Salkantay Hike 5D/4N
Experience a hike through Peru’s most breathtaking landscapes and get the most out of your Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu. This 5-day hike takes you up to the base of the snow-peaked mountain, Salkantay, one of the most sacred mountains in the region. The hike starts at the base of Salkantay at 3,883 meters or 12,740 feet and brings you down through five ecological zones to Machu Picchu at 2,450 meters or 8,040 feet, giving you the opportunity to pass through mountains, cloud forests, and jungle.
|Perfect for:||Travelers who want breathtaking views and a variety of scenery, especially those who have come to witness the different flora and fauna that Peru has to offer.|
|Duration:||5 days/4 nights|
|Level:||Moderate to difficult, depending on fitness level|
|Distance:||48 kilometers or 30 miles|
|Limited Spaces:||This hike does not require permits so there is always availability, however, it is best to reserve your hike in advance to secure the Machu Picchu entrances and the best train tickets.|
|Acclimatization:||The highest point is 4,635 meters or 15,200 feet, so it is essential that you are well acclimatized to the altitude before beginning the hike. We recommend that you spend at least 2 days in Cusco and the surrounding area before starting 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 for 8 km (5 miles) to the first campsite which takes 3 hours. Our campsite is called Soyrococha and is located at 4,400 meters or 14,435 feet and is one of the highest campsites in the Cusco region. 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 sometimes it can snow.
Day 2 – On the second day, we will hike for a total distance of 16 km (10 miles) and will get to see a variety of ecological zones. We will start by hiking uphill for about 40 minutes until we reach the Salkantay Pass at 4,635 meters or 15,200 feet. Here, we will stand right below the towering Salkantay Mountain which is the highest peak in the area at 6,264 meters or 20,551 feet. If we are lucky we might see condors or other animals such as the viscacha which is related to the chinchilla. We will then descend for 3 hours to our lunch site located at Rayanniyoc. On the way, we will be able to see the changing geography, as we start in the grassy highlands and end in the green cloud forest. After lunch, we will continue descending for 2 hours and will enter the tropical cloud forest where we can see wild orchids and other native flowers, as well as hummingbirds. We will continue our descent through the bamboo groves, until we arrive at the village of Collpapampa which sits at 2,855 meters (9,366 feet), and here we will have dinner and camp for the evening.
Day 3 – On this day we will hike for a total of 16 km (10 miles) and will get to enjoy a cultural afternoon with a local farming family. After breakfast, we will continue down the valley for about 6 hours into a forest that contains bamboo groves and great bird watching opportunities. Flocks of colorful tropical birds roam the forest and warm water cascades down nearby cliffs. The trail here gradually descends, and on the way our guide will point out the various flora and fauna in the area. We will reach our campsite located at the small village of Lucmabamba which is at 2,008 meters (6,588 feet), and here we will also have lunch. In the afternoon, we will do some farming activities that will depend on the time of year but may include collecting and roasting coffee beans, picking avocados, oranges, passion fruit, and also we may be able to harvest some honey. We will also have the option to eat guinea pig for supper!
Day 4 – On the fourth day, we will hike for 8 km or 5 miles and will need to get up early. From Lucmabamba to our lunch site we will hike for about 5-6 hours. We will start ascending through the lush rainforest for about 2 and a half to 3 hours to the Llaqtapata Pass which is at 2,700 meters or 8,910 feet. Then we will then descend for 15 minutes and arrive at the archaeological site of Llaqtapata where we will stop and have some snacks. This site provides our first view of Machu Picchu from the other side of the valley, and we will learn about how Llaqtapata was an important astronomical center. After resting, we will begin our descent for 2 and a half to 3 hours down the mountain until we reach the hydroelectric station, where we will enjoy a well-deserved lunch. After eating we will say good bye to our chef and before continuing our hike, we will stop at another important Inca site called Inti Wutana, which was a sun dial used by the Incas. Then we will hike for about three hours to Aguas Calientes (2,040 meters or 6,692 feet), the town located at the bottom of Machu Picchu. We will follow a flat route next to the train tracks and will get to see Machu Picchu from afar from different angles as well as nearby farming terraces. At Aguas Calientes we will check into our hotel and then will have some free time to visit the hot springs before meeting for supper at a local restaurant.
Day 5 – After having an early breakfast at your hotel, you will meet your guide and take the 25-minute bus ride up to Machu Picchu. You will have a 3-hour tour with your guide 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 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
- Entrance ticket to Machu Picchu
- Entrance tickets to Killarumiyoq and Salkantay
- Train ticket in the Expedition service from Aguas Calientes back to Cusco at the end of the journey
- Round trip bus tickets to Machu Picchu and back to Aguas Calientes
- B&B Hotel in Aguas Calientes (Killa Inn or Panorama B&B depending on availability)
- 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
- Duffle bag that you can fill with up to 8 kg (18 lbs) of your personal gear that the horses will carry
- 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
- Experienced 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 and snacks during the trip starting with breakfast on the first day and ending with breakfast on the fifth day at your hotel (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.
- Professional chef who grew up in the countryside and a horseman with horses/mules to carry all of our gear
- One extra horse in the case of an emergency
- Lunch on the last day in Aguas Calientes
- Sleeping bag or trekking poles (can be rented from us)
- Tips for guide, chef, and horseman (optional)
- Train ticket from Hydroelectric Station to Aguas Calientes (optional)
- Hot springs entrance in Aguas Calientes (optional)
What to Bring
- Original passport
- Sleeping bag (or you can rent one from us)
- A small day backpack to carry your personal belongings (the horses will carry the items that you do not need during the day)
- 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 April)
- 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
Huayna Picchu: If you are interested in climbing Huayna Picchu, the mountain overlooking Machu Picchu, there is an additional fee of $20 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.
Hotel Upgrade: Included in this tour is one night at a comfortable B&B Hotel in Aguas Calientes (Killa Inn or Panorama B&B depending on availability). However, if you would like to upgrade to a 3, 4, or 5 star hotel, we offer the following prices and options:
- 3 Stars: $40 USD total for a double/matrimonial or single room (Hotel Ferre or La Cabaña)
- 4 Stars: $220 USD total for a double/matrimonial or $200 USD for a single room (Casa del Sol – includes dinner at the hotel restaurant)
- 5 Stars: $420 USD total for a double/matrimonial room or $320 USD for a single room (Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo or Sumaq Hotel – both include dinner at their restaurants)
*Please note that all prices listed are for standard rooms and prices will vary for room upgrades. Also, all hotels and room types are subject to availability, and during holidays prices will increase. In addition, we work with many hotels in Aguas Calientes, so if there is a specific hotel not listed that you prefer, please let us know and we can provide you with a price.
Sleeping Bags: If you would like to rent a sleeping bag from us, the price is $25 USD per person in total for the 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 $15 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 $40 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 $50 USD per person.
Cuy (Guinea Pig): On the third day of your hike you may try eating guinea pig which is a typical Peruvian dish. If you would like to try this dish, the cost is about 40-50 soles for one guinea pig.
Salkantay in 4D/3N: We can also do the Salkantay Hike in 4 days instead of 5. If you are interested in this option please contact us directly at email@example.com for more information.
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
Since the Salkantay Hike does not require permits, there is always availability. We only require a minimum of 2 people to start this hike, so if there are at least 2 people total in your group we can organize your hike for the start date that you choose. If you are traveling by yourself, please email us to check the availability and let us know the hike(s) you are interested in and the dates when you are available to start the hike.
To reserve your hike, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with the hike you want to do, the date you want to start, and how many people are in your group. We will also need 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 $20 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 $300 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 child discount, you must email us a copy of the child’s passport at the time of making your reservation. 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:
Salkantay Hike to Machu PicchuLearn about our 5 day/4 night Salkantay Hike to Machu Picchu! This alternative hike is a great option for nature lovers since you pass through different ecological zones. It also does not require permits so there is always availability.