Peru – Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu

This is the trek that started it all for us! I wanted to get more and more into hiking and backpacking and this was our giant leap into international trekking. We opted for the 5 day Salkantay Trek in Peru as an alternative to the traditional Inca Trail. The Salkantay Trek is less crowded and more off the beaten path so it offered us the potential for solitude along the way, something that I value highly during outdoor pursuits.

Peru_Machu Picchu at Sunrise Panorama
Machu Picchu at Sunrise

We arranged our trek with SAM Travel Peru. With no agenda or affiliation, I highly recommend them. I have only great things to say about their services. From airport pickup to Cusco city tour to the Salkantay Trek and tour of Machu Picchu, they gave us a great experience in Peru!

Peru_Salkantay Trek Team
Our Salkantay Trek Team from SAM Travel Peru

Start in Cusco

You can fly directly to Cusco and spend a few days acclimatizing to the altitude before starting any trek. We only spent 2 days and we definitely needed more!

Many also recommend flying into Cusco and spending a few days in the Sacred Valley, which is a little lower in elevation, so it can give people an easier time acclimatizing. 

Either way, you can tour Inca sites and spend time in the area while you get your body ready for your trek.

What to do in Cusco

Plaza de Armas (the main square) with the Cusco Cathedral and the Iglesia de la Compania de Jesus.

Museums – we recommend the Museo de Arte Precolombino

Cusco Planetarium – arrange ahead of time and they pick you up in Cusco to drive you up to the planetarium just outside the city. It was a great introduction to Inca cosmology and the constellations of the Southern Hemisphere.

Tour of the 4 major ruins just outside Cusco: Sacsayhuaman, Qenqo, Pukapukara, and Tambomachay. We included a horseback ride between some sites as part of our tour.

Qorikancha – the Temple of the Sun

Peru_Plaza de Armas in Cusco
Plaza de Armas in Cusco
Peru_Tambomachay Landscape

Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu Itinerary:

  • Day 1 – Humantay Lake and hike up to Soroccocha to camp at over 14,000 ft, just below Salkantay Pass
Peru_Huamantay Lake
Huamantay Lake
  • Day 2 – Cross Salkantay Pass and descend from alpine to jungle and camp at Colpapampa
Peru_With Salkantay Glacial Lake
Salkantay Glacial Lake Near the Pass
  • Day 3 – Hike to Llactapata ruins and camp on a mountain overlooking Machu Picchu across the valley
Peru_Machu Picchu Across the Valley
Machu Picchu Across the Valley
  • Day 4 – Descend to Hidroelectrica and walk along the train tracks to Aguas Calientes at the base of Machu Picchu
Peru_Machu Picchu Train
Machu Picchu Train
  • Day 5 – Visit Machu Picchu and return to Cusco
Peru_At Machu Picchu
At Machu Picchu

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One Comment

  1. […] next few years, I dabbled in hiking and camping (my 2nd night ever camping was at 14,000 ft on our Salkantay Trek) and Kevin gained more outdoor experience on his own. Then, in the summer of 2017, when I was […]

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