The 8 Day Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu is an alternative to the Inca Trail and is considered by most to be the best alternative route (and maybe even better!). This magnificent trail is perfect for adventurers who wish to personally integrate into the changing ecosystems overnight. You will walk through magical and dazzling landscapes of a snowy mountain paradise to a tropical jungle where you will find a wide variety of animals, medicinal plants and varieties of flowers. Witness, with your own eyes, a living, but ancient culture, in remote villages barely seen by foreigners!
Welcome to the imperial city of Cusco, the cultural capital of Peru! Upon arrival, we will take you to your hotel (included in the price of your excursion, transfer) to leave your luggage and cool off. When you are ready, we will take a quiet half-day tour of this amazing place while acclimatizing to the high altitude (3399 MASL - 11151 FASL). Cusco has a long history and is the oldest continuously inhabited city in all the Americas. Since about 1000 BC people have lived in Cusco and considered it as a center of the surrounding culture (then called Qosqo). It has been an important part of every civilization that has lived in the area throughout history, starting with the natives of Peru long before the famous Inca towns. When the Inca Empire arrived in Peru and beyond, Cusco (then called Cuzco) became the naval of its powerful and powerful empire!
Today is a fairly easy day to help us facilitate the walk. Our tour begins by visiting the important Inca site of Tarawasi, which is located about 2 hours drive from Cusco. After our tour of the site, we will continue to Mollepata where we will begin our trek. Following a different path to most groups, we will see a variety of native plants, flowers and birds along the way and we will have fantastic views of the valley that stretches before us.
Our camp for the night is located in Marcoccasa (3500m / 11482ft) from where we will have fantastic views of the snowy peak Rayuska (5350m / 17552 feet). Almost no one camps here, so we can enjoy this beautiful place in complete peace and quiet.
Leaving Marcoccasa, we will continue along the path towards Soraypampa, where we will join the main route of the Salkantay trek. Again, today it is quite easy to go without too much distance to cover. Today's views are fantastic and we will see several high peaks looming over us. By the time we reach Soraypampa, the 3 main peaks of the region, Humantay (5917m / 19412 feet), Tucurway (5910m / 19389 feet) and Salkantay (6217m / 20573 feet) will be visible.
From Soraypampa it is an hour's drive to Salkantaypampa (4100m / 13451 feet) where we will camp at night. Due to the high altitude, it can be cold here at night, so it is recommended to put on your hat and gloves before going to sleep.
Today, once again, we leave the main route of the trek as we go to the Inca Trail. Continuing through the valley towards Salkantay we take a side road that leads us up and over the Incachiriaska pass (frozen Inca Pass, 5028m / 16495 feet), which is the highest point of the trek. From the pass we continue to the small community of Pampacawana (4000m / 13123 feet) where we will camp at night.
Today's views are once again amazing. As you climb up Salkantay's shoulder, you feel completely dwarfed by the size of the mountain and you can get an idea of why the Incas worshiped him like a god. The whole area is dotted with small mountain lakes of various colors and colors, and hopefully we will see a variety of wildlife such as vizcachas (Chinchillas like rabbit) and white-tailed deer and possibly some of the rarest Andean animals, such as Condors, Guanacos and Vicuñas.
Starting from Pampacawana, we will go down the valley to join the Inca Trail in Wayllabamba, on the way we will pass through our first Inca site of the 'Paucarcancha' hike. In Wayllabamba we will change the use of mules to take our equipment to the porters, this is to avoid damage to the Inca Trail.
Our camp for tonight is in Llulluchapampa (3800m / 12460ft.) Which is the closest camp to the Dead Woman Pass. As we ascend to Llulluchapampa we will pass through several biozones that include the low mountains, the cloud forest and the high puna. There are many opportunities to see a great variety of plants and birds and if we are lucky we can see the white-tailed deer again.
Today it is quite difficult since we have to make more than 2 passes, fortunately we have camped quite close to the first one, so it is not as difficult as for most of the Inca trailers that are camped in the valley far below.
The views today are fantastic, we see the high mountains as we cross the 2 steps and we will have the opportunity to visit 2 Inca sites (Runcuraccay and Sayacmarca). We will also see a variety of plants and life in it as we are now reaching the area known as the cloud forest. Our camp tonight is in Chaquicocha (3600m / 11800ft), which is one of the quietest campsites and offers beautiful views of the sunset over the mountains in the distance.
Having surpassed the 2 passes yesterday, we can now enjoy a relaxing day through some of the most beautiful landscapes that the Inca Trail has to offer. With a relatively short distance to explore what is known as Inca Flat (gentle ascents and descents) we can enjoy the lush and green cloud forest that surrounds us and the spectacular views of the Andes in the distance.
With visits to 2 Inca sites (Phuyupatamarca and Wiñay Wayna) this is by far one of the most impressive days of the trek. Our camp for tonight is in Wiñay Wayna (2680m / 8792ft), which we will arrive early in the afternoon and have an extended guided tour once we have settled.
Today is the highlight of the walk. When you wake up early, you should go directly to the checkpoint to enter Machu Picchu and once the site opens you can continue to the Puerta del Sol, where you will get your first fantastic views of Machu Picchu.
Upon arriving at Machu Picchu you will have a 2-hour guided tour of the site during which you will learn about the Incas and visit all the most important areas of the citadel. After your tour you will have free time to explore the site on your own and if you have permits to climb the Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu mountain. In the afternoon, you will take the train back to Ollantaytambo from where you will continue by bus back to Cusco.
The horses will help us with our luggage the first 3 days, they can load 5Kg. At most per person. But do not worry, for days 4 and 5 the luggage will be moved by guides.
Within days 1 to 3 yes. But the horses are from the communities and their use has an extra cost of 40 soles. Also remember that we will always walk at a very conservative pace, with enough breaks and moments to recover energy with a bar or candy.
In this area we have basically two seasons, rains (December - February) and when it does not rain (March - November). This experience is not available in January or February. The first two days are the coldest, we could reach up to -5 C in winter (June - August), hence the temperatures are around 15 to 25 C. We recommend you consider arriving one or two days before to assimilate the weather from Peru.
No, these accesses can only be acquired in advance, for Machu Picchu mountain we recommend you do it 15 days in advance. In the case of Huayna, at least 3 months in advance.
Every night, there are very comfortable and clean bathrooms, but there are not always showers. To take a cold water bath we will have to wait at night 2 or 3 (If you want a hot shower the cost is 10 soles per person). On night 4 we will have a hot shower in the hostel.
On day 1 they will pass you to your hotel between 4:30 and 5:00 am. It is important to contemplate that the hotel should be in the center of Cusco.
Yes, you will not walk all the time, upon arrival you will have free time to get to know the area and rest.
It is important to attend this experience with a reasonable physical condition. You will walk between 5 and 7 hours a day, so you have to be well prepared.
It is not rigorous, but it is recommended. You can find a very good option in the extras section.
Clothing and footwear suitable for long walks and low temperatures. It is always necessary to wear a raincoat.
A backpack of 40-50L is excellent for carriers to carry, on the other hand, you can carry a 20L to carry during walks. If you have extra luggage, your guides can store it in Cusco.
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