Salkantay Trek + Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in 6 days
The Vilcanota Mountain Range is an impressive range of mountains in Peru which include the snowcapped Salkantay (6,264 meters) and three others over 6000 meters that you will appreciate in this trek.
This snow is really exceptional, located less than fifty miles northwest of the city of Cusco in south central Peru. It is the highest mountain of the Vilcabamba Mountain Range. Because of its proximity to the city, it is easily accessible and is climbed frequently. Join us on this incredible Hiking Tour to Machu Picchu. Book early.
4:30 am Pick up from hotel, by our tourist bus, We'll travel through the Andes, reaching the village of Mollepata.
Where you can gear up on last minute supplies or anything you may have forgotten back in town (water, rain poncho, bug spray, etc). Once the horsemen have taken the large packs and all last-minute supplies have been purchased, it's time to start the trail.
The Hiking trail on this first day is for the majority of the time simply walking on the road that runs all the way back to Soraypampa. While the views are stunning and the trail occasionally takes a steep shortcut through the cow pastures, the scent of eucalyptus invades you as you head up out of Mollepata and out into the wide open valleys that dominate this section of the Andes, and it feels incredible to breathe the thin, mountain air and slowly slip further back into the middle of nowhere.
Little more than a collection of 4 or 5 ranching families who rent out campsites to passing trekkers, Soraypampa is an utterly surreal location. Nestled at the base of towering 3,600 mts or 8,528 fts. Andean peaks such as Mt. Salkantay Mountain at 6264 mts or 20551.18 fts, Soraypampa is our protector of Apu Salkantay: windswept, barren, freezing, and utterly enchanting. Most tour companies have covered campsites here to protect campers from the harsh elements, and it's quite easy to fall asleep after a long day of hike and the sound of the nearby river lapping you into a slumber.
The second day is far and away the hardest day of the trek. It’s long, it’s cold, and you have to make your way over the 4,650 mts – 15,256 fts Salkantay Pass. Nonetheless, waking up at sunrise amidst the sprawling grasslands of Soraypampa, the sun illuminating the 6264 mts or 20551.18 fts Andean peaks springing up from behind you makes for an energizing and mesmerizing start to the day.
The climb to the pass takes anywhere from 3-4 hours, and it is a fairly steep grind of narrow switchbacks and steady uphills until the rock structures of the pass finally come into view. Unless hiking in June or July the trail should most likely be devoid of any snow or ice, although hail, sleet, ice, and rain are possible at any time of the year.
Though the air is thin and the trail is steep, anyone who is fairly physically fit and acclimated to the altitude can make it over the pass. We had, and probably we´ll have 60-something year old people in our group and they made it over the pass just fine. Our group carry extra oxygen, Also you can ride a horse and let them catch a ride over the pass.
Once having crossed the pass it is the start of a long path downhill where you will eventually drop over 1,700 mts or 5577 vertical ft until you arrive to our campsite in Challway. Along the way to Challway there are various tent encampments and small villages scattered amongst the plains, and it is incredible to think that there are a handful of local people who live permanently so far removed from modern society and amongst such harsh natural conditions. Interestingly enough, nearly every small village (example: population 4 or 5) that you pass, there is at least 1 or 2 small. The trail weaves its way down the flank of the mountain and parallels to the Salkantay river that grows exponentially as you make your way down the valley, finally making it an hour or so before sunset to the village of Challway. The camping here is ready.
The trail from the village of Challway to lunch at La Playa is when you make the noticeable change from the mountains down into the jungle. Trickling streams amongst the sub-alpine plains give way to raging waterfalls and streams .There are a number of river crossings across bridges constructed from simple tree logs and branches, and it’s the kind of scenery that you expect a massive python or puma to lurch out at you at any given moment, although allegedly no pythons exist here and pumas are exceptionally rare. the vista of the river valley and the occasional stream crossings are enough to occupy your mind for the 4 hour trek down to lunch.
The area known as La Playa is our lunch place, here that the mosquitos and gnats start coming out in force, So the insect repellent will be our best best way to keep them away.
We continue to Santa Teresa our campsite.
We take a local bus for an hour long bus ride wich will bring us to the town of Santa Teresa, which is the first actually town that you’ll encounter along the trek, and is also famous for the Santa Teresa hot spring that bubble up right outside of town.
Optional: Santa Teresa Hot Springs.
After a rest, we will go to the hot springs and enjoy the well-deserved soothing water!.
After breakfast you will walk for four hours until you reach the Urubamba River and have lunch by the hydro-electric station there.
Hydro is actually farther than Machu Picchu town on the train. It is mainly used by locals.
The walk to Aguas Calientes is along the train tracks, 12 kilometers (7.5 miles).
Walking along the train line is much more enjoyable than we anticipated as a wide path undulates beside the tracks. Almost the entire distance is shaded by jungle foliage, trees and flowers, the incline is very gradual. This is the perfect cool down after 4 days of trekking.
We can tell that we are getting close to our destination of Aguas Calientes: we notice more and more "clean looking" trekkers in fancy clothes looking very fresh... they are day trippers!. We are only a short walk away from a hot shower. The first in 4 days!.
There are no words to describe the joy of seeing the town of Aguas Calientes, the tired legs are quickly forgotten as we are near our hotel. Not only would we get to take a hot shower, but also sleep in a real bed... Hurra!.
We all meet for dinner at a restaurant and get a plan for our next day.
Overnight in hostal in a soft bed. !you gonna love it! Won´t want to get up of bed? Come on ,You must do it. Tomorrow is Machu Picchu! dream with it!
We will hike for aprox 3 hours from Aguas Calientes to Chachabamba (5:00 am – 8:00 am). Upon arrival, we will cross a bridge to the checkpoint to present our passports and have our information verified.
Then we will start an easy walk to the other side of the Vilcanota River, where the trail veers off to the right towards the ruins of Chachabamba located on the old Inca Road that ran along the southern bank of the Urubamba River. After our visit we'll continue the trail south and begin climbing the mountain before entering the cloud forest. Then the trail leaves the forest and goes West while continuing the uphill hike in open grasslands.
After hiking in the sun for about 3 hours, the trail descends into a shaded forest where we will enjoy a refreshing waterfall. Following our break, we continue to the lower part of the incredible ruins of Wiñaywayna. It is recommended that you start the trek with at least 2 liters of water. After lunch in Wiñaywayna, we continue through a beautiful cloud forest full of colorful bromelias, orchids and ferns.
You will walk the last part of the trail along superb , stone steps and tambos (resting places). Then climb 60 steps before arriving to the famous Inti Punku (Sun Gate). From this magnificent point, you will see the extraordinary magical Machu Picchu before you. Feel the energy and warmth of this surreal sanctuary while taking some unforgettable pictures. Then we'll take a 25 minute bus ride to Aguas Calientes to spend the night and reminisce over our exciting hike.
Very early in the morning, after breakfast we take the the first bus at about 6:15 am arriving in Machu Picchu at around 7:00am to see the lovely sun rise over the mountains. Here we will re-live the history and the mysterious world of the Incas. At this time there isn't much of a crowd, so we can take advantage of the tranquility of this sacred site.
We will explore this enigmatic city for approximately 2 hours, while listening to the guide recount the mysteries and archaeological history of this sanctuary. Then you will have 4 hours of leisure to possibly climb Huayna Picchu or continue your exploration of this massive site. Please consult with your guide for the time to be at the train station for your departure so you will have ample time to have lunch or soak in the thermal waters in Aguas Calientes.
Optional: If you would like to spend an extra day in Machu picchu, please let us know so we can change the date on your return train ticket to Cusco. Inka Trail Expeditions Perú can provide a guide and hotel for the extra day at an additional cost. Please be aware that you will have to pay for a second day entrance ticket to the Machupicchu Inca City.