This Salkantay trek 5 days to Machu Picchu is a challenging outdoor adventure that delivers spectacular natural beauty and spiritually charged settings.
The majestic ice peak Salkantay is one of the traditionally sacred mountains in the Vilcabamba range, directly south of Machu Picchu.
Its alignment with the Pleiades, Southern Cross and Yana Phuyu (YA-na FOY-you) dark constellations made it an integral part of the Inca’s concept of sacred geography.
This Apu mountain deity served as a cardinal reference for astrological observations, particularly during the June and December solstice and solar equinoxes.
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We get an early start, heading out from your hotel at around 5 a.m. and driving approximately three hours through the towns of Izcuchaca and Limatambo, to reach the village of Mollepata (9514f.a.s.l. / 2900m.a.s.l.).
Here we will stop for a light breakfast and can take care of any last-minute necessities before we continue to Sayllapata, a hamlet where we will rendezvous with our trail team and load up the horses.
Then we embark on a journey of incredible scenic beauty. The trek offers spectacular views of Mount Salcantay (20397f.a.s.l. / 6217m.a.s.l.) and the Apurimac River Valley.
We will break for lunch at around 1 p.m. Then we will trek for approximately three hours to an approximate altitude of 13,780 feet (4200 meters) to the beautiful lake below the Humantay Glacier (17443 f.a.s.l. / 5317m.a.s.l.).
We then descend to our camp site at Soraypampa (12139f.a.s.l. /3,700m.a.s.l.), where sleeping and dining tents will already be ready, as well as dinner. We can expect a very cold night (32 ºF / 0ºC or below) (L/D)
Maximum Altitude: 13780 f.a.s.l./4200 m.a.s.l.
Minimum Altitude: 9514 f.a.s.l./2900 m.a.s.l.
Approximate Time: 7-8 hrs
The second day is the most challenging of the trek, requiring us to ascend to 15,256 feet (4,650 meters), the highest point of our journey, in order to cross the Salkantay Pass.
By day’s end, we will have made a dramatic descent through a variety of ecosystems and dramatic landscapes. Setting out at around 7 a.m., we first hike to Pampas Salkantay, then curve to the left side of the snowy Umantay peaks, adjacent to the Apu Salkantay.
At around midday, we will reach the Salkantay mountain pass. Here we’ll pause to take in the incredible panoramic view.
Then we head rapidly to lower altitude and break for lunch at Huayracmachay. That is followed by a three-hour hike to Challway (9580f.a.s.l./2920m.a.s.l.), for dinner at around 7 p.m. and a good night’s rest. (B/L/D)
Maximum Altitude: 15256 f.a.s.l./4650 m.a.s.l.
Minimum Altitude: 9580 f.a.s.l./2920 m.a.s.l.
Approximate Time: 7-8 hrs
We’ll wake to milder weather. After breakfast, we will begin to trek at around 7 a.m. for a six-hour to Playa Sahuayaco.
During this journey, we will enter Collpabamba valley, located in the high tropical cloud forest, known as the “Ceja de Selva” or “Eyebrow of the Jungle,” where we’ll see waterfalls, fruit-bearing trees, orchids and a variety of wildlife.
If we are lucky, we will see Peru’s national bird the “Gallito de las Rocas”, or “Cock of the Rock.” Here we will have lunch. At 2:00 p.m. a local bus will take us to Santa Teresa Hot Springs, where you will enjoy and relax at the hot spring pools. You will have dinner and camping here. (B/L/D)
Maximum altitude: 9580 f.a.s.l./ 2920 m.a.s.l.
Minimum Altitude: 5413 f.a.s.l. / 1650 m.a.s.l.
Approximate Time: 6 hrs
After an early breakfast, we will take a 40-minute ride on local transport to Lucmabamba to begin our next hike to Llactapata, an important Inca ritual site.
During the three-hour trek, we’ll cover some beautiful terrain with diverse flora and fauna, to reach Llactapata (8530f.a.s.l. / 2600m.a.s.l.), a temple of the sun with its alignment modeled after the Coricancha in Cusco.
The site, extensively studied in the 2003 Ziegler-Thomson expedition, is directly across the valley from Machu Picchu 2½ miles away. After exploring the area and taking a short rest, we will take a descending trail to the Hydroelectric station (6135f.a.s.l./1870m.a.s.l.), where you will eat lunch.
The last park of the trek, an approximately two-hours hike, takes us to Aguas Calientes (6693f.a.s.l. /2040m.a.s.l.). Upon arrival, you will check into your hotel. We’ll meet for dinner at a local restaurant at around 7 p.m. (B/L)
Maximum altitude: 8530 f.a.s.l. / 2600 m.a.s.l.
Minimum Altitude: 1870 m.a.s.l. /6135 f.a.s.l.
Approximate Time: 7-8 hrs
Today, after an early breakfast, we will board the early bus, ascending the switchback “Hiram Bingham” road up to Machu Picchu.
There, an expert guide will share with you the known history and prevailing theories about this mysterious and enchanting city of stone.
We also give you free time to explore on your own, relax or meditate, and get lunch adjacent to the ruins or at a recommended restaurant below in the town.
In the late afternoon, we will board the train for transport back to Cusco, and your hotel. (B)
(B) Breakfast, (L) Lunch, (D) Dinner
|Altitude||6232 – 13451 f.a.s.l. / 1900 – 4,600 m.a.s.l.|
|Season||Abril – November|
|Duration||5 Days / 4 Nights|
|Level of Difficulty||Moderate to Difficult (depending on individual physical fitness and acclimatization)|
WHAT TO BRING:
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