Peru: Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu & Huayna Picchu (2,720 m)

Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu (One Of The World’s Best Hikes)

05 Days/04 Nights   April to December   Moderate

The Trekking Salkantay: This amazing trek runs beneath the magnificent Salkantay mountain (6.271m/20569ft), one of the highest and most stunning in the Peruvian Andes. Your first two days are dominated by the impressive "Apus" of Salkantay and Huamantay, as you pass through the high puna landscape. On the third day you descend to the warm cloud forest, to reach Aguas Calientes on the fourth day.

The impressive Sacred Inca city of Machupicchu is visited on the last day of the program. This tour is an interesting alternative for those not having found spaces on the Inca Trail trek to Machu Picchu. The Salkantay Trek (or Salcantay Trek),was recently named among the 25 best Treks in the World, by National Geographic Adventure Travel Magazine.

Salkantay trek - A brief overview: The Salkantay trek (sometimes referred to as the Salcantay trail) is the most popular alternative trek to Machu Picchu, and for good reason – it offers hikers an incredibly diverse trekking experience, is relatively easy to access from Cusco and unlike the Classic Inca Trail, there are no permit limitations. In fact, the Salkantay trek can be completed without the use of a guide or tour agency (see DIY treks at the end of this article) The trail sojourns through incredible landscapes where lowland jungle gives way to highland alpine settings and glaciated mountains, the most impressive of which is Nevada Salkantay (more on this below). National Geographic Adventure Magazine rated the Salkantay trek as one for the 25 Best Treks in the World. The trek is typically completed on a 5 Day /4 Night itinerary; however it is possible to do the trek on a 4 Day / 3 Night itinerary or to combine the trek with the Classic Inca Trail (see Salkantay / Inca Trail Combo below).

Nevada Salkantay: One of the key features of the Salkantay trek is the mountain that gives it’s name to the trail. Mount Salkantay (or Nevada Salkantay / Salcantay) is one of the most iconic mountains in the Cusco region and the highest mountain on the Willkapampa range. Trekkers on the Salkantay trail spend a day approaching the mountain from the south and then another day in close proximity to the mountain as they scale the Salkantay Pass, which at 4,600m provides amazing vistas into the valley below. Situated 60km North-west of Cusco city, Salkantay which stands at 6,271m, is the 12th highest mountain in Peru and the 38th highest in the Andes. For mountaineers, Salkantay has a reputation of being a very tough summit. In fact the Quechua name, Sallqantay, means ‘Savage’ or ‘Wild’. Although it was first successfully climbed in 1952 by a French-American expedition, the mountain is not often conquered. The easiest summit assault passage is around the North-east ridge – which won’t be visible on the Classic Salkantay trail but is visible for trekkers on the Salkantay / Inca Trail combo. Machu Picchu is directly north of Salkantay. Although the mountain is not visible from Machu Picchu, the Southern Cross star formation, when viewed from Machu Picchu’s sundial appears directly above Salkantay summit during rainy season. It is for this reason that the Incas considered Salkantay to be one of the principal deities controlling weather in the region. Even today, Salkantay features very prominently in the local beliefs of the people who live in the Cusco region.

Best time to do the Salkantay trek: There are two main seasons in the sub-tropical Peruvian Andes – a dry season that runs from late April through to early October, and a wet season that starts mid to late October and draws to a close in April. The peak trekking season to Machu Picchu occurs during the dry season and is busiest between May and September. The Classic Inca Trail is very busy during these months and permits sell out months in advance. Those who don’t get permits for the Inca Trail typically overflow onto the Salkantay trail, which means that between May and September the route can be busy. That being said, you will not get a sense of overcrowding that can be the case on the Inca Trail. The Salkantay trek can technically be completed all year round, although we highly recommend avoiding the months of December, January and February when rainy days are the norm. The best trekking months run from the shoulder wet months March / April all the way through to the shoulder dry months October / November. Temperatures throughout the year follow a very consistent pattern. Days are warm, in the high twenties Celsius (70/80 Fahrenheit), and cold at night and in the early mornings (single digits Celsius and sometimes below zero degrees). Temperature fluctuation is further exasperated by the micro-climates that dominate as you ascend and descend in altitude. Key to staying comfortable throughout the trek is layering (see our equipment packing list section below for details on ideal clothing requirements).

Travel Program


Itinerary:

Day 1: Soraypampa - Salkantaypampa - Salkantay Pass - Wayraxmachay
Day 2: Wayraxmachay- Chaullay - Collapampa la Playa- Sahuayaku
Day 3: La Playa Sahuayaku - Lucamabamba Coffe Farm - Inka Trail - LLactapampa - Camp in Front of Machu Picchu
Day 4: Llacatapata Mirador - Hidroelectric Water Falls, Mandor Hiram Binghams Farm - Aguas Calientes Hotel
Day 5: Machu Picchu (The Sacred City of teh Inkas) - Return to Cusco

Detailed Program


Detailed Program

Day 1: Soraypampa - Salkantaypampa - Salkantay Pass - Wayraxmachay
Morning departure from Iquitos City via auto to arrive in the port town of Nanay (Bellavista), where the Rio Nanay meets the Rio Amazonas. After departing by boat we will travel downriver 70 KM (about 2 hours). During the riverboat trip we will have a great possibility of seeing caimans, turtles, herons, pink river dolphins, snakes, and many other species of flora/fauna along the riverbank. Monkey Island – a small island about 15 minutes from the Maniti Lodge, which shelters a large number of monkeys in their natural habitat. During your visit on the island you will have the unique opportunity to observe and interact with a wide variety of monkeys that include: Sloth, Goeldi’s monkey, Tamarin monkey, Capuchin monkey, Yellow-Handed Titi monkey, Masked Titi monkey, Cebidae monkey, Wooly monkey, Squirrel monkey, Spider monkey, South American Coati monkey, and many more! Along with the various species of monkeys you will have to opportunity to hold very large Anacondas, Boas and interact with the very unique and rare Amazonian mata-mata turtle. At Monkey Island we will also see alligators, turtles, toucans, macaws, parrots, etc. Dolphin watching session at the camp where we will have the unique opportunity to see the pink freshwater dolphin. If we are lucky we will also have the chance to swim with them on the main Amazon River. In the evening we will go on a nocturnal nature hike to see what types of species can be seen (lizards, snakes, spiders, monkeys). Overnight at Maniti Lodge. Overnight Lodge (-/L/D)

Day 2: Wayraxmachay - Chaullay - Collapampa la Playa - Sahuayaku
We will begin our day early, waking up in time to see the sunrise over the Amazon River, and then we will leave the camp to go on a animal observation excursion (via boat) where will have the opportunity to see pairs various types of flora and fauna. Afternoon fishing excursion via boat with opportunity to catch piranha, catfish & other species of fish. Viewing of Victoria Regia – the largest freshwater aquatic plant in the world. After sunset we will go on an excursion via canoe to spot and catch caiman, we will have the opportunity to hold, touch, and take photos with the caiman. Overnight at Maniti Lodge. Overnight Lodge (B/L/D)

Day 3: La Playa Sahuayaku - Lucamabamba Coffe Farm - Inka Trail - LLactapampa - Camp in Front of Machu Picchu
Morning visit with a local village to learn and observe the local people’s daily life and customs. In the afternoon we will visit lagoons and tributaries in close proximity to the Maniti Lodge. Here, we can make a variety of activities, dependent on the tourist, such as jungle hiking, canoe rides, fishing, plant education, animal observation or maybe just relaxing with a nice cool swim in one of the lagoons or on the Amazon River! We will begin our day early, waking up in time to see the sunrise over the Amazon River, and then we will leave the camp to go on a animal observation excursion (via boat) where will have the opportunity to see pairs various types of flora and fauna. In the evening we will go on a nocturnal nature hike to see what types of species can be seen (lizards, snakes, spiders, monkeys). Overnight at Maniti Lodge. Overnight Lodge (B/L/D)

Day 4: Llacatapata Mirador - Hidroelectric Water Falls, Mandor Hiram Binghams Farm - Aguas Calientes Hotel
Morning jungle hike (30-45 minutes) with destination “Palo Alto”. The unique attraction “Palo Alto Mirador” is a lookout point that has 3 different observation deck levels. Here guests have a birds-eye view of the lowland Peruvian Amazon from 5, 10, and 15 meters above ground. Here we will have the opportunity to spend the night with excellent opportunities to observe various species of wildlife in their natural habitat. Daytime exploration of the area that includes hiking, canoe ride in lagoon, fishing (depending on request from passenger). In the evening we will go on a night time nature walk to see what types of species can be seen (reptiles, spiders, monkeys). Overnight at top observation deck of Palo Alto (setting up a tent or in hammocks). Overnight Camp (B/L/D)

Day 5: Machu Picchu (The Sacred City of teh Inkas) - Return to Cusco
Morning bird watching session from “Palo Alto”. Today we will visit some lagoons that are located close to the Maniti Camp Lodge, near the Río Napo. They hold a great variety of palms, large trees and a beautiful landscape. Here we can make a variety of activities, dependent on the passenger, such as trekking, canoe rides, fishing, and identification of plants, bird watching or maybe just relaxing with a nice cool swim in one of the lagoons. In the late afternoon we will return to Maniti Lodge to have lunch. After dark we will go on an excursion by boat in search of the white and black caiman as well as various night birds and other reptile; this also gives us the enjoyable opportunity to hear the symphony of sounds that comes from the forest at night. Overnight at Maniti Lodge. Overnight Lodge (B/L/D)

Included meals: B=breakfast; L=lunch; D=dinner

What’s included


What's included

Services included in the prices:
  • Professional guides: All of our guides studied English and Tourism at University. They all grew up in this region and have a true passion to teach others about their heritage. They are all a lot of fun to be around, but know when they need to be professional and will always look after you to make sure you are safe and happy – enjoying the tour.
  • Briefing: The night before your trek, you will come to our office for your briefing with your guide. It is at the briefing that you will receive your duffel bag that will be with the porters while you hike. This bag should not exceed 7kg/14 lbs and does need to include your sleeping bag and air matt if you have chosen to rent/bring one. Don’t worry, there is plenty of room for your things for the trek. Remember layers are key.
  • Porters & Horsemen: We include your personal porter who is responsible for carrying your duffel with your personal items. There is no additional fee for this. We will give you your duffel bag at your briefing the night before and this should be filled with the things you need for night and the next day. You will not have access to your duffel until your evening campsite.
  • Emergency horse: All of our alternative treks include an extra horse for our clients to use if they need a little break from trekking. Due to the path conditions, this horse is only available for the first day and a half, so please save your energy. If you are feeling unwell, there is a possibility to take a car to the second campsite with the porters.
  • Hotel: The trek will include 3 nights of camping and 1 night in a hotel in Aguas Calientes, the town below Machu Picchu. We include a 3 star hotel, typically at Inti Punku Inn (or similar) if available. Your booked hotel will be listed on your confirmed invoice. Upgrades are always possible.
  • Transportation: All your transportation is included in this trek. You will be picked up directly from your hotel around 4:30 AM (unless you are staying in Ollantaytambo before the trek) and brought to the trailhead to begin your trek. Your train returning after Machu Picchu is Expedition class and can be upgraded on your way home to the Vistadome train for $65 per person. Once you arrive to the train station, you will be brought back to your hotel in Cusco. Your roundtrip bus ticket from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu is also included.
  • Equipment: Tika Trekking has the best equipment. We use 4 man, Eureka Timberline tents that only need to be shared by 2 people. This allows some room to spread out and keep your duffels safely with you. You will have a spacious dining tent to enjoy your meals.
  • Food: Many of our past trekkers have commented about the wonders of the Tika Trekking chefs. They make magic happen on the trail in a small tent over a single flame. We honor all food restrictions – but make sure you remind your guide at the beginning of the trek. Food is served family style and there will be plenty of options for everyone – and always food left over. Do not worry – nothing goes to waste. Our porters will make sure to eat every bite.You will enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner each day of the trek along with a happy hour of some tea and snacks. You will also be provided a snack each morning for you to bring with you and enjoy along the hike. Lunch the last day is not included.
  • Water: Beginning from your first lunch until your last breakfast, Tika Trekking will supply all the water you need for your trek. This water will be boiled, filtered and then cooled down before distributing. You must supply your own water bottles or camelback and we recommend carrying about 3L. We will refill at each meal and encourage you to drink as much as possible as you hike. Hydration is key to feeling great in the mountains.
  • First aid: Your safety is our number 1 concern. All our guides are trained and re-trained every single February with a medical doctor. They all will have first aid kits and full oxygen tanks in case anything happens. We will get you off the trail as quickly and comfortably as possible, if needed and will make sure you get directly to a clinic for treatment. This is not something to worry about – but if something happens, we will be there for you.
  • Extras: We believe its the attention to small details that separates us from other outfitters. Every trekker receives a small pillow to sleep with, a foam matt to insulate them from the cold ground, a daypack cover to protect their things while hiking, a rain poncho (slightly thick to keep in good shape). We want this to be your best vacation and will work very hard to make sure this happens.

Not Included:
  • Rentals: Every trekker needs a sleeping bag when you choose the camping option
  • Inflatable air matts are optional, but do help in getting a good night sleep
  • Walking sticks are definitely encouraged and must have a rubber tip when bringing your own
  • If you don’t have or want to bring any of the above, they are all available for rent: Sleeping Bag: $25 US Inflatable Air Matt: $20 US Walking Sticks (Pair): $20 USHUAYNAPICCHU: Huaynapicchu is the mountain that stands next to Machu Picchu and has beautiful views from the top of Machu Picchu from above
  • It takes 45 minutes to get to the top and then 45 minutes back down and is quite steep for those scared of heights
  • This is done after your tour of Machu Picchu and is $25 per person to hike
  • This is extremely popular and needs to be arranged at least a month or two prior to your trek
  • Please understand that we can’t control weather and cloudy days will prevent perfect pictures
Items to have:
  • Daypacks: Daypacks are not provided by as. You must bring your own, but nothing too large as you don’t want it to be too heavy while your trekking. Plus, Machu Picchu will not allow you to bring in a bag larger than 25L so if you have a large backpack it will need to be stored before your tour. Only essentials while trekking are needed to be on your back: water, snack, camera, sunhat, warm layer, rain layers, insect spray, sunscreen, and first aid kit
  • Headlamps: It is strongly encouraged to bring a headlamp for your night camping. There will be no lights at the camping site and hard to get to your dining tent or bathroom without. Flashlights are ok if you don’t have a headlamp, but not as easy to use when you are changing for bed in your tent
  • Packing list: We do have a suggested packing list on the side of this trek to print for packing. But please remember, that layers are key to keeping things light. A few wicking t-shirts, fleece and hiking/yoga pants is all you need for the hike. A warm jacket, hat and gloves and comfortable shoes are good for the campsites and then something lovely for Machu Picchu day and pajamas. Please remember strong insect repellant with Deet for the ruins, they are quite buggy. And your passport needs to be on you at all times – you will need to enter the trail, the citadel and the train. Please also bring your customs card you received on the plane to the office, we will need a copy for our taxes
Commonly asked:
  • Flights: Flights do need to be arranged on your own and flying to Cusco can be a little tricky. Delays happen often and it is not uncommon for flights to be cancelled for no reason. Please make sure you arrive in the city at least 2 days before your trek start date. LAN Peru is the most reliable of the airlines that fly between Lima and Cusco with many time options, but Avianca and Peruvian Airlines are good companies as well. You will not be back from your trek until around 8PM on day 2, so make sure your flight is not until the next day when leaving Cusco
  • How many day before your trek: There are no rules to how many days you need to be in Cusco, but it is highly recommended to spend at least 2 days in the mountains before you start any trek. This can be in Cusco, Lake Titicaca or even Arequipa, but resting in the mountains and allowing your body to adjust slowly is the key to successfully and comfortably doing any trek in the Andes
  • Gratuities: We go out of our way to make sure our team is well taken care of with a proper salary, but tipping is always appreciated. This should be based completely on your satisfaction. Although it may not be customary to you, it is of considerable significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels
  • Charging your devices: At the second campsite, there is an opportunity to plug any of your devices low on charge. The local family charges 5 soles per device. Otherwise, we recommend bringing an extra charge supply to keep your music and camera going
  • Storage: All hotels in the Cusco area are equipped to keep your larger bags safe while you are trekking with us. If you prefer, you can always keep your bags with us. We will keep at our equipment deposit and will make sure they are safe
  • Travel insurance: This is not required, but always a good idea. For those of you used to living at sea-level, landing in Cusco will be a little different. Most people need 1 – 2 days to adjust, but in case you can’t get used to the altitude, having some protection for missed tours, which will all be due in full, is a very good idea
  • Vaccinations: There are no needed vaccinations for Cusco other than your routine vaccinations, but other areas of Peru, most commonly the Amazon, do require additional treatment

Prices & Dates


Tour Information:

Season: April to December
Difficulty: Moderate

Dates & Prices:

More information about dates and prices upon request.

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Eric Albino
Eric Albino Lliuya
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