Machu Picchu trek: The Salkantay route

During intense online research of the Machu Picchu trek that combines better with your style, or after you realized there isn’t longer permits for the iconic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu because it is so touristy and has limited access, you discover this exciting route… however, you may still feel undecided to do it. Let yourself convince more about why this option and read on to the end:

Salkantay trek facts

Total distance approximately 45 miles/72 km
Common duration 5 days/4 nights
Difficulty level moderate to challenging
High season May – September (during the dry season)
Trek beginning usually in Mollepata village (3000m/9843ft)
Trek ends Aguas Calientes (2040m/6693ft)
The highest altitude Salkantay Pass (4600m/15092 ft)
The lowest altitude Hidroelectrica train station (1950 m/6398 ft)

machu picchu trek salkantay mountain

Practical information

  • Good acclimatization is necessary before starts the Machu Picchu trek. The most recommendable is to spend 2-3 days in Cusco and then, live a great adventure!
  • Stay hydrated, try to drink enough water during the Machu Picchu trek, but don’t overfill yourself at once. Note that the hiking staff provides boiled cold water, so you don’t need to carry bottles of it. It might be a good idea to bring water purification tablets.
  • The scenery is awe-inspiring, you go from the cold heights traversing past the skirts of the snow-capped mountains of Humantay (5217m/17116ft) and Salkantay (6271m/20569ft), the turquoise waters of Lake Humantay (4220m/13845ft)… a fantastic vision, until the tropical climate and a beautiful ecosystem that are enjoyed in the villages of La Playa (2100m/6890f) and Lucmabamba (2000m/6561ft) and where you can appreciate the diversity of plants (orchids, bromeliads, and more), as well as plantations of fruits, coffee, and cacao. It’s a truly thrilling trek!

machu picchu trek humantay lake

  • On day 1 and 2, the trail leads you to the higher altitudes where you will really experience an arduous hike, so whenever you feel exhausted, stop for a few minutes, drink water, rest, breath, and continue with the adventure. It would be excellent if you bring hiking poles, they are very useful.
  • On day 3, the lower altitude and villages on the way…charming landscape.
  • On day 4, the Machu Picchu trek continues through an ancient Inca road to the rediscovered Llactapata ruins and a singular view of Machu Picchu is admired. Then, you go downhill to Hidroelectrica train station to arrive in Aguas Calientes where you spend the night and prepare for the next day. Any of the Machu Picchu facts read in journals, online or heard from other people, will help you a lot with your marvelous excursion.

machu picchu trek aguas calientes

  • On day 5, your dream comes true, after you were looking for many trips to Machu Picchu, you finally are there. Immerse in the magic of this place and if you still have energy after the hike, dare for climbing Machu Picchu and get the best pictures of the Sanctuary.

machu picchu trek lost city of incas

Best time to come and hiking in Peru

This Machu Picchu trek is year-round available. However, most travel agencies don’t operate it in February because of heavy rains. Cusco has only two seasons: the rainy season, which runs from November to March, has warmer days, but trails become slippery and too difficult to traverse. And the dry season from April to October which is considered the best, it has a nice blue sky. Anyway, in this season you can experience mornings warm, but nights cold, especially in June and July.

Something essential to mention is the high season, especially for this hike, which is from May to September. If you want to avoid crowds, it will work fine the months of April, even from mid-September to October.

machu picchu trek

How to book a Salkantay trek?

For booking a Machu Picchu trek, you need to contact legal travel agencies, checking before some comments on TripAdvisor. Even better if it is through a recommendation of friends or family. If you notice the company is trustworthy, start making your reservation. In Cusco, there are many tour operators, most of them offer overnights camping and the 4th day, hotel in Aguas Calientes. The other part offers deluxe lodges or glamorous campings including massages each night.  The decision is yours. If you have doubts, ask the travel agency experts. Once you feel ready to confirm this hike, the experts will tell you the next step.

What to take with you for this incredible adventure?

  • Documents:
    • Current passport or ID (mandatory)
    • Travel insurance
  • Garments & Footwear:
    • Long-sleeve shirts and t-shirts
    • Hiking pants and shorts
    • Mid-weight fleece sweater
    • Fleece pants or tights
    • Underwear and casual socks
    • Hiking socks
    • Tennis shoes or similar
    • Hiking boots (waterproof and lightweight)
    • Swimsuit and sandals (there are hot springs in La Playa & Aguas Calientes)
    • Cap and fleece hat
    • Bandana
    • Fleece gloves
    • Waterproof jacket/rain poncho
  • Accessories:
    • Camelbak bottle
    • Flashlight
    • Sunglasses
    • Sunblock and lip balm.
    • Insect repellent
    • Camera
    • Toiletry kit
    • Personal first-aid kit
  • Extra money for:
    • Artisan crafts or souvenirs
    • Tip

Peru has many wonders waiting for you to be discovered. Here in Cusco Peru Travel, our speciality is to make your trip an outstanding experience, fill-in this form and let your tailor-made luxury Peru vacation begin.

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