Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu
If you love traveling and hiking, you know how interesting it is to try new experiences. However, traveling without a guide can be quite frustrating. The entire experience will be terrible if you don’t know what to expect or if you didn’t carry some essentials. As you plan your hiking adventure it is important to know the nature of a place, weather conditions, where to get food, how long it takes, expenses, and what to pack.
The Salkantay trek is one of the best routes to Machu Picchu. If you want to experience a diverse trekking experience, you should give the Salkantay trek a trial. This trek can easily be accessed from Cusco because you will not encounter permit limitation problems. The best thing about the Salkantay trek is that is nor very crowded. The route is quite simple but it is always important to prepare yourself in advance to avoid confusion or unexpected things.
Before we even go further, let’s have a look at some important things that you should know about the Salkantay trek. This is a high altitude area 46miles/74km hike located in Peru. The journey begins at Mollepata which is a town approximately 100km from Cusco. People love this route for its amazing wildlife and the breathtaking scenery. The route includes a visit to Machu Picchu and Llactapata, this last one is a unique place located on a mountaintop right in front of Machu Picchu. If you love nature and history, you will definitely enjoy the Salkantay trek.
Quick Facts about the Salkantay Trek
- Starting point: Mollepata
- Finishing point: Aguas Calientes
- Days taken: 5 days
- Total distance: 46miles/74km
- Average altitude: 3000m
- No special permits required
- Highest point: Salkantay Pass at 4630m
- Worst hiking time in Cusco: February
Preparing for the Salkantay Trek
- Acclimatization is essential so take your time to adapt to the high altitude. Two days are advisable
- Hydration is essential for this trek so drink enough water
- Local water from the streams and rivers you will find along the trek is not safe for consumption so carry a life-straw bottle or some water purification tablets
- You will gain a lot of altitude for the first two days so it’s important that you do not push yourself a lot. Anytime you get tired, stop, drink water, and rest before proceeding
- From the third day of hiking, you will come across several villages. At least you will be able to buy cooked meals such as snacks, pasta, and fish
- The first 2 days might be quite challenging due to the steep ascents and the high altitude. The rest of the days are quite easy
Packing List for the Salkantay Trek
Backpack: If you are planning to hike during the dry season, it is advisable that you have a rain cover to protect your backpack from humidity and dust. The backpack should be large enough to accommodate your items if you plan to hike independently. Carrying enough items ensures maximum comfort. If you hire a company for the hike, your items will be carried by car or a horse so you will not encounter many challenges.
Sleeping bag: You already know that it’s extremely cold in the mountains. Your bag should go -5/20 degrees Fahrenheit in winter and 0/30 degrees Fahrenheit in summer. Choose your sleeping bag wisely because both synthetic and down bags have their pros and cons. A down sleeping bag is the most appropriate for the dry cold season. The bag is not only light but also small and warm. However, in case of rains, it may get wet. On the other hand, synthetic bags are good for the wet season because they dry quickly. Look for a modern bag that is small and light.
Tent: Look for a strong tent that can withstand snow, strong wind, and rain. MSR tents are a great option although they may not be that cheap. Do not always go or cheap options, go for quality or else you will encounter unnecessary challenges. Some of the factors to consider when looking for a tent are weight, size, strength, and how easy it is to pitch it. Carry a tent that is specifically designed for mountain activities.
Mattress: You will need to sleep at one point or another so you should have a mattress. Inflatable camping mattresses will never disappoint you because they are light, portable, and comfortable. They as well fit easily in your backpack. Foam mattresses and cumbersome and may cause inconveniences, especially during rains. They are also quite heavy so you will get tired quickly.
Estimated Cost for Salkantay Trek
Let us first have a look at what one person can spend without a tour company.
Shopping: You will spend approximately US$150 for gas and food.
Transportation: the distance from Cusco to Mollepata by van costs about US$120 and the rest of the route you can hike but in case the alitude is tough on you you may need to consider hiring a horse this would cost around 50.USD
Gear rental: This one will depend on what you want to rent. It is optional. Be prepared to spend between US$50 and US$80 for rented items.
Entrance fee: it is important to know this because if you don’t have enough money, you will make it to Machu Picchu. Going up Machu Picchu costs US$50 while going up Huayna Picchu mountain is US$75.
Accommodation fee: Your sleep should also be comfortable and safe. For 3 nights, you will spending on a tent. There are free campsites although they have limited facilities. If you decide to spend the night in a hostel at Aguas Calientes, you will spend US$50 per night.
Total cost: Approximately US$500 without a guide. If you hire a company the cost will be approximately US$500 to US$600 per individual because it is more luxurious.
The Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu is not only affordable but also fun. Always pack the essentials and have enough money. You don’t want to miss some fun because you cannot afford. The trek is safe and worthy.