Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu 5 Days
(Important: this itinerary is a literal transcription of Alpaca Expedition)
Price: From US$ 690 per person
Considered to be one of the best treks in the world, the Salkantay Trek offers a variety of Peru ecosystems; from deserts and jungles, to mountain passes, and azure lagoons!
Highlights: Stellar scenery, coffee farm, glass cabanas, lagoons, and campsite overlooking Machu Picchu.
Considerations: In order to include Hamantay lagoon (Turquoise Lagoon) and Llacatapata (amazing camping spot with Machu Picchu in the distance) we need to leave the afternoon before the trek starts making this trek 5.5 days and 5 nights.
Season: March 1st through January 10th.
AFTERNOON 1: Transfer to the Salkantay GLASS CABAÑAS
You’ll start this Classic Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu at 3 p.m. local time on Day 1. That’s when you’ll meet your Alpaca Expeditions trekking team and your adventure starts.
** Because you’ll likely be checked out from your hotel before the departure time, the meeting point for this Salkantay trek is at Alpaca Expeditions’ office located close to the main square.
At 3 p.m. we’ll load into our private van for a 3.5 hour drive to the Glass Cabañas, in Soraypampa, which is located at 3,800 meters above sea level (m.a.s.l.). We’ll arrive at the Cabañas just in time for you to take photographs of the sunset over the glacier peaks.
At the Glass Cabañas your guide will settle you in your rooms before you enjoy dinner along with some hot drinks. This area is known for its beautiful views of the night sky so be ready for some unforgettable stargazing.
NO HIKING TODAY
Elevation: 3800 meters above sea level
Weather: Cold, windy, rainy in the wet season
*When you book this Salkantay trek please choose the day you want to start the hike (so Day 1). Departure is the night before where you’ll stay at our private camping site and enjoy your first dinner prepared by your Alpaca Expeditions chef.
Salkantay Day 1: (Hiking Begins) SORAYPAMPA CAMPSITE – HUMANTAY LAGOON – SALKANTAY PASS - WAYRACPUNKO
After a good night’s rest, you’ll wake up early to enjoy your breakfast before your trek. During the morning there’ll be a short team introduction between all Salkantay trekkers and the Alpaca Expeditions Staff to ensure a positive family-like experience.
Following the introduction, you’ll give your duffel bag to the muleteers to carry to the next campsite. The day’s hike will begin with a 1.5 hour steady uphill hike to the renowned Humantay Lagoon. The serene views of the crystalline-blue water of Humantay Lagoon are absolutely incredible. If the skies are clear you’ll see the first sun rays peeking through the snow-covered peaks.
And!… If you’re brave, you’ll have the chance to touch the almost-frozen water that locals believe can help you stay young forever! The advantage of visiting Humantay Lagoon in the early morning hours is the quiet surroundings with no other Salkantay trekkers besides those in your group. Due to the popularity of this location, this isn’t something everyone can enjoy!
After breathing it all in you’ll begin your way back to the starting point to continue to the lunch spot in Soyroccocha. This portion of the Salkantay hike will be approximately 3 hours on gradually ascending terrain. On your way, you’ll pass breathtaking places such as Salkantay Pampa, which means outstanding views of the surrounding snow-covered mountains. These views are what make the journey the destination.
After lunch made by your Alpaca Expeditions local chef and a well-deserved rest, you’ll continue with you’re the next leg of your Salkantay hike. This next portion continues on for about 1 hour until you arrive at Salkantay Pass at 4,650 meters above sea level. This is the highest point of the trek. The group will rest there and you’ll be served hot drinks while you enjoy the views.
From Salkantay Pass, you’ll be on the last leg of the hike for the day, which is a 3 hour downhill trek to the evening’s campsite, Wayracmachay. When you arrive at the campsite the Salkantay trekking staff will have your tents all set up and your duffel bags ready.
Alpaca Expeditions’ team will provide you with warm water to get washed up from the day so you can change into some fresh warmer clothes for the night. Then there is a happy hour with hot chocolate and coffee followed by dinner. If the weather allows, you’ll get to enjoy the unbroken views of the sky along with a brief introduction to the visible Inca constellations.
Walking Distance: 18km
Elevation Gained: 850 meters
Elevation Descended: 850 meters
Weather: Cold, windy, rainy in the wet season
Salkantay Day 2: WAYRACMACHAY – CHAULLAY – CCOLLPAPAMPA LORETA (HOBBIT HOUSE)
Your Alpaca Expeditions trekking team will wake you up early with a hot drink to help you start the day. Hopefully as you open your tent, you’ll be welcomed by the sunrise over majestic glacier peaks and clouds lifting from the green cloud forest.
You’ll have time to pack up and enjoy a nice breakfast prepared by your local Salkantay trekking chef.
At around 7 a.m. you’ll hike for approximately 4 hours downhill until reaching the lunch spot at Ccollpapampa (2,700 meters above sea level). During this part of the Salkantay hike you’ll begin to notice the micro-climate as well as fauna and flora changes. You’ll go from cold glacier views to warm green jungle surroundings.
There’ll be many different species of orchids to see as well as ferns, begonia flowers, and even hummingbirds.
After lunch and a well-deserved rest, you’ll continue your trek to the next private campsite called La Loreta (2400 meters above sea level). This hike will be approximately 4 hours on gradually downhill terrain.
Along the way, you’ll be able to explore beautiful waterfalls, rivers, and more new flora and fauna. You’ll be able to experience another tropical forest micro-climate where local people farm coffee, passion fruit, papayas, oranges, and avocados.
When you arrive at the evening’s campsite your Salkantay trekking staff will be there to welcome you.
You’ll have time to enjoy a nice hot shower, hot Jacuzzi and perhaps even swim in our swimming pool. There’ll also be plenty of time to walk around our ecological garden to see some of the local coffee, avocado, chilies, tomatoes, and pineapples. Dinner tonight will be at our building with views of the Salkantay River.
Then when you retire for sleep, you’ll be able to hear the Salkantay River.
Walking Distance: 18 km
Night Elevation: 2,400 meters
Elevation Descended: 1,400 meters
Weather: Warm and hot
Salkantay Day 3: LORETA – LA PLAYA SAHUAYAKU – LUCMABAMBA COFFEE FARM – LLACTAPATA (Camp in front of Machu Picchu)
After a delicious homemade breakfast cooked by Alpaca Expeditions’ renown local chef, you’ll start the shortest but most exciting day of your Salkantay adventure.
Today you’ll experience the most beautiful sights along your Salkantay trekking route to Machu Picchu.
Trek the Inca Trail, enjoy the views from the Sun Gate, sunset views from Machu Picchu, camping at the foot of Machu Picchu.
You’ll explore the tropical forest and will visit a local organic coffee farm where you’ll have the opportunity to explore some of the orange and avocado plantations as well as taste some of the freshly-brewed coffee. During your visit to the coffee farm you’ll get a brief informational introduction to the region’s coffee history as well as its importance to the area.
Then you’ll continue with your Salkantay trek to Llactapata by hiking along a section of the Inca trail for approximately 2.5 hours. On your way to the Llactapata Inca site you’ll see amazing views of the Santa Teresa valley. The views you’ll be seeing along your hike today are impossible to put into words.
At Llactapata you’ll get your first glimpse of Machu Picchu. This includes the main archaeological sites Machu Picchu Mountain and Huayna Picchu Mountain. You’ll also have the opportunity to explore the Llactapata Inca site and take unforgettable photographs.
From here you’ll enjoy the last leg of your day’s hike with a 15 minutes downhill walk to your lunch and campsite area. This campsite is owned by a local family that only Alpaca Expeditions has permission to stay at so you’ll enjoy more privacy than other Salkantay trekkers could.
You’ll find the campsite to be a great place to enjoy the sunset and sunrise over Machu Picchu. After lunch you’ll have some free time to enjoy the views and relax from hiking.
Before your Alpaca Expeditions local chef serves you dinner, you’ll enjoy another lovely happy hour with tea and coffee. Once the sun has set then prepare yourself for another evening of unforgettable stargazing. You’ll see the Milky Way as well as the Inca constellations much in the same way as the Incan astronomers did to predict the weather.
Walking Distance: 12 km
Campsite Elevation: 2,700 meters
Elevation Gained: 400 meters
Weather: Hot and humid during the day, chilly at night
Salkantay Day 4: LLACTAPATA LOOKOUT – WATERFALLS AT HIDROELECTRICA – MANDOR HIRAM BINGHAM FARM – AGUAS CALIENTES
Your Alpaca Expeditions trekking team will wake you up early with a hot drink to help you start the day. You’ll get ready for the day’s activities and then enjoy your last breakfast prepared by your local trekking chef.
The day’s hike will begin with a 2 hour downhill path with unbeatable views of Machu Picchu until the Hydroelectrical Station that was built to harness the natural 300-meter high waterfall, which generates electricity for the region of Cusco. This waterfall is one of the most impressive features of this area.
From the Hydroelectrical Station you’ll continue to the famous Intiwatana (sundial rock). According to history, this Inca stone once worked with the legendary sundial rock in Machu Picchu to signal the winter solstice, which meant the beginning of a new farming season for the Incas.
Once you’ve seen the famous Intiwatana, you’ll continue on the path that runs alongside the train tracks for approximately 3 hours. This leads to the town of Aguas Calientes located at the foot of the valley of Machu Picchu. This part of the hike will be interesting as it was the trail used by the American professor Hiram Bingham when rediscovering Machu Picchu.
On his way to discovering Machu Picchu Hiram Bingham met with local farmer Melchor Arteag who eventually guided him to Machu Picchu. On your trek, you’ll hike past Melchor Artaeg’s farm. Here you’ll see many species of flora and fauna and amazing local birds such as Peru’s national bird (called cock of the rock), Toucans, Oropendolas and Parrots. Once you arrive in Aguas Calientes you’ll relax and enjoy your packed lunch.
Then you’ll go to your hotel to enjoy a hot shower and then take the opportunity to visit the famous hot springs (10 soles, not included) of Aguas Calientes. In the evening you’ll be served your final dinner prepared by your Alpaca Expeditions’ local trekking chef and you’ll have a chance to say goodbye.
Walking Distance: 14 km
Aguas Calientes Elevation: 2,000 meters
Accommodations: Inti Punku Hotel (or similar)
Salkantay Day 5: MACHU PICCHU – RETURN TO CUSCO
Today will be all about Machu Picchu. To get the most out of the day we encourage every group to have an early breakfast before catching one of the first buses up to Machu Picchu (starting at 5:30 a.m.). This allows you to get ahead of the crowds.
The hotel will hold your bags for you while in Machu Picchu. This way you’ll only need to take your backpack with all essentials up to Machu Picchu. The bus ride from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu takes approximately 30 minutes.
Once in Machu Picchu your guide will take you directly to the best place to watch the sunrise and take photographs. Your local guide will then show you around the main sectors of the citadel for a total of 2.5 hours. During this guided tour you’ll learn more about the history and culture of the Inca Empire.
At the end of the guided tour you’ll have some time to yourself to relax and wander around. That is unless you arranged to hike Huayna Picchu* (must be booked in advance, as it sells out and costs $75 per person) your guide will show you where to begin this hike. The hike will take no more than 2 hours round-trip.
For your return from Machu Picchu we recommend heading back to Aguas Calientes no later than 2 hours before your train departure. The return train rode from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo will take approximately 2 hours. In Ollantaytambo our Alpaca Expeditions’ staff will be waiting for you right by the station’s exit door. They’ll be ready to bring you back to Cusco by car. The car ride to Cusco will be approximately 2 hours and will have you dropped off at your hotel in Cusco.
Machu Picchu Mountain may be hiked as well instead of Huayna Picchu Mountain.
This hike is more challenging and takes three hours minimum round-trip (at an extra cost of USD $75 per person).
Briefing: The night before your Salkantay trek you’ll come to Alpaca Expeditions’ office for your briefing. You’ll receive your duffel bag that will stay with your porters while you hike. Your bag cannot exceed 7 kg/14 lbs. and needs to include your sleeping bag and air mattress.
Professional Guides: All of Alpaca Expeditions’ guides studied English and tourism at Cusco National University. They all grew up in the Cusco region and are committed to teaching others about their heritage. They’re fun yet professional and will ensure you are safe and happy.
Porters: Alpaca Expeditions provides a personal porter who is responsible for carrying your duffel bag. There is no additional fee for this. You’ll not have access to your duffel bag until you arrive at your evening campsite.
Hotel: The alternative treks all end in or before Aguas Calientes. Your last night will be in a hotel in the village instead of camping. Your 2-star hotel is included in the trek cost and based on a shared room. If you would like to upgrade your hotel or prefer a single room there’ll be an additional cost.
Transportation: You’ll have transportation included in this trek. You’ll be picked up at 3 p.m. from your hotel or our office. Then you’ll meet your Alpaca Expeditions trekking team. From here we’ll head in our private van for a 3.5-hour drive to the Glass Cabañas in Soraypampa located at 3,800 meters above sea level. Also included will be the Expedition Train from Aguas Calientes. You can upgrade to the Vistadome Train for $75 per person. Once you arrive at the train station, we’ll take you back to your hotel in Cusco. Additionally, your round trip bus ticket from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu will be included.
Equipment: Alpaca Expeditions has the best equipment. We use Eureka Timberline 4 tents that are shared by only two people. You’ll also have a spacious dining tent to enjoy your meals in.
Food: The Alpaca Expeditions chefs cook delicious meals that many previous trekkers have loved. We honor all food restrictions so be sure to add any that you have on your booking form. You can also inform your guide at your briefing. Food is typically all served family-style.
You’ll enjoy breakfast, lunch, and dinner each day for the trek along with a happy hour of tea, coffee and snacks. A snack will be provided each morning for you to enjoy along the hike. Your last meal with your chef will be after breakfast on day four. *Lunch on the last day is not included.
Water: Beginning from your first lunch until your last breakfast Alpaca Expeditions will supply all the water needed. You need to bring your own water bottles and or camelback. We recommend carrying about 3L worth of water. You’ll be able to refill your water at each meal.
First Aid: Every Alpaca Expeditions guide has received training in first aid from a physician. We conduct mandatory training sessions every February, which every Alpaca tour guide must attend. Your Alpaca Expeditions tour guide will always have a first-aid kit for basic medical problems (traveler’s diarrhea, cuts, scrapes, etc.) and oxygen. We’ll get you off the trail as quickly and comfortably as possible if needed and ensure you get directly to a clinic for treatment.
Extras: Alpaca Expeditions believes it’s the attention to small details that separates us from other tour companies. Every trekker receives a small pillow to sleep with, a foam mattress for insulation, a day pack cover to protect their things while hiking and a rain poncho. We work VERY hard to ensure you have a once in a lifetime amazing trip to our country.
Satellite Phones: Alpaca Expeditions’ top priority will always be the safety of our clients and our team. While all our guides are prepared and trained to deal with issues clients may have on the mountain, we also ensure you are never more than a phone call away from any doctor, hospital or friend. We have satellite phones on all treks. These can be used by our clients for non-emergencies in case you need to check in at home.
Rentals: Every Alpaca Expeditions’ trekker needs a sleeping bag when camping.
Inflatable air mattresses and walking sticks (with rubber tips) are optional but encouraged. If you don’t want to bring any of the above, they are all available for rent:
Sleeping Bag: $25
Inflatable Air Mattress: $20
Walking Sticks (Pair): $20
Huayna Picchu: Huayna Picchu is the mountain that stands next to Machu Picchu. It’s a 45 minute hike to the top. Be warned that going back down is quite steep. So, if you are scared of heights this may not be a trek you’ll enjoy. You would do this after your tour of Machu Picchu and there is an additional fee of $75.
Arrangements need to be made at least one month in advance due to popularity.
Please understand that the weather is out of our control.
Day packs: Day packs aren’t provided by Alpaca Expeditions. You must bring your own. Be sure you don’t bring anything too large, as you don’t want it to be too heavy while you’re trekking. Plus, Machu Picchu will not allow you to bring in a bag larger than 25L. If you have a large backpack it will need to be stored before your tour. Only essentials are needed while trekking. That includes water, snacks, camera, sunhat, warm layers, waterproof rain layers, insect spray, sunscreen and a first-aid kit.
Headlamps: It’s strongly encouraged to bring a headlamp for your night camping.
There’ll be no lights at the camping sites and it’s hard to get to your dining tent or your bathroom tent without one. Flashlights are acceptable if you don’t have a headlamp, but they make some tasks more difficult as you won’t have your hands free.
Flights: Flying to Cusco can be tricky. Delays occur often and it’s not uncommon for flights to be cancelled. Please be sure to arrive in the city at least two days before your trek start date. LAN Peru is the most reliable of the airlines. Avianca and Peruvian Airlines are acceptable companies as well. You will not return from your trek until around 8 p.m. on the last day. Be sure your flight is not until the next day when leaving Cusco.
Gratuities: Tipping is always appreciated and should be based completely on your satisfaction. Although tipping may not be customary to you, it is of considerable significance to the people who’ll take care of you during your travels.
Travel Insurance: This is not required but always recommended. For those of you who live at sea-level landing in Cusco will take an adjustment period. Most people need one or two days to adjust to the altitude. In case you have a hard time adjusting we suggest you get travel insurance to protect you financially from any missed tours.
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