Salkantay Plus Inca Trail Hike 6D/5N
The 6-Day Salkantay Plus Inca Trail Hike is great for trekkers who want a challenging hike that takes them up to one of the highest passes called Inca Chiriasca at 5,000 meters (16,400 feet), and then that follows a remote valley before connecting the Traditional Inca Trail.
|Perfect for:||Travelers looking for a challenge and who want to hike the world-famous Inca Trail, but who are also looking to hike for a few days off the well-beaten path.|
|Duration:||6 days/5 nights|
|Level:||Very Difficult, depending on your fitness level|
|Limited Spaces:||Yes. To protect the historic trail, the number of people allowed to hike the Inca Trail each day is limited to 500. We enter the Inca Trail on the morning of the third day, so it is necessary to have an Inca Trail permit starting on this day. During the high tourist season from April to September, permits can sell out 5-7 months in advance so it is best to reserve as soon as possible|
|Acclimatization:||Since there is one pass that is at 5,000 meters (16,400 feet), we recommend spending at least 2-3 days in Cusco or the surrounding area before your hike begins to properly acclimatize.|
Day 1 – On the first day, we will pick you up at 6:00 am from your Cusco hotel and will drive 4 hours to the start of the hike. On our way, we will stop at the Inca archaeological site called Killarumiyoq, and your guide will give a short history lesson. We will also enjoy breakfast here before driving the rest of the way to the starting point of the trail, called Soraypampa at 3,883 meters or 12,740 feet. If it is a clear day, we will already be able to see the majestic Umantay and Salkantay Mountains before us. Our chef will prepare lunch, and after eating we will start our uphill hike to the first campsite which takes three hours. Our campsite is called Pampa Japonesa and is located at 4,400 meters or 14,435 feet. The view at this campsite is one of the most spectacular views of the trail, overlooking the snow-capped Salkantay Mountain. Here, it is essential to have warm clothing, thermals, and a sleeping bag good for at least -20°C (-4°F) since the temperature can reach below freezing and during the winter it might snow.
Day 2 – On the second day, we will climb up to the pass called Inca Chiriasca for about 2 hours and reach the highest point of our hike, at 5,000 meters, or 16,400 feet. We will walk slowly up to this pass, as it is steep and challenging because of the high altitude. At the pass, we will take a break and celebrate reaching such a high point, and will get to take in the beautiful view of Salkantay Mountain and also Umantay Mountain from a different angle. Afterwards, we will descend for 1 and a half hours passing by thousands of giant boulders and will stop for lunch which we will have in the grassy highlands. After lunch, we will continue downhill through the valley to our campsite at 4,000 meters, or 13,200 feet which is called Canal Inca. At this location, there are ruins from an Inca canal which was the main channel that the Incas used from the Salkantay Mountain to irrigate the valleys farther down. Also at this campsite, we will still see the Salkantay Mountain range, but from the back, providing another picturesque view. We will also see some traditional stone houses where locals live as well as their farms and herds of alpacas and llamas.
Day 3 – On the third day, we will descend for 4 hours to our lunch site. Here, we will enter a different ecological zone, starting in the treeless highlands and making our way into a green wooded valley. We will follow the stream from the Inca canal to Paucar Cancha where we will rest and have lunch. This is the beginning of the Machu Picchu National Park, and at this location we will see Inca farming terraces and ancient buildings that provided a resting point for travelers hundreds of years ago. Paucar Cancha also has an impressive irrigation system in the terraces which still works today. After touring the ruins here, we will continue down through the valley for about 1 hour to our campsite called Wayllabamba located at 3,000 meters or 9,842 feet. This is the first campsite of the traditional Inca Trail, so here we will say goodbye to our horseman but will welcome our Quechuas who will carry the camping equipment for the rest of the hike.
Day 4 – After having breakfast, we will start our uphill hike which will take about 5 hours to reach the pass. On the way, we will pass through different climactic and ecological zones as we climb higher and higher. We will start in green mossy forests and will end in the grassy highlands where there are no trees. Once we reach the highest point of the Inca Trail, known as Dead Woman’s Pass at 4,215 meters (13,828 feet), we will take a well-deserved break and will be able to enjoy the amazing view of both valleys below. Then we will start our descent to the campsite which will take about an hour and a half. We will climb down Inca stone steps heading down through the highlands until we reach our campsite called Pacaymayo which is at 3,630 meters or 11,910 feet. Here we will have our lunch, then have time to rest and explore the area before having supper in the evening.
Day 5 – On the fifth day we will hike the farthest distance and will also see the most archaeological sites along the way. After waking up early and eating breakfast, we will hike up the opposite side of the valley to reach the second pass which will take about 2 hours. About halfway up we will see a small, round, roofless stone building, known as Runkuracay. This building was a shelter and a checkpoint for travelers following the trail to Machu Picchu. After our history lesson here we will continue to the second pass, Runkuracay, at 3,941 meters, or 12,800 feet. Then we will descend for about 2 hours to our lunch site, stopping first at another Inca site called Sayaqmarka, translated to “Town in a Steep Place.” Here, we will see an important temple for the Salkantay Mountain. Then we will arrive to our lunch site and once we are full will continue hiking 4 more hours to our last campsite. The first part of the trail will involve little ascents and descents until we reach the next archaeological center called Phuyupatamarka which means “City above the Clouds.” Here, we will see where the Incas took their final baths before reaching Machu Picchu. This location is also a second option for the last campsite. After our tour, we will hike downhill and will visit the farming terraces at Intipata. From there we will continue to our campsite called Wiñaywayna, which means “Forever Young,” and is located at 2,650 meters, or 8,694 feet. This is our last night camping, and in the evening after supper we will get to thank our amazing Quechuas for their hard work.
Day 6 – On the last day we will wake up very early (at about 3:15 am) and after having breakfast will wait in line until the Control opens at 5:30 am. Once we pass the Control, we will start hiking to Machu Picchu which will take 2 hours and we will follow the trail which is relatively flat until we reach Intipunku, the famous Sun Gate. Here, we will have our first view of Machu Picchu below us and depending on the season we may get to see the sunrise. From there, we will descend down to Machu Picchu which sits at 2,400 meters or 7,874 feet, and we will first check any large backpacks at the entrance. We will then have our 3-hour tour where you will see and learn about the most important sites including the Temple of the Sun, the main plaza, Intiwatana, and the Temple of the Condor. After your tour, you will have some free time to explore the ruins on your own and take more pictures of this amazing place. When you are ready you can take the bus back down to Aguas Calientes, and in the afternoon you will take the train back to Cusco where we will pick you up from the train station and drop you off at your hotel.
- Transportation from your hotel in Cusco to the start of the hike and back to your hotel at the end
- Inca Trail permit and Machu Picchu entrance ticket
- Bus ticket from Machu Picchu to Aguas Calientes
- Train ticket in the Expedition service from Aguas Calientes back to Cusco at the end of the journey
- The North Face Mountain 25 tents which are 2-person, 4 season tents designed for maximum comfort
- Therm-a-Rest mattress and pillow provided for free (please note that if you do not hire an extra Quechua that you will have to carry your own mattress and pillow during the Inca Trail part)
- Other camping equipment, such as a kitchen tent manned by a professional cooking staff, a dining tent with table and chairs, and a bathroom tent
- Tour guide fluent in English, Spanish and Quechua. Our guides are equipped and trained to practice First-Aid, administer oxygen if needed, and conduct radio communication.
- Complete meals during the trip starting with breakfast on the first day and ending with breakfast on the sixth day (the last lunch in Aguas Calientes is not included). Our experienced chefs make amazing meals in the middle of the mountains and are also used to preparing dishes for people with different food restrictions or lifestyles, so please let us know your preferences and we will make sure to meet your dietary needs.
- Horseman with horses/mules on the Salkantay portion of the journey including an emergency horse
- Quechuas (porters) who will carry the equipment during the Inca Trail portion
- Professional chef who grew up in the countryside
- Lunch on the last day in Aguas Calientes
- Sleeping bag or trekking poles (can be rented from us)
- Extra Quechua to help carry your personal gear on the Inca Trail portion of the hike (can be hired)
- Tips for guide, chef, horseman, and Quechuas (optional)
What to Bring
- Original passport and student ISIC card (if applicable)
- Sleeping bag (or you can rent one from us)
- Backpack to carry your things
- Trekking poles (or you can rent a pair from us)
- Bathing suit (if you would like to enjoy the hot springs in Aguas Calientes)
- Good sneakers or light hiking boots, and one pair of flip-flops or light sandals
- Camera and extra batteries
- Rain jacket and plastic poncho (especially if traveling in the wet season, from October to March)
- Comfortable hiking clothes
- Bug repellent
- Sunscreen and sunglasses
- Cap for the sun
- Warm clothes for the nighttime including thermals, warm hat, and gloves
- Travel towel
- Toilet paper
- Water bottle and about 1 liter of water for the first day until lunch, and after that we will supply you with boiled water for the rest of the hike
Quechuas (Porters): Depending on your level of physical fitness, the hike can be strenuous. For the first three days of the hike during the Salkantay portion, we can have the horses carry up to 8 kg (18 lb) of your personal belongings. However, on the fourth day when we start the Inca Trail part of the hike, you will need to carry all of your own gear or you can hire an extra Quechua to carry 8 kg (18 lb) for $80 USD or 15 kg (33 lb) for $150 USD. Included in this service is the Quechua’s salary, Inca Trail permit, food, and transportation. If you decide to hire an extra Quechua, he will carry your gear until we reach Aguas Calientes. You must reserve your extra Quechua at the same time you reserve your hike, because he needs an Inca Trail permit and is counted as part of the 500-person limit on the trail.
Huayna Picchu: If you are interested in climbing Huayna Picchu, the mountain overlooking Machu Picchu, there is an additional fee of $65 USD per person for us to buy your entrance ticket. Spaces are limited, so please let us know when booking whether you would like to hike Huayna Picchu, and we will reserve it for you. For information about this hike, please visit our Huayna Picchu page.
Additional Night in Aguas Calientes: After hiking for 6 days, some people prefer to spend the 6th night in Aguas Calientes instead of returning to Cusco right away. This can give you more time to enjoy the ruins of Machu Picchu, relax in the hot springs in Aguas Calientes, and in general not have to worry about the time. This option is also good for those who want to climb Huayna Picchu but want to have some time to rest after the hike, so you can return to Machu Picchu the next day to climb Huayna Picchu Mountain. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about options and prices.
Sleeping Bags: If you would like to rent a sleeping bag from us, the price is $35 USD per person in total for this 6-day hike.
Trekking Poles: We recommend taking trekking poles on the hike especially when hiking downhill. If you would like to rent a pair for the whole hike, the price is $25 USD per person.
Private Tent: In our service we include North Face Mountain 25 tents that are 2-person tents. However, if you would like to reserve a private tent the price is $60 USD.
Vistadome Train: Our price includes a return train ticket in the Expedition train, however, if you would like to upgrade to the Vistadome train the price is an additional $25 USD per person.
Additional Information: For more information on rules and regulations of Machu Picchu, please see our Rules and Regulations page here. To see information on cancellations and other policies, please see our Cancellations page here.
How to Book
If you would like to hike with us, please send us an email to email@example.com to check the availability. Please let us know the hike you want to do, the date you are looking to hike, how many people are in your group, and we will send you back the availability.
When you are ready to book your hike, please send us the following information for each traveler:
- Full name
- Passport number
- Date of birth
- Food restrictions (if any)
- Would you like to climb Huayna Picchu for an additional $65 USD per person?
If you would like tickets to climb Huayna Picchu after your tour of Machu Picchu, we will reserve a ticket for you as long as there is availability.
After sending your personal information, the next step is for each person in your group to make a deposit of $500 USD to reserve your hike. To make your deposit, please pay by selecting the correct amount below or by visiting our Book Now page. To receive the student discount, you must send an email at the time you reserve your spot with a scan of both sides of your student ISIC card. This is the only student card accepted by the National Park and you can find more information about this student ID on the ISIC website here. The remaining balance is due in Cusco. You may pay in cash (either in US dollars or Peruvian soles) at your briefing, or if you prefer you may pay with a Visa credit card at our office. To pay with a credit card, before your briefing please visit our office which is located at Calle Union #140 in the reception of the Cusco B&B Hotel.
Click the Amount to Deposit via Visa: