Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu
A route less travelled into the heart of Inca country
From the 15,091-ft / 4600‑m Salkantay Pass you can literally touch the slopes of the immense, wildly glaciated 20,574-foot / 6271-meter Salkantay. As you travel on your way to Machu Picchu on this trek you’ll get away from the crowds, walk over high mountain passes, through lush jungles, and along the raging waters of the Rio Santa Teresa. The Salkantay Trek combines a visit to the interesting city of Cusco, the beauty of the Sacred Valley, your own personally roasted organic coffee in Lucmabamba on the last day of the trek, and a “road less traveled” trail to Machu Picchu.
This is a real perk, as in percolating, in that you’ll pick organically grown coffee beans and go through the whole process of roasting them and then brewing them on the spot, the fresh aroma filling the air at the Lucmabamba farm where you spend the last night on the trek. Whatever way anyone gets to Machu Picchu, there’s nothing quite as unique as starting the last day of the trek with the freshest coffee imaginable.
There’s nothing culturally lacking in the town of Cusco, where your journey begins. Cusco, the former capital city of the Inca Empire, where narrow cobblestone streets, Inca stonework, and colonial Spanish buildings, offer visitors some of the most interesting archeological treasures found in South America, serves up not only ancient culture, but amazing food and accommodations. From your base in Cusco you’ll begin to learn about the Inca Empire with a city tour and exploring some nearby ruins. After studying the interesting architecture of Cusco, our explorations continue through Andean villages and into the Sacred Valley with its important Inca ruins.
And then it’s off to the trek. Leaving the busy town of Cusco you’ll begin to enjoy more solitude as you begin the trek and eventually climb to and cross the 15,091-foot / 4600-meter. Salkantay Pass, which gets you breathtakingly close to the towering peaks of the Cordillera Vilcabamba range. From the pass the trail descends into the Santa Teresa Valley, passing small farms and villages, eventually reaching the Urubamba River. There are numerous archaeological sites along the way. A short but very scenic train ride takes us to the town of Aguas Calientes to spend the night before rising early the next morning for Machu Picchu.This trek, and the Santa Teresa Valley, is richly described in the NY Times best-seller, “Turn Right at Machu Picchu” by author Mark Adams — take a read of this and you’ll be ready to pack your bags.
What to expect:
- Porter supported trekking — you carry only your personal belongings
- Your tent set-up and ready to go for you when you arrive in camp
- Hiking 4 – 8 hours a day, with elevations from 4,500 ‑15,091 feet / 1372 — 4600 meters
- Most of the uphill walking is on the first 2 days. After that it is mostly downhill
- Walking 4 – 8 miles a day to cover a total of about 30 miles
UNESCO Sites to Discover
United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization Sites:
City of Cusco
You spent the morning ambling along narrow cobblestone streets that wind past Spanish colonial buildings and the massive walls that support them, walls that were pieced together by Inca stonemasons over 600 years ago. Now, fortified with two hot-off-the-cart churros (OK, three — who’s counting?), you’re gazing at the world’s navel. The Incans esteemed Cusco so highly that they believed it to be the navel of the world, and at its center they built sacred temples around what is today Plaza de Armas, Cusco’s main square. From the plaza, so many options for the next move…. Cathedral? Sacred Inca temple site? Chocolate museum? All three? No one’s counting! Multi-layered, culture-packed Cusco has something for everyone.
A World Heritage site, Cusco was once the capital of the Inca Empire and is considered the oldest continuously occupied city in the Americas. Highlights include the Cusco cathedral, which has the best collection of colonial art in Peru and the Qoricancha, or Temple of the Sun. This temple was the most sacred space in Inca Cusco; its walls and floors were once covered in sheets of gold. Spanish conquistadors removed the gold in the 16thcentury and Dominicans later built the Church of Santo Domingo on top of the Qoricancha. You’ll also visit Sacsayhuaman, an Inca fortress in the hills overlooking the city. Many of the huge stones used to build Sacsayhuaman’s formidable walls weigh several dozen tons and were placed without the use of wheels, steel, or iron, all the while blending in with the surrounding landscape. We invite you to tap into the power and harmony of this site, and absorb the mysterious perfection that is Inca architecture.
You woke before dawn for this: Your first view of Machu Picchu. There it is, awash in the early morning light, more beautiful and inspiring than any photo could convey. You’re taking it all in from the Sun Gate, the dramatic entrance first used by the Incas themselves. It’s no wonder why World Heritage site Machu Picchu sits at the top of so many bucket lists!
Treasured for its beauty, dramatic location, remarkable state of preservation, and maybe most of all, for its mysteries, Machu Picchu was built by the Inca over 500 years ago. To this day, the stones of its mortar-less walls fit together so tightly that its cracks can’t be penetrated by a knife blade. The site’s hundreds of landscaped terraces were well-suited for agriculture and served as part of an intricate water-distribution system that both conserved water and limited erosion on the steep slopes. In the early 16thcentury, the Inca left Machu Picchu for reasons unknown to this day. While indigenous peoples knew of the site even after it was abandoned, Peru’s Spanish conquerors never did — a fact which aided in Machu Picchu’s preservation through the centuries. In 1911, U.S. explorer Hiram Bingham climbed to the site’s high ridge and became the first westerner to lay eyes on the “lost city” of Machu Picchu.
But what was the ultimate purpose of Machu Picchu and why did the Inca build its collection of temples, terraces, and plazas? It may have been a ceremonial site, a military stronghold, or a royal retreat — or maybe something entirely different. How the Inca accomplished their extraordinary feats of engineering, exactly how they used the site, and why they abandoned it are all questions you can mull over while you explore the site yourself!
Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu
$3,995 – 10 Days / Includes travel time
- Guide(s) and staff
- Park and museum entrance fees
- $350 non-refundable permit fee upon reservation
- Three scheduled hotel nights in Costa del Sol (double occupancy)
- Scheduled restaurant meals
- All food while on the trek
- All group gear including tents, cooking gear
- All support staff including porters and pack animals
- Airport transfers to and from Cusco International Airport
Price Does Not Include
- International airfare
- Ascent of Wayna Picchu (can be arranged for a small additional fee)
- Personal equipment and clothing
- Personal expenses (phone calls, laundry, room service, extra hotel nights, extra meals, etc.)
- Personal porter
- Dinner Day 3, 7 & 8
- Alcoholic and bottled beverages
- Travel insurance with trip cancellation, medical and evacuation policy
- All expenses associated with non-scheduled departure
- Guide/Staff gratuities
- $700 deposit at time of registration, which includes a $300 non-refundable registration fee
- Balance due 120 days prior to departure
- The balance may be paid by check, wire transfer, ACH or credit card with a 3% convenience fee
Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu 2021
- Aug 7, 2021 — Aug 16, 2021
- Sep 4, 2021 — Sep 13, 2021
- Sep 18, 2021 — Sep 27, 2021
Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu 2022
- May 20, 2022 — May 29, 2022
- Jun 3, 2022 — Jun 12, 2022
- Jul 2, 2022 — Jul 11, 2022
- Sep 3, 2022 — Sep 12, 2022
- Sep 17, 2022 — Sep 26, 2022
Custom Dates Available — Contact Us
Cancellation / Refund Policy
- MMI strongly recommends trip cancellation/interruption and evacuation insurance for all trips. Our insurance partner, Ripcord, offers comprehensive travel insurance including trip cancellation, as well as rescue/evacuation policies and can assist in answering any questions. In addition, Participant is expected to have sufficient medical insurance as prescribed by their country of origin. Participant understands that MMI does not include any type of insurance with the cost of the trip.
- If you decide to cancel your trip or change your itinerary, MMI must be notified in writing. Your trip will be cancelled from the date written notice is received. If proper written cancellation notice is not received, amounts paid and reservations made will be forfeited.
- Non-refundable fees may apply for certain trips in order to secure permits and other services. MMI must strictly adhere to cancellation policies outside MMI’s control.
- Due to the personalized service we offer on our trips, MMI reserves the right to waive any fees. We will attempt to accommodate changes and cancellations, waiving certain fees when feasible.
- Circumstances outside the control of MMI and its partners, may require amended cancellation/refund policies. Such circumstances may include, but are not limited to COVID-19, natural disasters, terrorism and so forth.
- Full refund, less the non-refundable registration fee, will be provided 121 days or more before the departure date
- No refunds will be provided 120 days or less before the departure date
We strongly recommend the purchase of travel cancellation insurance to protect you from the unexpected. You aren’t likely to think of it now, but people do get ill, break a bone, have a family emergency or get assigned to a last-minute business trip. If you are in remote areas, please note that emergency rescue & evacuation can be very expensive.
We also strongly urge you to consider rescue and evacuation insurance if your own policy does not provide the coverage needed. Services available may include, but are not limited to, helicopter evacuation, medical care, etc.
If you choose not to purchase insurance, you assume full responsibility for any expenses incurred in the event of a medical emergency and/or evacuation, as well as for trip cancellation, interruption, lost luggage, etc. We are not the experts and therefore ask that you please consult our travel insurance partner directly with any specific questions.
To protect against losses due to illness, accident, or other unforeseen circumstances, Mountain Madness strongly recommends the purchase of travel insurance as soon as possible after making a deposit. Mountain Madness has partnered with Redpoint Resolutions as our preferred travel insurance provider. Redpoint’s Ripcord Rescue Travel Insurance™ is designed for adventurers.
For a quote, or to purchase travel insurance, please click this link Ripcord Rescue Travel Insurance™ or call +1 – 415-481‑0600. Pricing varies based on age, trip cost, trip length, and level of coverage.
Critical benefits of Ripcord Rescue Travel Insurance include:
- A completely integrated program with a single point of contact for emergency services, travel assistance, and insurance claims
- Evacuation and rescue services from your point of injury or illness to your hospital of choice
- Comprehensive travel insurance for trip cancellation/interruption, primary medical expense coverage, baggage loss or delay, emergency accident and emergency sickness medical expense, emergency dental, accidental death and dismemberment, and more
- Optional security evacuation coverage in case of an unplanned natural disaster or other security events
- Waiver for pre-existing conditions (must be purchased within 14 days of tour deposit)
- Optional “Cancel for Any Reason” coverage (must be purchased within 14 days of tour deposit)
The total number of days for your trip includes all travel to and from your destination, with some exceptions. For this trip you will need to arrive in Lima either one Day 1 of the itinerary and overnight in Lima; alternatively, you can arrive early morning on Day 2, no later than 10:00 am early morning on Day 2 you will need to arrange a flight to Cusco from Lima; typically your flight from Lima to Cusco will be between 6 – 10 am the morning of Day 2.
Your return flight home will be the second to last day on the dates and prices page. The trip itinerary is based on the assumption that this will be an overnight flight home departing from Lima, Peru in the late evening sometime after 8 pm. It may be possible for you to enjoy Lima’s fine museums before your flight home in the evening if you depart from Cusco in the early morning.
Please contact our office for any help needed with your flight schedule.
Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu Day by Day
Elevation: 10,909 ft / 3,325 m
Depart home and fly to Lima, Peru. Flights from North America usually arrive late night or very early morning. Take early morning flight to Cusco.
Elevation: 10,909 ft / 3325 m
A Mountain Madness representative will pick you up at the airport and transfer you to the hotel. Most flights arrive in early morning so you will have some time to shop for local Quechuan Indian handicrafts and getting familiar with Cusco’s fine restaurants, cobblestone streets, and relaxing courtyards. In the afternoon we will tour the city, visiting old cathedrals and Inca temples, and explore the famous Sacsayhuaman ruins.
Sacred Valley / Cusco
Elevation: 10,909 ft / 3325 m
Today we will visit the beautiful Vilcanota/Urubamba River Valley, also known as the Sacred Valley. Our explorations will take us through Andean villages, local markets and the very important ruins of Pisac and/or Ollantaytambo. Return to Cusco for overnight. Many great options for dinner.
Elevation: 12,631 ft / 3850 m
Drive to the village of Mollepata, (9,350 ft / 2,850 m). Trailhead is 11,000 feet / 3353 meters and we will meet our trekking staff and the pack horses. Hike through beautiful valley, ascending slowly to campsite at Soraypampa, (12,631 ft / 3850 m). Views of Humantay and Salkantay Peaks.
Elevation: 10,000 ft / 3048 m
Following early breakfast hike uphill for several hours to reach the high point of trek, Apacheta Pass at 15,091 feet / 4600 meters. Incredible views of Mount Salkantay, Humantay and Huayanay. Hike downhill 2+ hours to campsite at Collpapampa, approximately 10,000 feet / 3048 meters. This is the longest hiking day or the trip, approx. 8 hours of hiking.
Elevation: 4,500 ft /1372 m
Walking from our camp at the village of Collpapamba you pass the farms of the villagers and pleasant terrain of the high jungle zone. Many species of birds, fruit, flowers as well as crops of coca and bananas. Many waterfalls along the way. Campsite at village of Santa Teresa, 4,500 feet /1372 meters.
Elevation: 6,693 ft / 2040 m
Hike about 4 hours to eventually catch local train to town of Aguas Calientes. Interesting hike with views of beautiful Santa Teresa valley. Ride the train (30 minutes) to Aguas Calientes and spend the night in our hotel.
Machu Picchu / Cusco
Elevation: 10,909 ft / 3,325 m
Early wake up and breakfast so you can get to Machu Picchu at daybreak. Two hour guided tour. After the tour you have several hours on your own to enjoy the incredible ruins of Machu Picchu. Afternoon bus to Aguas Calientes and catch the train to Ollantaytambo where you will be picked up for the ride back to Cusco. Evening at hotel.
Lima / Fly Home
Elevation: Sea level
Today you will fly back to Lima where you will be free to explore the city before catching your night flight home. Arrive home on Day 9.
Note on Itinerary: Although we do our very best to follow the schedule listed, this itinerary is subject to change due to inclement weather, unsafe route conditions, or other reasons beyond our control and in the guide’s best judgement.
Equipment for Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu
Day pack (30-45L)
With padded shoulder straps and waist belt; used for carrying personal gear such as water bottle, extra clothing, snacks, camera, etc. Individual loads will be between 10 and 20 pounds. A climbing pack with a volume between 1800-2500 cu. in. (30-45 liters) serves most people’s needs well
Large duffel bag (22Lbs Max)
Your mountain gear will be kept in it and the entire duffel will go into the group mountain bag that will be carried by the porters. Limit loads to items on the equipment list. Your large duffel cannot exceed 22 lbs (10 kg) Approximate size: 28”x16”x16” No wheels or hard sides, please
Patagonia Black Hole
Small padlock for duffel bags
Makes identifying your bags easy at airports or hotels
Expedition quality sleeping bag (15-20F)
One down or synthetic bag rated from 15-20°F /-9 to -7°C
Marmot Helium, Marmot Trestles, Western Mountaineering Apache, North Face Guide 20
Sleeping pad (inflatable)
Full length inflatable. When sleeping on snow make sure to purchase pad rated to do so
Adjustable trekking poles
Three piece poles recommended
Black Diamond Trail Back Pole
Head and Face
Fleece or wool hat
It must cover the ears
Shade hat or baseball cap
A visor hat with a good brim is essential for protection from the sun
Mountain Madness trucker hat
Bandanas or neck gaiter
Various uses, i.e. cleaning glasses, sun protection when tied around the neck, etc. We have our own Mountain Madness neck gaiter available for purchase!
Mountain Madness neck gaiter
Sunglasses or Glacier glasses (w/hard case)
Essential eye protection whether in the tropics, at high altitudes or by the water. Sun glare off the snow can be intense so polarized 100% UVA/UVB glasses work best. Consider bringing a spare pair
Lightweight gloves to use while trekking and hanging around camp
A shell system of a fleece liner and waterproof shell that handles cold
Outdoor Research Arete
Thin socks (2 pair)
Two pairs of synthetic or wool socks to wear under heavy wool socks to help prevent blisters and keep feet dry
Smartwool or Cool Max
Thick socks (3 pair)
Three pairs of synthetic or wool socks, medium to heavyweight. Check boot fit with thin and thick socks on
Smartwool or Thorlo
One pair of gaiters made of breathable material; keeps dirt and snow out of boots. Make sure they fit over your boots
Outdoor Research Verglas or Crocodiles
One pair light to medium-weight hiking/backpacking boots, waterproof, large enough to be comfortable with one thin and one thick sock
Salomon Quest 4D
Tennis shoes or sandals
Lightweight to wear in camp after a long day of hiking
Two synthetic or merino wool t-shirts. No cotton!
Long-sleeved Base Layer
Two lightweight to mediumweight, pull-over is best
Two, synthetic, no cotton!
Softshell Jacket w/ hood
This is what you will be wearing while hiking at higher altitudes or while kicking around camps at lower altitude. This jacket should be full-zip
Outdoor Research Ferrosi
Hardshell jacket w/ hood
A good jacket made of Gore-Tex (recommended) or waterproof nylon, roomy enough to fit over multiple layers
Outdoor Research Foray, Patagonia Triolet
Down or synthetic jacket w/hood
This is your most important piece of warm gear and will mean the difference between an enjoyable climb or a miserable one. A warm, full zip jacket with hood is recommended and ideal
Helly Hansen Vanir, Feathered Friends Volant, Marmot Guide’s Down Hoody, Outdoor Research Virtuoso Hoody
Sun hoody (optional)
This piece with a high SPF rating and lightweight fabric offers protection from high altitude sun
Adequate supply for the entire climb
Bathing suit (optional)
lightweight and packable
One pair of quick-drying shorts. Good for hiking at lower elevations on the mountain
Long base layer
Two pairs light or mediumweight
Softshell pants are water resistant, yet highly breathable and durable. Great for colder conditions over a pair of long underwear or tights higher on the mountain or summit day
Outdoor Research Voodoo, Mountain Hardwear Touren, Patagonia Guide
waterproof and breathable with side zips (minimum of ¾ zips recommended) Gore-Tex or equivalent
Outdoor Research Furio, Arcteryx Beta AR
Stuff sacks/ditty bags/plastic bags
To organize gear in your duffle and pack. All clothing should be kept dry using waterproof stuff sacks or large heavyweight plastic bags (trash compactor bags work great)
Toothbrush and paste, comb, tampons, biodegradable soap (small amount), etc. Bring enough for the entire trip
1 – 2 rolls stored in a plastic bag
Bring plenty of sun block with SPF of 40 or more. It's easy to underestimate the amount necessary for your trip!
Must have SPF rating of 20 or more. Bring two just in case!
To block out snoring and other noise to ensure a good night's sleep
Water Bottles/Water System (Trekking)
Two one-liter, wide-mouthed plastic bottles. If you use a collapsible water bottle or hydration system you are welcome to bring it along for drinking water. However, bring at least one hard plastic bottle.
Steri Pen, Potable Aqua, Polar Pure crystal iodine. Purifies drinking water while on the climb. this will only be necessary as a back-up.
Powdered additives like Gatorade or NUUN tablets make treated water taste better
Bring extra batteries!
Pocket knife or multitool
Simple Swiss Army type with scissors. Make sure you transport in checked bag, not carry-on!
Personal first aid and drug kit
See Health and Medical Information
Pepto Bismol tablets; Maalox, Gelusil M or Mylanta antacid tablets. Donnatal for stomach cramps. Probiotic capsules taken daily may help keep your gastro-intestinal system working smoothly
For wash up in camp
Spare contacts and glasses
Contacts can be a problem in dusty conditions, so make sure you have your back-up glasses with you. Glasses wearers should have a spare set
Protection from rain and sun; compact and light weight
Trail snacks are important, and an assortment of candy bars are available at teahouses along the way. Bring some power/energy bars or if there is something else you particularly like to eat while hiking. You will be fed well throughout the trek, so this is just something extra
A poncho is great for lower down on the mountain when it is raining. Rather than having to wear your hard-shell jacket and overheat, just throw the poncho over yourself and your pack and you will stay dry as a bone
A small pack or two anti-bacterial are great for general hygiene
Spare bottle for a pee bottle, and a pee funnel (Lady J or Freshette) for women
It can be a cold walk to the toilet at night
Phone with camera, and/or separate camera. Bring extra batteries and memory!
If you want to charge your electronics along the way, a small, lightweight solar panel to charge batteries or portable charging device may be a good addition
Travel power adapter
Most come in kits with all the plugs you need. Double-check to make sure you’re taking the correct adapter/plugs
Comfortable clothing for travel before and after the expedition
Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu
10 Days / Includes travel time
15,091 ft / 4600 m
Trekking involves 5-8 hours per day with large elevation gains of 1,000-2,000+ feet / 305-610+ meters per day. Multiple days of this level of trekking will occur throughout the trip. You should be in great physical shape and participating in 4, 1-hour workouts per week before the trek. At least 1 to 2 days should include hiking with a small pack, leading up to several walks of 5-7 hours, with altitude gain if possible.