Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu

Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu

Discover a world surrounded by magical moments while experiencing Peru’s real outdoors and its rugged elements.


The More Scenic & Lesser-Trodden Trail to Machu Picchu

The Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu is one of the best alternative routes to the world famous Inca Trail. Long the way you’ll see some of the most incredible landscapes as well as enjoy the adventure of a lifetime. You’ll walk through the Andean mountains surrounded by snowy peaks to the warm and humid jungle.

There are plenty of different species of wildlife and some beautiful flora for you to see, in addition to witnessing Andean life in small villages.

The snowy peak of Salkantay itself is sacred and appreciated by all who live in the area. It’s 125km northeast of Cusco and sits at 6,264 masl. Professional climbers have been hiking the mountain since the year 1952. This is because it’s very easy to access from Cusco.

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Salkantay Trek Tours

With the Salkantay Trek being so popular, you’ll find there are many different lengths available. These range from 3 days and up to 7 days, which includes a part of the Inca Trail as well. If you don’t want to end at Machu Picchu, you can also go on a 2 day trip to hike to the Salkantay Pass. Here you’ll find all the tours on offer:

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Great Experiences & Magical Places

The Journey is the Destination

What better way to explore a magic destination than by following in the footsteps of the people who know it best? To find out the best places to view during your Salkantay Trek, take a look at some of our traveler's favorite places.

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Salkantay Trek Travel Guide

Before You Go, What You Should Know

Salkantay Highlights

  • Conquer the trail of the 7 snakes to reach the Salkantay Pass and take in the glorious view.
  • Spot some of the most beautiful Andean flora and fauna along the way.
  • Hike through the Andean mountain range and see some of the best landscapes you’ll ever see.
  • See the incredible Humantay Lake that sits like a turquoise jewel in the middle of the snowy mountains.
  • Make new friends along the way from across the globe.
  • Try local dishes prepared in the middle of the mountains by great cooks.
  • End your trip at one of the New Seven Wonders of the World: Machu Picchu.

What to Expect on the Trail

When booking a trek like Salkantay, you want to be as prepared as you can be. To help you, we’ve come up with a few of the things you should expect when taking this tour.

Feel the Altitude

You’ll be hiking at very high altitude, and going up to a little over 4,600 masl. This can mean you feel light-headed, tired easily, nauseous, headaches, and more. To avoid feeling like this, you should take the proper precautions, which we’ll go over below.

Find Some Parts a Challenge

This trek is relatively moderate overall, and most people can complete it if relatively fit, however day 2 is a real challenge. The steep and winding climb up to the Salkantay Pass takes a lot out of you. The rest of the day is downhill but can take its toll on your knees and ankles as you endure a full 10 hours walking this day.

Enjoy Your Surroundings

The Salkantay Trek is one of the top choices for many hikers because of the beautiful landscapes and views you see throughout. From snowy mountain peaks to thick jungle, you’ll get to enjoy a whole range of sights. Don’t forget to take a good camera to capture all the flora and fauna.

Experience Different Climates

You’ll need to be well prepared when it comes to clothing as you will experience very cold temperatures during the first day and a half, but will then get very warm as you head down into the jungle. You may also see some rain.

See Plenty of Trekkers

This is the second most popular trail to Machu Picchu, and there’s no limit on numbers like there is for the Inca Trail, so, as you can imagine, it can get busy. This is particularly true during the dry season from May to October.

Eat Well

You need a lot of energy to keep your strength up at such high altitude. Thankfully, a full team of cooks will join you and you’ll be amazed at the food they whip up in the middle of the mountains. There’s no doubt you’ll eat plenty of delicious food on the trek.

Learn a Lot

Your guide will be informing you all along the way about the history and more regarding your surroundings. Be prepared to come away knowing a lot about the Incas as well as the Andean flora and fauna.

Where is Salkantay?

Salkantay is the highest of the peaks in the Vilcabamba mountain range in the Andes. It’s in the region of Cusco and sits about 60km from the city to the north-west.

Difficulty Level

The Salkantay Trek is rated moderate to challenging. You’ll find some days easier than the others, but it can be difficult. To make sure you’re well prepared you should do some training beforehand and make sure you’re in good shape. You’ll also need to prepare for the altitude so it affects you as little as possible.

Salkantay Facts

To help you know more about this trek, we’ve got some interesting facts to share with you.

  • The locals call the mountain Apu Salkantay, which means ‘Holy Lord above the valleys.’
  • The highest point of the trek is the Salkantay Pass at 4,600 masl.
  • The trek starts in Mollepata and ends at Aguas Calientes.
  • The classic trek that lasts five days is over a distance of 74km/46 miles.
  • The Salkantay Trek is the second most popular hike to Machu Picchu after the Inca Trail.
  • You don’t need a special permit for this trek.
  • The average altitude along the trail is 3,000 masl.

Salkantay Tips

To save you from asking too many questions about your trip, we’ve put together some tips to help you with preparation.

  • Get to Cusco 2-3 days before your trek. This way, you can adjust to the altitude and take it easy before you head out on the trail.
  • Do some exercises daily before you come to strengthen and prepare your muscles.
  • To make sure you’re ready for the altitude, you should speak with a doctor at home for advice and see about getting pills to help you.
  • Check out a packing list to make sure you pack as efficiently as possible. You will have a weight limit and need clothing for different climates.
  • When you get to Cusco, try to limit your alcohol intake, or better yet, don’t drink any at all. The effects are strong at high altitude and it could make you very sick.
  • Walking poles are a good idea to help your joints throughout the trail.
  • Remember that the trek is not a race, and you should go at your own pace. Everyone is different, and you will never be left behind. Going too fast can make you feel ill and make the rest of the trip difficult.
  • You need to stay well-hydrated because of the altitude and the distance you’re walking. Take plenty of water each day.


Finally, we share with you some recommendations, to make sure your trip goes smoothly and you don’t come up against any issues later on.

Plan Ahead of Time

pointing-left, some travellers book the trail once they arrive to Cusco, but this sometimes means there’s no space left or that they don’t get to go on the day they had planned. This can be really disappointing when you were looking forward to the trek.

If you plan and book the trek ahead of time, it will give you more time to relax in the city. Your vacation will also be less stressful as everything is already taken care of.

Check Which Season You Want to Travel In

In Peru, we enjoy a dry season and a wet season. Dry season is from May to October, and November to April is wet season. It can rain a lot in those months, so keep that in mind if you want to come during wet season. The temperature tends to be warm from November to April, however.

In the dry season, you see less rain, but it does get very cold at night. You can also expect to see more hikers on the trail. Consider these facts when booking your trip.

Be Careful When Packing

As we mentioned before, there are weight limits to your luggage. Make use of a packing list so you bring the right amount of each thing to not go over the weight and to ensure you have everything you need.

Take Out Travel Insurance

Many agencies and operators won’t let you on the trek if you aren’t insured. If they do, they probably aren’t very reputable. If anything does happen to you and you aren’t insured, the health care in Peru can be very expensive.

Take Extra Snacks

You’ll get snacks along the way and plenty of food, but it’s always a good idea to take extras, like dried fruits and nuts, as you never know when hunger will strike.

Consider Tipping

Most trekkers will tip the guides, cooks, and horsemen. Consider their work and how tough it is when thinking of an amount. It’s up to you.

Travel Information

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