Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu takes you off the beaten path. Spend 5 days exploring the natural wonders of Salkantay Mountain and Humantay Lake. Enjoy the stunning scenery, breathtaking snowcapped mountains; picturesque valleys; beautiful lakes; waterfalls; rural villages, and camp on a hill in front of Machu Picchu. Enjoy an authentic camping experience in nature with comfortable tents and fantastic food!
Salkantay Trek 5 days
The Ultimate Salkantay Trek 5 days 4 nights takes you to explore the second most popular route to Machu Picchu after the Classic Inca Trail 4 days. You can see the Humantay Lake, hike around snow-capped mountains and the cloud forest, visit organic coffee farms, participate in a Pachamanca barbecue, camp at Llaqtapata, finish the Trek in Machu Picchu, and return on the Panoramic trains.
During the Salkantay Trek, we provide:
- Food: We use fresh local products to provide the best Peruvian food, and on day 3, you will prepare a Pachamanca underground Barbecue with hot stones. We provide vegetarian, vegan, and GF meals.
- Equipment: We provide kitchen tents, dining tents, toilet tents, tables, chairs, Eureka 4 people tents for every 2 hikers, and Eureka 2 people tents for solo travelers.
- Transportation: We provide door-to-door service. We will start the tour from your hotel in any location in Cusco city. After the tour, we will also send you back to your hotel. We are the only company that offers panoramic trains (Vistadome or 360°) on the way back to relax and enjoy the stunning scenery.
- Safety: All our employees have received first aid, mountain rescue, and Covid 19 protocol training. We provide oxygen tanks, first aid kits, and satellite phones.
- TreXperience: Discover our new way to experience hiking, creating unique and unforgettable experiences in responsible trips and a more profound connection with nature and the communities.
- Duration: 5 Days / 4 nights
- Hiking Distance: 64 km – 39 miles
- Depart: Cusco
- Difficulty: Moderate to Challenging
- Season: March to December
- Destination: Machu Picchu
- Type: Adventure – Camping – Hotel
Highlights of the Salkantay Trek
- Book with Confidence and Flexibility
- Prerpare a Pachamanca barbecue
- Authentic camping experience with comfortable tents
- Return on the Panoramic trains (Vistadome or 360°)
Do you want to know what is the difference with the Inca Trail tour?
Salkantay Trek 5 days at a Glance
Day 1: Cusco – Humantay Lake – SalkantayPampa (16km, 8hrs)
We start the Salkantay Trek at your hotel in Cusco and travel for 3 hours to the trailhead. After breakfast, we will start hiking for 3 hours to Soraypampa using an ancient Inca aqueduct. Lunch will be served by your trekking chef using local products. Then, you will continue the afternoon with 2 hours hike to Humantay Lake at 4200mts and camp near Salkantay Mountain at 3900 meters.
Day 2: Basecamp - Wayracmachay – Collpapampa (18km, 9hrs)
Wake up with a cup of coffee or tea and enjoy breakfast with the mountains, then hike up to Salkantay pass at 4630mts for 2 hours and 3 more down to lunch. The second part is a 3-hour downhill until the 2nd campsite at 2770mts.
Day 3: Collpapampa – Lucmabamba – Llactapata (16km, 8hrs)
Wake up in your tent and have breakfast; we start hiking along the cloud forest for 3 hours. Lunch is a special Pachamanca (underground hot stone barbecue), then visit the organic coffee farms. After lunch, 3 hours up to Llaqtapata campsite located on top of a mountain right in front of Machu Picchu.
Day 4: Llactapata – Hydroelectric – Aguas Calientes (14km, 6hrs)
Wake up, and when you open your tent, you will see Machu Picchu. Today is a 2-hour downhill to Hidroelectica for brunch and another 3-hrs to Aguas Calientes. We spent the night in a Hotel, Susanna INN or similar.
Day 5: Machu Picchu (Beat the crowds!) – 4hrs
After breakfast, we take the early buses to Machu Picchu for the sunrise. Explore the best of Machu Picchu with your private tour guide. Once you finish, you will take the panoramic trains and bus back to your hotel in Cusco.
- Safety briefing the day before the tour at 6:00 pm in our office
- Pick up from your hotel on the morning of the tour.
- All transportation during the Trek
- Duffle bag up to 8 kilos for your stuff carried by horses
- Professional, highly trained mountain tour guides
- Experienced chefs, porters, and horsemen
- Pachamanca barbecue
- Organic coffee farms tour
- 3 nights camping in the mountains with comfortable equipment
- One night in a 3-star hotel in Aguas Calientes
- All meals during the Trek with local natural ingredients
- Entrance ticket to Salkantay and Machu Picchu
- Buses up and down to Machu Picchu
- Panoramic Exclusive train to return
- Sleeping bags, air mattresses, or trekking poles
- Last day Lunch
- Huayna Picchu or Montaña Machu Picchu
- Tips for porters, chefs, guides
Additional hike after the guided tour in Machu Picchu:
- Huayna Picchu Mountain – Tickets cost an additional $75 per person. We need to book far in advance; climbing takes 2 hours round trip.
- Machu Picchu Montaña – Tickets cost an additional $75 per person. You need to book in advance; It is the highest mountain around Machu Picchu with a 3 hours hike round trip.
Full itinerary of the Ultimate Salkantay trek 5 days 4 nights
Day 1: Cusco – Soraypampa – Humantay Lake – Salkantaypampa
Start the Salkantay Trek with an early pick-up from your hotel’s door at 4:30 am and drive for 3 hours to the trailhead – arriving approximately at 7:30 am. You will enjoy the first breakfast prepared by your chef, then meet the team of porters and horsemen to start the Salkantay TreXperience later!
The first part starts with a 3-hour gentle hike to Soraypampa (3600 m/11811 ft) following an ancient aqueduct used since the Incas. Lunch is served at Soraypampa, where our chef will prepare delicious meals using fresh local products.
After lunch, you will continue with a 2-hour hike up until you reach the stunning glacial lake of Humantay (4200 m/13779 ft). Once at the lake, you can explore and relax, enjoying this spectacular turquoise lake’s beautiful views. Then continue for 2 more hours to the first campsite at the base of Salkantay Mountain. Along the way, you will see various flora and fauna, such as the Andean goose (the love bird), deer, and vizcachas (which look much like rabbits).
The campsite is at Salkantay Pampa (3900 m/12795 ft). This basecamp offers an unobstructed view of Salkantay Mountain and the sky at night. Get ready for dinner, stargaze, and sleep under a million stars.
- Campsite Altitude: 3900 m/12795 ft
- Highest altitude: 4200 m / 13779 ft
- Distance: 12 km / 7.4 miles
- Duration: 6 hours
- Meals: Breakfast, snacks, lunch, tea, dinner
- Accommodation: Camping under million stars
- Considered: Moderate
Day 2: Salkantaypampa – Wayracmachay– Collpapampa
Wake up bright and early with a hot cup of coffee or coca tea in your tent, admiring the spectacular views of the snowcapped mountains. After breakfast, you will start the ascent for 2 hours to the Salkantay Trek’s highest point at 4630 m (15190 ft). Once on top, you will take some time to explore and enjoy the area and even visit a beautiful lake at the base of Salkantay Mountain. Next, it’s another 3-hour downhill hike to the lunch place at Wayracmachay (3800 m/12467 ft). You might also see Vizcachas (Lagidium Peruanum), a Chinchilla only found in Peru.
After a well-earned lunch, you will get ready for the day’s final stretch, 3-more hours of downhill from the highland, where the air is dry and cold, into the lush cloud forest, where the weather is warm and humid. For sure, this is one of the fastest changes in temperature and landscape that you will experience. The campsite is next to the village of Collpapampa at 2770m (9087ft).
- Campsite Altitude: 2770 mt / 9087 ft
- Highest altitude: 4630 m /15190 ft
- Distance: 18 km/ 11.1 miles
- Duration: 9 hours
- Meals: Breakfast, snacks, lunch, tea, and dinner
- Accommodation: Camping next to a village
- Considered: Challenging
Day 3: Collpapampa – Llucmabamba – Llactapata
Enjoy a leisurely time in the village while admiring the view of the mountains you left behind. After breakfast, you will prepare for the most beautiful day of the TreXperience to the legendary citadel of Machu Picchu, hiking along narrow paths, following the river, passing wooden bridges, waterfalls, granadilla, and banana plantations, until you arrive at Lucmabamba (2000 m/6561 ft) for lunch.
Today’s lunch is unique and a highlight of the Salkantay Trek. After hiking for about 3 hours and taking a van for the last part, you will prepare to participate in a Pachamanca Barbecue, an old traditional underground stone barbecue. After burying the food, you visit the organic coffee farms and prepare your cup. The cooking takes about 45 minutes; then, you sit down to enjoy the different delicacies like the cuy (Guinea pig), different types of potatoes, fruits, and vegetables prepared like a local.
Once fed and re-energized, get ready for a 3-hour climb along the ancient Inca Trail to Llaqtapata, a small Inca citadel located on a mountaintop at 2750m (9022ft), where you will catch the first glimpse of Machu Picchu from a distance. This place was discovered by Hiram Bingham in 1911 and lost again until recently. You will be camping right in front of Machu Picchu; when you open your tent, you can see the sunrise and sunset over Machu Picchu if the weather allows.
- Campsite Altitude: 2,750 m / 9022ft
- Distance: 16 km / 9.9 miles
- Duration of hike: 6 hours
- Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner
- Accommodation: Camping in front of Machu Picchu
- Difficulty: Moderate
Day 4: Llactapata – Hydroelectric – Aguas Calientes
Open your tent, and the first thing you see is Machu Picchu on another mountain in front of you while your trekking team offers you a cup of coffee or coca tea. After breakfast, it’s an easy 2-hour downhill to the hydroelectric station. You will have the last brunch with the trekking chef, say goodbye to them, and hike the final stretch of the Salkantay TreXperience to Aguas Calientes.
The last part is a 3-hour hike along the railway, following the Urubamba river upstream. This trek section is steeped in history as you will stop at Mandor Botanical Gardens, visited by Hiram Bingham, who found a farmer named Arteaga living in the area. He was the first to take the Americans to Machu Picchu in 1911. You will visit Arteaga’s farm, home to various endemic birds such as the Rupicola Peruviana (locally known as the cock-of-the-rock), parrots, toucans, hummingbirds, and orchids. Once in Aguas Calientes, your guide will take you to your hotel, where you can shower and visit the city or the hot springs. You will have dinner in a local restaurant as you plan the next and most important day of the Salkantay Trek in the evening.
- Aguas Calientes: 2,000 m/ 6561 ft
- Distance: 14 km / 8.6 miles
- Duration: 6 hours
- Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner
- Accommodation: 3-star hotel
- Difficulty: Moderate
Day 5: Explore Machu Picchu – Return to Cusco
Today is the most important day of the Salkantay Trek. It is visiting one of the world’s new seven wonders, a city abandoned for unknown reasons during the 16th century by the great Inca Empire. Wake up early, have breakfast in the hotel, and take the first buses to catch the sunrise in Machu Picchu. Your tour guide will take you to the most famous temples, palaces, and plazas and explain the mysteries of this spectacular Inca city perched on this impossible mountain peak. The guided tour takes about 3 hours, and you will have time to explore the magical citadel or climb Huayna Picchu or Montaña (Machu Picchu Mountain).
After finishing the citadel tour or your hike, you must take the bus back down to Aguas Calientes, have lunch, collect your belongings from the hotel, and take the Exclusive Panoramic train to return to Ollantaytambo and our private van to Cusco. The TreXperience Team will drive back to your hotel around 7:30 pm.
- Duration of the tour: 3 – 4 hours
- Meals: Breakfast (hotel)
- Difficulty: Easy
Salkantay Trek Ultimate Packing List
When you sign up for the Salkantay Trek, you will hike Peru's second most popular hike and the most challenging trek to Machu Picchu. You will be walking from high altitudes into the jungles. The terrain will vary with unpredictable weather, and you must be prepared.
It's important to note that you won't be carrying all your stuff on this trek; you will only take essentials for the tour and leave the rest of your luggage in Cusco. We will provide a duffle bag to put 7 kilos of your stuff, including your sleeping bag and air mattress. Mules carry the duffle bags for the first 2 days, and then our porters will transfer to the hotel in Aguas Calientes.
You will also have a daypack; this must be with you when hiking with all the essentials for the day. We recommend a maximum of about 5 to 8 kilos.
You need to take to the Salkantay Trek:
What you will have on the daypack:
- You must always have the original passport in your day pack and keep it in a safe pocket, and dry is better to keep it inside a plastic bag or something waterproof; rain can occur at any time, even in the driest months. Ziploc bags will help you to have it all organized.
- Plastic Ponchos, TreXperience will provide you with plastic ponchos. Remember that you will still need your rain jackets as ponchos are used when the rain gets strong. We reuse the ponchos; please return them with the duffle bag after the trek.
- Sunscreen, you will be hiking out in the open space with the direct sun; make sure you bring the right sunscreen for you or buy it in Cusco before leaving for the trek. Bring some lip protectors as well.
- Toilet paper, you will find toilets from locals; they usually charge one sol; you must always have toilet paper with you in your daypack.
- Insect repellent, you will be hiking in the jungle after the second day. You always need insect repellent with you and always wear long sleeves.
- 1 rain jacket, and 1 warm/winter jacket, Jackets must always be with you in your daypack; the first 2 mornings, the temperatures will be cold, and you will start hiking with all layers; then, as you warm up, you will begin removing and put in your daypack.
- The average trek duration each day is around 8 hours, and you will be burning much energy; besides the meals and snacks we provide, we recommend bringing energy bars, granola bars, chocolate, and candies.
- Water Container, you will need to bring water for the first half day, then we will provide you water after the first lunch; however, you need to have a container of at least 2 liters: camel bags and reusable bottles will be okay.
- A flashlight or Headlamp must always be in your daypack if needed during hiking, and at night, you will need to walk around the camp and use the restrooms. Headlamps work better for having hands-free.
- Hat, you need to bring a sun hut for the daytime and for the night we recommend getting something warm. Also, gloves are recommended for the nighttime and early mornings.
- Sunglasses protect your eyes from the intense sun in Salkantay.
- Extra Money in Cash, we recommend bringing to the Salkantay Trek around 600 soles (200. USD); make sure to have some small coins, this is emergency money, and you won't spend everything. You will need to use the toilets, buy souvenirs, drinks, or snacks, and tip if you see it is convenient for your stuff.
- Personal medication: You also need to bring band-aids, Diamox, Pepto, Ibuprofen, Imodium, motion sickness pills, and feminine products.
- Devices, cameras, and cellphones for photos.
What you will have on the duffle bag:
- You will need a suitable sleeping bag that can handle -10 degrees Celsius. You can bring your own, or you can rent from us as well.
- Hiking Boots that are lightweight and waterproof; we strongly recommend having hiking boots rather than sneakers; also, make sure you use them before to avoid blisters.
- Sandals, after long hours of hiking, you will need to wear something light at the campsite, and for this, we recommend sandals.
- Six pairs of wool hiking socks are very comfortable when hiking with boots.
- 4 pairs of light socks as well, you will use them at night or walk around on the campsite with sandals.
- 6+ pairs of underwear, Just in case; bring extra in case they get wet
- 2 or 3 hiking pants, breathable, are better. Legging for ladies works well as well.
- 1 Sweatpant, for the nights and early mornings
- 5 sets of t-shirts long sleeve shirts work better,
- Tissues or wet wipes to freshen up after the long hike before bed.
- Bathing suit, optional as you can visit the hot springs of Aguas Calientes.
- For trekking poles, bring your own or rent from us
- Inflatable mattresses. We provide foam mats; however, you can bring or rent an air mattress if you want more comfort.
Price of the Ultimate Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu
Price per person:
- 590.USD for adults
- 550.USD for children and students
To book the Ultimate Salkantay Trek 5 days, you need to make an initial payment of 200.USD per person, the remaining balance can be paid online, in installments, or Cusco with any credit card at no booking fees at all.
You can also book this tour as a private service!
All travelers under 17 will have a $40. If you are 25 years old or under when traveling, you can get a 40$ discount with your student ID. Please advise by email to give you a code for the discount.
Valid Student ID for Machu Picchu
To get the student discount, travelers should have a Valid ID with the following:
- 25 years or less at the time of entering Machu Picchu. Older than 25 can not enter as a student
- The ID must have the Name of the university, name, and photo of the student
- The ID must have a valid expiration date
Invalid Student IDs
Student IDs are not eligible for a discount when:
- Traveler is older than 25
- Expired ID
- Student Id without expiration date
- ISIC cards are not valid.
Similar tours you might be interested!
- Luxury Salkantay Trek 5 days
- Classic Salkantay trek 4 days
- Classic Inca Trail 4 days
- Short Inca Trail 2 days
- Rainbow Mountain 1 day
Salkantay Trek 5 Days FAQs
What is Salkantay?
Salkantay is the second-highest mountain in the Cusco region, with 6,271m / 20574 ft. It is located in the west-northwest Vilcabamba Mountain, 60 km from Cusco in the Peruvian Andes’ mid-range. Salkantay means “Savage Mountain” and is considered a Sacred Deity that has controlled the weather and fertility by locals since Inca Times.
Salkantay was first climbed in 1952 by a French- American expedition. Due to its location on the Amazon border, shape, and steepness, Salkantay mountain is considered very difficult to climb.
What is Salkantay Trek?
The proximity of Salkantay to Machu Picchu and ancient trails make this a perfect Alternative Trek called the Salkantay Trek.
The Salkantay trek can be done in a 4 or 5 days trek to Machu Picchu, reaching a maximum of 4630m /15190ft high, the Salkantay Pass. This trek was Named by National Geographic’s Adventure Travel Magazine among the 25 Best Treks in the World.
How Long Is Salkantay Trek?
Salkantay Trek can be done in many ways, depending on your itinerary or your chosen operator. The most popular tours are 4 and 5 days; shorter than four days can be too challenging, and longer schedules usually include city tours, Sacred Valley tours, and not the hike itself.
- Salkantay Trek 4 days and 3 nights.- The hike starts in Soraypampa, visits the amazing Humantay Lake and Salkantay pass, and arrives at Machu Picchu after 3 days of the hike. On the last day, you will visit Machu Picchu and return to Cusco on the panoramic trains (Vistadome or 360°). The Total hiking distance is 44km/28 mi, and this doesn’t include the walking tour around Machu Picchu
- Salkantay Trek 5 days and 4 nights.- The ultimate Salkantay Trek starts in Soraypamapa Village, arrives at Humantay Lake, Salkantay Pass, and allows camp for 1 night in Llaqtapata, a unique archeological site located on a mountain top right in front of Machu Picchu. The Total Hiking distance is 60km/38 mi, only for the 4 days hiking tour. On the 5th day, this is a walking tour of Machu Picchu.
Is Salkantay Trek Worth It?
The Salkantay Route is not only the most popular hike to Machu Picchu after the Inca Trail. This trek is also remarkable because it offers varied experiences to travelers. Salkantay Trek starts in the high mountains, where the temperatures are cold, and the landscapes are usually vast grasslands surrounded by snow-capped mountains. They will arrive at Machu Picchu through the high jungle called the “Cloud Forest,” these highly varied landscapes will offer trekkers a unique opportunity to experience different views, climates, weather, and the chance to camp in front of Machu Picchu.
How High Is Salkantay Trek?
It’s important to note the difference between the Salkantay Mountains: his 6,271m / 20574 ft and the highest pass used during the trek traverse from the Andes into the Amazon Cloud Forest, Salkantay Pass, Located at 4630m /15190ft.
• First campsite: 3900 m/12795 ft
• Second campsite: 2770 mt / 9087 ft
• Third campsite: 2,750 m / 9022ft
• Last night at Aguas Calientes: 2,000 m / 6561 ft
How Cold Is The Salkantay Trek?
This trek offers different landscapes as well as different ecosystems and temperatures; the weather varies throughout the year depending if you are hiking during the dry season (April to October) or wet season (November to March); the temperatures will rise slightly during the wet season as is summer in the Southern hemisphere.
Day 1: During the first day of the trek, the temperatures will be from 18°C/64°F maximum during day time and will drop below 0°C/ 32°F at night time. It’s essential to have warm clothes as the temperature will drop when the sun sinks or gets cloudy. High places like Humantay lake are always chili, even with the sun.
Day 2: The second day offers 2 completely different climates, the first part of the day until lunch, you will hike through the Salkantay Pass, the highest and most challenging part of the trek; this part is usually bright and sunny; however, if rain falls, the temperature will drop to very cold, and you will need to wear jackets, hats, gloves.
The temperature will increase in the second part of the day as we enter below the tree line (below 3000m). Here, we will start descending quickly to the second campsite in the Cloud Forest. The temperatures will be from 24°C/75°F during day time and 10°C/ 50°F at night time.
Day 3: You will be hiking through the tropical cloud forest all day during the third day. You must wear light clothes, protect yourself from the sun and mosquitoes, and have plenty of water. At night temperatures can be around 10°C/ 53°F
Day 4: The last day of hiking starts as the day before in the Cloud Forest as we lower even more until we reach Aguas Calientes town with an average temperature range between 12ºC/54ºF and 24ºC/75ºF
Day 5: During the 5th day, you will visit Machu Picchu in the tropical mountain forest with warm and humid weather almost all year round.
Salkantay Trip What To Expect from this Trek?
When you choose Salkantay, you are signing up for the most challenging trek we have to Machu Picchu, and you must be prepared for: Long hours of hiking in sunny, cloudy, rainy, chilly weather—camp during the first night under freezing point weather and no electricity or cellphone service.
Not every day is freezing; it is cold on day 1 and half of day 2. Also, after the second campsite, there is a cell phone signal and wifi at specific points.
Which Salkantay trek should I take?
There are so many tours to Machu Picchu and Salkantay that travelers might have difficulty deciding which one to take.
Among the most important factors to consider is the price; you should not choose the lowest prices as they have hidden costs, and you will end up paying more or have a bad experience. The regular price of the Salkantay trek varies between 450.USD to 650.USD. This cost should include 3-star hotels, meals, porters, transportation, and an English-speaking certified tour guide.
It’s essential to book your tour with a company with a good reputation; this is a hiking tour at a high altitude and slippery terrain, and you should trust the company and tour guides.
TreXperience provides experienced tour guides, expert chefs, and comfortable camping equipment; plus, we include a Coffee tour, Pachamanca cooking, and a Panoramic Vistadome train on the last day for a great price.
How To Prepare For Salkantay Trek?
Salkantay Route is doable by anybody; however, you need a moderate fitness level to finish the trek. You don’t need to be an expert hiker but have a somewhat active life; if not, you must prepare before this trip to avoid bad experiences.
You do not need to train months in advance. However, you must go on occasional hikes for about an hour or 2 and increase the frequency and duration as you get closer to the tour departure. Some hours in the gym, jogging, or spinning will also help.
We recommend hiking on weekends or at least twice a month on short treks, including uphill.
Is altitude sickness a problem? What should I do to avoid altitude sickness?
Altitude sickness is real and can affect anybody, whether they are expert hikers or not. Below is some recommendation to avoid altitude sickness:
• Arrive in Cusco at least 2 days before your trek departure; this will help you to adapt to the altitude before your trek; during these first days, you should do activities that are not exhausting or that don’t include several hours of hiking: we recommended Cusco City Tour, Sacred Valley tour, or Maras Moray.
• You should avoid tours like Rainbow Mountain, including several hiking hours, which are very high. This tour is perfect after the Machu Picchu trip.
• Bring altitude medicine like Diamox or others recommended by your doctor.
• During the first days in Cusco, eat light and drink lots of water; Coca tea will help.
Where To Book Salkantay Trek In Cusco?
Machu Picchu is the most important tourist destination in South America and Peru; we have limited entrances to this Sanctuary. We have 2 train companies, Aguas Calientes town and Machu Picchu, which receive thousands of visitors daily. You must always book your tour in advance to consider these and other factors.
Booking your tour early will allow us to choose the best train schedules, hotels, and Machu Picchu entry shifts.
When is the best time to hike the Salkantay and visit Machu Picchu?
The Best time to visit Machu Picchu is from April to November, when it is the Dry season, April and November are the Shoulders months, and a weather increase is expected.
January and February are months to avoid this trek since the heavy rainy season and landslides risk. During these months, we recommend the Lares trek.