Travel Guide

The Salkantay trek – detailed information & itinerary

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The Salkantay trek is a excessive altitude 74km/46 miles hike within the Cusco area, Peru. The route begins at Mollepata, a small city 100km from Cusco. It takes you thru some unimaginable nature areas of the Andes with breathtaking surroundings and wonderful wildlife. Trekking features a go to to 2 Inca websites; Llactapata and Machu Picchu each historical past and nature lovers will get pleasure from Salkantay trek.  It’s thought of to be a much less touristy different to the well-known Inca path although it goes by means of the utterly completely different areas and in contrast to Inca path Salkantay finishes in Aguas Calientes (from the place you stroll to MP) not at Machu Picchu itself.  

If you wish to know extra about completely different hikes in Peru go to 20 greatest hikes in Peru.

Please, word! As of March 2020 the route from Santa Teresa to Aguas Calientes is closed as a result of large landslides that occurred within the space in February. The practice route between Cusco and Machu Picchu (Aguas Calientes) operates in line with its schedule.

Salkantay trek overview

  • Complete distance – 74km/46 miles
  • Required variety of days – 5 days
  • Place to begin – Mollepata
  • Ending level – Aguas Calientes
  • Common altitude – 3000m
  • Highest level – Apacheta or Salkantay Cross, 4580m
  • Permits – no particular permits are wanted, the trek will be completed independently or with a information.

Data on different hikes round Cusco you could find on our Ausangate trek information and Choquequirao trek information. 

In the event you’re eager about exploring extra of Peru there are a number of nice small group tour choices to affix;

Greatest time for trekking 

There are two seasons within the Cusco area; the dry season and the wet season. The dry season is from April to October, the driest months June to August – very little rain, decrease temperatures, particularly at evening time. July – August is the peak vacationer season anticipate costs to be greater and sights are busier. The wet season is from November to March, with essentially the most rain falling between December and February. Throughout this era temperatures are greater, it’s very humid, rains rather a lot, not many vacationers. December – February is the worst time for mountain climbing in Cusco.

Average high and low temperature over a year in Cusco, Peru
Common temperatures in Cusco all year long
Average night and day temperatures in Cusco in Fahrenheit
Common yearly temperatures in Cusco in Fahrenheit
Average monthly precipitations in Cusco
Common rainfalls by months in Cusco, Peru

Sensible info for the trek

The Salkantay trek is a excessive altitude route, good acclimatization is crucial.

Drink sufficient water – hydration is essential for this hike.

There are many streams and rivers on the way in which however we’d advocate utilizing water purification tablets or a life-straw bottle as a result of many alpacas strolling round native water isn’t secure for ingesting.  

On the primary and second day of the trek you acquire altitude fairly quick don’t push your self too onerous in the event you really feel drained; cease, relaxation, drink water.

There are a few steep descends on the trek mountain climbing poles might be fairly useful they may take away some strain out of your knees.

From the third day on there might be villages on the way in which the place you may get cooked meals or purchase some meals e.g. pasta, tuna, instantaneous soup, snacks, cool drinks, and so forth.

How we rank Salkantay

  • Issue degree – Four out of 5; the primary two days are fairly demanding; excessive altitude and steep ascents, different days are simpler.
  • Surroundings – 5 out of 5; Humantay and Salkantay lake and glacier had been the highlights.
  • Touristy – 3,5 out of 5; fairly busy examine to Choquequirao or Ausangate treks however not as busy because the Inca Path.

Journey insurance coverage for the trek

Like every out of doors actions trekking includes dangers of getting injured, dropping or breaking gear, cancellation of the journey as a result of unpredictable climate situations (e.g. landslides after the wet season, and so forth.). Salkantay is a excessive altitude trek by means of distant areas of Peruvian Andes it’s extremely really helpful to have journey insurance coverage that may cowl you for the interval of the hike.

Selecting an insurance coverage firm that you may depend on in case of emergency is essential that’s why we advocate World Nomads. They concentrate on overlaying out of doors actions together with excessive altitude mountain climbing. Peru is considered one of their prime mountain climbing locations which implies they’ve experience in working with native firms. One other beauty of World Nomads is that you may purchase insurance coverage on-line whereas touring, it takes solely 2 minutes. Their insurance coverage coverage could be very versatile you should purchase one which covers the entire journey or solely the mountain climbing a part of it, even when it’s one or two days. Get a quote proper now! 

Be aware! All the time learn fastidiously phrases and situations.

Packing checklist for the trek

In the event you determine to hike and not using a information you’ll want tenting gear; tent, mattress, tenting range, fuel, pots, and so forth. If Salkantay is the one trek you’re going to do slightly lease tenting gear than carry your personal from house in the event you’re planning on doing a few hikes – having your personal stuff is best.

Backpack with rain cowl – even in the event you hike in dry season use a rain cowl to guard your backpack and the stuff inside from mud and humidity. In the event you hike independently you’ll want a very good and cozy  60L backpack to have the ability to match all of the gear and fasten a tent. In the event you do it with an organization you’ll want solely a day pack your stuff might be carried by horses or pushed by automotive in huge dry baggage.

Tent – you camp Three nights on the trek. It’s vital to have a very good dependable tent that gained’t fail in case of rain, robust wind or snow. We grew to become huge followers of MSR tents, they’re not the most cost effective however the most effective particularly for mountain climbing and long run touring; gentle, robust, pack small, simple to pitch – completely designed for journey within the mountains.

Sleeping bag – be sure your bag can go all the way down to 0°C/30°F for summer time and to -5°C/20°F for winter. It will get very chilly up within the mountains at evening. Down bag vs artificial bag – each have their benefits and downsides; for the dry chilly season a down sleeping bag will work nice; it packs small, gentle and heat the primary downside is that if it will get moist however in dry season probabilities of rain are fairly small. For moist season artificial bag might be higher; it dries fast, some trendy baggage are fairly small and light-weight as properly.

Mattress – now we have inflatable tenting mats; gentle and small – slot in a backpack, gentle, comfy, good isolation. After we tried them as soon as we determined to not use foam mattresses once more.

For extra particulars verify our Peru packing checklist submit.

Obtain our free Salkantay trek packing checklist.

Salkantay trek price

And not using a information, per individual

Transport – 30 Sol/US$10 bus Cusco – Mollepata, bus Hidroelectrica – Cusco – 60 Sol/US$18; practice Aguas Calientes – Hidroeléctrica (elective, you’ll be able to stroll) –  60 Sol/US$19 a technique.

Procuring (meals, fuel)  – 100 Sol/US$30.

Entrance price – Machu Picchu 152 Sol/US$45, if you wish to go as much as Machu Picchu or Huayna Picchu mountain – 200 Sol/US$59. Make sure that to purchase your entrance tickets beforehand, particularly in the event you journey in peak season and need to go up one of many mountains. It’s not possible to pay the doorway on the ruins, you’ll be able to ebook tickets by means of the official web site it takes time and includes a number of steps. An alternative choice is to do instantaneous reserving by means of GetYourGuide (the simplest and quickest however dearer approach); Machu Picchu, MP + Machu Picchu Mountain, MP + Huayna Picchu Mountain.

Lodging – Three nights tenting – between 10-30 Sol/US$3-10 (there are free campsites with restricted amenities and personal campsites/locals’ homes the place you pay about 10 Sol/US$Three per tent). One evening in a lodge in Aguas Calientes – from 26 Sol/US$eight pp in a hostel.

Gear rental (elective) – relying on what you lease put together to pay between 160 Sol/US$50 and 260 Sol/US$80.

Complete; 400 Sol/US$120 (420 Sol/US$125 with Machu Picchu or Huayna Picchu mountain) + gear rental and practice tickets.

With a tour, per individual

It’s simpler to go together with a tour and dearer as properly. Excursions begin from US$400 per individual and often embody; lodging (tenting and one evening in a lodge in Aguas Calientes), transportation (besides practice tickets), entrance price, meals, water, tents and mattresses, porters, chef, and a information. Excursions and costs differ from firm to firm some are extra luxurious with higher meals, nicer lodging, some are extra fundamental the place you pay further for all the pieces.

A peaceful scenery on the Salkantay trek in Peru
Surroundings at the start of the Salkantay trek on the way in which from Mollepata to Soraypampa

Guided tour vs impartial trek

Impartial trek


  • As you’ll be able to see in the price part it’s less expensive, particularly in the event you’re two or extra individuals – you’ll save some huge cash.
  • You’re free to decide on when to cease and the place to remain in the event you don’t like a spot you all the time can go to a unique one; in the event you really feel drained you’ll be able to cease earlier and so forth.
  • It’s all the time an journey to plan and put together for a hike.


  • It’s more difficult; you carry all of your stuff, you pitch a tent, prepare dinner, principally do all the pieces by yourself.
  • There isn’t a pack up in the event you neglect or lose one thing you’ll need to deal with all of it by your self.
  • In the event you’re alone it is perhaps lonely to wander across the mountains.

Guided tour

Our recommendation if you ebook a tour be sure what’s included and what’s further and double verify that your Machu Picchu tickets are for the best day and time and embody Machu Picchu or Huayna Picchu mountain in the event you’re planning to go up considered one of them. We met some upset vacationers whose tickets, booked by means of an company, had been no proper.


  • It’s simple all it’s important to do is to discover a good dependable firm and so they’ll organize all the pieces for you, no planning, final minute purchasing, discovering a bus and so forth.
  • You don’t carry your stuff, you don’t prepare dinner or set a campsite – all you do is strolling.
  • It is perhaps enjoyable is you get a enjoyable group of individuals and a pleasant information.


  • It’s way more costly.
  • It takes away some a part of the journey.

Salkantay trek distances

  • Cusco – Mollepata – 100km/62mi., bus
  • Mollepata – Soraypampa – 22km/13,6mi., lengthy ascend, +1000m
  • Soraypampa – Chaullay – 21km/13mi., first lengthy ascend to Apacheta go, +750m; then lengthy descend to the campsite, -1500m
  • Chaullay – Lucmabamba – 18km/11mi., descend, – 800m
  • Lucmabamba – Llactapata – 7km/4,3mi., steep ascend to the ruins, +900m
  • Llactapata – Aguas Calientes – 13km/8mi., lengthy descend, – 1000m.

Stops on the route

Mollepata (2900m)

A small city the place you may get by bus, the start of Salkantay trek.

  • Campsite – no
  • Lodge – sure
  • Store – sure
  • Cooked meal – sure
  • Faucet with operating water – sure
  • Bathroom – sure
  • Bathe – sure

Soraypampa (3900m)

A primary evening cease, not a city simply a longtime tenting space.

  • Campsite – sure, one free and two personal websites for 10 So/US$Three per tent.
  • Lodge – sure, earlier than the campsites.
  • Store – sure, on the first campsite on the way in which.
  • Cooked meal – sure, on the lodge
  • Faucet with operating water – sure
  • Bathroom – sure, at paid campsites
  • Bathe – sure, at paid campsites.

Huayracmachay (3750m)

  • Campsite – sure, one free, one for 10 Sol/US$Three per tent
  • Lodge – no
  • Store – no
  • Cooked meal – no
  • Faucet with operating water – sure, at a paid campsite
  • Bathroom – sure, at a paid campsite
  • Bathe – sure, at a paid campsite

Chaullay or Chayway (2900m)

  • Campsite – sure, 10 Sol/US$Three per tent
  • Lodge – sure
  • Store – sure
  • Cooked meal – sure
  • Faucet with operating water – sure
  • Bathroom – sure
  • Bathe – sure
Chaullay village a popular stop on Salkantay
Chaullay village the place we stopped on our second evening on the trek

Collpapampa or Colpapampa (2800m)

  • Campsite – sure, 10 Sol/US$Three per tent
  • Lodge – no
  • Store – sure
  • Cooked meal – sure
  • Faucet with operating water – sure
  • Bathroom – sure
  • Bathe – sure

La Playa (2000m)

  • Campsite – sure, 10 Sol/US$Three per tent
  • Lodge – no
  • Store – sure
  • Cooked meal – sure
  • Faucet with operating water – sure
  • Bathroom – sure
  • Bathe – sure

Lucmabamba (2100m)

A small village with espresso plantations and exquisite views.

  • Campsite – sure, 5-10 Sol/US$Three per tent
  • Lodge – sure
  • Store – sure
  • Cooked meal – sure
  • Faucet with operating water – sure
  • Bathroom – sure
  • Bathe – sure

Santa Teresa (1800m)

Fairly q touristy place, many individuals come right here to go to close by scorching springs.

  • Campsite – sure, 10 Sol/US$Three per tent
  • Lodge – sure
  • Store – sure
  • Cooked meal – sure
  • Faucet with operating water – sure
  • Bathroom – sure
  • Bathe – sure

Hidroeléctrica (2000m)

No one often stays right here, it’s solely 2 hours stroll to Aguas Calientes.

  • Campsite – no
  • Lodge – sure
  • Store – sure
  • Cooked meal – sure
  • Faucet with operating water – sure
  • Bathroom – sure
  • Bathe – sure

Lodging in Cusco

Getting from Cusco to Salkantay (Mollepata)

The trek begins at Mollepata, a small city 100km from Cusco. 

The primary morning bus to Mollepata leaves at Four am (there are a number of buses in the course of the day) from the Arcopata bus terminal, a small terminal at Arcopata road, the journey takes Three hours. We’d advocate going to the terminal the day earlier than to ensure the place it’s and what time the bus leaves. Worth 30 Sol/US$10.

As soon as in Mollepata you’ll be able to begin strolling (as we did) or take a neighborhood truck that may get you to Sayapata from the place you can begin strolling to Soraypampa, the first-night campsite, about 2-Three hours stroll. Worth about 100 Sol/US$30 per automotive.

Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu, Peru.
Salkantay trekking map. Be aware! Chaullay (2nd campsite) altitude is 2900m not 4000m prefer it’s indicated on the map.

Salkantay trek – a 5-day itinerary

Day 1. Bus Cusco – Mollepata, 100km. Mollepata – Soraypampa, 22km

Cusco (3400m) – bus to Mollepata (2900m) – Soraypampa (3900m), 22km/13,6 miles

If you wish to stroll all the way in which to Soraypampa we’d advocate to begin the day early and take a morning bus from Cusco. The journey to Mollepata takes between 2,5-Three hours.

From Mollepata many individuals take a taxi/truck to Soraypampa or a few kilometers earlier than; it makes the primary day shorter, you get to the campsite in a few hours as an alternative of strolling for 6-7 hours. We walked this half and in contrast to some individuals say the stroll wasn’t disagreeable or alongside the street, actually, the strolling trek and the street break up. It’s a bit tough to search out the path in Mollepata, ask round or observe a bunch if there may be one. The primary reason we determined to stroll is to present our our bodies extra time to acclimatize (it was our first hike in Cusco), the altitude distinction between Mollepata and Soraypampa is 1000m in the event you get by automotive you acquire it very quick, strolling offers you extra time to regulate.   


  • Humantay lake and glacier (4200m) – fairly a steep uphill stroll from Soraypampa campsite, +300m. It was one of the vital stunning lakes we’ve ever seen, the colours are simply unimaginable!


  • Discovering the path in Mollepata
  • A steep ascent from Mollepata to Soraypampa, 1000m up
  • Sleeping at excessive altitude, 3900m
Stingy Nomads at the Humantay Lake on the first day of the trek
Campbell & Alya on the Humantay Lake on the Salkantay trek

Day 2. Soraypampa – Chaullay, 21km

Soraypampa (2900m) – Apacheta/Salkantay Cross (4580m) – Huayracmachay (3750m) – Chaullay (2900m), 21km/13 miles.

That is the hardest day of the hike; excessive altitude, going as much as 1500m to Apacheta Cross (4580m) –  the best level of Salkantay trek plus steep uphill to the campsite. On the way in which up, don’t go too quick you’ll have sufficient time to make it to the campsite.

Views from the Cross had been gorgeous; Salkantay mountain and glacier in the event you stroll in direction of the mountain you’ll see stunning Salkantay lake down there. In the event you really feel sick; nausea, headache, and so forth. don’t spend a lot time on the prime slightly begin happening slowly. You’ll be able to cease for lunch at Huayracmachay. As an choice, you’ll be able to camp there as properly nevertheless it’s nonetheless fairly excessive 3750m examine to Chaullay, 2900m it’s all the time higher to sleep at decrease altitudes.


  • Salkantay mountain and glacier
  • Salkantay lake – a small turquoise blue shade glacier lake


  • A steep ascent from Soraypampa to the Apacheta Cross, 1500m up
  • A steep descent from the Apacheta Cross to Chaullay, 1500m down
A hiking trail on the trek on the way to the pass
Surroundings on the way in which to the go, the start of the second day of the trek

Day 3. Chaullay – Lucmabamba, 18km

Chaullay (2900m) – Colpapampa (2870m) – Lucmabamba (2100m), 18km/11mi.

A relaxed strolling day previous espresso and fruit plantations we noticed many hummingbirds and butterflies on the way in which.


  • Lush inexperienced forest with hummingbirds, colourful butterflies, orchids and fruit bushes.
  • Espresso plantations at Lucmabamba.
  • Scorching Springs – about 30min. drive from the village, you’ll be able to catch a minibus, it’s fairly touristy however we loved soaking within the scorching swimming pools after a number of days of strolling and not using a scorching bathe.
A mountainous scenery on the Salkantay trek
Incredible surroundings on the Salkantay trek. Completely different every single day

Day 4. Lucmabamba – Aguas Calientes, 20km

Lucmabamba (2100m) – Puncuyoc Cross (2900m) – Llactapata ruins (3000m) – Hydroelectric station (2000m) – Aguas Calientes (2040m), 20km/12,4mi.

Right here it’s important to choices to go to Llactapata ruins first after which to Hidroelectrica or to go straight to Hidroelectrica previous Santa Teresa. The primary choice is longer and includes a steep 900m ascent to the ruins with subsequent 1000m descent to Hidroelectrica. The ruins are fairly fascinating and never overcrowded however in the event you really feel bored with strolling slightly skip it and save power for Machu Picchu.


  • Llactapata ruins – just lately found Inca ruins with an excellent view on Machu Picchu.


  • An extended ascent from Lucmabamba to Puncuyoc Cross, 900m up.
  • An extended descent from Llactapata ruins to Hydroelectric station, 1000m down.
  • Strolling alongside the railway from Hydroelectric to Aguas Calientes (about 10km), taking a practice is perhaps a greater choice.
A stunning view of the canyon and the river at the bottom of it
A gorgeous surroundings at the start of the day on the way in which to Aguas Calientes, the primary half of the stroll to Aguas Calientes was price it

Day 5. Aguas Calientes – Machu Picchu – Aguas Calientes, 15km

Very early get up, 4.30-5am it is best to depart your hostel to begin as much as Machu Picchu. You may have two choices; to take a bus all the way in which up or to stroll. The stroll from the city to the ruins takes about 1,5 hours, with steep 400m ascend. In the event you determine to stroll, like us, take sufficient water. Don’t neglect your torch, passport, and tickets. Entrance to MP opens at 6.00 if you’re quick sufficient you’ll be there proper in time. 

Taking a bus from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu is another choice, you should purchase a ticket within the city. The ticket workplace is opened from 5 am to 9 pm, one-way ticket – US$12 (adults), return US$24. The journey to the highest takes 40 minutes. Buses depart each 10 minutes; to MP from 5.30am until 3.30pm.; from MP from 6.00am until 6.00pm. You’ll be able to stroll up and take a bus down (there’s a ticket workplace on the ruins) or different approach round.

Map of Machu Picchu ruins
Map of Machu Picchu ruins

Have to find out about visiting Machu Picchu

Don’t neglect to purchase a ticket to Machu Picchu beforehand you’ll be able to’t purchase it on the entrance. Solely 2500 individuals within the morning, from 6 am to 12 pm and 3000 individuals within the afternoon, from 12 am to five.30pm a day are allowed on the ruins. In excessive season be sure to ebook it at the very least a few days prematurely.

Take your tickets and passport/ID with it’s important to present each on the entrance.

Huayna Picchu mountain guests restrictions; entrance from 7 am to eight am – 200 individuals; from 10 am to 11 am – 200 individuals.

Machu Picchu mountain; entrance from 7am to 8am – 400 individuals; from 9am to 10am – 400 individuals. It’s vital to purchase your Machu Picchu + Huayna Picchu/Machu Picchu ticket beforehand, particularly within the peak season.

Make sure that to enter the ruins and mountains at the time indicated in your tickets in the event you miss it you gained’t be allowed to enter some other time.

New Machu Picchu guidelines had been carried out in 2017 in line with all of them guests presupposed to have a information to enter the ruins, actually, no person on the entrance enforces this rule there are individuals with and with out guides. If you wish to be part of a bunch you are able to do it; value US$20 per individual or US$60 for a personal information per group.

Guests should not presupposed to carry meals and water with which is sort of unusual as there are only a few locations the place you should purchase each. We’ve been to the ruins twice each occasions carrying day packs with water, sandwiches, snacks, and no person has ever searched our baggage or tried to cease us. This rule is especially to guard the ruins from air pollution as some individuals simply damp plastic bottles and wraps. A reusable water bottle might be a greater choice and no person will object to it.

Strolling sticks should not allowed on the ruins we did hear about individuals being stopped and requested to go away them on the entrance so in case your sticks are any worth for you slightly don’t take them. In case your knees are an issue – take a bus all the way down to Aguas Calientes.

Machu Picchu ruins with Huayna Picchu mountain on the background
Machu Picchu ruins the spotlight of the Salkantay trek for a lot of vacationers

Lodging in Aguas Calientes

Getting from Machu Picchu to Cusco 

There are 4 choices;

To catch a practice all the way in which from Aguas Calientes to Cusco – the simplest and the most costly choice; practice ticket 277 Sol/US$85 value of the most cost effective practice trip Expedition 34. It’s a must to purchase tickets for this practice a few weeks beforehand they’re typically offered out.

To go by practice from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo and from there take a bus to Cusco – it’s a bit cheaper than the primary choice however extra sophisticated; practice ticket – from 180 Sol/US$55 (the most cost effective practice leaves Aguas Calientes at 5.35am), bus ticket 15 Sol/US$4. A benefit of this selection when you’ve got time you’ll be able to keep in Ollantaytambo and go to the ruins.

To get on a practice from Aguas Calientes to Hidroeléctrica and from there take a minibus to Cusco – extra sophisticated however cheaper; practice ticket – 60 Sol/US$19, minibus ticket – 60 Sol/US$18.

To stroll from Aguas Calientes to Hidroeléctrica, about 10km and from there take a bus to Cusco – the most cost effective however the longest choice; bus ticket 60 Sol/US$18.

A breathtaking view of the ruins and the area from the Machu Picchu Mountain
View over Machu Picchu ruins and Huayna Picchu Mountain from the highest of Machu Picchu Mountain

Beneficial books and guidebooks

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Hey! A bit about us - we’re John & Maria and we're a couple that loves to travel the world and document our adventures! We enjoy writing, blogging, exploring and sharing our adventures. We’re always embarking on new journeys and here you’ll find articles covering many travel destinations, and topics, such as culture, history, art and cuisine. Our goal and mission is to present compelling stories, photography and personal opinions, as well as serve as an online resource for anyone who wishes to plan their own trips and visit the destinations we've been to. We genuinely love meeting new people, mingling with locals, listening to their amazing stories and trying new travel experiences.

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