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Salkantay Trek to Machupicchu 5 days

"5 Day Salkantay Trek: Epic Trek to Machu Picchu"

The 5-day Salkantay Trek is an exciting trekking expedition that takes you through some of the most breathtaking landscapes of the Peruvian Andes. During this journey, you will hike ancient Inca trails, cross high mountains, traverse lush forests and reach the iconic citadel of Machu Picchu. In addition to enjoying the natural beauty of the region, you will have the opportunity to explore small local communities and learn about Andean culture. This trek offers an unforgettable experience that combines adventure, history and nature in a journey that will leave you in awe of the grandeur of the Andes and the mystique of Machu Picchu.

Trip summary

Day 1: Hike and visit to the beautiful Humantay lagoon, you will be part of the Andean ritual to the Pacha Mama and the Apus (sacred god of the mountain), camping near the snowy Salkantay.

Hiking distance: 8.1 km

Average trekking time: 6 hours

Elevation gain: 408 meters

Day 2: This day you will arrive at the Salkantay pass at 4664 masl (15100 ft.); you will enjoy impressive landscapes of the highlands. You will see the snow-capped peaks of Humantay, Salkantay and Pumacillo and descend to the village of Chaullay (2950 masl).

Hiking distance: 19.8 km

Average trekking time: 8 hours

Elevation gain: 800 meters.

Day 3: Hike from Chaullay to Lucmabamba through the valley of the Salkantay River. In the afternoon, enjoy a delicious traditional organic coffee that you prepare with your own hands with the help of our expert. Along the way taste local fruits and share unforgettable moments with the local people.

Walking distance: 18.2 km

Average walking time: 6 hours

Elevation gain: 300 meters

Day 4: Hike to the Inca ruins of Llaqtapata; take your first picture of Machupicchu from here. In the afternoon, you will have a nice hike along the Urubamba River surrounding the Huaynapicchu Mountain until you reach Machupicchu Pueblo.

Walking distance: 22.8 km

Average walking time: 9 hours

Elevation gain: 500 meters

Day 5: Explore Machupicchu, take some of your favorite pictures, and learn all about Machupicchu and what it was like in the past. You will return to Ollantaytambo in a panoramic train enjoying incredible views, from Ollantaytambo we will provide transportation to return to your hotel in Cusco city.

Trip itinerary

Day 1: Cusco – Ch’allacancha – Humantay Lagoon – Soraypampa Camp.

At 5:00 a.m., your guide will pick you up at your hotel in Cusco, and then you will travel to Mollepata in our tourist transport. In the town of Mollepata, the group will take a short break to have breakfast, improve acclimatization and enjoy the beautiful scenery.

The hike will begin in the village of Ch’allacancha at 3750 masl, from this place we will walk 7 km in the middle of a landscape of flowers and native trees until we arrive to Soraypampa (3900 masl) where we will have lunch. In the afternoon, after a revitalizing rest you will climb 1 km away until you reach the slopes of the snowy Humantay, in this place you will find the beautiful Humantay lagoon (4350 masl.) where the group will take enough time to relax and enjoy the beauty of this place. Later we will return all the way back to the camp and enjoy the sunset with coffee and hot chocolate.

After dinner by a campfire you will witness and participate in an Andean religious ceremony (payment to the Pacha Mama and the Apus), you will have the opportunity to learn the mystical secrets of the Quechua culture and the Incas.

Day 2: Soraypampa – Salkantay Pass (4664 m.a.s.l.) – Huayraqmachay – Chaullay

This day we will hike to the top of the Salkantay Pass, the highest point of our entire trip, located at 4664 m. above sea level. From each resting point, you will be able to take unforgettable pictures of the landscapes and the gigantic snow-capped Salkantay. After a rest and the satisfaction of having reached this altitude, the group will offer respect and a special present to the snow-capped Apu Salkantay using the sacred Apachetas. Then descend to Huayraqmachay where our Andean Chef awaits us with lunch.

In the afternoon, we continue our trek downhill leaving the typical Andean landscapes in the distance, this time we will enter a new ecological floor known as cloud forests until we reach the village of Chaullay at 2900 masl where we will camp for the night.

As always; every evening you will enjoy delicious coffee and hot chocolate by a campfire where our guide will tell you traditional Andean stories.

Day 3: Chaullay – Sahuayaco village – Lucmabamba (2000 m.a.s.l.)

As usual every morning we offer you a hot tea, you will have time to pack your personal equipment and have breakfast.

This day you will cover a distance of 18 km walking along a path without much difficulty, along the way you can photograph beautiful canyons, flora and wildlife. You will also be able to taste some fruits grown by local families. At noon, you will taste the nutritious lunch of our Andean chef. In the afternoon you will visit the coffee plantations, learn the techniques they use to grow and process coffee. You will have the opportunity to experience the preparation of a natural coffee. In the afternoon, you will have free time to rest and relax your muscles.

Optional activities:

1) Visit to the Cocalmayo Hot Springs.

In your free afternoon, you can go to relax your muscles in the thermal baths of Cocalmayo located 30 minutes’ drive from our camp. You will need extra money (50 Nuevos soles to cover your transportation tickets and entrance fee).

2) Zip Line Adventure

From the zip lines, you will have a spectacular view of the Santa Teresa Valley. For this activity, you will be asked to accept and sign the risk documents, since this is an activity with a certain level of risk. You will need 30 US Dollars to participate in this activity.

Day 4: Lucmabamba – Llaqtapata – Hidroeléctrica – Machupicchu Pueblo (Aguas Calientes)

This day we will climb to a natural viewpoint from where you can see the legendary Inca city of Machupicchu.

After breakfast, we will walk along an Inca trail until we reach Llaqtapata located at 2500 meters above sea level, an archaeological site more than 500 years old that is still covered by vegetation as Machupicchu was before it was discovered. From this place, you will be able to take some of the most beautiful pictures of the valley and the mountains surrounding Machupicchu. After an invigorating rest, you will descend to Hidroeléctrica located at 1900 masl where you will have lunch this day.

In the afternoon, you will walk the last 11 km. along the railway line, surrounding the mountain of Huaynapicchu. This section of the trail is relatively easy until you reach the village of Machupicchu where you will spend the night in a comfortable Hotel*** and have dinner in a gourmet restaurant.

Day 5: Guided tour of Machupicchu – Return to Cusco

Visit Machupicchu according to the schedule of your entrance ticket. During your tour the guide will tell you all about the history of Machupicchu, show you the most important sites, and you will have enough time to take pictures and enjoy your tour.

In the afternoon, you will travel aboard a tourist train to Ollantaytambo enjoying majestic views, other Inca cities like Choque Suysuy, Chachabamba, and Pata LLaqta. When you arrive to Ollantaytambo, our tourist transport will pick you up and transfer you to your hotel in Cusco city.


If you planned to climb Huaynapicchu Mountain or Machupicchu Mountain, you should know this:

  • Only the ticket that indicates “LLaqta de Machupicchu” allows you to choose one of the four established circuits.
  • The ticket that includes the Waynapicchu or Huchuypicchu mountains only allows you to go through CIRCUIT 4.
  • The ticket that includes the Machupicchu Mountain only allows you to tour CIRCUIT 3.



  • Pick up of the clients in their respective hotels and transfer to the starting point of the excursion, which is Ch’allacancha.
  • On the last day, transfer from Ollantaytambo train station to your hotel in Cusco.

ENTRANCE: All entrance fees are included:

  • Entrance to the Inca citadel of Machupicchu.
  • Entrance ticket to the regional conservation area Humantay Lagoon.

CAMPING EQUIPMENT: We include the following staff:

  • Spacious high mountain tent with capacity for three people but we use it only for two people (Doite Pro Aconcagua 3 Model, Tatonka Sherpa dome PU 3).
  • Inflatable mattress for each person.
  • Dining tent and kitchen with their respective tables and chairs.


  • One night in Standard Hotel*** in Machupicchu Pueblo.


  • One professional bilingual guide for every 12 passengers.
  • One Andean cook and an assistant.
  • Horseman and mules to carry all camping equipment, and 7 kilos of personal belongings for each Tourist.


  • Four energetic breakfasts
  • Four nutritious lunches
  • Four delicious dinners
  • Tea every morning at the campsites


  • Oxygen
  • Radio communication
  • First aid kit
  • Certified guides in first aid and mountain rescue.


  • Bus tickets up and down to Machupicchu.


  • Breakfast on day 1
  • Lunch and dinner on the last day of the trip
  • Sleeping bag
  • Transportation and entrance to Santa Teresa hot springs.
  • Silla horse if you need it
  • Adventure in the zip line park in the valley of Santa Teresa.

What to pack ?

    • A backpack to carry water, some snacks, a camera, sunscreen, valuable things, Jacket, rain gear, etc. We recommend bringing a backpack of 25 – 30 liters, but if you like to can bring a daypack or any size of the backpack as long as you feel comfortable with it.
    • Sleeping bag at least – 5 cº. If you do not have one, you can rent from us for US 15 dollars for the whole trek.
    • Trekking Poles – We recommend for people with problems of knees, ankle, or you are used to using hiking poles. If you do not have one, you can rent from us a pair of trekking poles for  US 10 dollars from us.
    • Original Passports
    • Wool hat or beanie
    • Sun hat
    • Scarf
    • Gloves
    • 3 – 4 t-shirt, if you have long sleeve better
    • layers (sweater, fleece)
    • 2 – 3 pairs of long pants if you have leggings, you can do on leggings
    • Hiking shoes
    • 2 – 3 pairs of wool socks
    • Rain gear (Pants, jacket, if you do not have you can buy a rain poncho) is crucial, especially for the wet season.
    • A small headlamp
    • A small towel
    • Shorts
    • Sunglasses
    • Toothbrush and other personal toiletries
    • Toilet paper
    • sun block lotion
    • Insect repellent
    • Sandals / Flip flops
    • Waterbottle
    • bathing suits
    • If you have thermal clothing you can take them which is not that important, you will use them at least for the first night, which is at 3900 m.
    • Some snacks such as chocolate, cereal bars, candies, nuts, energy bars, etc.
    • Extra Cash in Soles

    IMPORTANT: Remember that we will provide you with a duffle bag on the briefing day, which you can use to pack 7 kilos of your personal belongings that you will take to the trek, which are going to be transported by the horse during the entire trek. It means that you will do the trek carrying your small backpack with things you need for the day hike and you will have access to the duffle bag at each camping place.


Frequently Asked Questions

About the Salkantay Trek 5 Days

The Salkantay Trail connects Cusco to the Citadel of Machu Picchu and runs approximately 75 km/46 miles through high Andean peaks, cloud forest, and steamy jungle. The hike starts at the village of Mollepata, two hours drive 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.

How far do we walk each day?

The amount you walk each day varies. An average day is 5-8 hours, but on the 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.

How difficult is the Salkantay Trek 5 Days?

For an average traveler 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. Moreover, all trekkers should spend at least 2 days in Cuzco before the trek, to get acclimatized. To be 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 for 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.

What is the most challenging section of the 5-Day Salkantay Trek?

The Salkantay Pass, at 4646 meters (14, 760123 feet above sea level), is the most difficult section on 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 4,646 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, cold winds, low temperatures in general, and the fact that you are trekking at a low-oxygen altitude.

How old do I have to be?

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).

Can I hike the Salkantay at any time?

Weather conditions during the rainy season make the Salkantay trek 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.

When is the best time to hike the Salkantay?

The dry season is the best time for this trek. In Cuzco, the dry season lasts from April to November, and the wet season is from December to March. June to September are the most popular months to do the trek, due to summer vacations in Europe and the US. It is generally thought that May and October offer the best weather conditions.

Can I make the trek by myself?

Yes, it is possible for a single traveler 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 Salkantay. Our guides know the route very well.

Can I do the trek with my kids?

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.

Can I use my mobile/cell phone on the mountain?

You will get sporadic phone coverage during the trek and there will not be anywhere whilst trekking to charge your phone.

Will there be an international cell phone on the Salkantay Trek 5 Days?

One of the trek leaders will be carrying a satellite phone. However, this is for emergency use only.

What is the weather on the Salkantay Trekking 5 Days?

Weather is very varied on this trek, because it winds its way through wildly different terrain at different altitudes. The only place where the 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.

How difficult is the Salkantay trek 5 Days?

On our tours, the Salkantay trek is easy. It is not a difficult trek in the Cusco area, although it is a route of ascents and descents, it implies some physical effort, for that our guides will be there to assist you.

Is the Salkantay trek closed?

Due to weather conditions, the Salkantay Trek is closed from January 31 to the end of February every year and we start again operation on the 01 or March, outside this date range, the hike is open and has the best conditions to enjoy it.

Can you do the Salkantay trek without a guide?

If it is possible if you have previous knowledge of the route and you can carry all your equipment; it can take you more time according to your physical condition; the most advisable is to do it with our experienced guides, besides we have exclusive camps, and you will only carry what you need.

Which is better Inca Trail or Salkantay trail?

The classic Inca trail hike, originally is part of the Inca Road system interconnecting the Inca Empire. This classic trek hike through diverse scenery. On the other hand, the Salkantay trek is more strenuous and famous for its mountain scenery.

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