Connecting the city of Cusco to Machu Picchu through the town of Mollepata, the Salkantay (Savage) trek is an ancient and remote footpath located in the same region as the Inca Trail, where massive snowcapped mountains collide with lush tropical rain forests. This trek is designed for people who enjoy the outdoors and physical challenge of hiking over high passes with unparalleled rewards of spectacular views while visiting rare archaeological sites. One of our best and most rigorous treks!
This is a full-service trek where you only carry a day pack. All gear, food, and tents are carried by porters and pack animals.
CUSCO – MOLLEPATA – SALKANTAY PAMPA
- We will pick you up from your hotel early in the morning. After driving two hours in a private van, you will arrive at the town of Mollepata where you will eat a large breakfast and have an opportunity to purchase last minute supplies.
- Another 45 minute drive will bring you to the trail head where you will hike for 1 hour uphill until we arrive at the Challa Cancha water channel (11154ft/3400m).
- From there, you will walk for three hours until you arrive at Soraypampa (12565ft/3,830m) for a traditional Peruvian lunch around 2:00pm.
- After lunch, we will take you on a short hike to Humantay Lagoon before we make our way to the first campsite Salkantay Pampa (13451ft/4100 meters).
Walking distance: 15km/9.3 miles (7-8 hours)
Elevation: 3400m/11154ft to 4,100 m/13,451 feet
Weather: Cold early, warm while walking; windy, may rain; very cold in the evening.
SALKANTAY PAMPA – SALKANTAY PASS (Summit) – QOLPAPAMPA
- Today, the climate will change drastically from snowy peaks to tropical forest. After breakfast, you will start the most difficult part of the trek with a one hour hike on switchbacks, uphill to a place called Soyroq’ocha-lagoon.
- From there, you will hike toward the snowy peaks of Umantay to reach the highest point of the hike at Salkantay Pass (15091ft/4600m).
- After spending some time at the summit, you will start descending for two hours until lunch at Wayraqmachay (Wind Shelter) (12467ft/3800m).
- After lunch, you continue descending for four hours along the Salkantay River until you arrive at your campsite in Qolpapampa (9580ft/2920m). Before dinner, we will have a small ceremony to thank the horsemen for their service and provide a small tip if you feel they did a good job. (For recommendations on tipping, please see our guide here.)
Walking distance: 21km/13 miles (9-10 hours)
Elevation: 4,100 m/13,451 feet to 4600m/15091ft to 2920m/9580ft
Difficulty: Challenging (long distance, elevation changes, and rocky terrain)
Weather: Cold early, rain, snow, and wind. Warm afternoon and evening
QOLPAPAMPA– LUQMA BAMBA
- After an early breakfast, we will begin a six-hour descent through the tropical forest until we arrive at our campsite in Luqmabamba (2135 m/7003ft) around 1pm for lunch.
- After lunch, you have the option to nap, visit an organic coffee farm (included), or visit the Santa Terresa hot spring (option not included in tour price but available using local transportation). When everyone returns from their adventures, we will have dinner at the campsite.
Walking distance: 12km/7 miles (6-7 hours)
Elevation: 2920m/9580ft to 2135 m/7003ft
Difficulty: Moderate to Challenging (all downhill + terrain)
Weather: Warm, hot, and humid
LUQMABAMBA – AGUAS CALIENTES
- After an early breakfast, we will hike for three hours uphill on part of the Inca Trail to get to a spectacular view of Machu Picchu Sanctuary from the southeast. Here you will have time to rest and enjoy the scenery until you begin your next two hour, downhill hike to Hydroelectric Center for your last lunch with the chef.
- At this time, we will have a small ceremony to thank the chef, porters, and assistants and provide tips if they are deserved (please see our recommendations for tipping here).
- After lunch, you can take a train or walk for three hours to your hotel in Aguas Calientes. We will have dinner at a local restaurant together.
Walking distance: 14km/8 miles (6 hours) + (can be more if you walk 3 hours from Hydroelectric Center to Aguas Calientes)
Elevation: 2135m/7003ft to 2040m/6693ft
Difficulty: Moderate/Challenging. Mostly downhill.
Weather: Warm, Hot
MACHU PICCHU – CUSCO
- Today is the highlight of the trek. We recommend waking up early to catch the first bus around 5:30am. After entering Machu Picchu, you will have a two-hour guided tour of the most important sites in the city.
- Following the tour, there will be free time to explore the site at your own pace or do any of the short alternative treks to the Inca Bridge or the Sun Gate. If you purchased a ticket in advance to climb Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain, you will complete those hikes at this time (tickets to Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain are NOT included and must be purchased separately).
- At the designated time, your guide will meet you down in the village of Aguas Calientes to pick up your duffel bags from the hotel and take you to the train station for your ride back to Ollantaytambo. A private van will take you back to your hotel in Cuscso from the train station.
Walking distance: varied! You can spend as much time as you like exploring Machu Picchu city or taking an additional hike.
Difficulty: Moderate. Machu Picchu city is large and requires many trips up and down stairs to see it all.
Weather: Hot and humid (bring a lot of water and rain gear)