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REGION Andean Highlands
STATS ~ 32 MI (51 KM)
High Altitude Trek
PERMIT Not Required

Conquer a remote mountain pass overseen by Apu Salkantay, an ancient mountain spirit, and observe the scenery transition from high Andean terrain down to topical vegetation with each passing day on this exciting adventure trek to Machu Picchu.

  • Highest Mountain Pass 15,090 ft (4,600 m)
  • Climate The Salkantay Trek traverses a remarkable diversity of ecozones in the Andes. In the highlands of Peru, daytime temperatures may reach up to 68°F (20°C) and nighttime temperatures drop ranging from 14 to 23°F (-10 to -5°C). After crossing over the Salkantay Pass, the trail descends over into tropical cloud forest climate. Closer to Machu Picchu, average daytime temperatures are 68 to 80°F (20 to 27°C) and nighttime temperatures are 50 to 64°F (10 to 18°C).
  • Dry Season From April to October
  • Wet Season From December to March
Snow-capped and all-mighty, Salkantay Mountain plays an important role in Andean spirituality. Apus are sacred mountain spirits and Apu Salkantay greets you near the trailhead.
Of all the treks to Machu Picchu, the Salkantay takes the prize for most diverse scenery. Crisscross ridges and valleys, walking from high-altitude terrain down into a tropical cloud forest where stout mountain flowers are replaced by orchids and bromeliads.
Retire to a premier lodge after each day of trekking along the Salkantay trail. Gourmet cuisine, jacuzzis, and private accommodations are part of this exclusive experience.
What’s now referred to as the Salkantay Trek was once a section of a vast network of Inca footpaths that connected their expansive empire.
Visit this archaeological site along the trail on the last day of the Salkantay Trek and admire your first glimpse of the citadel of Machu Picchu.
After completing the Salkantay Trek, marvel at the stone temples, terraces, and water channels of the ancient Inca city of Machu Picchu on a guided tour.
Salkantay Itinerary Camp Map

Hike Time: ~ 4 to 5 hrs Hike Distance: 4.5 mi (7 km) Overnight: Camping

Hike Time: ~ 7 to 9 hrs Hike Distance: 10 mi (16 km) Overnight: Camping

Hike Time: ~ 5 to 6 hrs Hike Distance: 9 mi (15 km) Overnight: Camping

Hike Time: ~ 5 to 6 hrs Hike Distance: 7.5 mi (12 km), trail ends at Hydroelectric Station Overnight: Hotel

Salkantay Itinerary Lodge Map

Hike Time: ~ 6 hrs Hike Distance: Easy to moderate Overnight: Salkantay Lodge

Hike Time: ~ 4 hrs Hike Distance: Easy to moderate Overnight: Salkantay Lodge

Hike Time: ~ 6 to 8 hrs (including lunch) Hike Distance: Challenging Overnight: Wayra Lodge

Hike Time: ~ 3 to 4 hrs Hike Distance: Easy to moderate Overnight: Colpa Lodge

Hike Time: ~ 6 hrs Hike Distance: Moderate to challenging Overnight: Salkantay Lodge

Trek to LLactapata Pass
Hike Time: ~ 4 to 6 hrs Hike Distance: Moderate to challenging Overnight: Luxury hotel

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Salkantay Travel Tips

  • Peak travel and trekking season in the Andean region of Peru coincides with the dry season: June, July, and August.
  • Low season coincides with the wet season from December to March. Heavy rains and occasional snow in the high mountains means that trail conditions tend to be wet and muddy. But, the benefits of travel during these months is that attractions and trails are less crowded and the mountains are beautiful shades of green.
  • A permit is not required for the Salkantay Trek.
  • Start dates are flexible. It is best though to book your trekking package in advance, especially during the high season (May to September), to assure reservations for daily excursions and at desired hotels in destinations you visit before and after the trekking experience.

Salkantay is a challenging trek with dramatic changes in elevation. Shortness of breath and fatigue from the high altitude are variables that add to the trek’s level of difficulty. Good physical condition and health are required to endure long days of walking along the ups and downs of the trail for up to 6 hours a day on average.

  • We recommend travelers spend a few days in Cusco before doing the trek to help adjust to the high altitude. It’s better to acclimatize in Cusco, not the Sacred Valley, because the higher elevation of the city at 11,120 ft (3,400 m) is more akin to those at the start of the Salkantay Trek.
  • Altitude sickness is caused by a rapid change in elevation without the necessary time for acclimatization. Mild symptoms are common and include lingering headache, nausea, and loss of appetite. Every person responds differently to the change in altitude and unfortunately there is no way to prevent it or predict how seriously it may affect you.

The Salkantay Trek is an alternative trek to Machu Picchu.

What this means is that unlike the iconic Inca Trail, the trail for Salkantay does not conclude at the Sun Gate into Machu Picchu. Instead, the trekking portion of the Salkantay tour package concludes in the region near Machu Picchu. On the final night, sleep at a comfortable hotel in Aguas Calientes, the gateway town to Machu Picchu.

Perks | Alternative treks to Machu Picchu are often thought of as backup options to the iconic Inca Trail that concludes at the Sun Gate into Machu Picchu. However, these trails offer some nice perks that shouldn’t be overlooked.

  • The limited number of permits for the Inca Trail sell out quickly, sometimes 5 months in advance for dates during high season (May to September). For Salkantay, no permits are required and give you a lot more planning flexibility.
  • Foot traffic along alternative treks to Machu Picchu is far less compared to the very popular Inca Trail.
  • You can do the Salkantay Trek year round. The iconic Inca Trail closes every February for maintenance.

Enjoy beautiful views of the Salkantay Mountain at the beginning of the trek. You will pass below its towering peak as you ascend the Salkantay Pass (15,090 ft /4,600 m). Summiting the peak of the mountain - a feat first achieved in 1952, by a French-American team - however is not part of the traditional trek and a journey reserved for serious mountaineers with the proper equipment.

  • Clothing | Bring short-sleeved shirts and add warmth by wearing additional long-sleeve shirts and a jacket. Long, light-weight pants - not shorts - are ideal for cooler climates and also trekking through warmer tropical terrain for protection against mosquitos. The Salkantay Pass is at a high altitude and average temperatures are very cold, especially at night. Thermal undergarments, a warm hat, and gloves are recommended.
  • Footwear | Comfortable hiking boots or walking shoes are a must. Also pack shower sandals.
  • Wet Season Gear | Rain gear is a must for the Salkantay Trek during the wet season. Be prepared with a rain jacket and pants or poncho. Waterproof footwear is ideal because trail conditions can get very muddy and wet.
  • Bag(s) | Bring a comfortable smaller daypack to wear along the trail to carry your water bottle, camera, and any other necessities. On the Salkantay Trek, pack animals will carry your larger personal bag filled with clothes as well as the communal-used outdoor and camping equipment.
  • Official Documents | Don’t forget your original passport. Along with your general entry ticket, it’s required to enter Machu Picchu.

Please consult your travel advisor with specific questions regarding trekking equipment and rental options during your Salkantay trekking experience.

Travel is full of variables and there is always a risk, however small, that something might go wrong before or during your trip. Something as minor as a flight delay can have a significant financial impact, as can illness, bad weather or baggage delay.

Ask your travel advisor about including travel insurance in your customized travel package.


Postpone your tour with zero cost up to 30 days prior to departure

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