Salkantay Trek 5D

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Duration: 5 Days / 4 Nights
Availability : Every Day.
Depart: Challacancha
Destination: Machu Picchu
Difficulty : ★★★★ Challenging
Adventure : ★★★ Moderate
Min Age : 10
Max People : 12

Salkantay Trek Highlights

  • Hike under the shadow of Salkantay Mountain's snowy peak, then head down to the tropical climate of Santa Teresa
  • Explore Humantay Lake and impressive Inca ruins, from Llactapata to Machu Picchu
  • Lucmabamba coffee-making experience and the chance to stay overnight in a homestay

About the 5 Day Salkantay Trek

A unique 5 day Salkantay Trek, brought to you by the pioneers of alternative trekking in Cusco! Our innovative Salkantay trek 5 day itinerary keeps you out of sync with the crowds and includes a tour of Lake Humantay on Day 1.

See Full Description

Combining the best of two worlds, the 5 day Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu takes you hiking near glaciers beneath the magnificent Apu Salkantay mountain (6240m / 20,472 ft), before descending into the tropical climate of Santa Teresa on your way to Machu Picchu.

Apus Peru’s unique Salkantay trek route offers a greater chance for solitude on this busy trail, before connecting with Aguas Calientes and a visit to the un-missable Machu Picchu. Plus: check out the option to take a detour on Day 2, unique to Apus Peru!

Prices are per person in USD, based on group size. We do not have fixed-date group departures. If you do not want to book a private trek, please see our Trekkers Wanted page for a list of open departures within your dates.

2 people


4-6 people


7-8 people


9-12 people


High quality personalized experience

Unique, off-the-beaten track routes

Experienced staff

Verified sustainability practices

$20 of every trek donated to Threads of Peru

Important Details About the Trek

What is Included?

  • Pre-trek briefing
  • Collection from your hotel on the morning of the 5D Salkantay Trek departure
  • Transport from Cusco to the trailhead at the beginning of the trek in private car
  • Entry fee to Machu Picchu and Salkantay trek
  • English/Quechua/Spanish speaking professional guide, plus an assistant guide for groups over 8
  • Tent: 2 people in a 4-person tent, allowing for greater comfort and backpack storage!
  • Basic foam mattress. If you require greater comfort during the trek we can rent you an inflatable mattress. See Optional Extras & Upgrades below.
  • Cook and cooking equipment, plus assistants for larger groups.
  • Meals as indicated in the itinerary. Our professional cooks prepare a combination of traditional Peruvian and Western cuisine. Talk to your guide if you have certain preferences! Vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options available. When served, salads are washed in boiled water.
  • Toilet tent
  • Horses and horsemen, who carry camping equipment, food and kitchen utensils. We provide duffel bags at your briefing for your personal items (up to 7kg/15lbs per person).
  • 1 emergency horse which can be ridden if you are feeling ill or if you are a little slower
  • Dining tent with camp tables and chairs, and kitchen tent for the cook to prepare meals
  • Tents, sleeping bags and mattresses for our staff to sleep in, plus a budget for their meals
  • First aid kit including emergency oxygen bottle
  • Bus between Aguas Calientes and Machu Picchu
  • Train ticket from Hydroelectric Station to Aguas Calientes
  • Train ticket (Expedition service) from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo
  • Private transport from Ollantaytambo to Cusco.
  • Lunch on the last day.
  • 1 night accommodation in Aguas Calientes in a Standard Hotel. This will be a nice, clean and safe hotel with breakfast included and private bathroom. You can also upgrade to a higher quality hotel.

What is Not Included?

  • Breakfast on the first morning.
  • Dinner on the last morning.
  • Sleeping bags. Available for rent if you don’t have one with you.
  • Tips for the guide, cook and porters
  • Additional horses for your personal luggage
  • Entrance to Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain
  • Entrance to the Aguas Calientes or Colcamayu hot springs
  • Cola de Mono zipline

You Should Bring

    See What To Bring for our comprehensive recommendations on what to pack for your trek. Note: the temperature varies widely on this trek. Be prepared for all types of weather, and be able to both bundle up and de-layer! For more great suggestions, check out our blog about How to Prepare for a Trek in Peru.

Optional Extras & Upgrades

    We offer you the opportunity to personalize your trek and make your experience more comfortable through our Optional Extras and Upgrades. All options are available during the reservation process; please ask your sales consultant for more information.

    • Extra horse to carry luggage exceeding the allowed 7kg (15lbs) per person
    • Extra horse for you to ride, and horseman to lead it
    • Sleeping Bag suitable for -5˚C
    • Deluxe sleeping bag suitable for -15˚C
    • Light-weight aluminum walking stick. Two sticks are recommended for tough hikes.
    • Thermarest inflatable mattress
    • Thermarest inflatable pillow
    • Single-occupancy tent supplement
    • Comfort Camping Upgrade
    • Aguas Calientes Hotel Upgrade
    • Extra Day at Machu Picchu
    • If you’d like to hike Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain , let us know at the time of booking as it requires a separate permit.
    • If you’d like more flexibility in your return travel to Cusco, consider a train upgrade for an extra $30 per person. This upgrade must be requested at time of booking.
    • Add the Cola de Mono zipline for a thrilling experience at the end of your trek!
    • For some extra cultural immersion, opt for a family homestay in Lucmabamba on Day 3.


    • When calculating the cost of renting equipment, calculate using the length of the entire trip, not just the number of trekking days.
    • Please be careful with rented equipment! You are responsible for the cost of replacement if something is damaged or broken.
    • Any upgrades or trip extensions must be requested at time of booking.

Available Discounts

  • Students: USD $30 off, in certain circumstances. Please enquire for details about eligibility.
  • Youth 12-17: 5% off. A valid passport must be presented upon booking.
  • Children 5-11 years: 15% off. A valid passport must be presented upon booking.
  • Children 0-4 years: Free. A valid passport must be presented upon booking. Children under 4 will not count towards the total number of guests in a group. This discount does not apply to train fares. Children under 2 will not be considered to occupy a seat on any train or bus, and instead must ride on a parent’s lap.
  • 5% off a day tour listed price when you also book a 3-day or longer trek operated by Apus Peru

Trekkers Wanted

  • Want to join a trek? Ready to confirm a departure date of your own, but interested in having others join you? Then Trekkers Wanted is for you! Our innovative Trekkers Wanted system matches people up who are interested in hiking the same trek, bringing costs down and multiplying the fun for everyone! Read More about Trekkers Wanted, post your trek or search for confirmed departures!

Important Info

  • Each guide has their own preferred route and so the route you trek might not correspond exactly to the route described here.
  • The times cited in this itinerary are approximate. Walking times depend on the group, and the guide may change lunch spots and campsites, depending on the progress of the group.
  • Trek conditions vary according to the season. In the dry season the trail can be dusty; in the wet season it can be slippery and muddy. Apus Peru takes no responsibility for trail conditions, as it is directly related to the weather. This is also a highly used trek. The trail is showing signs of degradation.
  • We do not recommend this trek during Dec-Mar, inclusive, because the trail can become slippery and muddy, though this recommendation depends on the actual weather conditions.
  • The Salkantay trek is an adventurous trek and one of the most spectacular, crossing a 4600m pass that in the wet season can be snowed under. That said, the Salkantay trek (also spelled Salcantay trek) is the second most popular hike in the region and can be very crowded: during high season, expect up to 15 groups departing per day; 5 groups per day in low season. If you want a remote trekking experience, consider one of our other treks, such as Ancascocha or Carabaya.
  • The Salkantay trek has wonderful mountain views but little or no interaction with local, Peruvian culture. If you would like to experience traditional culture, consider our Lares to Machu Picchu 4D trek

Ready to Book?

  • Does this trek sound like just what you were looking for? If you’re ready to book or just want to find out a bit more information, fill out the Inquiry Form in the top right-hand corner of this page to get the ball rolling. You’ll be connected with one of our amazing sales people who will be able to turn your dream of hiking in the Andes into a reality. For more information on the entire booking process, please see our How To Book page.
  • Travel insurance is a must! World Nomads offers travel insurance for adventure activities.

5 Day Salkantay Trek Itinerary

Day 1Cusco – Mollepata – Soraypampa – Humantay Lake – Salkantaypampa

    Today, you begin your Salkantay Trek bright and early! After picking you up from your hotel in Cusco in our private vehicle, we head towards Tarawasi. Located about 1h30 from Cusco, Tarawasi is an important but often overlooked Inca archaeological site. It is well worth the visit, though, so we stop here for a chance to marvel at the beautiful stonework of this important Incan ceremonial center.

    From Tarawasi, we continue on to the town of Mollepata. We will stop for a rest here, and you stretch your legs, pick up some snacks or even have breakfast if you missed it in your hotel. After our break in Mollepata, we drive for about another hour until we reach Soraypampa, the trailhead for the Salkantay trek, and where we will meet our muleteers.

    While our personal chef stays behind to prepare lunch, we, accompanied by our muleteers, will walk to Humantay Lake (4230m / 13,878 ft). We hike for about an hour and a half until we reach Lake Humantay, a stunning turquoise glacial lake (and considered one of the top instagrammable spots in Peru!)

    When we finish our delicious lunch, it’s time to start hiking the Salkantay trail to Machu Picchu! We begin climbing in the direction of Salkantaypampa, where we will camp for the night. Get ready for more spectacular views as we set up our tents at the foot of Cusco’s second-highest mountain, the impressive snowy Apu Salkantay (6270m / 20,571 ft).

    Note: This is a high altitude campsite and you must be well acclimatized to avoid altitude sickness. We recommend a minimum of 2 days of acclimatization at altitude before doing this trek. For more information, see our page on Altitude Acclimatization.

    Walking Distance: 10 km (6.2 mi)
    Total Walking Time: 6h
    Minimum Altitude: 3930m (12,894 ft) / Maximum Altitude: 4230m (13,878 ft)
    Altitude of Campsite: 4200m / 13,778 ft
    Approx. night temperature: 2˚C

Day 2Salkantaypampa – Salkantay Pass – Huayracmachay – Collpapampa

    It’s a full day of hiking on the Salkantay trek, starting with a 2.5-3h switchback up the mountain! We arrive at a glacial moraine with a small lake and a chance to spot vizcachas, the elusive Andean chinchilla that likes to jump and scurry among the rocks. After another stretch, we reach Salkantay pass, the highest point on our trip at 4600m (15,091 ft). Here we find ourselves between two important mountains, Salkantay (6240m / 20,472ft), the second highest mountain in the region, and Humantay (5850m / 19,192ft). You will also be able to see Pumasillo (5850m) opposite you, a mountain that, interestingly, can be seen from a different angle from Machu Picchu.

    From Salkantay pass, we walk down for about 2.5-3h towards Huayracmachay and stop for lunch. After lunch, we leave the crowds behind and we continue walking until we enter a small valley where we can appreciate the contrast of sceneries and we will be able to see vegetation and notice the change of temperature. We will arrive in Colcapampa (3000m /9,842ft) with views of the Santa Teresa Valley below us, we reach our campsite, where we are likely to be the only ones spending the night.

    For an special experience, strike off on a detour exclusive to Apus Peru, designed to get you off the beaten track. We will climb for about an hour to Unuyoc, our campsite for the night. This is not a wide trail and in the rainy season, it can be wet and slippery.

    Total Walking Distance: 16km
    Total Walking Time: 8h – 9h
    Minimum Altitude: 3000m / 9,842ft / Maximum Altitude – 4600m /15,091ft
    Altitude of camp: 3000m / 9,842ft
    Approx. night temperature: 3°C

Day 3Colcapampa – Wiñaypocco – Lluscamayo – Lucmabamba

    After a rejuvenating night’s sleep and a nourishing breakfast, we start today’s hike by descending for about an hour to the ceja de selva, literally, the “eyebrows of the jungle”, enjoying incredible lush landscapes as we go. Crossing the river Alto Salkantay, we will be able to spot an incredible variety of wildlife, from birds, insects, and butterflies to orchids and bromeliads. We continue our slow, easy descent for about 3h to La Playa (2100m / 6890 ). The landscape will change before our very eyes, with the high altiplano giving way to fruit trees, avocados, bananas and coffee plants.

    From here, it’s a short 15 minute drive to Lucmabamba, or if you prefer, an hour’s walk. Tonight we camp at Lucmabamba (2050m / 6726 ft), a great campsite to get away from the crowds! Other popular campsites – like La Playa and Santa Teresa – are crowded and known for parties.

      You can also choose to spend the night in a homestay! Spend the night with a local coffee-growing family and enjoy a hot shower and a comfortable bed! There is an extra cost for this option. Read more about our homestay options here.

    In Lucmabamba, we have a chance to learn all about the coffee-making process at the Cocla coffee cooperative. In the mid afternoon, we’ll visit the banana plantation for an overview of all the different kinds of bananas and their importance for the coffee plant. We’ll also get to see other fruit trees, like lime, grapefruit and avocado. If you’re lucky, you may even get to sample some fresh avocado, picked right from the tree!

    After this, we immerse ourselves in the coffee production process, from collecting the coffee beans to shelling, drying, toasting and grinding them, in a hands-on coffee-making experience. Later we’ll enjoy the fruits of our own labor and enjoy some freshly-brewed coffee!

    Note: If you want to spend Day 4 relaxing in the Cocalmayu hot springs or zipping down the zipline at Cola de Mono, we will camp at one of the other campsites instead of Lucmabamba, which are closer to these attractions.

    Total Walking Distance – 11km
    Total Walking Time – 4h
    Minimum Altitude – 2050m / 6726 ft/ Maximum Altitude – 3000m / 9,842ft
    Altitude of camp – 2050m / 6726 ft
    Approx. night temperature – 10°C

Day 4Lucmabamba – Llactapata – Aguas Calientes

    We leave early this morning and climb for about three hours through the jungle before descending to the interesting but largely covered ruins of Llactapacta. Llactapata is a very interesting and not-to-be-missed introduction to Machu Picchu!

    The Llactapata ruins were originally discovered by Hiram Bingham at the same time that he re-discovered Machu Picchu. Modern-day explorers Vincent Lee and Gary Ziegler recently established that these Inca ruins are much bigger and more important than previously thought.

    From Llactapata we have our first view of Machu Picchu, nestled in the saddle of the mountain opposite us. It’s a breathtaking view and an odd sensation to see such an important Inca site from a remote mountain top. It reinforces your awe and wonder for the complexity of Inca civilization, and just how interconnected the entire area was.

    We will either have lunch here or down below at Hidroelectrica. After taking in the views, we will descend very steeply on a muddy track for 2 hours to the impressive Machu Picchu Hydroelectric Station where we will also visit another Inca ruin. After this, we will walk for another 2.5 hours along the train tracks to arrive at the village of Aguas Calientes.

      If you prefer not to walk 2.5h to Aguas Calientes from Hidroelectrica, you also have the option of taking the train (included in the price of your trek).

    Once we arrive, a soak in the thermal baths in Aguas Calientes is often the perfect respite for aching muscles! Afterward, enjoy a celebratory dinner with your group before turning in at your standard Aguas Calientes hotel. You can also upgrade your Aguas Calientes hotel for more comfort.

    Walking Distance: 11 km (6.8 mi)
    Total Walking Time: 5 h (7.5h if you walk to Aguas Calientes)
    Minimum Altitude: 2040m (6693 ft) / Maximum Altitude: 2800m (9186 ft)

Day 5Aguas Calientes – Machu Picchu – Cusco

    After a very early breakfast at the hotel, we will take the bus up to Machu Picchu in the pre-dawn hours to reach Machu Picchu. Your 4h visit to Machu Picchu can be spent exploring some of the alternative routes, like the Inca Bridge, after which your guide will give you a 2-3h walking tour of the historic citadel.

    If you’re feeling adventurous you may wish to hike Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu mountain, but take note: this requires an extra permit, and they can sell out well in advance! Be sure to tell us at booking if you would like to add one of these hikes. For more tips on what to see, check out our Visiting Machu Picchu page.

    After visiting Machu Picchu, you can take the bus back down to Aguas Calientes (or walk down!). From there, we return to Cusco in the afternoon by the Expedition (tourist class) train from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo, where our driver will meet us and transfer you directly back to your hotel in Cusco. Total travel time is about 4 hours from Aguas Calientes to Cusco.

6 Reviews
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Caitie G. from NZ

Group Traveller

The trek was difficult because we were travelling with young kids but our guide was great with them! We were especially pleased to use Apus Peru for it´s commitment with sustainability.

26 June, 2018

Mike H. from USA

Group Traveller

The whole trip was incredible, the route was absolutely beautiful and the highlights were the tour of Machupicchu, hiking to Santa Teresa and visiting the hot springs!
Our guide had a great sense of humor and was very knowledgeable about the trail and history.

28 May, 2018


Solo Traveller

The trek exceeded my expectations. It was an amazing route, from alpine to jungle terrains, snow-capped mountain to beautiful rivers and valley. What made this trip even more amazing was Apus Peru´s team. The guide was someone we could count on and feel very comfortable and safe; the cook was great; the horsemen and assistant horsemen were very professional and helpful.

27 July, 2011


Solo Traveller

An exceptional trip-great value for an eco-friendly trip.

11 July, 2011


Solo Traveller

The route is really beautiful and picturesque. Difficult in moments, but it´s worth it! It´s one of the best experiences of my life!!!

18 May, 2011
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