Cruzpata - Salkantay - Hidroeléctrica - Machu Picchu
A remote and ancient footpath in the same region as the Inca trail, with spectacular views of the snowcapped "Apu" Salkantay; this hike is a magnificent wilderness alternative for those who wish to escape the more congested trekking routes. This is also a great option if the traditional Inca Trail has no spaces available. The route crosses the Andes and then descends down to the high jungle.
We pass through an amazing progression of ecological zones, from sparsely vegetated alpine meadows flanking two spectacular 6000m (20,000 ft.) glaciated peaks, and down through subtropical forest. Our visit to Machu Picchu on day five is made all the more exhilarating having trekked across rugged terrain to arrive at the famous citadel of the Incas.
Located northwest of Cusco, the snow-capped mountain of Salkantay is located at the eastern end of the Vilcabamba mountain range and it is its tallest peak at 6,271 meters above sea level. The name Salkantay means "Savage Mountain" which may refer to the swirling clouds that rise up from the jungle lowlands and engulf its peak.
The Salkantay to Machu Picchu trek has become popular with trekkers wanting to combine a quieter, less trodden route with a visit to the Inca ruins of Machu Picchu. You will be surrounded with magnificent scenery and sometimes see other groups of trekkers. We trek over several high passes, and the trip includes high mountain scenery and subtropical forest views.
The trek is more difficult than the Inca Trail, so horses can be used to carry food and equipment.
Other options: Upgrade this trek to Salkantay PLUS or experience the stunning landscape of Salkantay in a 1-day trek to the Humantay Lagoon!
We will depart very early, around 04:30 am - 5:30 am and we will drive to Mollepata arriving around 08:30 am, where we will make a short stop for you to buy breakfast and organize the horses. We will start the hike - around 3 hours of walking and then a stop for lunch. After lunch we walk around 4 hours more before the valley broadens and flattens out and the beautiful conical snow-capped peak of Nevado Humantay (5917m) comes into view. Here at Soraypamapa (3500m) we will have dinner and camp our first night.
Today is the hardest day as we will be climbing from 3,800m up to a pass at 4,600m close to Nevado Salkantay - the highest part of the trek. A spectacular day! From here we will descend into the upper cloud forest where the climate changes towards semi-tropical and we stop for lunch. After a total of 7 hours of hiking we arrive at our second camp in Collpabamba (3,200m).
After an early breakfast we start our third day of hiking. We will walk for around 2 hours, before having lunch in Wiñaypoco, and then another 3 hours descending a total of 2,000m down through the changing vegetation to the warmer camp at the village of La Playa. It is the biggest village on the way, where we can find some small shops to buy snacks etc. We take local transport to Santa Teresa, a beautiful village in the cloud forest, where we spend the afternoon with the option of visiting the hot pools and camp the night.
On day 4 there are different options. You can walk to Hidroeléctrica on a remote road through a valley between two high mountain ridges, alongside some impressive hydroelectric developments in the Urubamba River. There is also the option to spend this day some time in the relaxing hot water springs of Santa Teresa (not included) and then take a bus to Hydroeléctrica (not included).
After arriving to Hidroeléctrica (time of arrival depends on which of the above options is chosen) we continue to Aguas Calientes. You can choose take the train to Aguas Calientes (train ticket not included) or walk 2 hours to the town.
In Aguas Calientes we enjoy a group dinner and spend the night there in a hostel.
We get up early, to walk to Machu Picchu (breakfast in the hotel before departure). We will have a guided tour of about 2.5 hours in Machu Picchu and you have the afternoon off to explore the ruins by yourself. In the evening, we take the train back to Cusco, where we arrive around midnight.