Salkantay Trek Tour Description
The Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu is an alternative to the Inca Trail and is known as the best alternative route (and maybe even better!). This wonderful trail is perfect for adventurers who want to experience ecosystem change. You will hike through dramatic, magical landscapes ranging from snow-capped mountains to tropical jungles where you will experience a great variety of animals and plants. See for yourself a living ancient culture in small villages.
The Cordillera Vilcabamba is an impressive mountain range that covers an area of more than 260 km (161,5 miles). The snow-capped mountain of Salkantay stands out with an altitude of 6,271 meters (20,574 ft) above sea level. It is a prominent snow-capped peak located about 80 km (49,7 miles) northwest of Cusco in south-central Peru. Because of its proximity to the city, it can be easily reached by car. It has been climbed by professional mountaineers since 1952.
We will pick you up at your hotel to start the day. We will drive for about 4 hours, passing Anta and Mollepata and finally arriving in Challancha. Through the windows of the bus, you can see the white snow-capped mountains of Apus Salkantay and Humantay, two gigantic gods of the Incas. You will also be able to admire as far as the eye can see the spectacular views of high peaks and deep valleys in a colorful and contrasting panorama.
We will then continue to Challancha, the starting point of our trek. There we will meet our staff who will provide the equipment and pack mules. Around 9:30 we will start our trekking to Soraypampa (3,850 meters/12,631 ft). The first section of our trail will take us over deep valleys along the mountains. In some parts of the trail, old aqueducts can be seen that still provide water to the farmers in the valleys. We will hike 7 km (4,3 miles) in 3 hours to Soraypampa, where we will have lunch at the Salkantay’s base camp. After lunch and a short rest, we will continue to the unforgettable Humantay Lake (4,200 meters/13,779 ft). This is a 5 km (3,1 miles) round trip that we will walk in 3 hours. This place is one of the most beautiful places in the Andes with incredible green-blue water that reflects the glacier of Apu Humantay. It seems like a dream or a fairy tale! Back at our camp, the background of the valley at sunset will create a beautiful, peaceful scene whose energy can only be felt and not described. Since our Soraypampa camp is located in the middle of the valley’s glacier, the sky is incredibly clear at night, so you can almost touch the stars. Take a moment this night to sort out your mind and think about all the important things in life in the profound silence and tranquility of Soraypampa.
After getting up early at dawn, we will continue our trekking to the highest point of the trail: the Salkantay Pass (4,650 meters/15,255 ft). The distance is 7 km (4,3 miles) and involves a difficult climb of 3 hours between rocky valleys and the enchanting Salkantay Mountain (6,271 meters/20,574 ft). When we reach the top of the pass, we will have spectacular views of the surrounding valleys and the imposing snow-capped mountains of Salkantay, Humantay, Tucarhuay, and Pumasillo.
Mount Salkantay is the second-highest mountain in the Cusco region and one of the “Apus” named by the Incas. From the top of today’s trek, it is 5 km (3,1 miles) downhill. The path down to Huayracmachay Camp, where we will have lunch, is rocky and stony. At the end of our trek, we will reach the village of Chaullay (2,900 meters/9,514 ft) where we will deserve to rest. This is our base camp in the jungle on our way to Machu Picchu.
We start with a hike through the Santa Teresa Valley until we reach the small town of La Playa. You will be able to fully absorb this new lush landscape during these 6 hours.
During the hike, we will see rivers, waterfalls, wild orchids and bananas, coffee as well as avocado plantations. You can taste the famous passion fruit and granadilla along the way. In addition, we will visit the village of Colpapamba, also known as “the forehead of the cloud forest”, where waterfalls, birds, hot springs, fruit-bearing trees and flora, and fauna can be observed. If we are lucky, we will see the beautiful bird called “Cock of the Rocks”.
As in previous mornings, the chief of the trek will wake you up early in the morning with a cup of coffee or coca tea. You will get ready for today’s activities while enjoying the last breakfast. We will start the trek early and you will have the opportunity to hike a small part of the famous Inca Trail. After a 2-hour hike with beautiful views of the Santa Teresa Valley, we will arrive at the Llactapata Inca site before Machu Picchu. This will be the first archaeological site you will see in the lost city of the Incas. It is a special place that we will enjoy together and where you will learn more about the history of this place and land. However, we will not only see ruins, but we will also be able to admire the mountains Huayna Picchu and Machu Picchu.
After visiting the Llactapata ruins, we will go downhill for another 2 hours. In this part of the trail, you will see Machu Picchu at all times before arriving at the station to enjoy our lunch. One of the most impressive sites in this area is the 300 m-long (984 ft) waterfall that provides electricity for the entire Cusco region! After lunch, we will reach Intiwatana, a famous ancient rock that was used as a sundial by the Incas. After leaving this interesting site behind us, we will pass railroad tracks that lead to Agua Calientes.
Note: During the rainy season, the hike to Llactapata Trail is not 100% safe. During steady, heavy rains, the trail can be very dangerous.
Today we reach the long-awaited finale of our trek: one of the 7 Wonders of the World and UNESCO World Heritage Site – Machu Picchu! The entrance to Machu Picchu is open from 6:00 – 17:00.
We will hike to Machu Picchu (optional: a bus ride for a fee) and enter the hidden royal citadel of the Incas. Here we will have a 2-hour guided tour of this incredible ancient city to visit temples, terraces, palaces, churches, the sundial, the industrial sector, and agricultural fields. After this tour, you will have the opportunity (for a fee) to climb Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu mountains (make sure you buy the tickets for them ahead of time!). It will take you about 3 hours to climb each mountain. Another option is the Sun Gate Trek, the main entrance to the Inca Trail (the round trip takes about 2-2,5 hours), for which you don’t need an extra ticket. Option 3 would be a walk to the Inca Bridge. You can fully enjoy this magical city for more than 7 hours before we walk back to Ollantaytambo for our train ride at 6:20 pm to Agua Calientes. A private bus will pick up our group and take you to your hotel in Cusco (not included in the price!). Put your feet up and relax. We can assure you that your heart will long to return to this place for weeks and years to come.
Good luck, have fun and enjoy your adventure!!!
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Gulliver Expeditions is a tour operator that offers unique Ecuador and Peru tours. Specialized in adventure travel such as climbing, mountain biking and horseback riding. We offer both pre-planned packages as well as tailor-made tours that can include the Amazon rainforest, once-in-a-lifetime Galapagos cruises and expeditions to Machu Picchu.Gulliver Terms and Conditions
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