Salkantay - a Lodge-to-Lodge Trek to Machu Picchu
7 Days / 6 Nights
The pristine natural beauty that envelops you throughout the 7 days of the trip, takes you through 15 unique ecosystems, and will inspire you to challenge yourself, as you navigate changing altitudes (even a 4,572 m/15,000 ft mountain traverse!) and varied terrain. Along the route you encounter picturesque hamlets populated by Andean families, who maintain centuries-old traditions, while you simultaneously witness environmental and social initiatives created to maintain the integrity of their culture and improve the quality of life.
Our warm staff and enchanting lodges welcome you at the end of each day. Our innovative Andean cuisine and mountain-luxury amenities help to restore both body and mind as you continue your adventure, following in the footsteps of the Incas.
This is your journey, a chance to create your own amazing story. Welcome to The Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu!
Day 0 – Evening Briefing in Cusco
Meet & greet with other guests where you receive important information for a great trekking experience.
Day 1 – Cusco | On the Way to Soraypampa
After an early breakfast, your tour guide and driver will pick you up at your hotel in Cusco. The first stop will be a visit to the Inca ruins of Tarawasi near the town of Limatambo. Next you will stop in the mountain village of Mollepata for a short break before ascending a winding mountain road to a site called Marcoccasa. Here you will begin our hike to Soraypampa along a picturesque path called the “Camino Real” (Royal Path), which is also a good opportunity to acclimate to the higher altitude. As you round the final turn of the Camino Real, the Salkantay Lodge will come into view. Standing like a sentry behind the lodge is the glacier peak of Mt. Salkantay, among the most sacred in Inca mythology and the highest in the region (6,270 m/20,600 ft). After a warm welcome from the Soraypampa staff, you will settle in your room and recharge energy before meeting your guide in the lounge for refreshments and a briefing of the next day’s activities.
Note: You will officially meet your guide at a briefing the night before Day One of the trek. At this meeting you are encouraged to ask any questions
you may still have as well as make additional requests.
Trekking Time: Approximately 6 hours (including picnic lunch en route).
Hiking Level: Moderate.
Optional: Guests who do not wish to trek may be transported to the lodge by vehicle.
Overnight: Salkantay Lodge at 3,869 m/12,690 ft.
Day 2 – Soraypampa | Hike to Lake Humantay
Day Two presents another opportunity to gauge your altitude-acclimatization with a half-day hike to Lake Humantay. After breakfast, you begin an ascent up the slopes that border the plateau behind the Salkantay Lodge. An hour and a half later, after making your way over the final hill, you will be stunned to see the turquoise water of the lake, made even more spectacular by the sight of the Humantay glacier looming behind it. Here you will have a chance to relax, enjoy a snack, or meditate in the tranquility of this magical spot. After your descent back to the lodge, the staff will be waiting with a hot lunch. The second half of your day is spent at leisure. You may opt to soak in our outdoor Jacuzzi, indulge in a relaxing massage or even take a long nap.
Note: While the morning hike to Lake Humantay is optional, we strongly recommend your participation in preparation for the strenuous hike on
Trekking Time: Approximately 4 hours.
Hiking Level: Moderate to Challenging.
Optional activity available: Horseback Riding.
Overnight: Salkantay Lodge at 3,869 m/12,690 ft.
Day 3 – Soraypampa | Crossing the Salkantay Pass
Day Three is the longest and most strenuous day, but arguably the most magical day of the trek. After an early start, you hike up the Rio Blanco valley, circling Humantay Peak. As you gradually make your way up these mountain trails, you will encounter expansive plateaus dotted with boulders of varying sizes, the remnants of a valley that was once bisected by a fast-flowing river. The final and most challenging part of your ascent is conquering the mountain switchbacks that take you to the Salkantay Pass, the highest point on the trek (4,636 m/15,213 ft). What follows is a dramatic descent through fields of giant boulders, often shrouded in fog. After a very welcome hot picnic lunch, you will continue down through bucolic rolling hills and marsh-like plateaus as you take your final steps to the Wayra Lodge at Wayraccmachay. The most remote of our lodges, Wayra sits on a promontory that offers a spectacular view of the “other” side of Mt. Humantay, a reminder of how far you have journeyed that day.
Trekking Time: 6–8 hours (including lunch).
Hiking Level: Challenging, crossing a 4,638m (15,213 ft) mountain pass.
Overnight: Wayra Lodge at 3,906 m/12,812 ft.
Day 4 – Wayraccmachay | Descending into the Cloud Forest
After a leisurely breakfast at the Wayra Lodge, you continue the descent along the banks of the Salkantay River through increasingly verdant scenery. The warm air begins to rise from the edge of the jungle, accompanied by colorful butterflies and striking orchids. Today you will see more of the local people as the trail takes you past their simple homes and makeshift fences. At lunchtime you will arrive at Colpa Lodge by an amazing zip-line, located on a high promontory at the confluence of three rivers. You are greeted by the staff with a Pachamanca lunch, a traditional Peruvian meal cooked in the earth by hot stones that create a natural underground oven. After lunch, spend the afternoon lounging in the sun or relaxing in the outdoor Jacuzzi while you take in the panoramic views of the lush green mountains that surround you.
Trekking Time: 3–4 hours.
Hiking Level: Easy to Moderate.
Optional: Guests who do not wish to go through the zip-line, can follow an alternative path.
Overnight: Colpa Lodge at 2,870 m/9,414 ft.
Day 5 – Collpapampa | Following the Santa Teresa River Valley
Today you will hike in the Santa Teresa river valley where you will hop over small streams fed by waterfalls descending from the glaciers and cross through fruit orchards. After breaking for a hot picnic lunch by the river, you will walk for one hour before we meet a tour vehicle for a short drive to the beginning of the “Llactapata Inca Trail” that leads us to Lucma Lodge. On the way you will visit an organic coffee plantation, one of many in that area that produces some of the best organic coffee in the world. You will also begin to notice another shift in the climate. Here in Lucmabamba, the hot air and increased humidity signal that you are even closer to the edge of the Amazon Jungle.
Trekking Time: 5–6 hours (including lunch).
Hiking Level: Moderate to Challenging (because of distance, not terrain).
Overnight: Lucma Lodge at 2,135 m/7,003 ft.
Day 6 – Lucmabamba | Exploring Llactapata Pass
During a 2-3 hour climb up a path mostly comprised of original Inca steps, you will get a sense of what hiking through the rainforest would be like. A lush treeline creates green canopies overhead and the constant sound of rushing water suggests that the river is still nearby. Your first milestone today will be the top of the peak, the last one before you reach the Aobamaba River valley that connects you to Machu Picchu. When you arrive at the ruins of Llactapata at the Llactapata Pass (2,736 m/8,974 ft), you will be delighted to see a southeast view of the “back” of the Machu Picchu ruins, a sight few travelers ever get a chance to admire. At this point you will also take a short break to explore Llactapata, and then have lunch a bit farther down the trail in a meadow with panoramic views. The final descent toward the roaring Aobamba River takes you through lush bamboo forests, as well as more fruit orchards and coffee plantations, until you end the day’s hike at the Hidroelectrica train station. A one-hour scenic train ride delivers you to your final stop, the town of Aguas Calientes at the base of Machu Picchu.
Trekking Time: 4–6 hours.
Hiking Level: Moderate to Challenging.
Overnight: Hotel in Aguas Calientes at 1,900 m/6,232 ft.
Day 7 – Machu Picchu | The Sanctuary | Cusco
At dawn, you begin your journey to Machu Picchu with a short and rollicking uphill bus ride. As you enter the “Sanctuary” (as locals refer to it), the morning sun rises over the iconic Sun Gate and washes the structures and terraces with resplendent light. Prepare to be awed by the imposing and skillful architecture of the Watchtower, the Temple of the Sun, and the royal Inca residences, among many others. Take a moment to quietly sit and listen to the wind or to meditate and absorb the mystical energy that envelops you. Your imagination will soar as you contemplate the history of Machu Picchu and its mysterious origins. Some may even choose a hike to Huayna Picchu, the iconic towering mountain often seen in photographs, for dramatic views that stretch from the Urubamba River valley to the edge of the Amazon Jungle. After the visit you will have lunch in Aguas Calientes before your train/transfer back to Cusco. As night falls and you arrive at your hotel amidst and hustle and bustle of Cusco, you will be touched by a feeling of peace and rejuvenation which will linger even as you journey back home.
Note: Huayna Picchu Mountain tickets are subject to availability.
Return to Cusco (3,360 m/11,021 ft)
Our guides are among the best in Peru (some even having won international awards) and have on average at least 15 years of experience guiding in the mountains, not only in Peru, but around the world. Many of them are considered pioneers in this area, having scouted many of the current routes in the country. All tour guides have excellent language skills, and are highly trained in managing group dynamics. All guides undergo continuous medical and rescue training, with a certification in “Wilderness First Aid.” You will appreciate their knowledge of history and cultural traditions, as well as their interpretation of local flora and fauna, and their great insights (and stories!) that go far beyond any guide or history book.