six day trek takes you on a much less traveled path around the sacred Salkantay mountain (6.271m/20569ft), one of the highest and most stunning in the Peruvian Andes, passing through Quechua speaking communities and lesser-known Inca ruins, to finally join the 4-day Classic or Traditional Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. This trek combines the best of both worlds – stunning high mountain trekking and also the ruins of the Classic or Traditional Inca Trail
Highlights: Hiking alongside the magnificent Apu Salkantay, the varied and amazing ruins along the Inca Trail, arriving at Machu Picchu via the Sungate
Location: The Salkantay & Inca Trail trek begins 3 hours drive west of Cusco, from Soraypampa, above the village of Mollepata. It joins the Classic Inca Trail at Wayllabamba.
Level: Overall moderate-difficult. First two days are difficult with high 4850m pass, rest of trek is moderate (Classic Inca Trail)
Inca Trail alternative: this trek includes the Inca Trail but is a very special alternative.
Inca Trail Permits: Yes, required for the THIRD day of the trek. 500 permits are issued daily. In the peak season the trail is booked months in advance.
Departure Dates: any day with two people. We offer affordably priced tours for 2 people so that you can depart when it suits you best.
Day 1: Cusco – Soraypampa – Ichupata 12km approx.
We will collect you early in the morning from your hotel and take private transport to the village of Mollepata (2.5 hours) where we will have breakfast (not included) and have a look around the village. This is the traditional starting point for the Salkantay trek. We also suggest if you want to buy last minute supplies you do so in Mollepata, thus supporting the local economy. We continue in our vehicle for 1.5 hours to Soraypampa (3800m/12464ft). Here you will have have magnificent views of Nevado Humantay (5917m) and it is also our lunch spot. To hike from Soray to the camp of Ichupata in the upper valley requires about two and a half hours. This campsite is extremely cold, year round, and you should be prepared for below freezing temperatures. Also, as this is a high campsite you should have acclimatised for at least 3 days before departing on this trek. (L / D)
Day 2: Ichupata – Pampacahuana. 14 km. Approx.
Alter a cold night, we continue our hike to start the 3-4-hour steep climb towards the Incachiriasca pass (4850m/15908ft), the highest of the entire route, offering impressive views of the Salkantay snow peak. After a celebratory rest on the pass we will then descend towards our lunch spot at Sisaypampa, a flat area from which one can observe the Salkantay’s neighboring valleys (it is possible that you will see condors in this area). After lunch we continue towards the Pampacahuana community, located next to an original Inca canal, where we set our second camp and spend the night. (B / L / D)
Day 3: Pampacahuana – Ayapata. 12 km. Approx.
In the morning you will see that the valley begins to narrow and the river becomes a canal. The Incas frequently cut canals through valleys to increase the agricultural land. From Pampachuana it’s a 3 hour hike down the narrow, steep valley to the Inca fortress of Inkaracay (also known as Paucarcancha). This is a site well worth exploring and little known to the vast majority of visitors to Peru. It’s about another ½ to 1 hour’s walk down to the small village of Wayllabamba which is the point that we join the traditional Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. As mules are not allowed on the traditional Inca Trail, at this point we say goodbye to our mules and muleteers and welcome our porters who will accompany us for the next few days
In the afternoon, we leave Wayllabamba behind to start our way up the Warmihuañusca mountain pass (Dead Woman’s pass) through an abrupt and steep ascent that stretches for 9 km. We only climb part way up the pass, stopping at Ayapata, where we camp and spend the night. (also known as Yuncachimpa) (B / L / D)
Day 4: Ayapata to Chaquicocha
Today we continue our trek up to the highest point in the Inca Trail (but not on this trek), reaching the mountain pass of Abra Warmihuañusca (4200m/13776ft) after about 2 hours. Immediately after the pass, we descend into the Pacaymayo valley (3600m/11808ft), from which we then continue to climb to the second pass, the Abra Runkurakay (3970m/13022ft), stopping halfway to visit the very impressive archaeological complex Runkurakay. This site, located at 3800m/12464ft, consists of a small oval structure that is believed to have served the purpose of a watchtower. After going over the pass, we descend towards Yanacocha (Black Lagoon) and enter the cloud forest to finally arrive at Sayacmarca (3624m/11887ft). This is a beautiful complex made up of a semicircular construction. Only 20 minutes away is Chaquicocha, 3400m (“dry lake” in Quechua), where we will camp. (B / L / D)
Day 5: Chaquicocha to Wiñay Wayna
After breakfast we have an easy climb, to arrive at the third pass, the Abra de Phuyupatamarca (3700m/12136ft). Phuyupatamarca is one of the most complete and best-preserved archaeological complexes along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, and is located on the highest point of a mountain. Curiously, Phyupatamarca means ¨town over the clouds¨. From here we also have impressive views of the Urubamba River valley. We descend to Wiñay Wayna (2650m/8692ft). At this campsite we will find a lodge with a restaurant, bar and bathrooms with hot showers. The campsite has the same name as the complex located only five minutes away from the lodge. Wiñay Wayna is an impressive complex made up of an agricultural center with numerous terraces, a religious sector and an urban sector – even if you are tired and enjoying the relative luxury of this campsite, don’t miss this archaelogical complex! (B / L / D)
Day 6: Wiñay Wayna – Machu Picchu – Cusco
On this last day we get up at 4.00 am to leave Wiñay Wayna at approx. 5am and climb to the Intipunku, or the Sun Gate. This will take an hour of hiking along a trail of flat stones on the edges of cliffs in highland jungle. From this fabulous spot, we may see the sunrise over Machu Picchu. From Intipunku we descend into Machu Picchu, and 40 minutes later we enter this famous city. We then descend to the control point where we register ourselves and leave our backpacks. We immediately begin a complete guided tour Machu Picchu that will take approximately two hours.
After your tour you can further explore the ruins by yourself or climb Huayna Picchu for that classic photo of Machu Picchu. We also recommend that you try to fit in a visit to the Temple of the Moon or Uyna Huayna Picchu while visiting Huayna Picchu.
* People who want to visit Huayna Picchu must let us know as soon as they can, because according to new rules, there is a limit of people (400) per day that can climb it.
If you don’t get to do Huayna Picchu, other options are:
– Inca Bridge
– Machu Picchu mountain
We highly recommend walking down from Machu Picchu to get a feeling for the vegetation and also the audacity of its builders. Its a 1.5 hour walk back to the village of Aguas Calientes. We return to Cusco in the afternoon by the backpacker train and are met by a driver at Ollantaytambo who will transfer you directly back to your hotel. You will arrive in Cusco approximately 4 hours after your train’s departure from Aguas Calientes. (B / L)
Pre trek briefing
Collection from your hotel the morning of trek departure
Transport from Cusco to the trailhead
Inca Trail Permit (includes entry to Machu Picchu, but not to Huayna Picchu)
English/Quechua/Spanish speaking professional guide (Assistant guide for groups over 6 people)
Tents – 2 people in a 4 person tent which allows for greater comfort, and also storage of backpacks.
Basic foam mattress. If you prefer greater comfort during the trek we can rent you an inflatable mattress (eg. Thermarest)
Cook and Cooking equipment (Assistants are provided for larger groups)
Meals as indicated in the itinerary (vegetarian / sepcial diets catered to on request). Our professional cooks prepare meals that incorporate elements of the western diet and also traditional Peruvian delicacies. (Please communicate with your guide/cook during the trek if you have a preference for certain types of dishes). Salads, if served, are washed in boiled water.
Porters & Mules (for equipment and personal items) They carry camping equipment, food and kitchen utensils. We provide duffel bags at your briefing for your personal items (up to 7 kg per person). If you wish to take more, you can hire an extra mule or porter.
1 emergency horse which can be ridden if you are feeling ill or if are a little slower ONLY for first 2 days
Dining tent with camp tables and chairs & kitchen tent for the cook to prepare meals
Tents for our staff to sleep in
First aid kit including emergency oxygen bottle
Bus down from Aguas Calientes – Machu Picchu
Train ticket (Expedition service) from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo
Private transport from Ollantaytambo to Cusco
Lunch on the last day is included in this itinerary
What is not included?
Breakfast on the first morning
Entrance to the hot springs
Entry to Huayna Picchu
Entry to Machu Picchu mounatin
Tips for the guide, cook and porters
We recommend you bring:
Original passport (and *International Student card (ISIC) if applicable)
Travel Insurance is essential
Sleeping bag (not included but can be hired from us)
Waterproof jacket/rain poncho
Hat and gloves
Sun protection cream (factor 35 recommended)
Water (only for the first 4 hours of the trek)
Camera and films
Torch with spare batteries (headlamps are useful)
*To qualify as a student, it is necessary to have a valid ISIC card
Optional items to bring:
Walking stick (with rubber tip)
Plasters and bandages
Bathing suit (for hot springs in Aguas Calientes)
Considering an extra night in Aguas Calientes? We can change the date of your train ticket to the following day. Hotel and other costs associated with returning to Machu Picchu the following day are additional to trek costs. Please also note that your entry ticket to Machu Picchu is valid for one day only, if you wish to visit the ruins on a second consecutive day you will need to purchase another ticket.
Aguas Calientes Extra Day Upgrade Package (optional)
With hikes that trek the traditional Inca Trail, the standard package has clients returning to Cusco at the end of the trek, and they don’t spend a night in Aguas Calientes. This package provides clients the opportunity to stay in Aguas Calientes for an extra night, visit Machu Picchu for a second day and then return to Cusco by the comfortable Vistadome train.
Cost: $195 per person on twin share basis. This price doesn’t change depending on the number of people in the group.
Second day’s entry to Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu, valued at $70
Bus up and down to ruins on extra day, valued at $24
1 night in a 3 star hotel, like Killa Inn Plaza Andina. These are nice hotels, well decorated, and clean.
With limited eating choices at Machu Picchu hunger tends to send clients to Aguas Calientes; by including the buffet lunch we find that clients can visit Machu Picchu early, then go to the buffet to try lots of different Peruvian (and Western) dishes, rest and go back for a second look at Machu Picchu.
Return in Vistadome train rather than Expedition train, which gives you the opportunity for a more varied timetable and to return in a nicer train, with big windows in the roof.
** Please contact us for a price for the same package but with 2 star accomodation and return in Expedition Train service **
1 people US$1870 per person
2 people US$1200 per person
3 people US$1150 per person
4 people US$1100 per person
5 people US$1050 per person
6 people US$950 per person
7+ people US$900 per person
STUDENT DISCOUNT: $35 off per personStudent Discounts apply to anyone who has a valid GREEN ISIC card at the time of the trek or is 16 years old or younger. For those using an ISIC card to receive the discount, we do need to see a copy of the card at booking. For those booking children 16 years old or younger, we need a copy of their passport at booking time. Please send all to firstname.lastname@example.org
Under 15 years will pay as student: US$35.00
Under 7 years Discount: US$50.00
ADDITIONAL ITEMS:As you see in our Additional Items under Trip Overview, there are several optional upgrades you can include in this trip. Below is a quick list of prices, but check our Overview section for more details.
Huaynapicchu: $75 per person
Vistadome Train (One Way): $70 per person
Vistadome Train (One Way): $80 per person
Sacred Valley Tour:
City Tour: $
Maras Moray Tour: