

For anyone curious about how their favorite cup of coffee is created, taking a coffee tour is a great way to do just that. Making great cups of java requires multiple steps like picking and roasting beans; by touring a coffee farm you can learn all about its production as well as try your hand at picking or roasting beans yourself!

Coffee Tour Salkantay Trek
  • The hot springs of Cocalmayo

Cocalmayo Hot Springs can be found in Santa Teresa, Peruvian Andes; approximately four hours south of Cusco. Here lies some of the most beautiful hot springs in all of Peru, which lie in a valley surrounded by mountains with temperatures ranging from hot to boiling and featuring cold springs for cooling off after taking a dip in hot springs; several pools available of different sizes and depths allow visitors to select one best fitting their requirements; all public access with minimal entry fees that cover vendor sales of drinks and snacks available nearby at each spring site!

Hot Springs of Cocalmayo
  • Zip Line in Santa Teresa

Experience an exhilarating Zip Line adventure in Santa Teresa. Are you seeking something exciting to do in Santa Teresa? Look no further! This thrilling activity provides stunning views of Santa Teresa's countryside from close by downtown. First, put on your harness; then ascend the first platform before zipping onward to the next platform before zipping off again!


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