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This is the Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu
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walking through the salkantay

The Salkantay trek is a 5-day hiking route that ends in Machu Picchu. During the day, tourists travel mountainous sections (70 kilometers in total). At night you rest in camps with incredible views of the stars. The route can be done without a tour. However, it is best to do it with a tourism agency. Know all the data of this walk, day by day.

The Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu

The Salkantay trek is a hiking route that in 5 days of walking and 4 nights of camping ends in Machu Picchu. Its name is due to the fact that it runs through mountainous landscapes near the imposing Salkantay snow-capped mountain, the second highest in Cusco.

The Salkantay trek tour also offers versions of only 4 days. However, the classic route is the one that lasts 5 days. This route covers 70 kilometers in total. This hike reaches its highest point in the Salkantay pass (at 4,650 m.a.s.l.). The lowest point is in the town of Aguas Calientes (at 2,040 m.a.s.l.).

During the walk, in addition to the Salkantay pass, tourists will appreciate the famous Humantay lagoon. The penultimate day will be able to enjoy the jungle landscapes of Cusco. The last day is destined to enjoy Machu Picchu and return by train to the city of Cusco.

The best way to do this walk is in the company of a tourism agency. However, it is also possible to go on your own. For this, an excellent travel backpack should be organized, with a coat and thermal tents (it is very cold in the first two nights). In any case, if you do not have the necessary experience, it is best to go with an all-inclusive tour.

Summary Salkantay trek 5 days

Difficultyclassic inca trail machu picchu level
Total distance70 kilometers
Camp on day 1Soraypampa
Camp on day 2Chaullay
Camp on day 3Lucmabamba
Camp on day 4Aguas Calientes
Highest sectionAbra Salkantay (4,650 m.a.s.l.).
Highest sectionAguas Calientes (2,160 m.a.s.l.).
Maximum temperatureMachu Picchu (24ºC. en promedio).
Minimum temperatureAbra Salkantay (0ºC. On average).
Tourist attractionsHumantay Lagoon, Machu Picchu.
GeographiesMountainous and tropical.
Walking difficultyModerate – high.

This is the Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu: day by day

This is the itinerary that most tourism agencies follow:

Day 1
Cusco | Soraypampa
  • The Salkantay trek begins with a trip by land transport from the city of Cusco to the town of Mollepata (distance of approximately 102 kilometers).
  • In this Andean town the walk begins. The first section is arduous because it is in continuous ascent. In total, 16 kilometers will be traveled until arriving at the Soraypampa camp. There is a break for lunch.
  • On this first day, tourists who wish can travel the additional 2 kilometers to reach the Humantay lagoon. Then they must return to the camp where they will have dinner and spend the night.
  • Some tourism agencies include in Soraypampa a “dome” type camp with views of the stars.

Day 2
Soraypampa | Chaullay
  • The second day is considered the most difficult of all. The day starts very early with a nutritious breakfast. Then you must walk upwards (for approximately 4 hours) until you reach the highest point of the route: the Salkantay pass (at 4,650 m.a.s.l.).
  • After reaching the highest point, the paths begin to descend. In the town of Wayracpampa there is a stop for lunch.
  • Then the descending route continues until reaching the Chaullay camp. There you will rest surrounded by mountains. That day they will walk a total of approximately 22 kilometers.

Day 3
Chaullay | Lucmabamba
  • On the third day, the geography will go from a chain of high mountains to a tropical forest with abundant vegetation.
  • The day begins with a nutritious breakfast. This is followed by a downhill hike of approximately 4 hours. The resting point will be at the Playa Sahuayaco camp where there is a stop to have lunch and regain energy.
  • Then we continue with the descent through wooded roads until we arrive at the Lucmabamba camp, famous for its cultivated fields where fruit abounds. There you will have dinner and spend the night. That day the walk will be 16 kilometers on average.

Day 4
Lucmabamba | Aguas Calientes
  • The penultimate day is one of the most fun. The geography already resembles what Machu Picchu will be on the last day. You will walk approximately 16 kilometers. Much of these days will be on flat roads.
  • After breakfast, you will ascend a small section until you reach the Inca archaeological site of Llactapata. Then the route continues until arriving at the Hydroelectric station. There you have lunch and take a break.
  • The last section will be in a straight line, parallel to the train line and the Vilcanota river. This famous hike takes only about 2 hours. The final destination will be the town of Aguas Calientes, also called Machupicchu town due to its proximity to the Inca citadel.
  • In Aguas Calientes, visitors will dine at a local restaurant and spend the night in a tourist lodge.

Day 5
Aguas Calientes | Machu Picchu and return to Cusco
  • The last day is dedicated to visiting Machu Picchu. Breakfast will be very early in the same hotel. Then tourists can choose whether to go up on foot or by bus to Machu Picchu (a 10-kilometer uphill route).
  • In Machu Picchu the tour will begin in the company of the tour guide. For almost 3 hours, tourists can take photos and learn about the buildings that make up the Inca citadel.
  • After the visit, you will return to the town of Aguas Calientes. There you will have lunch and return by train and minivan to the city of Cusco.


The 5-day Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu has an approximate cost of 500 US dollars per person.

If you travel on your own you must buy: entrance to Machu Picchu, train tickets, bus and lodging in Aguas Calientes. You will also need to carefully organize your travel backpack which should include: thermal tents, sleeping bag, adequate food, personal hygiene items and more. The cost depends on how each visitor is organized.

More information about the route

The Salkantay trek tour, unlike the famous Inca Trail, can be purchased online or in the city of Cusco with days or weeks in advance. To find the correct option, it is recommended to review the positive and negative comments on the internet tourism forums (such as TripAdvisor, for example).

Are you planning to do the Salkantay trek? The most advisable thing is to spend one or two days in Cusco before starting the walk. The reason? Thus the tourist will better adapt to the mountainous geography of the Andes Mountains. Remember that you can suffer from the symptoms of altitude sickness such as nausea, fatigue and headache. Do not drink alcoholic beverages before the expected walk.

During the route you will be able to appreciate different types of flowers, trees and plants in which the following stand out: eucalyptus, molles, icchu (wild straw from the Andes) and the beautiful orchids. The types of birds and mammals that you will be able to appreciate are: the llama, alpaca, Andean condor, cock of the rocks, vizcacha, Andean deer or even the spectacled bear.


By Inca Trail Machu Picchu - Last updated, 04-11-2021

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