This legendary Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu (or Salkantay Trek) has been chosen as one of the 25 best Treks in the World, by National Geographic Adventure Travel Magazine. It is a hike easy to access by everyone, with no limitations or permits required (for the moment). Joining the city of Mollepata, Cusco with Machu Picchu, the Salkantay Trek is an antique and out-of-the-way pathway situated in the same area as the Inca Trail surrounded by huge snow-capped mountains and an abundant tropical rainforest.Day 1: Cusco - Mollepata - Challacancha - Soraypampa
At 5am, you will head from Cusco to Mollepata village (2900 meters above sea level) on a 4-hour ride by bus. You will arrive at approximately 7:30am, stop for 45 minutes and have breakfast in a restaurant if the group wants (not included in cost) and buy some last minute supplies. You will continue uphill for 1 more hour to reach Challacancha (the trail head). You'll meet your support staff there who will pack the equipment on the horses and mules. One backpack will carry our personal items (up to 5kg) and go on the horses and you will carry a daypack. From there, you'll hike about 4 hours to Soraypampa, on a trail which is a mixture of uphill, downhill and flat paths. Enjoy views of the impressive Salkantay, other snowy mountains and the valley of the Apurimac River. Reach the campsite and have lunch to then climb the Humantay Mountain for 2 hours and visit the Humantay Lake in the mountains. You'll descend back to camp at Soraypampa and find the dining tent set up for afternoon tea with tea, mate de coca, coffee, chocolate. You can rest and then have dinner.
Day 2: Soraypampa - Collpapampa
Early in the morning, enjoy breakfast and prepare for the longest and most difficult day of the excursion. You will start on a moderate pace for 1 hour until you reach Soyrococha. Then, you will hike uphill for around 3 hours to get to the high pass, at 4,800 meters close to the wonderful frosty peaks of Salkantay (6,271m) and Humantay (6,100m), the second highest peak in the Cusco region. Here, you can enjoy the stunning scenery and see heaps of stones called Apachetas. Then, you will descend for 1 hour to Wayracmachay (3,800m) where you will have lunch and rest. Then, you will hike for 3 hours to reach the campsite in Collpapampa.
Day 3: Collpapampa - La Playa
After early breakfast, you will walk on a narrow trail on the mountainside and see various types of orchids and species of plants, cornfields and fields of fruits. You also get to cross a waterfall on the way. After walking for around 5 hours, you will reach La Playa. From here you have 2 options. If you choose the Santa Teresa option, you will be taken by bus to Santa Teresa town. The ride there is 45 minutes. Upon arrival, we set up the camp and have a chance to go to the hot springs nearby, about 45 minutes from town (optional). In the evening, you enjoy dinner and rest. The other option is to hike for two hours to see the Llactapata ruins and camp for the night at Aobamba.
Day 4: La Playa - Llactapata - Hidroelectrica - Puente Ruinas
If you chose to go via the Llactapata ruins, you start the day with breakfast and then a 3 hour hike to the restored ruins (2,860m) from where you can view both Machu Picchu and Salkantay Mountain. Then, you will descend for 3 hours reaching Aobamba River and crossing lush bamboo groves, orchards and coffee plantations, so you'll get excellent bird-watching opportunities. You will get to the Hydroelectric Plant (Hidroelectrica), where you will have lunch and continue along trails to the campsite in Puente Ruinas located at the foothill of Machu Picchu Mountain. If you chose the Santa Teresa option, you will have breakfast and take a short 1-hour bus trip to then hike for about 2 hours past the Urubamba River and to the Hydro Electric Station, where you will have lunch nearby. You will then continue Aguas Calientes crossing the bottom of the valley for about 3 hours. Once there, you will stay at a hostel, have dinner and rest.
Day 5: Puente Ruinas - Machu Picchu - Cusco
You will wake up early and continue hiking to Machu Picchu to see the sunrise over this glorious ruins. You will reach there and get a 2-hour guided tour of the place. After you have plenty of time to explore it on your own, and maybe climb Huayna Picchu (if you have a permit) or the Inca Bridge, you will can either walk down to Aguas Calientes or take the bus (not included in the cost). You can have lunch at Aguas Calientes (not included). In the afternoon, you will return by train to Ollantaytambo (alternatively to Poroy) and transfer to Cusco.