SALKANTAY TOUR – THE INCA TRAIL 7 Days / 6 Nights

7 Days

Salkantay Tour | For those looking to combine the best of our two most popular treks, this is for you. The Inca Trail or Salkantay Tour are a lot to take in, together they are long and tiring, so you should have some overnight hiking experience and be in good shape.

Tour Location: Inca Trail and Salkantay Trail – Epic 7 day Hike to Machu Picchu

Tour Type: Hiking, camping, adventure, history, culture

Total Distance: 46.7 miles/75 km

Good For: Experienced hikers

Difficulty: Quite challenging

Considerations: Permit required

Itinerary

Your Inca Trail or Salkantay Tour starts with your Salkantay Trek Tour Guide, Chef, and Porters picking you up from your hotel (Must be located in Cusco) at 4:30 a.m., and you will drive two and a half hours to the trailhead, Marccoccasa (3,300 meters). You will meet your horseman and horses, and have some time to prepare for the day and enjoy your breakfast. You will experience views of the Andes, lush green valleys, and beautiful waterfalls. Today will be moderate in difficulty, but one of the longer days of hiking. There will be a gradual uphill climb lasting about three and a half hours until lunch. After lunch, the hike will be less of an incline and more relaxed walk.

The views along the Salkantay vs Inca Trail change drastically as you go. The trailhead is all green, lush valleys, but in the afternoon, you will be right at the foot of the Humantay snow-capped mountain. You will also experience a temperature drop from warm to cold. Be sure to have your warm jacket, and gloves in your daypack for the cold afternoon. After arriving at the Soraypampa campsite (3,800 meters), your team will welcome you and provided warm drinks and dinner.

Elevation: From 2,900 to 3,800 m
Walking Distance: 11 km / 6.8 miles
Considered: Moderate
Weather: Warm to hot

You will be woken up with hot drinks and breakfast to prepare for the Salkantay Tour. After you prepare for the day, we will show you the alpines micro-climate, and amazing views of the high glacier peaks. They are considered to be the highest peaks around Cusco and the father of the other mountains by many Andean people (Apus means God). You will begin a two-hour climb to the most beautiful blue lake, located at the bottom of Humantay glacier mountain. It’s believed that the Incas used to hold celebration ceremonies for the God of water and the Apus, that surround this peaceful place.

You will then begin your return to the main trail and continue towards your lunch spot at Salkantay Pampa. It will be time to depart from the Humantay peak and enjoy the views of a higher mountain, Salkantay Mountain (6,215 m). You will arrive here around 1 p.m.and enjoy lunch. After lunch, we will have a two hour, steep climb to our second campsite, at Ichupata or Pampa Japonesa (4,200 m). Today will be a cold day of hiking, so be sure to have your jacket, warm hat, sunglasses, and gloves in your day pack. At the campsite, you will be welcomed by your porters to enjoy hot drinks and dinner. Tonight is the perfect night to spot the constellations and the views of Salkantay peak. This site is the closest camp to Salkantay, so it may be possible to hear some avalanches. However, do not let this scare you since they are not close to us. This campsite is the highest, so it should be a cold night, close to zero degrees Celsius.

Elevation: 3,500 – 4,300 meters
Distance: 13 km / 8 miles
Considered: Moderate to difficult
Weather: Cold

After tea and breakfast, it will be time to embark on the most challenging, yet rewarding hike, to date. Your guide will lead you up the Inca Chiriasca pass (5,000 meters high), at a steady pace to see the marvelous views of the glacier mountains. Once you have reached the top, there will be hot coca tea, view of the valley and lakes, and even birds like condors and falcons.

Following, you will start descending, or you may take an optional hike to a glacier, which only takes 30 minutes. Afterward, we will continue trekking to your lunch spot, where your porters will be waiting with the traditional hot tea and delicious lunch. For the rest of the day, you will walk downhill, through lush green valleys and winding streams, before reaching your campsite, in a little village of 10 families.

Elevation: 4,300 – 5,000 meters, then to 37,500 meters
Distance: 14 km / 8.6 miles
Considered: Difficult
Weather: Cold

This day will give you a rare glimpse into the past as you wander through hillside paths, used by traditional Peruvian farmers, living the same way since the time of the Incas. Then, you will arrive at the famous Inca ruins, where your tour guide will provide you with some background on the Incas. After the ruins, your tour guide will point out new and different vegetation, as you move into the high, jungle micro-climate.

Finally, you will reach the classic Inca Trail, where your porters will serve you lunch. The afternoon’s hike will be all uphill until we reach our campsite. Be sure you have your camera ready, with fully charged batteries, as you never want to miss this opportunity to capture the magnificent views of the mountains and enchanting natural waterfalls in the cloud forest.

Elevation: 3,750 – 3,000 meters, then to 3,300 meters
Distance: 14 km / 8.6 miles
Considered: Moderate to difficult
Weather: Cold in the morning, warm in the afternoon

Today will be the longest but most breathtaking day of the Salkantay Tour, with it including the Inca ruins and the cloud forest. After an early breakfast, we will start with a two-hour climb uphill in the Puna area. The Andean Ichu is a dry place with little vegetation, but you can see llamas here. When we reach the peak of Dead Women´s Pass (4,200 meters high), you will have some time to rest and enjoy the glacier peaks and spectacular mountains, nearby. Afterward, we will start descending on the rock-paved trail towards our lunch spot. Along the way, you will be able to observe Orchids and other flowers.

Please try to walk slow and be cautious of nature. This section is a perfect spot to watch hummingbirds. After lunch, we will begin climbing uphill for two hours to reach the second peak. Halfway through your journey, you will visit the Inca ruins, called Runcu Raccay.

This place has been said to function as a watchtower from its oval shape and position overlooking the valley. After crossing over the second peak (4,000 meters high), we will start descending for one hour to the lake called Yanaccoha, where the Incas organized ceremonies for the Goodness of the water. Then, you will arrive at the famous cloud forest and also one of the most beautiful Incan ruins called Sayacmarca. Sayacmarca is where you can observe the original Inca houses, water fountains, water channels, and the most spectacular views of the valley.

After the ruins, it will take you about 30 more minutes to reach our campsite, called Chaquicocha. Once again, you will have an opportunity to see different types of flora and fauna since you will be in the high jungle.

Elevation: 3,300 – 4,200 meters (the pass), 3,600 meters (the lunch) and again, 4,000 meters (the pass), 3,600 meters (the camp)
Distance: 16 km / 9.9 miles
Considered: Difficult
Weather: You will experience the four seasons, all in just one day

Today is the most relaxed day of the Salkantay tour. In the morning, you will have views of the surrounding Andes Mountains, and the Pumassillo mountain glacier peaks. There will only be about five hours hiking, including the three Inca ruins on the way to our campsite. The first ruins are called Phuyupatamarca (cloud level-town) and are two hours from the campsite. It is impressive to observe the lovely platform and houses where the Incan nobles studied astronomy. The second set of ruins are on the hillside among terraces. It was perhaps an Incan agricultural experiment station.

You will also have views of the sacred valley, and the river of Urubamba. Finally, you will reach the last campsite, called Wiñay Wayna (2,600 meters), where you will leave your day packs and walk for five minutes to reach the most beautiful Incan ruins, along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. This place is close to a village where you can enjoy the beauty of the water channels, terraces, and temples, and learn about the religious ceremonies that used to occur here.

After lunch, you will have an opportunity to take a hot shower, followed by a free afternoon to explore the most beautiful Inca site, Wiñay Wayna. Later in the afternoon will be your last happy hour and dinner, topped with a small presentation from your porters to say a final goodbye. They will head back to Cusco the next day, while you continue your journey to Machu Picchu.

Elevation: 3,600- 2,600 meters
Distance: 10 km / 6.2 miles
Considered: Warm and humid

Today is the most important day of your Salkantay Tour, as you will wake up earlier than usual. After breakfast, you will walk two more hours to Machu Picchu, where you will pass through the Sun Gate to experience some spectacular views of the stunning mountains, valleys, rivers, and the Incan ruins. Once you arrive, your tour guide will inform you about Machu Picchu for two hours. After, you will have time to explore by yourself. When you are ready to make your way back to Aguas Calientes, there will be buses that depart regularly. This bus is about 30 minutes. After spending time in the town of Aguas Calientes, you will need to be at the train station 30 minutes before our train departs back to Cusco.

Walking Distance: 5 km /3 miles

Note: Before the government enforced the new legislation about protecting the Inca Trail, horses were the main transport to carry equipment from the trail head to Wayllabamba. Since they banned the horses, we have replaced them with out porters (on the Classic Inca Trail). You will have the same tour guide and cook throughout your tour. All meals are prepared on site, so that you will always have fresh food.

GETTING TO CUSCO

The airport in Cusco currently is only for domestic flights, so all international travelers by plane must disembark in Lima and go through Customs. Even if your flight to Cusco is the same day by the same airline carrier, you must grab your bags in Lima and then check them back in.

The best way to get to Cusco is by air, and there are several options in airlines. LAN tends to be the most expensive but has the most options and flights. Expect delays or flight cancellations. Due to the high altitude of Cusco, it tends to be difficult to land, and any acclimate weather will stop air traffic. Bus travel is always available, and while the trip can be long, especially from Lima, the buses in Peru are very well maintained and comfortable. This option is strongly encouraged if coming from a city closer to Cusco, like Puno. Lima buses will take about 20 hours to arrive.

LUGGAGE STORAGE

Any extra luggage you have with you can be left safely in Cusco at either your hotel or with us at the The tour operator while you trek. We will store your luggage on the morning of your trek and return it once you are back in Cusco. Make sure your bags have tags on them, so they are easy to locate.

ALTITUDE

As soon as people book their trip to Peru, specifically Cusco, they start wondering about altitude sickness. The air at high altitudes contains less oxygen than at sea level and forces your body to work harder to get the oxygen it needs. Over several days at high altitude, your body adjusts to the lower amount of oxygen in the air. For this reason, we always recommend spending at least two days in Cusco before beginning any trek in the Andes. Cusco is a marvelous city with lots to do, so if you have more time to acclimate, you won´t be bored.

With altitude sickness, you may first feel like you have the flu or a hangover. You may have a headache, tiredness, loss of appetite, nausea or vomiting, dizziness, trouble sleeping, trouble breathing during exercise. If any of these effects become severe, please contact our office, and we will help you get to a doctor.
Most of the time, these symptoms will be mild. We always recommend easing into activity slowly, allowing your body to adjust. Drink plenty of fluids such as water or coca tea. Coca tea has been used since ancient times to help prevent altitude sickness. Leaves from the Coca Plant contain alkaloids that help bring oxygen into your blood, helping your body avoid the effects of altitude sickness. Avoid drinking a lot of alcohol and coffee, since they will cause you to urinate more often and become dehydrated. Avoid smoking. Smoking makes it more difficult for your body to get oxygen. Avoid sleeping pills. They may cause shallow breathing at night, making it more difficult for your body to absorb oxygen while you sleep.

Remember, the trek to Machu Picchu is not a race. Even those in the best shape will suffer from altitude sickness if they race to the top of the mountain too quickly. Go slow, and it will give your body time to adjust to the elevation. Your healthcare provider may prescribe medication such as Acetazolamide and Dexamethasone to help prevent altitude sickness. Start the medicine two days before you get to high altitude, and continue to take it while you are at high altitude. You must remember that this is your holiday and you do not want to stress out about the possibility of getting sick from the mountains. Do everything slowly and drink lots of water, and enjoy the coca tea. If anything does happen and you, unfortunately, get sick, let your guide know right away. Alpaca Expedition guides are trained to help you get through it.

WEATHER

Of course, the weather is unpredictable. Typically the dry season in Cusco is from April through October, but this does not stop rain from falling in June or the sun from coming out in December, so just be prepared. No matter what month you are doing the trek, make sure that you have rain gear that includes a waterproof jacket, pants, poncho, and waterproof gloves. Many people forget about gloves, but being cold and wet makes hiking very unpleasant.

Also, be ready for four seasons. Treks in the Andes involve various microclimates, and you will need to be prepared for each one. Layers are always key since they are easy to adjust to different temperature changes. Be prepared with a warm packable down jacket since the evening will be cold.

FIRST AID

The tour operator guide has received training in first aid from a physician. We conduct mandatory training every February, and every single Alpaca guide attends. When guiding you, they will have with them a first aid kit for basic medical situations (traveler’s diarrhea, cuts, scrapes, etc.) and oxygen. They will take good care of you.

In case something unexpected happens, and you feel you can no longer complete the trek, they will figure out the safest and quickest way off the trail and to a clinic. You will never be left alone; you will have a member of the team escort you every step of the way until safely with a doctor. When you are feeling up to it, we will make sure that you still have the chance to visit Machu Picchu and re-connect with your group. This way, you can finish your trip, traveling by train comfortably.

TRAVEL INSURANCE

To protect your travel investment, we highly recommend the purchase of travel insurance. Getting travel insurance before you leave home is strongly encouraged and very easy. We work with a great agency in the United States, that has helped to make it easy and affordable. What an excellent way to protect yourself while you are visiting Peru.

ENVIROMENTAL IMPACT

The tour operator uses biodegradable soap and transports all our garbage back to Cusco. Our porters are trained to look after the trail and pick up any waste from other groups as well. We also use environmentally-friendly portable chemical toilets that allow us to carry waste out. We believe in leaving no footprint behind.

COMMUNITY

The tour operator is proud of the work we do for our community, as this is the main focus of our company. We have worked with villages directly to help supply them with the needs their families were missing. We have supported local schools by giving them computers and books. Alpaca Expeditions also sponsors a teacher at the village where most of our porters come from and ensures their children have the best opportunity for education.

We buy all our food from local farmers and markets and serve the freshest ingredients. We provide English classes for all our team: guides, porters, chefs, and drivers. We are also building a house for our porters. By giving them a safe and comfortable place to stay before and after our treks, they no longer need to sleep on the floor at a friend’s house.

And twice every year we bring our porters and their families to Machu Picchu. The men and women who work tirelessly have never visited the Lost Citadel of the Incas. So that makes this trip our favorite to-do. It is an honor to show them this place.

We are always looking to do more and for partners. Please let us know about your ideas, and we will work to help.

PERSONAL PORTER INCLUDED

All of our camping treks include porters, who are responsible for carrying and setting up all equipment. They will additionally carry the duffel bag you receive at your briefing the night before your trek. Each duffel bag can not exceed 7kg/14lbs and must include your sleeping bag and air mat.The tour operator gives each porter a proper uniform, salary, and insurance. They are the backbone of our company.

You can send your enquiry via the form below.

SALKANTAY TOUR – THE INCA TRAIL 7 Days / 6 Nights
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