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Salkantay: information trek to Machu Picchu
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Salkantay: all the information about the trek to Machu Picchu


One of the most incredible ways to visit Machu Picchu is through the Salkantay trek. This 5 days and 4 nights hiking route crosses the imposing snowy Salkantay and then reaches the Wonder of the World. Would you like to know Machu Picchu with this adventure surrounded by amazing landscapes? Know everything you need to know about the Salkantay trek.

Tourists at the foot of the Salkantay mountain
Tourists at the foot of the Salkantay mountain

The mountain Salkantay: complete information

What does Salkantay mean?

The Salkantay is a mountain whose name translated from Quechua would mean ‘Wild Mountain’. This summit is known as ‘Apu’ (‘Lord’) for its majesty and elevation.

Where is it located?

The ‘Apu’ Salkantay is located in the Cordillera de Vilcanota in the Andes of southern Peru. This mountain is the second largest in Cusco, after the Ausangate (Mountain of the 7 Colors).

How high is the mountain Salkantay?

The mountain Salkantay reaches 6,271 meters above sea level. The trek route leading to Machu Picchu has its highest point in the ‘Abra Salcantay’, at 4,650 meters above sea level. From there you can see the mountain peak.

How’s the weather?

The mountain in itself presents an extremely cold climate (several degrees centigrade below 0º).

The climate during the Salkantay trek, on the other hand, is varied. The intense sun and the cold night in the first days change for the tropical environment of the last.

How is the flora and fauna?

The 5 days and 4 nights that the Salkantay trek lasts covers landscapes with a great variety of flora and fauna. Among the species of flowers and plants stand out the orchid and the ichu (Andean grass). Among the species of birds and animals, we should mention the llama, alpaca, vizcacha, condor, spectacled bear and the cock of the rocks (national bird of Peru).

Salkantay trek: everything you need to know

What is the Salkantay trek?

The Salkantay trek is a hiking trail that takes the visitor to the Inca City of Machu Picchu. The total distance of the walk is approximately 70 kilometers (5 days of route) ..

The Salkantay trek is considered among the 25 best excursions in the world by the National Geographic Adventure Travel Magazine.

How is the tour to Machu Picchu with the Salkantay trek?

The most usual way to do the Salkantay trek is with an organized tour. On the internet (and in the Historic Center of Cusco) there are many tourism agencies that offer this adventure.

This is the Salkantay trek with tour ::

Day 1 (16 kilometers of walk):

The tour starts in the city of Cusco. The agency picks you up by car from your hotel along with the other hikers to the town of Mollepata. Then we ascend for about 7 hours to the Soraypampa camp passing through the Huamantay lagoon. There the tours organize the food and the tent so that the tourists rest.

Day 2 (22 kilometers of walk):

The walk starts after breakfast. You travel the highest point of the trip in the ‘Abra Salcantay’. Then continue downhill to the town of Chaullay, where the cold weather begins to change to tropical. That day is considered the most difficult.

Day 3 (16 kilometers of walk):

The trek that day is easy. It starts with a descent to the so-called ‘Playa Sahuayaco’. After lunch, the walk begins again until the town of Santa Teresa. In this tourist town you can enjoy the Thermal Baths of Cocalmayo. There he spends the night.

Day 4 (16 kilometers of walk):

That day is one of the most fun trek. It starts with a walk of a few kilometers to the Hydroelectric station. After lunch, we continue the journey parallel to the Vilcanota River (and the train track) until we reach the town of Aguas Calientes, at the foot of the Machu Picchu mountain.

Day 5 (ascent by bus to Machu Picchu)

That day starts very early with a bus trip to the entrance gate to Machu Picchu. Another option is to walk the 9 kilometers of ascent to the mountain. The rest of the day is dedicated to enjoying the Wonder of the World. The return to the city of Cusco is with a trip by train and bus.

View of the Salkantay mountain on the trek to Machu Picchu
View of the Salkantay mountain on the trek to Machu Picchu

How to do the Salkantay trek without a tour and on your own?

Unlike the Inca Trail, the Salkantay trek can be done without a tour, on your own and without a tour guide. To take this walk you must take all the necessary precautions.

Follow these recommendations to do the Salkantay trek on your own ::

  • Book the Machu Picchu tickets in advance before performing the Salkantay trek. Otherwise, you can go back without knowing the Wonder of the World.
  • The route to follow is the same as the Salkantay trek with tour. The journey on your own may take more or less days, depending on the visitor’s capacity.
  • The first step is to reach the town of Mollepata from the city of Cusco. The cars are taken at the bus terminal of ‘Arcopata’, in the city of Cusco.
  • From Mollepata begins the ascent. It is advisable to bring what is strictly necessary (food for 5 days and equipment to sleep) to avoid loading excessive luggage.

What to bring for the Salkantay trek?

  • Sleeping bags.
  • Hat or cap.
  • Trekking shoes
  • Trekking backpack.
  • Waterproof coat.
  • Trekking pants
  • Poncho for the rain.
  • Water.
  • Water purifying tablets.
  • Sunscreen.
  • Personal hygiene items.
  • Snacks.
  • Cash.

What does a Salkantay trek tour include?

In general, the Salkantay trek tours include the following:

  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner.
  • Sleeping tents.
  • Tourist guides.
  • Entrance to Machu Picchu.
  • Transportation from Cusco to Mollepata.
  • Transportation by train from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo.
  • Bus from Ollantaytambo to Cusco.
  • Horses to transport luggage (5 kilos).

When is the best time to do the Salkantay trek?

The best time to visit Machu Picchu is in the dry season (April to October). During those months, there is less chance of rain so the roads are in better condition.

In the dry season, however, the days are sunnier and the nights cooler. According to the mountaineering experts, June, July and August; It is the best time to do the Salkantay trek.

Tips for the Salkantay trek

  • Acclimatize one or two days in the city of Cusco before performing the Salkantay trek.
  • Avoid alcoholic beverages or foods with a lot of fat. Altitude sickness or soroche in Salkantay and Machu Picchu is one of the greatest difficulties.
  • Perform a little exercise prior to the Salkantay trek. You do not need to be in excellent physical shape but a little exercise will help.
  • No matter what part of the year, wear warm clothes during the Salkantay trek. . The nights are especially cold in the first two days.
  • Plan up to the smallest detail the Salkantay trek on your own.

Salkantay trek: prices, difficulty and more

How much does a tour to Machu Picchu cost with the Salkantay trek?

The Salkantay trek of 5 days and 4 nights has an approximate cost of 350 U $ D per person. There are more complete services (better camps, food and train service) that can cost 500 U $ D per person.

Most tourism agencies offer a discount of between US $ 20 and US $ 50 for minors (between 3 and 17 years old) and university students.

Tourists doing the Salkantay trek
Tourists doing the Salkantay trek

How much does it cost to do the Salkantay trek on your own?

Doing the Salkantay trek on your own does not cost anything. The only important expenses are the entrance to Machu Picchu, train services from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo.

How much does the Salkantay trek cost on its own?Price in dollars
Entrance Machu Picchu48 U$D
Train service (Aguas Calientes – Ollantaytambo)70 U$D
Bus de Ollantaytambo – Cusco5 U$D
Bus Aguas Calientes – Machu Picchu (round trip)24 U$D
Food, accessories and other expenses50 U$D

Is it difficult to do the Salkantay trek?

The Salkantay trek has a medium-moderate difficulty. According to the opinion of some tourists, this adventure is more demanding than the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.

Who can do the Salkantay trek?

There is no age limit to perform the Salkantay trek. Many tourism agencies do not allow this adventure accompanied by children. Older adults should consult their doctor before the walk.

Summary of the Salkantay trek

Salkantay trekDestinationHikeDuration
Day 1From Cusco to Soraypampa16 kilometers7 hours
Day 2From Soraypampa to Chaullay22 kilometers10 hours
Day 3From Chaullay to Santa Teresa16 kilometers5 hours
Day 4From Santa Teresa to Machu Picchu town16 kilometers6 hours
Day 5From Machu Picchu to CuscoTravel by bus0 hours


By Ticket Machu Picchu – Last updated, October 5, 2018