Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu 2023




What to Expect on my Salkantay Trek Tour

Trek through the most amazing alternative to the Inca Trail. Hiking the 5 day Salkantay Trek starts from Cusco, takes you past the glacier-top Salkantay Mountain, meaning Savage Mountain. Experience the adventure, natural beauty, solitude, and authenticity of this remote path leading you to Machu Picchu. Where the classic Inca Trail has beauty, the Salkantay Trail has nature!

Didn’t book your Inca Trail permit in time? Don’t look past the Salkantay Trek! It is considered by many publications to be one of the top 25 treks in the world. This trek is open to all with no limitations on the number of people who may start per day. Compare that with the 500 who are allowed to hike the Inca Trail per day. The Salkantay Trail links the city of Mollepata all the way to the ancient lost city of Machu Picchu. It passes the beautiful Salkantay Mountain, aka Savage Mountain, at 6271 meters (20574 feet) above sea level. For those seeking solitude and the serenity of nature, look no further than the remote hike of the Salkantay Trek.

Included in Salkantay Trek Package:


  • English-speaking tour guide
  • Entrance to historical Machu Picchu site
  • Expedition Train Ticket
  • Chef
  • Horses (carries community gear)
  • Personal transportation to and from hotel
  • Dining Tent
  • 4 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 4 snacks, and 4 dinners. (We are able to accommodate most diets variations)
  • Hot coffee/Hot tea
  • Nightly pisco drinks
  • Clean water
  • 4 person tent per 2 people
  • Clean private pop-up toilet (no one likes going to the bathroom in a gross outhouse)
  • First Aid Kit

Not included in Salkantay Trek Package:


  • Sleeping bag – $50
  • Trekking poles – $30
  • Therm-a-Rest Comfort Sleeping Pad – $40
  • Panoramic Vistadome Train – $99
  • Horse to help carry personal gear – $125
  • Single Person Tent – $85
  • Single Person Hotel at Aguas Calientes – $125
  • Entrance to Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain – $99
  • Hot Spring Entrance on Day 3 – $25
  • Personal items
  • Breakfast on the first day and lunch/dinner on last day
  • Porter/Guide tips

We had a private chef, Richard, who made some of the most incredible meals I have ever had on a camping trip like Spaghetti Bolognese, Quinoa soup, salads, Lomo Saltado, and even ended our last night with a fabulous cake. How he created his delectable meals out of his small kitchen space and cooking over a fire, I do not know. We were very grateful for every meal.

Overall, a great experience, and I recommend anyone hiking to use this tour operator if you want an intimate guided tour of anywhere in Peru.

Arielle L.


The first day begins early in the morning starting our hike at the small village of Mollepata above the Rio Blanco Valley. We will hike our way up the valley which will be approximately 16km /10 miles and gain an elevation of 1200m /3937ft. Along the path will be a lot of birds and animals and at the end of the day we’ll see the snow-capped peaks of Humantay Mountain and Salkantay Mountain (Savage Mountain). The first night will be spent at Soraypampa (4000m / 12750ft.). We will move slower on the first day to avoid altitude sickness.


The second day is the longest and hardest day of hiking but also the most beautiful. The beautiful scenery changes a lot throughout the day. We will start from the high Puna covered in Ichu grass and then make our way over the Salkantay Pass (4635m/15,200ft) where everything is rock and ice and then descend into the warm and lush cloud forest below. At the Salkantay Pass, you will see Salkantay Mountain which stands at 6264m/20,551ft high; it earns its name as Savage. Along the way we’ll see a variety of wildlife from small finches, to hummingbirds and toucans in the cloud forest, there is also a chance to see Andean Fox, White-Tailed Deer, and Viscacha (rabbit-like Chinchillas). Our campsite for tonight is located at Chauyay (2900m / 9514ft).


Today we will trek to the village of La Playa about 12km down the valley from Colpapampa. Our route takes us along the Lluskamayo River through an area that has various coffee and fruit plantations. The tropical forest that we pass through has many birds such as toucans and beautiful waterfalls.

We will stay in the village of La Playa (2400m / 7874ft.). You may even get the opportunity to roast coffee beans or enjoy the hot springs. You may even get to eat guinea pig (cuy) tonight!


Today is the last day of the hike before we reach Aguas Calientes from Santa Teresa seated at the foot of the Machu Picchu citadel. Today we will visit the Inca site of Llactapata on the mountainside. We will arrive in Llactapata by early to mid-morning and can enjoy the fantastic views of Machu Picchu. After a tour of Llactapata, we’ll learn about the Inca people and their culture. We then head back down the mountain to Hydroelectric Station on our way to our hotel in Aguas Calientes.


Today is Machu Picchu! We will wake up early and take the bus up Machu Picchu. There will be a 2 hour guided tour of the site during which you’ll learn about the Inca and visit all the most important areas of the citadel, such as the Temple of the Sun, Temple of the Condor, the main plaza, and Intitawana. After your tour, you will have approximately 2 hours of free time to explore the site by yourself or climb either Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain. In the afternoon, you will take the train back to Ollantaytambo and then bus back to your hotel in Cusco.



Can I have my own tent?

Yes. If this is a request please consult your travel expert prior to departure. The charge is $75.

Can I have my own room in Aguas Calientes?

Yes. If this is a request please consult your travel expert prior to departure. The charge is $100.

When should I make Salkantay Trek reservations?

As far in advance as possible. However, we can book up to seven days prior to the trek.

How fit do I need to be?

Hiking the Salkantay Trek is a 72km (45 miles) strenuous hike through mountainous regions involving trekking for 5-7 hours at high altitude and over rough terrain. The maximum altitude is 4600m (15100 ft) above sea level. The Salkantay Trek is a difficult trek and you should be well prepared and healthy prior to starting it. Try to spend 2 or 3 days in Cusco (3400m) prior to starting the trek. If you do not exercise regularly, have heart, respiratory, knee or back problems do NOT consider doing the trek.

Is there an age restriction?

Cachi Life, Inc does not accept reservations for children under the age of 8 years old and adults over 67 years old. All children under 18 years old must be accompanied by an adult. Trekkers over 64 years old must also consult with their doctor prior to starting the trek to check that they are fit to participate in the trek. We require proof of physician consult if you are over the age of 64. We recommend that clients over 64 years old arrive in Cusco at least 3 days prior to starting the trek. We recommend that all clients over 59 years old talk to their doctor in advance about how best to plan for the hiking trek and also to ensure that their travel insurance covers such adventure activities.  We do not accept bookings from hikers over 60 years old traveling on their own and group bookings where everyone in the group is over 64 years old.

What sort of meals do you offer?

We offer standard meals as well as a vegetarian meal option. Please let us know your meal preference when booking your tour. We do not offer vegan meals. Please note that all meals are made using the same pots. We will do our best to wash dinnerware and cookware, but there may be contamination.

Meal options:
Standard (no dietary requirements, eats everything),
No red meat
No fish
Gluten free

What if I have food allergies?

Please give us details of your allergy at the time of booking. Please indicate the severity of the reaction and what type of medicine you have to take in case of an emergency. If your allergy is severe, you must be accompanied by a trekking partner on the trek who is aware of your allergy and the location of any required medicines. We do not accept clients with life-threatening allergies. Due to the nature of the remote geographical and lack of suitable nearby medical facilities, Cachi Life, Inc will not accept any responsibility, either directly or indirectly, for any problems due to your special medical/dietary requirements while hiking. Check with your physician prior to booking.

What about medical conditions?

You must disclose at the time of booking any medical condition that could affect your ability to do the Salkantay Trek. Cachi Life, Inc reserves the right to deny a trek booking if we feel that a medical condition may put your life or the lives of any of our trekking staff or other clients at risk on the hike. People with mild asthma/diabetes must bring a medical note from their doctor stating that they are fit to undertake the trek. They will also be required to be accompanied by a trekking partner on the trek at all times who will trek at their sides and be familiar with any medicine required in case of an emergency. Cachi Life, Inc reserves the right to cancel the booking of a client if the client has not fully disclosed at the time of booking a medical condition that may pose a risk to the health of the client and/or other hikers. No refund will be given.

Due to the nature of the remote geographical location of the trail and the lack of suitable nearby medical facilities along the trail Cachi Life, Inc will not accept any responsibility, either directly or indirectly, for any problems due to your special dietary requirements/medical condition. We suggest that you check with your doctor before booking the trek.

When's orientation?

Orientation will take place at your hotel in Cusco prior to the trip. We know everyone’s travel plans are different therefore we try and accommodate. Once your trip is booked you will be assigned a travel expert who will help you organize a time and place for your guide to meet you.

Where do I store my luggage during the Salkantay Trek?

You will have to make your own arrangements. Most hotels will hold your luggage for free or with a fee.

How's the weather?

You should prepare for any type of weather. We run rain or shine. January through March tends to be the rainy season.

How many people can be in a group?

We have no minimum. However, if we are unable to combine you with a Cachi group due to group size we will place you with another company. If that happens you will have your own Cachi guide with that group. 

Can I rent a sleeping bag or hiking poles?

If you prefer to not bring your own hiking poles or sleeping bag, we do have these available for rent. Sleeping bag rental is $50 per person, a sleeping pad is $40, and hiking poles are $30 per person.

What is the cancellation policy?

Unfortunately, no refunds can be provided within 30 days of departure. The payment is used to purchase and reserve your spot on the private bus, pay the porters, chef, guide, and secure your Machu Picchu reservation. Any cancellation over 30 days is subject to a cancellation fee as outlined in the terms and conditions.

When is payment due for the Salkantay Trail?

A non-refundable deposit is due at time of booking. The full payment is due at 30 days prior to tour departure. If booking within thirty days of the tour, full payment of the tour is required. This guided tour is $899 per person. This provides payment for your transportation, permit tour guide, food, porter, chef, tour guide payment, entrance fee to Machu Picchu etc.
Does the Salkantay Trek close?

During the wet season, heavy rains can result in landslides that can block part of the trail or close some of the campsites. Usually, these partial trail closures are just for a few days but they can be for several weeks or even months. In the event of such closures Cachi Life, Inc will do our best to find an alternative route to get to Machu Picchu. If we can’t offer a suitable alternative then we will have to cancel the trek and refund any payments less any costs already spent or committed to operating the trek. You will have to reclaim the remaining proportion of your travel insurance.

Do I need a passport for the Salkantay Trail?

A passport is required to book a trek. The passport number must match the number that was used to book the trek. You will not be allowed to book if your passport expires within the next 6 months. You are required to bring your passport on the trek or you will not be able to start. The government will not allow you into Machu Picchu if you do not have your passport. If you lost your passport you will have to obtain a replacement prior to the trek. This requires you to submit an application with a $25 processing fee to the Peruvian government. You will be required to submit photocopies of your old and new passport along with the police report of the lost passport. Even so, the government may not accept the transfer to the new passport. As such, this is considered a last resort. If this happens, this will be considered a cancellation by the trekker and no refund will be given.

Can I hike with my friends/family?

Yes, and we encourage it! However, if your friend’s reserve later they may not be guaranteed a permit with your group. Permits are issued on a first-come-first-served basis. We recommend everyone in your group books your trek at the same time

Do I have to get acclimated to the elevation?

We require everyone to be in Cusco at least two nights prior to starting the trek, three nights is preferred. This ensures that everyone in the group is well acclimatized to avoid altitude sickness before starting the trek.

What should I bring?

We recommend you pack a backpack, sleeping bag, rain jacket, good footwear, hiking poles, one change of clothing, long underwear, hat, gloves, sweater, jacket, water carrying device flashlight and batteries, a cap for sun protection, sunblock, insect repellent, hand sanitizer, toiletries, and toilet paper, selection of small snacks, chocolate, dried fruit, biscuits, etc, camera and spare batteries in addition to any other articles you may need. There is nowhere to charge batteries during the Salkantay Trek.

We provide tent, food, cooking gear, water, a Therm-A-Rest sleeping mattress and you may rent a sleeping bag at a cost.

There will be a horse available that will be able to carry up to 15kg or your gear. There are no half porters for hire on this trek.

Wear clothing and footwear that is sturdy, comfortable, and can withstand the rigors of the trail. We highly recommend that your boots are waterproof. Make sure you bring layers. This trek is at high elevation. Nights WILL be cold.

Yes, we recommend hiking poles. However, metal tips are NOT allowed on the trail. Please use rubber tips/protectors. Rubber protectors can also be bought in several shops in Cusco. Please do not use wooden poles as many of these are obtained from deforestation.

Please bring cash to tip your horseman, cooks, porters, and guides.

We recommend that you bring antibiotic for travelers diarrhea or UTI, antibiotic for severe bacterial infection, medication for upset stomach/indigestion, anti-diarrhea medication, anti-nausea medication for motion sickness/altitude sickness if needed, cold/flu medication, general painkiller/fever reducer, and have all your vaccinations up to date (MMR, tetanus, etc).


Who carries my gear?

A horse can be rented for $125 that will carry your personal gear. The horse will be able to carry up to 15kg of your gear. Keep in mind, the horse will not stay with you while you are trekking. You will need to carry any of your personal gear that you want for the day in a small daypack.

Are there bathrooms on the Salkantay Trail?

We provide you with a popup tent toilet that is clean and sanitary. There are bathrooms built in the Salkantay Trek including all of the major campsites, however, they can be a bit disgusting. Each bathroom block has cold running water. We recommend that you bring a hand-sanitizer to use after visiting any bathroom.

Will there be drinkable water?

At mealtimes, we will give you teas, coffees, coca tea, etc to drink. We will have some boiled water for the group each day. However, this should not be relied upon. A cold night may not allow us to boil water for your usage. You may have to use a mountain spring, fountain, or small stream approximately every 2 hours along the trail where you can fill up your water bottle. You should use a water filter or sterilization tablet. We do not provide these tablets or filters. You will have to bring them for your own personal use.

When should I arrive in Cusco?

We require everyone to be in Cusco at least two nights prior to starting the trek, three nights is preferred. This ensures that everyone in the group is well acclimatized to the altitude before starting the trek.

What about Huayna Picchu Mountain?

Huayna Picchu is the large mountain just behind Machu Picchu. There is a narrow and steep trail right to the top of the mountain and there are also some interesting Inca ruins at the top. The view of Machu Picchu from the summit is breathtaking. The government charges an additional fee for climbing Huayna Picchu. At the moment, clients can’t buy an entrance ticket just to climb Huayna Picchu.

The entrance ticket to Huayna Picchu is only available as part of a combined Machu Picchu – Huayna Picchu ticket. If you plan to climb Huayna Picchu, we recommend staying an extra night in Aguas Calientes.

The entrance tickets to Huayna Picchu must be bought BEFORE you start the Salkantay Trek and are sold on a first-come-first-served basis often several months in advance.

During the high season, these tickets can sell out more than 8 weeks in advance. Check out the full guide here.

What about Machu Picchu Mountain?

Machu Picchu Mountain is the large mountain just behind Machu Picchu. Machu Picchu Mountain rises higher that Huayna Picchu. The hike tends to have fewer people on the trail compared to Huayna Picchu but the view is equally as amazing. The government charges an additional fee for climbing Machu Picchu Mountain. The entrance ticket to Machu Picchu Mountain is only available as part of a combined Machu Picchu – Machu Picchu Mountain ticket. You will get entrance to Machu Picchu and be able to climb it in the afternoon which offers better value for money. You will have to pay for your accommodation in Aguas Calientes as travelers will have to get into the early morning Machu Picchu group or hike Machu Picchu Mountain the next day. The entrance tickets to Machu Picchu Mountain must be bought BEFORE you start the Salkantay Trek and are sold on a first-come-first-served basis often several months in advance. During the high season, these tickets can sell out more than 8 weeks in advance. During the low season, it may still be possible to buy the tickets from the government offices when you arrive in Cusco. However, this is not recommended as there are only 400 tickets sold per day. Check out the full guide.

Have Questions? Contact us!