Last updated on December 31st, 2018 at 12:03 pm
Salkantay Peru Trek: Everything You Need To Know
Many visitors to Peru are drawn to the spectacular landscapes, and the Salkantay Peru trek is one excellent way of seeing the diversity nature has to offer, as well as visiting the magnificent Machu Picchu. If you’ve been thinking about trekking in Peru and want a great alternative to the Inca trail, we’ve put together a guide to the Salkantay Peru trek to help you decide if this is the one for you!
Where is the Salkantay Peru Trek?
The Peruvian city of Cusco, the former capital of the Incas and 3,395 meters above sea level, is where the adventure begins. From here, you’ll travel up into the Cordillera de Vilcabamba, a small range of the Andes Mountains in South-Central Peru. The whole Vilcambamba region contains small farming communities – who often speak only Quechua rather than Spanish – and many Inca ruins, including one of the seven wonders of the modern world, Machu Picchu. From Cusco, you’ll make a circuit, ascending to the highest point at the Salkantay pass (4,600 meters), from which you’ll see the mighty snow-capped peak of Salkantay: at 6,271 meters, this is the highest mountain in the region. After the grassy terrain on the way up, you’ll be struck by the change in climate for the descent through the cloud forest. Your goal is the town of Aguas Calientes, the base for your visit to the ‘city in the sky’, Machu Picchu, before completing the loop back to Cusco.
What’s on the itinerary?
A Salkantay Peru Trek takes approximately five days. On the first day, you’ll be driven through some spectacular scenery to reach the trailhead at Sayllapata. After that, you can expect to walk between six and seven hours per day on days one and two. Day three is shorter, with an afternoon free after an easy morning hike.
On day four, there’s a short drive before another long day of hiking, arriving at Aguas Calientes in the evening. Depending on how your muscles are faring, day five means either climbing the many stairs to Machu Picchu, or a short bus ride to the top. After a thorough tour of this fascinating site, it’s back down again in time to catch the train back to Cusco.
What can you see on the Salkantay Peru Trek?
Apart from Machu Picchu, one of the big draws of the Salkantay Peru trek is the diversity that you can experience over such a short distance. From the glacial moraine of the first day, the change in vegetation on the other side of the Salkantay pass is immediate. Suddenly, you’ll start seeing banana plants, avocado trees and other tropical foliage, which is all the more striking having just felt so close to the snowy summit of Salkantay. It’s known as cloud forest, and it’s where you’ll also be able to see spot monkeys and the national bird of Peru, ‘Gallito de las Rocas’.But it’s not just what you can see here: the Salkantay Peru Trek includes the chance to shower under a natural waterfall!Aside from the splendor nature has to offer, you’ll also pass by traditional Peruvian communities (watch out for the elderly locals, who’ll overtake you on a steep path without breaking a sweat) and the evidence of civilizations past. Llactapata is a recently discovered Inca site, from which you’ll get your first glimpse of Machu Picchu: make sure you have plenty of battery on your camera!
What is included in a Salkantay Peru Trek?
The trek is completed with the help of a small team of ‘arrieros’, or horsemen. They and their horses will look after your baggage and camping and cooking equipment for the duration of the trek. You’ll also be accompanied by an English speaking guide and a cook, to make sure you’ve got plenty of energy to enjoy the adventure!
Our Salkantay Peru Trek from SouthAmerica.travel also includes all transfers and entrance fees. If this sounds like something for you, why not get in touch with our travel consultants for a free quote?