Much Better Adventures

Adventures / Epic Treks

Trek the Salkantay Route to Machu Picchu

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

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Trip Ref #9887

Adventures / Epic Treks

Trek the Salkantay Route to Machu Picchu

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

DURATION
7 nights
LOCATION
Peru
ANNUAL LEAVE
1 week off work
SEASON
May—Oct
GROUP SIZE
Up to 15 people
MEETING POINT
Alejandro Velasco Astete Airport, Cusco
ACCOMMODATION
Hotel · Wild camping
DIFFICULTY
Challenging

The steep terrain and altitude can make the going tough at times, but anyone with good fitness and the right attitude will love it.

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

Be one of the few allowed to hike to Huayna Picchu, for a vantage point of Machu Picchu that's like no other

Included

Guides

Local, certified and friendly English-speaking guides

Accommodation

3 nights in Cusco, 1 in Agua 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

The Area

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.

Travel options

There are regular flights direct to Cusco from major international airports in the UK and Europe, as well as from Lima.

What about all the carbon?

We mitigate 4x the carbon generated by all our customer flights annually through our partnership with Cool Earth.

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. The chefs are used to preparing dishes for people with different food restrictions or lifestyles, so please let your host know your preferences and they will make sure your dietary needs are met.

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.

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)

Day 1

Arrive in Cusco and get to know your crew

Arrive at your hotel in Cusco, 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 local restaurant where you can sample the local cuisine, music and get to know your fellow adventurers. After dinner, head back to the hotel for a good night’s rest – and perhaps a night cap.

Day 2

Tour of the Sacred Valley

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, 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 to relax, grab some dinner and probably an early night ready for tomorrow’s adventure.

Day 3

Trek to Soyrococha via Humantay Lake

Hiking

6-8hrs · 8.2km · 992m up · 377m down

You’ll be up picked from your hotel for a scenic drive to Mollepata where you’ll enjoy breakfast in a local house. After brekkie, you’ll make your way to the start of your trek at Soraypampa (3800m), getting your first glimpse of the Salkantay and Humantay mountains on the way. After packing the horses, it’s time to set off. You’ll trek to the high altitude and bright turquoise Humantay Lake, sitting below the Humantay Glacier. From here its a gentle climb to Salkantaypampa for lunch. After lunch, you’ll ascend to Soyrococha (4400m) where you’ll set up camp with Humantay as your backdrop.

Day 4

Soyrococha to Colpapampa

Hiking

8-9hrs · 15.3km · 235m up · 1884m 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 (3800m) for lunch, passing turquoise lakes with the Pumasillo and Humantay mountains in the distance. After lunch, you’ll descend further through highlands, cloud forest, and rainforest, until you reach camp at Colpapampa (3100m).

Day 5

Colpapampa to Lucmabamba Coffee Plantation

Hiking

5-6hrs · 15.5km · 320m up · 1141m down

A much gentler day, you’ll head through the rainforest along the Santa Teresa River, trekking past lush vegetation and waterfalls, before reaching camp by noon and stopping for lunch. After being fed, you’ll have a tour of the nearby coffee plantation, learn about the beans and pick your own to grind, roast and enjoy later. Before returning to camp, you’ll roam the nearby tomato and avocado fields and pick vegetables for the chef to use in tonight’s dinner.

Day 6

Trek to Aguas Calientes via Llactapata

Hiking

6-7hrs · 21.4km · 1634m up · 1604m 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

Hiking

4hrs · 3.5km · 296m up · 296m down

Today you’ll head to Machu Picchu itself. After breakfast you’ll take a 2-hour tour of Machu Picchu and if you fancy it, climb Mount Huayna Picchu (2720m). If you do you’ll be rewarded with an unbelievable high-rise view of the lost city below. 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

After your Peruvian adventure its 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.

Please Note

All our adventures take place in wild places. Things can go wrong in wild places. Your perfectly planned itinerary may change a bit (or a lot) if the weather turns, someone gets hurt, or a volcano erupts. Usually though, changes make it all the better.

15% Off Outdoor Gear

In need of a few more items? All bookings receive a 15% discount on us to use at Cotswold Outdoor, Snow + Rock, Runner's Need, and Cycle Surgery.

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 (25-35l)
  • 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

The Salkantay trek is a great challenge for those looking to explore the most iconic parts of Peru. The steep terrain and high altitude will make the going tough at times, particularly in the first two days, but anyone with good fitness and the right attitude will love it; a pocket full of coca leaves will also help you with the altitude.

Sure can! Over 50% of our travellers travel solo, it’s a great way to meet like-minded people.

Clean drinking water will be provided for you each morning and at meals. In an effort to eliminate plastic waste you must bring your own water bottle or hydration bladder with you.

Tips are not included in the trip cost. These are entirely at your discretion but there is an expectation to tip for good service. Your guide will help with advice however we suggest the below as a guideline:

  • If each Porter/Horseman were to receive 60 to 70 soles and your Chef received 120 to 150 soles in total fromthe group, this would be considered a generous tip, and your team would be delighted!
  • We recommend that the tip for your Guide is done personally and would suggest between 60 to 100 soles per person.

Of course, you are free to tip more or less and the amount should be reflective of your perception of service and quality - a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.

The only one thing you can say about the weather in Peru is that it is difficult to accurately predict. You can have beautifully clear hot days in the middle of the wet season and hail storms in the dry season – it’s one of the beauties of Peru.

In the Andes, there are two main seasons – wet and dry. The wet season runs from November to April and is wet but usually warmer overall. The dry season runs from May to October and has hot clear days but cold nights.

We recommend checking out the country specific information here and also talking to a travel nurse.

No, for this trek you do not need to organise a permit, and entrance to Machu Picchu is included in the price of the trip.

The Inca Trail has all the fame, but in our humble opinion, this is a better, less crowded trek. It passes through more dramatic landscapes, past Inca ruins, and still ends at Machu Picchu. It is widely regarded as the best alternative trek, and though that does mean you won’t have the trail to yourself, our local guides will keep you away from the crowds and camping away from other groups.

We’ve teamed up with the guys at World Nomads to offer insurance designed for adventurous travellers across 140 countries that includes overseas medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities. To get yours sorted, click here. We suggest that you book travel insurance as soon as you book the trip, just to cover you for any last minute life changes. We know you’re an active lot and injuries do happen!

For current advice about travelling in Peru, have a read of the UK Foreign Office pages here.

All of our group adventures are especially designed for adults to enjoy (18+) as we want these adventures to bring together outdoorsy people who are truly like-minded.

"I cannot recommend this highly enough! The people on the trip were amazing. Easily the best trip I've ever been on!" Charlotte, 2019, Trustpilot.

We automatically convert prices from the local currency that a host receives to your chosen currency. We update our exchange rates on a daily basis so this does mean that prices displayed on the site are subject to currency fluctuations, which is why you may see them change over time.

If you wish to change the currency you pay in, head to the bottom of the page.

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Transferrable Deposits

Cancel up to 60 days before departure and we'll transfer your deposit into credit for a future booking.

Free Date Changes

Free date changes up to 60 days before departure.

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