The Salkantay Trail connects Cusco to the Citadel of Machu Picchu and runs approximately 89 km/55 miles through high Andean peaks, cloud forest, and steamy jungle. The hike starts at the village of Mollepata, a few miles from Cusco.
The Salkantay Peak - Savage Mountain - is located within the Vilcabamba mountain range, to the northwest of Cusco. Salkantay is one of the highest and most spectacular mountains in the Andes (6,271m/20,574ft).
National Geographic’s Adventure Travel Magazine named the Salkantay trek among the 25 Best Treks in the World.
The amount you walk each day varies. An average day is 5-8 hours, but on summit night combined with the following day you can walk between 8 and 11 hours. Have a look at the itinerary for a day-to-day account.
For an average traveller or tourist, Salkantay is considered a challenging but certainly not impossible hike. Due to the physical demands, anyone who wishes to trek Salkantay should at least be moderately fit. Plus, all trekkers should spend at least 2 days in Cuzco before the trek, to get acclimatized. Being extremely fit does not grant any immunity from altitude sickness.
The entire hike is approximately 72 kilometers (approximately 45 miles), and this hiking takes place during 4 days and 3 nights. The remaining 1 day of the trek is spent at Machu Picchu. In general, Salkantay is considered to be slightly harder than the Inca Trail. Other trails, such as Choquequirao, are considered to be slightly harder than Salkantay.
The Salkantay Pass, at 14,760123 feet above sea level, is the most difficult section in the trail. Expect wind and cold temperatures. Some hikers might experience symptoms of altitude sickness. Symptoms will disappear as soon as you start your descent. Oxygen will be provided if needed. The Salkantay Pass, at approximately 4,650 meters above sea level is the most difficult section in the trail. These challenges are a result of several factors: the challenge of uphill climbing, bitter cold winds, low temperatures in general, and the fact that you are trekking at a low-oxygen altitude.
Very young children may not enjoy this. They should be able to walk (without being carried) for 90 minutes without whining (the whining part applies to children of all ages.
Weather conditions during the rainy season makes the Salkantay trek into a risky decision. Therefore we cannot guarantee the availability of the Salkantay treks from mid-march to the end of February. If the weather is good, we will give the OK for a trek to start. If we think the safety of our porters and clients is being threatened, we will cancel the trek.
Yes, it is possible for a single traveller or a small group to hike the trek by themself, without guides or porters. However, the trail is not clearly marked at all points, which makes getting lost a high possibility. This is one of the biggest advantages of hiring a tour agency like Mystic Salcantay. Our guides know the route very well.
ITEP is not responsible for any acts or failures to act of any airlines. We may use airlines different than the one(s) mentioned in our advertisements, and ITEP is not able to guarantee the type of aircraft to be used by any airline. In addition, ITEP is not responsible for losses due to cancelled flights, or changed flight itineraries or seat assignment. The Customer may not cancel the contract without penalty due to a change of airline, aircraft type, route, or destination. The responsibility of the airlines is limited to the carriage of passengers and baggage in accordance with the airline’s terms and conditions of service.
Children under 14 years old are not allowed to do the trek, and children who are over 14 years old should be in good physical shape and used to hiking long distances.
You will get sporadic phone coverage during the trek and there will not be anywhere whilst trekking to charge your phone.
One of the trek leaders will be carrying a satellite phone. However this is emergency use only.
Weather is very varied on this trek, due to the fact that it winds its way through wildly different terrain at different altitudes. The only place where weather is a serious concern is the Salkantay Pass, and the nearby areas. Temperatures here, and at the nearby Soraypampa campsite, can fall below freezing. The other camps are much warmer, due to their proximity to the cloud forest.
- A backpack with a change of clothes for the whole period of the trek.
- Rain gear (jacket and pants if available) or rain poncho (plastic ponchos can be purchased in Cusco)
- Strong footwear, waterproof trekking boots recommended.
- Sandals or jogging shoes for a higher comfort while at camp
- Warm clothes, including jacket, fleeces. Thermal clothing is also recommended, especially for sleeping
- Flashlight/headlamp and batteries
- Camera, films and batteries (batteries consume more quickly under cold conditions)
- Hat or cap to protect you from the sun, rain and cold
- Sun block
- After-sun cream or hydrating cream for face and body
- Insect repellent – minimum recommended 20% DEET – no malaria risk has been reported
- Toilet paper
- Snacks: biscuits, energy bars, chocolate, raw fruits, muesli, etc. Please note that we do provide a daily morning snack and our meal service is very complete and well supplied. This recommendation applies for all clients being used to a specific snack, as it may happen that it is not included in our selection.
- Water container and water for the first morning. Important notice: plastic water bottles are no longer allowed into Machu Picchu. Plastic water containers (ie. Nalgene) or metal ones are recommended
- Optionally: water- sterilizing tablets in case you pick up water from streams or rivers along the route. Otherwise, we provide filtered boiled water, which is safe to drink and has not reported any health problem so far.
- Small towel
- Swimsuit (if you wish to go to the hot springs in Aguas Calientes)
- Cash in soles and/or US$
- Original passport
- Original International Student Identity Card (in case you have applied for a student discount)
We recommend to make your reservation in advance and we will guarantee your Spaces for this hike. Each reservation needs 30% of deposit as first payment. The final balance(70%) will be paid in Cusco(Briefing Day). About Payment you must choose where would you like to make the deposit: Payment system online.
- Paypal by Debit or Credit Card
- Western Union, Money Gram
- Peruvian Banking Account
We use the money from your deposit to make several important purchases, including the entrance fee to Salkantay, the entrance fee to Machu Picchu, bus tickets, and train tickets. In addition, making a deposit assures us that you will be coming on the trek, and are unlikely to cancel at the last minute. This helps us with knowing how much food to buy, how many of our guides to use for the trek, etc. The deposit is non-refundable once we receive it, because we will immediately use it to purchase the tickets mentioned above.
First, we will send you an email to confirm your payment. Then we will contact you to offer you different hotel or hostel options in Cuzco, as well as inform you of other tours you might be interested in.
Two weeks before your tour date, we will contact you by email to request the final payment. We will also ask you where you will be staying in Cuzco, to be able to pick you up on the day of your hike.
After we receive the final payment, we will send you an email confirming your tour date and informing you of important contact information for our tour agency, as well as some final tips to prepare for the trek.
Once we have purchased your tickets, with your security deposit, you can only change your start date if you pay an additional amount. This amount is usually around $150 USD. The reason for this is the tickets we purchase are non-refundable and non-transferable, so we are not allowed to simply change your tour date.
To avoid altitude sickness, give yourself time in Cuzco to acclimatize to the change in altitude. Two days minimum is recommended!!! Try to avoid alcohol before and during your trek, and make sure you eat lightly and drink plenty of water. Make sure to stay hydrated during the trek, don't force yourself to walk faster than your body wants to, and take frequent breaks. Drinking coca leaf tea helps a lot, and you may wish to speak with your doctor about Diamox pills.