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Salkantay Trek Peru: Cusco to Cusco

5 Days
Prices From:
US$ 1,273

The Inca Trail may headline its share of Peru vacation packages, but the Salkantay Trek is more than just a Plan B. It offers a hike rich with Inca heritage, with spectacular snow-capped surrounds, fewer fellow hikers, and no special permit required.

This 5-day adventure differs from other Machu Picchu tours, taking you to the ancient city via the Salkantay Trek. One of the world’s top 25 hikes, the Salkantay takes in the same region as its more famous neighbour, the Inca Trail, but carries fewer hikers and does not require a permit.

Setting out from Cusco, you’ll traverse a region where snow covered mountains meet tropical rainforests. Your trek proper starts at Challacancha, and frequently affords fantastic views of Mount Saklantay, a glacier-capped peak rising 20,574 feet above sea level. The hike is undeniably challenging, but richly rewarding. You’ll enjoy meal stops at local villages, overnight camps with spectacular Andes views, and even a hot spring to relax in at the end of day two.

Fruit and coffee plantations scent the air as you reach the lower altitudes. Early on day four, enjoy views of Machu Picchu that most visitors will never see, from Abra Q’elloqasa and Llaqtapata lookouts. Your final (trekking) destination is Aguas Calientes, where you’ll have a chance to soak your tired limbs in a hot spring in anticipation of a day at Machu Picchu.

The Inca city’s original purpose is still something of a mystery. A guide takes you on a comprehensive tour, after which you’ll enjoy free time to see more of the ruins, or perhaps climb Wanya Picchu for a different perspective on the lost city. Visit the famous Sun Gate before you depart (it’s not just for Inca Trail-goers!), then return to Cusco.


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5 Days
Prices From:
US$ 1,273

Itinerary View Trip Map

Day 1

Cusco - Challacancha - Soroycocha

Depart Cusco early (approx. 600AM) and drive to the village of Mollepata, an Indian Village situated in a citrus growing area at a subtropical region at 2800mts / 9185ft. On route you will visit the archaeological site of Tarawasi, one of the better preserved buildings in the region. The site was used as a ceremonial center, as well as a resting place for the Inca chasquis (Inca runners who delivered messages over long distances). Then onto Mollepata.

From Mollepata, continue driving on a dirt road until arriving at Challacancha, the start point of the trek where you also meet your horse handlers, horses and all your supplied camping gear. The climb begins towards Salcantaypampa, where you have lunch before continuing to Soroycocha at 4,200mts / 13780ft, which is the first campsite. From this height you have magnificent views of Apu Salcantay in the distance - a snow capped peak of 6271mts / 20575ft called, Guardian, Lord of Cusco.

Meal Plan Lunch and Dinner
Day 2

Soroycocha - Qollpapampa

After an early healthy breakfast, with a long day of trekking ahead, you will depart around 6:30 am, toward Collpapampa, but the first stage is downhill to the Salcantay Mountain pass at 4525mts / 14845ft. Offering wonderful views of the surrounding glaciers and the snow-capped mountains of the Vilcabamba Range, you come face to face with the south face of Salkantay towering above you.

Lunch is at the little village of Huayracmachay and then a further descent into a more tropical climate of the cloud forest. Along the route, you will see an original Inca Trail before coming joining the Salkantay River, arriving at the second camp at Qollpapampa (2890mts / 9480ft) with some natural hot springs to relax your tired muscles in.

Meal Plan Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Day 3

Qollpapampa - Lucmabamba

After breakfast, descend a narrow path toward the banks of the Cachora or Santa Teresa River. Today will offer a warmer and more humid climate, with this altitude also marking a noticeable change in the
flora and fauna: becoming more verdant and lush as you pass through wild plantations such as passion fruit and coffee. You then pass the waterfalls of Coripacchi for a quick swim and then onto the village of Winaypoko, where you will enjoy a delicious Lunch. In the afternoon you will continue close to the banks of the river and pass Sahuayaco, a small village of 20 families. Late afternoon you arrive at your campsite at Lucmabamba.

Meal Plan Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Day 4

Lucmabamba - Machu Picchu Pueblo - Aguas Calientes

After breakfast, you head toward La Playa village and cross the river before starting a 2 hour uphill climb where you arrive at the El Mirador (lookout) of Abra Q'elloqasa at 2860mts / 9383ft. From here you have an exceptional, and rare view, from a direction most never get the opportunity to enjoy, of the Lost City of the Incas, the legendary Machu Picchu. After the last trek based lunch, at the lookout point of Llaqtapata (2650mts / 9315ft) from where you can view both Machu Picchu and the Salkantay Mountain range you head into the Urubamba Valley.

The 2 hour descent towards the Urubamba River, crosses lush bamboo forests, orchards and coffee plantations and brings you to the hydroelectric plant of Machu Picchu from where you board a train that takes you to Puente Ruinas (a short, scenic 30-minutes ride), and Aguas Calientes. You are transferred to your hotel in Aguas Calientes.

Enjoy the towns many restaurants, bars, shopping opportunities as well as the famous hot springs where you can rest and soak some tired bones in anticipation of your visit to Machu Picchu the following day. Overnight in Aguas Calientes.

Meal Plan Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Duration1 Night

El Mapi by Inkaterra

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Location View map
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    El Mapi by Inkaterra

    El Mapi by Inkaterra is located right at the foot of the Inca ruins of Machu Picchu and just across from the train station for Cusco/Machu Picchu train. This is a very reasonably priced hotel for Machu Picchu with full amenities. While the ruins may …

    El Mapi by Inkaterra is located right at the foot of the Inca ruins of Machu Picchu and just across from the train station for Cusco/Machu Picchu train. This is a very reasonably priced hotel for Machu Picchu with full amenities. While the ruins may be ancient this hotel has all the modern comforts.


    • Bar(s)
    • Laundry/Dry Cleaning Service
    • Restaurant(s)
    • Room Service

    More Details

Day 5

Machu Picchu - Cusco

After an early breakfast you will take the first bus that travels to the ruins of Machu Picchu where your guide will take you on a comprehensive tour of the ruins. After the tour there is free time to explore the runs at your leisure, climb Wanya Picchu (must pre book) - the small peak in all the famous images of the ruins - walk to the Inca bridge or to the famous Sun gate above the ruins.

Early afternoon you will travel by bus back to Aguas Calientes to take the afternoon train back to Ollantaytambo, where a bus transfers takes you back to your hotel in the Sacred Valley or Cusco.

Meal Plan Breakfast and Lunch

Other Information


Shared departures depart Mondays, Wednesdays & Saturdays
Private departures are daily for a surcharge
Pricing reflects the shared departure


  • English speaking guide
  • Transfers
  • Horses and mules to carry gear
  • Tent
  • Meals as indicated in itinerary
  • Filtered and boiled water
  • Services in Vistadome train
  • Local train from Hydro to Machu Picchu Pueblo (Aguas Calientes)
  • Bus to Machu Picchu round trip
  • Entrance fee to Machu Picchu
  • Sleeping Bag

TO MACHU PICCHU: Local train from Hydro station to Machu Picchu Pueblo (Aguas Calientes), Bilingual guide (same guide as on the trek), Bus to Machu Picchu round trip, Entrance fee to Machu Picchu, one nights accommodation in Aguas Calientes; Hotel El Mapi (M), Inkaterra (F) or Sumaq (D).


  • Travel insurance
  • International and domestic airfare & airfare taxes
  • Visa fees if applicable
  • Meals and beverages not mentioned
  • Gratuities
  • Items of a personal nature


Prices are "from" per person based on twin/double share accommodation and for travel in low season. Seasonal surcharges and blackout dates may apply. Limited seat/spaces and all pricing is subject to change and availability. Rates for single or triple travellers are available on request - please inquire.


Because of excessive crowds the Peruvian government decided not only to limit daily access but also to impose strict Inca Trail Regulations. We understand how frustrating it is to not be able to get a permit because you didn't book 4 months in advance and there are no permits left.

The famous Salkantay Trek (or Salcantay Trek), named among the 25 best Treks in the World, by National Geographic Adventure Travel Magazine, is a trek open to everybody, with no limitation on spaces or permits (at least for now). Connecting the city of Mollepata, Cusco with Machu Picchu, the Salkantay Trek is an ancient and remote footpath located in the same region as the Inca Trail where massive snowcapped mountains collide with lush tropical rain forests.

Located less than fifty miles northwest of the city of Cusco in south central Peru by the Cordillera Vilcabamba and rising to 6271 meters above sea level (20574 ft) Mt. Salkantay is an outstanding glacier-capped summit worshipped for thousands of years by local indians. The name Salkantay is a quechua word meaning "Savage Mountain".

The Salkantay Trek is a custom-designed alternative to the traditional Inca Trail. Off the beaten path, this is a cutting edge experience for adventure travelers looking for a little more privacy and authenticity. With more spectacular vistas, the Salkantay to Machu Picchu Trek offers the solitude and quiet contemplation such a sacred path deserves.

24 Oct 2022
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