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The Salkantay Trail to Machu Picchu

Although Machu Picchu is the goal at the end of the trek, this route has so much along the way you will be surprised at how much the area has to offer besides the world-famous ruins. Hiking along the Salkantay Trail (Salcantay) to Machu Picchu, you will camp between snow-capped mountains, visit small towns nestled in the Andes and even have a chance to soak in medicinal hot springs. The hiking will get your blood pumping but the gorgeous views and the friendly people will definitely be enough to keep your mind busy.

Small Group Adventure 5 days

'From Price' is the average price per person for ground arrangements for two people sharing.

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The Andes are the longest continuous mountain chain in the world, running through seven countries in South America. Hidden in this magnificent mountain range is a vast collection of archaeological sites dating back to the ancient Inca empire and an abundance of flora and fauna. Within Peru, many people associate hiking in the Andes with the well known and well-trodden Inca trail. However, the Salkantay Trail offers a pretty impressive alternative trail to Machu Picchu. Voted by the National Geographic as one of the world’s most beautiful treks, the hike involves traversing the high pass of the Salcantay mountain and culminates in a visit of course to see Machu Picchu, the amazing Inca city only discovered in 1911.

Mother nature (or Pachamama, as the indigenous people of the Andes call her) is the real highlight of this trip as you walk in the shadow of Humantay, a snow covered mountain and beautiful little valleys called Checchicancha and Soraypampa - and that's just on day one! You will also hike past many different kinds of indigenous trees, plants and orchids and see how nature and humans coexist as you pass villages and farmers' corn and fruit fields. This is more than just seeing Inca ruins, this will give you a sense of how the communities in the Andes live - it is a living place after all. After days of tough hiking, you will be able to dip your weary body in the natural hot springs near Santa Teresa a welcome relief for your muscles! The final day of the trip starts off with watching the sun rise over Machu Picchu before enjoying a guided tour of the ancient city. Afterwards its back to Cusco with a smug feeling that not only have you achieved a great physical challenge and seen some magnificent ruins, but you’ve chosen to trek the path less trodden!


Trek day 1 : This trip starts early - at five in the morning. You have a drive of a few hours to the subtropical village of Mollepata, the journey here involves climbing steadily higher and higher up into the mountains. Once you reach Mollepata at 2803 meters (9180 feet) you can have a sit down with your group with an optional breakfast in a restaurant (cost not included). After a short drive you will reach Markocasa, where the hiking begins. You'll steadily trek along dirt tracks to start before crossing mountain streams and reaching Salcantaypampa where you will stop for lunch. After a short rest you will continue to climb towards Soroycocha, which at 4200 meters, nestled in the foothills of Salkantay, is where you will camp.

Trek day 2 : Today sees another very early start but will be well worth it. A hearty breakfast will help prepare you for a tough day with nearly 12 hours of walking. You'll spend the morning climbing higher up the side of Salkantay until you reach the milestone pass at 4525 meters (14850 feet). You'll spend some time here with your guide resting and taking photos of the surrounding glaciers. Its all downhill from here descending rapidly you'll notice the fast changing scenery around you. The snow and inhospitable terrain will be replaced by lush greenery and fauna. After a break for lunch you'll continue downhill into the "cloud forest" where the environment becomes much more tropical. Passing an ancient Inca path and the Salkantay river will bring you to Qollpapampa. At 2890 meters (9480 feet) here is where you will spend the night.

Trek day 3 : After breakfast you'll continue down a narrow trail towards the banks of Santa Teresa River. Today will be the warmest and most humid so far. Be sure to enjoy this part of the walk as you see a huge array of plant life from wild passion fruit trees to coffee bean plantations. Passing the stunning waterfalls of Coripacchi, the tiny settlement of Winaypoko is where you will stop for lunch. After a rest you'll spend the afternoon continuing to follow the river until you reach your campsite at Lucmabamba. Here you will the option to visit some enchanting natural hot springs in a nearby village.

Trek day 4 : Your last day of the trek, today will start challenging with a more relaxed afternoon. You'll be up quite early to climb to El Mirador but it will be rewarding as you'll catch your first glimpse of the lost city of the Incas. This is a view that only those doing your trek will witness. A break for lunch will ensure you are rested and ready for your final descent. You'll pass through the vast Hydroelectric plant at the bottom of Machu Picchu from where you board a train and take a scenic 30 minute journey to Aguas Calientes. A night of what will feel like luxury, you'll be staying in a boutique 3 star hotel and enjoying dinner in the restaurant with your group.

Trek day 5 : Your last early morning as you plan to see the sunrise over Machu Picchu! You will be happy you did, as that morning will stay with you forever. You will then have a two hour guided tour before having time to explore for yourself. You'll return to Cusco / Ollantaytambo by train and transfer back to your hotel.


Guide price is based on recommended accommodations. Alternative accommodations and upgrades are available. Please get in touch or click on 'alternatives' below for alternatives and upgrade options.

El Mapi

Machu Picchu & Inca Trail

Our rating


Price guide

Price rating 3

- Central location
- Panoramic windows in rooms
- Complimentary Pisco Sours


Getting there

Cusco is about a one hour flight from Peru's capital, Lima. Getting to Lima should be relatively easy from any other major world city.

Price includes

Included:Personal porters (7kg weight allowance) Porters to carry camping equipment, Portable toilets, Chef and supporting staff, all meals on the trek (except breakfast day 1), English speaking guide, filtered and boiled water, emergency first aid and oxygen, tents, all transport including buses and Expedition train ticket, all camping equipment including North Face tent (per 2 people), sleeping bag and Therm-a-rest inflatable mattress.

Excluded: Internation and Domestic flights, Breakfast on day 1 and lunch on day 5. Walking poles (these are recommended and can be rented locally), tips, pillows and alcoholic beverages.

When is best?

The high season on the trail is from April – September when the conditions are fairly dry and the weather generally sunny. June, July and August can see slightly colder night time temperatures so be sure to bring some layers.

Is it for me?

Known as "The Savage" if you want to participate on a trek that is guaranteed to push you physically, but at the same time gain an insight into an ancient people and culture, then this will be right up your street.
This is a more difficult than that standard Inca Trail and we recommend some regular exercise leading up to the trek.

You will be hiking at altitude, so it is recommended that you acclimatise for a couple of days before embarking on the trip.

The maximum group size is 16 people. The guide to walkers ration is 1 : 9. Don’t worry about being rushed along too fast, there will be plenty of time for comfort breaks and chances to admire the views along the way. The guide will always walk at the back with the last person in the group, so you really don’t need to be concerned about taking too long.

This trek is organized by a professional and licensed tour operator who has been operating in the region for many years. They know what they’re doing and treat their porters well, ensuring that they are well equipped and fairly paid. To read more about trekking to Machu Picchu, the alternatives and best times to trek read our guide to the Inca Trail.


For the latest travel advice from the Foreign and Commonwealth office check

What customers are saying after travelling with Tourdust

Average Rating

based on 493 reviews


  • The Salkantay trek was the highlight of our 2-week holiday. Incredible sceneray without the thronging crowds of the standard Inca Trail. Good physical challenge too. We were so well looked after by the guide and his team of cook, assistant and horsemen. Loved it!

    MissingHaibei Chen reviewing The Salkantay Trail to Machu Picchu on 12 May 2015

  • I cannot imagine a better guide than Odon. From the very first time we met, he has been funny, kind, supportive, very knowledgeable and a real pleasure to be with. The fact is I was not fit enough to do this like some of the other young fit people, but he made me feel welcome and cared for - a wonderful man and a wonderful experience. Apart from my shame at taking the horse, I have loved almost every minute of this trek and Odon has been the second best part of it - countryside came first :)

    MissingCharles reviewing The Salkantay Trail to Machu Picchu on 18 October 2010

  • The trip was amazing everything was better than we could have imagined.
    There was a moment climbing the mount Kenya where my wife accused me of tricking her into doing this (half kidding) as some of the nights got pretty cold, but we were dressed well and the sunrise at the peak was astonishing.
    Safari was spectacular, Ben who was our main guide and driver was awesome! We saw everything excepts rhinos which were more of a hope than a reality. We also were able to watch a rock python eat a Thompson gazel live. It was one of the most interesting and unsettling things I have ever seen.
    Just overall, so many moments that make you think wow or I can't believe I am here. Thank you for your help in getting everything set up. I don't believe I could have booked the trip without your help and guidance. It was an amazing way to start our marriage and truly the trip of a lifetime!

    MissingWilliam Kearns reviewing 11 Day Mount Kenya Trek and Masai Mara Safari Combined on 29 October 2018

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Alternative Itineraries

Our itineraries are carefully designed by our experienced travel designers based on years of experience and customer feedback. For a custom itinerary tailored to you, please enquire giving as much detail as possible on your brief.

Trek the Inca Trail in Peru. A four day guided hike to Machu Picchu through the Andes mountains with experienced guides

Small Group Adventure 4 days

Adults from $861 pp plus flights

'From Price' is the average per person price for ground arrangements for two people sharing.

Lares is an alternative moderate trek to the Inca Trail passing through remote & traditional villages in the beautiful Lares Valley.

Small Group Adventure 4 days

Adults from $1,378 pp plus flights

'From Price' is the average per person price for ground arrangements for two people sharing.

10 day Peru holiday including the Inca Trail, Cusco, The Sacred Valley and Lima.

Tailor-made Adventure 11 days

Adults from $1,448 pp plus flights

'From Price' is the average per person price for ground arrangements for two people sharing.

Flights are typically an additional $868 per person economy class from London


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