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Machu Picchu from afar
4.9
| 41 reviews

Trek the Salkantay Route to Machu Picchu

The younger, cooler sister of the over-crowded Inca Trail

Duration

7 nights

Annual Leave

1 week off work

Group Size

Up to 14 people

Season

May-Oct

Location

Peru

Meeting Point

Alejandro Velasco Astete Airport, Cusco

Classic Accommodation

Hotel · Wild camping

Customer Reviews

(41)

4.9

Difficulty

Challenging

From

From

Voted one of the top 25 treks on the planet by National Geographic

Trek through rainforest, cloud forest, over high passes and around glaciers - your feet might get tired, but your eyes never will

Sleep in picture-perfect campsites, so close to the Milky Way you can almost touch it

Can’t get enough of Incan cities? Check out our Choquequirao trek, where you can hike to both Machu Picchu and its ‘sacred sister’

Day 1

Arrive in Cusco and get to know your crew

View of one of the main squares

Arrive at your hotel in Cusco this afternoon, perfectly located off one of the main squares. If you’ve got the time, head out to wander the streets for your first real taste of Peruvian culture. Join your guide later for dinner at a nearby restaurant, where you can sample the local cuisine and music, as well as get to know your fellow adventurers. After dinner, head back to the hotel for a good night’s rest.

Day 2

Tour of the Sacred Valley

The ruins

The Sacred Valley was a crucial area for the Inca Empire, functioning as an agricultural, spiritual and political hub. You’ll visit the two main sites, Pisac and Ollantaytambo, to experience their ancient ruins, cobbled streets and learn about their history. On returning to your hotel in Cusco, you’ll meet your guide for a quick pre-trek briefing. Afterwards, the evening is yours - relax, grab some dinner and probably have an early night, ready for tomorrow’s adventure.

Day 3

Trek to Humantay Lake

Humantay Lake

Hiking

4-5hrs · 10km · 420m up · 400m down

You’ll be up picked from your hotel for a scenic drive to Mollepata, the starting point for the Salkantay route, where you’ll enjoy breakfast in a local house. After brekkie, you’ll make your way to the start of your trek in the Cordillera de Vilcabamba at Challacancha (3780m), getting your first glimpse of the Salkantay and Humantay mountains on the way. After packing the horses, it’s time to set off towards Soraypampa (3800m), the location of your first campsite. From here you’ll trek up to the high altitude and bright turquoise waters of Humantay Lake (4200m), sitting below the Humantay Glacier, before descending back down to the camp at Soraypampa.

Day 4

Soraypampa to Huayracmachay

Trekkers on the Salkantay Route

Hiking

6-8hrs · 12km · 830m up · 710m down

Today’s a tough one. After breakfast, you’ll start with an uphill hike to the highest point of the trek, the Salkantay Pass (4630m). At the top, you’ll make an offering to Apu Salkantay and learn the significance of the mountain to Inca culture. Descend to Huayracmachay (3920m), passing turquoise lakes with the Pumasillo and Humantay mountains in the distance.

Day 5

Huayracmachay to Lucmabamba

Waterfall and bridge

Hiking

9-10hrs · 21km · 50m up · 1870m down

Descend through the rainforest along the Santa Teresa River, trekking past lush vegetation and waterfalls. Stop for lunch at Colpapampa then continue to Lucmabamba. After arriving you'll have a chance to visit a nearby coffee plantation and roam the nearby tomato and avocado fields to pick vegetables for the chef to use in tonight’s dinner.

Day 6

Trek to Aguas Calientes via Llactapata

Trek to Aguas Calientes via Llactapata, Peru, Action Treks

Hiking

6-7hrs · 13km · 870m up · 880m down

After breakfast, you’ll embark on an easy(ish) trek through the rainforest to the Llactapata Inca site (2700m). You’ll have plenty of time to explore the area and catch your first glimpse of Machu Picchu in the distance. From Llactapata, you’ll descend for lunch before boarding a train to Aguas Calientes. On arrival, you’ll check in to your hotel and perhaps indulge in a power-nap before visiting a local restaurant to enjoy dinner with the crew.

Day 7

Ah...Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu from afar

Hiking

4hrs · 3.5km · 296m up · 296m down

Today you’ll head to Machu Picchu itself, one of the world’s most incredible archaeological sites, with a breathtaking location to match. You'll catch the bus there and have a guided tour to hear all about the hidden secrets of this ancient site. After a long day, you’ll return by bus to Aguas Calientes and continue your journey back to Cusco via the expedition train to Ollantaytambo, and then bus it from there. You’ll be back at your hotel with a drink in hand by 21:00, no doubt ready to drop.

Day 8

Time to go home

Coloured blankets

After your Peruvian adventure, it's time to head home. Your transfer will pick you up from your hotel in Cusco and take you to the airport in time for your onward journey.

Included

Guides

Local, certified and friendly English-speaking guides

Accommodation

4 nights in hotels (3 in Cusco, 1 in Aguas Calientes) and 3 nights camping on the trail

Meals

Local food cooked by your very own chef during the trek

Transfers

Both airport transfers and local transfers

Porterage

Porters and horses to carry your luggage on the trek

Equipment

Everything you need for camping along the trail will be provided and set up for you

Permits

All your tickets and entry fees will all be covered and organised in advance

Not Included

Flights to and from the meeting point

Travel insurance

Personal expenses

Tips for your guides

Visas where required

Day 1

Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 2

Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 3 – Day 5

Wild camping · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 6

Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 7

Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 8

Departure day

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

What is the food like?

Whilst trekking, an experienced chef will be on-hand to make amazing meals in the middle of the mountains. Expect plenty of hot food and drinks with every meal. Snacks such as chocolate or granola bars, cookies, dried or fresh fruit will be provided in addition to three meals a day during the hike. Breakfasts typically include things like oats (or 'kiwicha', a local supergrain), eggs/omelettes, jam and toast, pancakes and granola. Lunches are usually soups, salads, pasta, or potato-based dishes and dinners tend to be three-course cooked meals complete with dessert! Vegetarians, vegans and other dietary requirements and allergies can be catered for - please just request this on your passenger info form.

What is the accommodation like?

Cusco

During your time in Cusco, you’ll stay in a centrally located stylish boutique hotel, such as the Tierra Viva Cusco Hotel or similar. This highly rated hotel is set in a classic colonial house just off the Plaza de Armas (main square).

Salkantay trek

During the trek, you'll camp along the route. Your host will provide a four-man tent for every two people, complete with a Thermarest inflatable mattress and pillow. You’ll be accompanied by a group camp chef and porters, bringing a kitchen tent, dining tent with tables and chairs, and a toilet tent with portable loo. There will be shower facilities at the Day 5 campsite only (at Lucmabamba), with basic wash-bowl facilities provided for freshening up at the other wild camps on Days 2-4.

Aguas Calientes

On the last night of the trek, you'll stay in either the La Cabana Machu Picchu or Andina Luxury in Aguas Calientes for a good night's sleep before heading up to Machu Picchu the following day. Both hotels are modern, clean, very friendly and serve a brilliant breakfast.

Upgrades

For solo travellers looking for their own space, an optional private room and tent can be booked for an extra charge, see Optional Extras for the price. Please request this at the time of booking (this is subject to availability).

The Area

map

Logistics

Starts

Cusco Airport (CUZ)

Flexible - arrive any time on Day 1

Ends

Cusco Airport (CUZ)

Flexible - catch any flight home on Day 8

Transfers

Catch any flight you like. Your host will pick you up on arrival and drop you off on departure. Just bear in mind that if you arrive at the crack of dawn your room may not be ready for check-in. The usual hotel check-in time is at 1pm. An arrival airport transfer is included even if you decide to arrive earlier than the trip start date - just provide your flight details with the host.

Travel options

There are currently no direct international flights from Europe or the US into Cuzco. Flights generally involve one or two changes and go via Lima. If you prefer to break up the journey, you could consider flying into Lima a day early and booking an onward flight to Cuzco the following day. Airport hotels are available in Lima or, if you have more time to spare, why not stay in the popular Miraflores district of Lima and use this as a base to explore the city? See Optional Extras below for prices for extra nights in Cuzco or Lima before or after the tour.

Enjoy 12.5% Off Outdoor Gear

In need of a few more items? All bookings receive a 12.5% discount to use at Cotswold Outdoor, Snow + Rock and Runner's Need.

What's included?

  • Tent, inflatable mattress and pillow
  • Duffle bag for your personal belongings
  • Group oxygen bottle and medical kit

What's available to hire?

  • Sleeping bag
  • Trekking poles

What do I need to bring?

  • Day pack (25-35 litre)
  • Waterproof jacket
  • Warm fleece or down jacket
  • Hiking boots
  • Wicking base layers
  • Light long walking trousers
  • Few t-shirts
  • Hiking socks
  • Winter gloves
  • Beanie and sun hat
  • Down or synthetic feather sleeping bag
  • Warm layers for the first night camping at 4400m
  • Ear plugs
  • Trekking poles (recommended)
  • Head lamp
  • Sunglasses
  • Toiletries (toilet paper, wet wipes, personal towel)
  • Sunscreen (SPF 35+ recommended)
  • Insect repellent
  • Water bottle

FURTHER INFORMATION

  • You'll be given a duffel bag during the trek briefing to pack your trekking gear into. You'll have an 8kg limit per person for porterage, so you'll only need to carry your day pack.

  • Your camp crew will provide you with boiled water every day, which is safe to drink. Should you have any concerns about the water quality, please feel free to bring additional water purification tablets.

*Requests for optional extras can be made after booking on your “My Bookings” page

Sleeping Bag Hire

Payable Before Departure

Sleeping Bag Hire

Trekking Pole Hire

Payable Before Departure

Trekking Pole Hire

Pre/post accommodation in Cusco (Single)

Payable Before Departure

Pre/post accommodation in Cusco (Single)

Per Night

Pre/post accommodation in Cusco (Twin/Double)

Payable Before Departure

Pre/post accommodation in Cusco (Twin/Double)

Per Night

Pre/post accommodation in Lima (Single)

Payable Before Departure

Pre/post accommodation in Lima (Single)

Per Night

Pre/post accommodation in Lima (Twin/Double)

Payable Before Departure

Pre/post accommodation in Lima (Twin/Double)

Per Night

Optional Private Room & Tent Upgrade

Payable Before Departure

Optional Private Room & Tent Upgrade

Per Person

Tasha(November 2023)

We really enjoyed this trek, the scenery was gorgeous, the group were all fantastic and our guide Christian was amazing! Would really recommend this trip to anyone. We found some parts trickier than others as we felt the altitude quite hard but overall would love to do it again. The food was absolutely incredible.

Erin(November 2023)

This is my second Much Better Adventures trip and I can not recommend this Peru trip highly enough. I was so impressed with the lead guide who gave us historical context and information throughout. Our traveling chefs catered to everyone's different diet requirements serving gorgeous meals with local produce daily. The trek was difficult and different people were affected in different ways by altitude, but the group dynamic was supportive, the guides always empathetic and we all felt accomplished having made it through. This was an incredible adventure!

Ami(October 2023)

Wonderful trip with great landscape, wonderful food and excellent hosts that take a lot of effort to make the experience memorable

Jemima(October 2023)

What an incredible trip with MBA in Peru! I absolutely loved the Salkantay trek, challenging but so rewarding, with such varied environments, stunning scenery and fantastic food. Christian our local guide was amazing - very supportive and so knowledgeable - we were in safe hands. And finishing in Machu Picchu was the ultimate highlight.

Neil(September 2023)

This trip exceeded my expectations in every way. Christian, our guide was amazing, so supportive and always on hand to share his extensive knowledge. Also our chef cooked food of a quality and variety beyond anything we expected and made the trip extra special. The trek itself was tough at times but nothing somebody of reasonable fitness could not cope with - and the views and sense of being part of such a vast wilderness make the effort all worthwhile! It's worth arriving a few days early if you can just to help aclimatise with the altitude, particualarly as the first few days of the trek are the most challenging. And lots of layers - it gets very cold at night.

Micky(August 2023)

This experience HAS to be on your bucket list! Machu Picchu is incredible but the journey is even better, it is really hard to pick out a highlight. I have never tasted food so good and Roxner, Christian and the team did an amazing job looking after us all!

Wendy(August 2023)

An exceptional trek with a well-planned itinerary perfectly executed by an experienced team of local guides, porters, chefs and drivers. The tents, mattresses and equipment provided were clean and sufficient. Our guides Christian and Eddy were enthusiastic, very knowledgeable and accommodating, ensuring that everyone is well taken care off even when unable to do a hike. The quality of the meals were way above my expectations and I could tell that the chefs took pride in their work. I highly recommend this trip!

Jacob(July 2023)

Absolutely loved the trip, our local guide Christian was absolutely amazing, giving us very interesting information, taking amazing photos and accommodating us in whatever way we needed. The food was incredible, with a good variety, and catering for dietary requirements extremely well. The only negative is that it ended.

Gary(June 2023)

Local hosts take great care and look after you well. Scenery was amazing. Well worth ticking off the list

Charlotte(June 2023)

The trip was everything we could have hoped for from booking, the trek itself to getting back to the airport for our flight home. Lino and Eddie were incredible guides throughout. Roxner was helpful from day 1. The trek was as expected and the food was beyond our expectations. We will be booking again with Much Better Adventures soon!

Robbie(June 2023)

Fantastic week with wonderful scenery and a great group of people. The local hosting was very well organised and our guide Lino was exceptional throughout. Highly recommended!

Catherine(June 2023)

This was an amazing trip with a wonderful local team. The Salkantay trek is tough but worth it, most days there were few other hikers on the trail or in the camps, the camp sites were in beautiful locations, the first night was cold but waking up to a sunrise on a glacier was stunning. Lino, our guide, was excellent, ensuring we were appropriately briefed and aware of what each section would entail. He was so enthusiastic and knowledgable and kept everyone's energy levels high. Lino helped and supported the group as needed and ensured we remained safe. The landscape was so varied and beautiful with glaciers, lakes, jungles and a variety of trail types. The Chefs prepared lovely food and we were well fed throughout, the avocados in particular were amazing. The first night was very cold and then the jungle was humid and warm so make sure to pack many layers. I enjoyed the variety of trails and scenery that Peru provided sometimes within the same day. This is a trip I will always remember with joy and would highly recommend.

Alice(May 2023)

Beautiful scenery from glaciers to jungles, didn't think the end destination could be better than the journey but Machu Picchu was stunning. Fab experience with wonderful people!

Charlotte(May 2023)

We had a fantastic trip on the Salkantay trek and Machu Picchu lived up to all expectations!! The trek was challenging but very doable and the whole team were there to support if needed. Christian, our guide, was excellent - very knowledgeable, looked after the whole group really well and had a great sense of humour. The food is great, you won’t go hungry, and what the chefs can make from their tent is incredible. The whole MBA trip was really well organised and I’ll definitely look at booking with them again!

Aarif(May 2023)

I fully recommend this trek, the host Christian was amazing and met all expectations. The experience was beyond anything I hoped for. It was difficult but well worth the effort , truly I lifetime experience.

Dorottya(May 2023)

The Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu was definitely one of the big highlights of our travel across Peru. The landscape is absolutely breathtaking and whilst the hike was challenging at times due to unexpected weather conditions, we were for sure rewarded with stunning views and memories of a lifetime. Getting to Machu Picchu early on our final day and seeing how the site revealed itself as the clouds took off was something very special.

Our local guides, Christian and Edy were absolutely amazing. They both were highly invested in our well-being and happiness and went the extra mile in showing us the beauty of Peru. From fantastic landscapes, local flora and fauna, wildlife, and cultural immersion they covered all grounds.

The food was outstanding throughout the trip, we couldn’t believe the abundance of delicious meals prepared by the local kitchen staff. The entire crew managing our trip was kind and supportive. The communications and the logistics around the trek were also spot on, from airport pick-up to arranging a group dinner for us post the trek.

Couldn’t be happier with the overall experience.

Charlotte(May 2023)

This trip was one of the best weeks of my life! It surpassed all of my expectations. The trek itself, especially getting up to the Salkantay Pass was challenging (even more so in heavy snow which became a funny story in our group) but very doable and you don't have to be an ultra marathon runner. Christian and Eddie are the best guides! They make sure you are provided for and feel happy and safe. They are the loveliest guys ever and you will be in the best hands possible. The scenery and country were breathtakingly beautiful and yes, the food is SO GOOD. I just got back from this trip and I miss it all so much - the experience, the people I was with, the country. Don't hesitate to book this trip.

Minna(May 2023)

Much Better Adventures run a wonderful experience on this tour from Salkantay to Machu Picchu. We faced some extreme weather (very unusual for Peru) which the crew handled superbly. The local guides and support team were wonderfully friendly, very knowledgeable and helpful and made us feel very welcome in Peru. The hiking experience was challenging yet rewarding. Seeing Machu Picchu on the last day was really moving and special. Highly recommend!

Steven(November 2022)

Such a phenomenal trip. The local guides (Christian and Hans) and support team were incredible. They provided fascinating insight throughout. I felt as though we really connected with the local culture. The Salkantay route covers some breathtaking diverse terrain, from snowy mountain peaks to lush jungle. And Machu Picchu was the absolute highlight. Couldn’t have wished for anything more. I will definitely be booking another trip with MBA soon.

Tim(October 2022)

An incredible experience that really lived up to expectations. Book this trip!

The local guide (Christian) was phenomenal, a charming and funny guy with a formidable knowledge of local history, geography, botany and more. The supporting crew were great and there’s way more good food than you could eat. If there’s a particular snack you like to get you through the tough bits then maybe bring some with you but otherwise you will be well fed.

Be prepared for the first night to be very cold (especially if you end up pushing on and camping high) bring at least one more layer than you think you’ll need. You’ll also need to be ready for it to be very warm as you hit the high jungle. We rented poles I found I didn’t use them but others in our group found them essential. Get a poncho!

Machu Picchu completely lived up to the hype!

Sarah(October 2022)

This was my first solo trip and first trip with MBA and I had the most amazing time. The accommodation is lovely and the tents provided are good quality and clean. The food is incredible on the trek, how the chef manages to produce so much good food in that environment is beyond me. Our guide Lino was so welcoming and informative, answering all our questions. The trek itself was tough with the altitude but worth it for the amazing views. Seeing Machu Picchu itself was a dream come true, we had an excellent tour and plenty of opportunity for photos. We had a group of five, three solo travellers and I felt so welcomed and supported by everyone. I would definitely recommend coming with MBA on this trip.

Olga(October 2022)

I just finished Salkantay trek and it was absolutely amazing! I was anxious in the beginning- but local hosts and guide were very helpful and supportive. Food was brilliant. I couldn't even imagine such menu is possible during the hike! And the trek itself was perfect. Interesting, challenging and versatile. I was specifically impressed by the quality of rented equipment- it was tidy and of good quality! Highly recommend this trip!

Michael(September 2022)

I recently took a MBA trip to Peru. It was an incredible experience.

If you are look for a well run trip that is highly organized and led by warm, friendly and knowledgeable local guides, I highly recommend giving the Peru trip a GO. You won’t be disappointed.

I am looking forward to future trips with MBA. A truly first class organization that sources good trips for those seeking unique outdoor experiences

Briony(September 2022)

Incredible trip! 100% recommend.

Sandy(September 2022)

An absolute dream of a trek, Christian was a wonderful guide and the views, people, food, culture were all fantastic

Elizabeth(August 2022)

A fantastic trip. The mountains of Peru are breathtaking. The team guiding us and organising tents and food was so well organised… unbelievable. So many local experiences that I wouldn’t have had on my own. The walking is tough. You definitely need good boots. But I didn’t do any training and still managed! The guides are constantly checking everyone is ok. I would definitely recommend this trip. I have fallen in love with Peru!

Mark(August 2022)

Wow...this trip exceeded all our expectations the trip was well organised from start to finish and the guides both Christian and Lu made the whole thing fun and educational. The actual trek is challenging but with the stunning views at every turn well worth it. 👏

David(August 2022)

The scenery was absolutely stunning, the trek content well thought out and challenging. The hosts were able to arrange additional nights of accommodation and extra tours, which for us included the Rainbow Mountain. Our tour included visits to sites of historical significance as well as interactions with the local population. For me the food and drink on the trek was not as good as I have experienced on previous trips with Much Better Adventures and I was gutted to miss out on Machu Picchu after being hospitalised with a bug most likely picked up during the trek from contaminated food or water.

Hamid(August 2022)