The access to the Salkantay Trek hasn’t been regulated by the Peruvian government yet, therefore anybody is able to trek this route. The majority of travelers hire the service of a tour operator to provide a full service trek to Machu Picchu. Before booking this trek, it is important to research about the conditions of the trail and physical demands of this moderate to difficult trek. It is also important to book with a tour company which cares about the environment and provides a service based on the rate being paid.
When hiking this route, it is important to not leave trash behind and maintain the area as pristine as possible. Hopefully, this route remains open to everybody and what happened to the Inca Trail is not implemented here (one of the main reasons to have strict regulations to access the Inca Trail is that the route was trashed and not taken care of by solo trekkers and local tour operators).
The only portions of this route that require an entrance ticket are the Inca ruins of Llactapata and Machu Picchu. In the case of the first one a fee needs to be paid before accessing the trek that leads to the Inca Site of Llactapata. In the case of the second site, the entrance ticket needs to be purchased before going to the site since only 2,500 people can access to the site per day. It is also important to know that only 400 people can access Huayna Picchu Mountain per day while Machu Picchu Mountain can only be accessed by 800 people per day. Both, Huayna Picchu and Machu Picchu Mountains are located inside of the Machu Picchu park and an additional fee needs to be paid to access the.
The Salkantay Trail connects the Andean Town of Mollepata (92.5 kilometers away from Cusco) with the Inca Citadel of Machu Picchu. This trail is approximately 98 kms / 61 miles long via Llactapata and it goes through high Andean peaks, cloud forest, and steamy jungle. This distance applies if hiking from Mollepata town to the ancient site of Machu Picchu by feet. Our Short Salkantay Trek covers a portion of the trail for a total of 38 kms / 23.75 miles.
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/20,574ft).
National Geographic’s Adventure Travel Magazine named the Salkantay trek among the 25 Best Treks in the World.
How difficult is the Short Salkantay Trek?
Our version of the Short Salkantay trek is approximately 38 kms / 28.75 miles. The distances traveled each day are long. In order to hike the Salkantay you need to be used to hiking or exercise. Also, acclimatization is needed for this hike.
Should I be in good physical shape to trek the Salkantay route?
This is a demanding trek thus it is important to be in good physical shape and used to the altitude of a high altitude city such as Cusco before starting it. It is recommended that you stay in Cusco or another high altitude city a couple of full days prior to starting the trek. In addition, you might choose to take high altitude sickness pills or chew coca leaves during the trek.
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.
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: Soraypampa - 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 Short Salkantay Trek?
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?
All 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 with GoTrekPeru.com you can be confident you will get what you are paying for.
Can I trek this route by myself?
Yes, you are able to hike the trek by yourself, but the route is not clearly set at some points and there is a chance of getting lost (Spanish will be needed to get by.) It is recommended that you hire a company and a tour guide who is familiar with the area.
Below there is a suggested checking list for the Salkantay Trek:
This is a list of reasons to book the Short Salkantay Trek 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 one way train ticket from the hydroelectric to Aguas Calientes. The first two days of this trek are intense, and you will be tired by the time you are at the hydroelectric of Santa Teresa. A train ticket will allow you to rest & get ready for your visit to Machu Picchu.
3. Our Short Salkantay Trek includes a heated domo with bathroom in Soraypampa for the 1st night of the trek (double accommodation).
4. We will book a clean hostel with private bathroom for the night in Aguas Calientes. This will be a basic hostel. Hotel upgrades are avilable and you can add them to your cart.
5. On Day 3, you will get a one-way bus ticket to Machu Picchu. Your entrance ticket to Machu Picchu us 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).
6. 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.
7. 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.
When there are no permits left for the Inca Trail, the Salkantay Trek becomes the best choice. Hiking past the Salkantay Nevado is an incredible experience. While walking through different ecological levels, yo will observe a variety of species of flora and fauna. Our Short Salkantay Trek also includes breakfast on day 1, train tickets from the hydroelectric of Santa Teresa to Aguas Calientes, 1 bust ticket to get to Machu Picchu, a comfortable hostel in Aguas Calientes and a great quality service.
Day 1: CUSCO - MOLLEPATA - CHALLACANCHA - SORAYPAMPA (About 12 kms / 7.5 mi) (B), (L), (D)
Day 2: SORAYPAMPA - SALKANTAY PASS - WARACMACHAY - CHALLWAY (About 16 kms / 10 mi) (B), (L), (D)
Day 3: CHALLWAY - LA PLAYA - HYDROELECTRIC - AGUAS CALIENTES (10 kms / 6.25 mi) (B), (L), (D)
Day 4: AGUAS CALIENTES - MACHU PICCHU - AGUAS CALIENTES - CUSCO (B)
Daily Departures for ONLY USD 485.00 per person!
USD 15.00 OFF per person for groups pf 6 or more travelers
At about 5:30a.m. your guide will pick you up from your hotel in Cusco and at this time you will meet the rest of your group. A three-hour ride will take you through beautiful landscape until you arrive at the Andean town of Mollepata, about 9,180 feet above sea level, where you will enjoy breakfast. After breakfast, your transportation will take you to Challacancha where you will start your journey to Machu Picchu. In about 3 hours, you will reach your campsite at Soraypampa, at 12,464 feet above sea level, from which you will get a spectacular view of the Salkantay and Humantay snowy peaks. These two peaks are located in the Vilcabamba Mountain Range.
After lunch, you will hike on direction to the Humantay Lake located at the bottom of the snowy peak of the same name. In this 2 hour hike, 1,076 feet (328 meters) will be gained and you will be able to enjoy a breathtaking landscape. After exploring the area, you will get back to Soraypampa where you will spend the night at a 4 season tent.
After breakfast at about 6:30a.m. you will start the longest day of the trek. A four hour and a half hour hike will take you to the highest point, Abra Salkantay, about 14760 feet above sea level. It will be cold and windy, and the landscape will take you to a surreal world. Another hour and a half trek will take you to your lunch campsite located at about 12530 feet above sea level in the area known as Wayraqmachay.
During the hike after lunch you will have one grand view after another of the majestic mountains, the towering forests, and the creeks that are the origin of the White River. After two and a half hours of hiking you will arrive at your camp, Challway, at about 9512 feet above sea level. (Insect repellant will be needed here.) Tea will be served upon your arrival and dinner will be served at about 7:30p.m.
After breakfast at about 6:30a.m. you will start your amazingly colorful hike along the White and Santa Teresa Rivers, coming to a resting point, Qiñaypoco, 8036 feet above sea level. Here you will be able to try passion straight from the trees. Another two and a half hours of hiking through a few coffee plantations will take you to the small native community of La Playa, where lunch will be served.
After lunch, you will be driven to the hydroelectric of Santa Teresa where you will take the train to Aguas Calientes. Once in Aguas Calientes, you will check-in at your hostel and dinner will be served at a local restaurant.
Today you will tour Machu Picchu (7875 feet above sea level). You will take the local bus at about 6:30a.m. Once at Machu Picchu, you will start your 2 hour guided tour (the cost of the Huayna Picchu Mountain ticket is not included in the price of this trek.) Bus ticket to get down to Aguas Calientes is not included. In the afternoon, you will take the train to Ollantayambo. Upon arrival, you will be driven to your hotel in Cusco.
Price per person - USD
(2 people minimum per booking)
We offer daily epartures from April 1 to November 30.