Salkantay Trek: Impartial Hiker’s Information

When most individuals consider climbing to Machu Picchu, the primary title that involves thoughts is the Inca Path. And justifiably so. For many years that basic trek was the only real point of interest for anybody trying to arrive on the fabled ‘misplaced metropolis’ on foot. Nonetheless, as Machu Picchu’s fame elevated, so did the amount of individuals desirous to expertise the Inca Path. Within the early 2000’s authorities put in a a lot wanted quota on climbing numbers, a call which led to the emergence of the Salkantay Trek on the world’s backpacking radar.

I hiked the Salkantay Trek in August, 2017. The data contained beneath is usually geared in the direction of hikers who select to do the stroll independently relatively than with a guided group (Be aware: Since 2001 it’s prohibited to hike the Inca Path and not using a information).

Ryan “Dirtmonger” Sylva descending from Salkantay Move (4630m/15,190ft).

Distance:  57.2 miles ( 92 km)

Avg. Time:  5 days.

  • That’s the usual period of time taken by guided teams . In case you are match, acclimatised and carrying a lightweight pack, there aren’t any actual points in doing the hike in three or 4 days if you happen to really feel prefer it.

Begin:  Mollepata

  • As of 2017, just about all organized teams begin at Soraypampa, which cuts off some 12 miles/20 km from the general distance talked about above. We determined to start our hike on the conventional trailhead of Mollepata, and hike from there to Soraypampa.  From Mollepata you possibly can both comply with the dust street or take a effectively marked path (the signed junction is only a few minutes out of city) all the way in which to Soraypampa.

End: The summit of Machu Picchu mountain.

  • The standard finish of the Salkantay Trek is the Machu Picchu archeological website. We determined to increase it slightly by making the summit of Machu Picchu Peak (3061m / 10,042ft) our ending level.

Yours actually and Ryan “Dirtmonger” Sylva on high of Machu Picchu Peak – ending level of our Salkantay Trek.

Highest Level: Salkantay Move 4630 m (15,190 ft)

Lowest Level: Hydroelectric Plant 1800 m (5906 ft)

Issue:  Simple to average.


    • Mollepata – Three hours by common buses from Cusco. Price 15 Peruvian Soles (about US$5). As of 2017, you possibly can catch day by day minibuses from close to the junction of Arcopata and Avenida Apurimac. They normally go away round 7 to eight am.
    • Machu Picchu – Returning to Cusco from the end of the hike is both costly or time consuming. The priciest, best and most comfy means is to take the prepare from Aguas Calientes to Cusco (4 hrs). Alternatively you possibly can catch the prepare to Ollantaytambo, then take a Collectivo minibus or taxi from there to Cusco (between 3 hrs and 4 hrs complete). Lastly, the most affordable and most time consuming technique to return to Cusco from Machu Picchu is as follows: 1. Stroll the 11 km again to the Hydroelectric dam alongside the railroad tracks; 2. From there take a minibus or collective taxi to the village of Santa Teresa; 3. Catch one other bus again to Cusco. This three step journey can take the most effective a part of a whole day relying on connections, and chances are you’ll effectively end up overnighting in Santa Teresa; not such a foul factor because it does sport some soothing scorching springs (Be aware: If you happen to plan on taking the prepare, you must guide effectively prematurely).

The world’s most futile hitching try on the way in which to Aguas Calientes (photograph from Ryan Sylva).

SeasonAttainable all 12 months, although the dry season between Might and October is good. Throughout this era nights could be chilly (0°C is widespread), however days are typically clear.

Guidebook / Maps / On-line Data:

    • Guidebook: Alexander Stewart’s The Inca Path (2013) accommodates trekking notes and primary maps for the Salkantay Trek (in addition to different hikes within the space).

Permits & Charges: No permits are wanted to hike the Salkantay Trek. Nonetheless, you’ll need to buy an entrance ticket to the Machu Picchu archeological website and Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu peaks. Impartial hikers can organise these prematurely by way of the official Peruvian Ministry of Tradition web site. Alternatively, if you’re going with an organised group, the tour firm could do it for you. It’s price noting that as of 2017, you can even choose up entry tickets to Machu Picchu (however not the peaks) when you arrive in Aguas Calientes. 

For an intensive overview of the ins and outs of buying Machu Picchu tickets, see Thrifty Nomads.

The view from Machu Picchu Peak overlooking the citadel and Huayna Picchu (Picture courtesy of Ryan Sylva)

MealsYou might have a number of choices: 1. Bring all of your provides from Cusco; 2. Buy provisions and organise meals alongside the way in which at Soraypampa, Colpapampa and La Playa, or; 3. Do a mixture of each. We went with the ultimate choice, and loved a number of great dwelling cooked meals throughout our journey. For these concerned with taking the identical strategy, I’d suggest beginning the trek with not more than two days meals.

Water: Loads of water obtainable all through the trek (we by no means carried greater than 1.5 lt at a time), nonetheless, due the prevalence of livestock and human settlement it is strongly recommended that each one water needs to be handled.

Guided Vs Impartial: Greater than 95% of hikers sort out the Salkantay Trek as a part of a guided group. Nonetheless, when you’ve got the mandatory gear (it’s additionally doable to hire gear in Cusco) and an inexpensive quantity of backpacking expertise, there aren’t any points with doing the hike independently. The path is straightforward to comply with all through its course and as talked about above, you should purchase meals alongside the way in which (i.e. which interprets to a lighter load). 

DM descending the Quebrada Humantay.

How does the Salkantay differ from the Inca Path? The first variations are as follows: it’s longer, barely tougher, much less crowded, boasts a larger variation of ecozones, however doesn’t have the a number of archeological websites that you may go to on the Inca Path. It’s additionally cheaper, regardless of whether or not you go together with an organized group or independently; considerably so if you happen to select the later choice. In brief, they’re completely different treks that each occur to finish on the similar spectacular vacation spot.

Overview map of various trails to Machu Picchu (

Trekking Notes:

    • General Character: The Salkantay is probably most notable for its ecological range. It traverses picturesque valleys, alpine meadows, goes up and over a dramatic mountain cross and meanders its means by way of a lush subtropical rainforest.
    • The Move: The excessive level each geographically in addition to scenically is the 4630 m (15,190ft) Abra Salkantay. Upon reaching this spectacular cross, hikers are afforded jaw-dropping vistas of Mount Salkantay (6271 m), a peak that has lengthy been thought of sacred by the inhabitants of the Peruvian Andes.

Views from Salkantay Move.

    • Transformation: From the cross, the path descends greater than 2000 meters (6562 ft) into cloud forest. The change in flora, in addition to temperature is dramatic. Alongside the way in which there are numerous lodging/tenting choices the place it’s doable to interrupt up the descent (i.e. Huayracmachay, Collpapampa and Challway).

    • Ascend to Llactapata: Not lengthy after leaving the pleasant village of La Playa, the pathway ascends once more through banana and low plantations (be sure you cease for a cup or two) to the not too long ago rediscovered ruins of Llactapata. There’s a campsite near the archeological website with spectacular views in the direction of Machu Picchu.
    • Alongside the Tracks: From Llactapata the path goes steeply downhill to the hydroelectric plant. Quickly after you cross the railway station the place provisions could be bought. From this level it’s a flat and simple 11 km to the city of Aguas Calientes following the railway tracks.
    • Stairway to Inca Heaven: The ultimate stage of the Salkantay is steep, quick and consists of tons of of steps. Give your self wherever between 45 minutes and an hour and a half to hike from Aguas Calientes as much as the doorway to the archeological website. From there it’s one other half-hour to an hour to succeed in the summit of Machu Picchu mountain.
      • DM strolling by way of a espresso plantation on the way in which to Llactapata.

      • Levels: The Salkantay Trek is often damaged down into the next 5 levels:
        • Day 1Mollepata to Soraypampa: 20 Km (12.4 miles);
        • Day 2:  Soraypampa to Collpapampa: 22 Km (13.7 miles);
        • Day 3Collpapampa to La Playa: 16 Km (9.9 miles) (**Replace – March 13, 2018: Based on report, path between Collpapampa and La Playa is closed on account of landslides. No data as to when it will likely be cleared; within the meantime take street as an alternative. See feedback beneath – Calvin Benson – for particulars).
        • Day 4La Playa to Aguas Calientes: 25 Km (15.5 miles) – through Llactapata;
        • Day 5Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu Peak: 9 Km (5.6 miles).

          Ascending the steps to Machu Picchu Peak (photograph courtesy of Ryan Sylva).

Last Ideas:

    • Route Selections: There are a number of completely different route choices for the Salkantay Trek. I might counsel the next: 1. Begin at Molletapa, relatively than Sorayapampa; 2. Take the path relatively than the dust street on the part between Colpapampa and La Playa; 3. Go for the path to Llactapata, relatively than the dust street to Santa Teresa. Sure, it’s more durable, however the payoff is an exquisite stroll by way of espresso plantations and nice views of Machu Picchu within the distance.
    • Go Impartial: By any standards, the Salkantay just isn’t a tough trek. In case you have the gear, are fairly match, effectively acclimatized and know methods to comply with a path, I’d extremely suggest going independently. It’s rather a lot cheaper, an even bigger sense of accomplishment, extra alternatives to work together with locals, and also you present your self the component of freedom; the liberty to decide on the place you camp, what you eat, whom you hike with (if anybody), once you take a break, how briskly or gradual you stroll, and many others.  

Yours actually on the finish of the Inca Path in 1996, and 21 years later on the finish of the Salkantay Trek.

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