Salkantay Trek Tips & FAQs
The Salkantay Trek is probably the most traveled treks in Peru. This trek started to gain fame after National Geographic listed it among the best 25 treks around the globe. This is indeed a beautiful hike and it connects the Andean town of Mollepata (Cusco) with 39.75 the archaeological site of Machu Picchu. From Mollepata, a traveler can connect both locations after hiking a total distance of 98 kms / 61 miles by foot. Our Salkantay Trek Special covers a portion of the trail for a total length of 63 kms / 39.75 mi.
The Salkantay peak - Savage Mountain - is located within the Vilcabamba mountain range, to the northwest of Cusco. Salkantay is one of the highest and most spectacular mountains in the Andes (6,271m / 20,574 ft).
How difficult is the trek?
The entire Salkantay Trek Special is 63 kms / 39.75 mi long. The first day and fourth days are the easiest of the trek while the second and third are the hardest ones due to the high altitude gained and the distance covered, respectively. This is considered a moderate to difficult hike.
Should I be in good physical shape to trek the Salkantay Trek Special?
Yes. This is a demanding trek thus it is important to be in good physical shape and used to high altitude before starting the trek. It is recommended to take part of 2 to 3 hours treks a few times before starting the trek. Also, it is highly recommended to spend a couple of full days in a high altitude city such as Cusco.
What's the most difficult section?
The section that goes from Salkantaypampa to the Salkantay Pass is the most difficult section of the trail. This section will consume an important amount of energy. For this portion of the trek expect wind and cold temperatures. Some hikers might experience symptoms of altitude sickness. Symptoms will alleviate as lower elevation is gained. Our itinerary has been designed to break this section in two in order to allow you to get used to the altitude.
Can I hike the Salkantay at any time?
Yes, but at some times of the year it is not recommendable. There are not legal constrains against hiking the Salkantay Trek at any time during the year. However, during the rainy season (from December to mid-March) it is not safe to hike the trek due to the abundant rain which generates mud slides.
Does the Salkantay Trek end in Machu Picchu by foot only?
Yes, if you follow this route: Soraymapmpa - Challway – Playa Sahuayaco – Llactapata – Hydroelectric (Santa Teresa Train Station) – Aguas Calientes – Machu Pichu Site. All these areas are connected by a trail path and it usually takes 5 days to trek it. Most tour operators do not include Llactapata in their itineraries because of the high cost of this excursion.
Can I bring children?
Children under 12 years old should not be at this trek. Also, children should be used to hiking long distances.
When is the best time to hike the Salkantay Trek Special?
The dry season is the best time to do the trek. The dry season runs from April to November, while the wet season runs from December to March. Even during rainy season it doesn’t usually rain all day long. Temperatures can fall below freezing at night at the campsites near Salkantay Pass at any time of the year.
June to September are the most popular months for treks. May and October offer the nicest weather.
What is the weather like?
During the dry season, weather is not a major concern except on the Salkantay Pass area. At Soraypampa camp, temperatures can fall below freezing at night. The annual maximum temperature varies from 20° to 27° Celsius (68º to 81º Fahrenheit) and minimum temperatures range between -5° to 11° Celsius (20º to 52º Fahrenheit). The other camps are much warmer.
What should I bring to the trek?
Mainly comfortable waterproof hiking shoes, long sleeve shirts, t-shirts, a good waterproof jacket, scarf, gloves, raincoat, hat, thermal pants and socks for the cold nights, sunglasses, a good sleeping bag for cold weather, mosquito repellent, sunscreen, water purification pills, toilet paper, flashlight, hand sanitizer, a small first aid kit, some coca leaf candies, bathing suit and off course a camera.
Can I hike the Salkantay Trek the next day that I arrive at Cusco?
We do not recommend it. The main effects of altitude sickness show the first or second day of being in a high altitude City. For that reason, we highly recommend that you hike the Salkantay a couple of days after arriving in Cusco.
What should I do to avoid altitude sickness?
To avoid altitude sickness give yourself time to acclimatize to the change in altitude. (Two days minimum is recommended). Try to avoid alcohol, and make sure you eat lightly and drink plenty of water. Make sure to stay hydrated, walk slowly and take frequent breaks. Drinking coca leaf tea always helps. It is widely available, and your hotel in Cusco will probably offer it as well.
What should I do if I get altitude sickness?
Drink plenty of liquids, (coca leaf tea will definitely help), take a nap and try to rest. If you are in the middle of the trail and start feeling dizzy, extremely tired, nauseated, and have a headache, ask for advice from your guide. Guides have plenty of experience in this matter.
Is water available along the trail?
Yes. On the way, there will be several creeks, small water channels, natural deposits of water and small rivers. This water should not be drunk before filtering it with a reliable water filter.
Are there bathrooms during the trek?
Most campsites have basic bathrooms. Once at your hotel you will have a good room with a private bathroom and hot water all day long.
Are there small shops along the trail?
Most overnight campsites offer small items for sale such as beverages, cookies, candies, among other similar items. The small town of Playa Sahuayaco will offer more options. Prices at these places will be significantly higher than in Cusco City.
Are mosquitos and flies an issue in this trek?
Once Challway is reached, the presence of mosquitos will be quite common along the remaining of the trek, therefore it is important to regularly apply insect repellent (preferable a repellent containing DEET between 15% and 25%).
Are there thermal pools along the trek?
Yes, there are 2 of them. The first one is known as Collpapampa and the second one is known as Santa Teresa. The second one is better prepared to welcome visitors and the pools are bigger. We include a vist to the second one know as Santa Teresa hot springs.
Do all the tour operators provide the same service?
No. Make sure you are hiring a professionally run tour operator that will take proper care of you and the environment. If you see prices that are too low, be careful! Some companies have hidden extra charges or fees. Many companies won’t provide all the services they advertise!
When you book this trek with GoTrekPeru.com you can be confident you will get what you are paying for.
WHY TO CHOOSE OUR SALKANTAY TREK SPECIAL
This is a list of reasons to book the Salkantay Trek Special with GoTrekPeru.com:
1. We have designed an itinerary not offered by any other tour provider in Cusco while maintaining competitive prices. Our price, service, and comfortable inclusions are incomparable.
2. We include a visit to the Llactapata Inca site from where you will observe Machu Picchu from far.
3. We include a visit with entrance ticket to the hot springs of Santa Teresa.
4. Our Salkantay Trek Special includes a heated domo with bathroom in Soroypampa for the 1st night of the trek (double accommodation). This will be the coldest night with very low temperatures.
5. We will book a clean hostel with private bathrrom for the night in Aguas Calientes. This will be a basic hostel. Hotel upgrades are avilable and you can add them to your cart.
6. On Day 5, you will get a one-way bus ticket to Machu Picchu. Your entrance ticket to Machu Picchu is also included.
If you would like to hike up to Huayna Picchu Mountain, your guide won't be able to take you there and you will need to pay for an extra entrance ticket (we can book this ticket on your behalf).
7. If you have a student card, you will get a USD 20.00 gift card to eat at Uchu Peruvian Steakhouse or Marcelo Batata restaurant.
8. We offer the best price for this trek when you compare the service we offer, the quality of our tents, our itinerary and meals, and all what is included.