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 provide 2 walking poles (black diamond) for the duration of the excursion.
This walking poles will be of great help while hiking from the campsite of Soraypampa to the ancient site of Machu Picchu. Our competitors do not include them in their price.
3. We include a coffee tour and a visit to the Llactapata Inca site from where you will observe Machu Picchu from far.
4. 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.
5. Our Short Salkantay Trek includes a 3 star hotel in Aguas Calientes for the 3rd night of the trek (double accommodation).
We will book a comfortable hotel with a nice room and a clean private bathrrom. It is important to know that Aguas Calientes (aka Machu Picchu town) is a small town with limited accomodation options. Hotel upgrades are avilable and you can add them to your cart.
6. On Day 4, you will get a round trip ticket to Machu Picchu. You will also get to hike to the Gate of the Sun with your tour guide and then you will tour around Machu Picchu.
Other tour operators do not include a hike to the Gate of the Sun and bus tickets.
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. On Day 4, lunch will be provided at a local restaurant in Aguas Calientes.
You will be served the menu special of the day which consists of an entrance, main dish, and a soft drink.
8. If you own an ISIC Card, you will get a USD 20.00 gift card to eat at Uchu Peruvian Steakhouse or Marcelo Batata restaurant.
9. 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, you will observe a variety of species of flora and fauna. Our Short Salkantay Trek includes 2 walking poles, a visit to a coffee plantation to learn the process, a visit to the Inca site of Llactapata from where you will observe Machu Picchu from far, a comfortable hotel in Aguas Calientes, 4 hour guided visit to Machu Picchu, and more!
Day 1: CUSCO - MOLLEPATA - SORAYPAMPA - SOROYCCOCHA - HUARACMACHAY (About 6.5 hrs / 8 mi) (B), (L), (D)
Day 2: HUARACMACHAY - WIÑAYPOCO - LUCMABAMBA (About 8 hrs / 13 mi) (B), (L), (D)
Day 3: LUCMABAMBA - LLACTAPATA - HYDROELECTRIC - AGUAS CALIENTES (About 4.5 hrs / 6.25 mi) (B), (L), (D)
Day 4: AGUAS CALIENTES - MACHU PICCHU - AGUAS CALIENTES - CUSCO (B), (L)
This trek departs every Tuesday. Limited spaces!
If you have a party of 4+, request a departure date.
Bookings must be submitted and paid in full at least 15 days prior to departure date.
At about 5:00a.m. your guide will pick you up from your hotel 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 Soraypampa, at 12,464 feet above sea level, from which you will get a spectacular view of the Salkantay & Umantay snowy peaks.
As soon as you arrive to Soraypampa, you will start your hike and after an hour you will reach Salkantaypampa which is located at about 13,448 feet above sea level. After another 2 hours, you will reach your lunch campsite known as Soroyccocha. This campsite is located at about 14,432 feet above sea level. After lunch, you will continue your excursion. In about an hour you will reach the highest point of the trek. This is the Salkantay pass and it is located at about 15,088 feet above sea level. Here you will enjoy an incredible landscape flanked by the Salkantay. If weather conditions allow, you will get to visit the Salkantay Lake.
Another hour and a half will be needed to reach your overnight campsite known as Huaracmachay which is located at about 12,530 feet above sea level. Here you will enjoy dinner and get ready for the coldest night of the trek. Once dinner is over, you will enjoy an incredible sky fullfil with stars (if sky is not cloudy).
This will be the longest day of the trek. Your cook will wake you up at 6:00am with a hot cup of tea to help you warm up, eat breakfast, and get ready to start your hike at 7:00am. During this portion of the hike you will have one grand view after another of thethe towering forest, the majestic mountains, and the creeks that are the origin of the White River. After three hours of hiking, you will arrive at Colpapampa located at about 9512 feet above sea level. Here you will have time to take a break (Insect repellant will be needed here.) Next, you will continue with your excursion, and you will hike to the small village of Wiñaypoco where lunch will be served. This portion of the trek will take about one hour and a half.
After lunch, you will complete the last portion of the trek which will take you to the small village of Lucmabamba where you will spend the night. Tea will be served upon your arrival and dinner will be served at about 7:30p.m. This portion of the trek will take about three hours and a half.
After an early breakfast, you will visit a coffee plantation where you will learn the process of making coffee from the trees to a hot cup of coffee. This tour will take an hour and a half. After this, you will hike to the Inca site of Llactapata from where you will get to see Machu Picchu from far. This portion of the trek will take about two hours. Once at Llactapata, you will have time to enjoy the site and relax. Another half an hour will be needed to reach your lunch campsite.
After lunch, you will hike downhill for about 2 hours in order to reach the hydroelectric of Santa Teresa from where you will take the train to Aguas Calientes or Machu Picchu town. Aguas Calientes is located at 6,691 feet above sea level (2,040 m.a.s.l.) and you will spend the night here at a local hotel. At about 7:00p.m. your guide will pick you up from your hotel to take you to a local restaurante where you will enjoy dinner.
Today you will tour Machu Picchu (7875 feet above sea level). You will take the local bus at about 6:30a.m. Your guided tour of Machu Picchu will last about four hours and it includes a visit to the Gate of the Sun or Huayna Picchu Mountain (the cost of the Huayna Picchu Mountain ticket is not included in the price of this trek.) At midday, you will go back to Aguas Calientes to enjoy lunch at a local restaurant. 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 departures for the Short Salkantay Trek every Tuesday from April 1 to November 30.