Salkantay Trek 5 days

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Duration: 5 Days / 4 Nights
Availability : Every Day.
Depart: Soraypampa
Destination: Machu Picchu
Max People : 12

Salkantay Trek 5 Days

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.

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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! For more of a challenge, check out our 4 day Salkantay Trail Challenge!

This Salkantay trekking route really has it all! From impressive mountain vistas, to tropical vegetation and varied wildlife, to fascinating Inca ruins. Read more about Salkantay as a trekking option in Peru, and all the Salkantay trekking routes that we offer.

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
Price - Salkantay trek 5 days
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


3 people


4-6 people


7+ 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 - Salkantay trek 5 days

What is Included?


  • Tent: 2 people in a 4-person tent, allowing for greater comfort and backpack storage!
  • Camping pillows
  • Basic foam mattress. If you require greater comfort during the trek we can rent you an inflatable mattress. See Optional Extras & Upgrades below.
  • Toilet tent
  • 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.


  • Cook and cooking equipment, plus assistants for larger groups.
  • Dining tent with camp tables and chairs, and kitchen tent for the cook to prepare meals
  • Meals as indicated in the itinerary. Our professional cooks prepare a combination of traditional Peruvian and Western cuisine. Talk to your Travel Consultant during the booking process if you have certain preferences! Vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options available. When served, salads are washed in boiled water.
  • Boiled water provided for drinking water on the trail (which you can carry in your own reusable water bottle)
  • Bottled water provided during the drive to the trailhead on the first day
  • Lunch on the last day.

Trekking Team

  • English/Quechua/Spanish speaking professional guide, plus an assistant guide for groups over 8
  • Horses and horsemen, who carry camping equipment, food and kitchen utensils. We provide duffel bags at your briefing for your personal items (up to 10kg /22 lbs per person).
  • Tents, sleeping bags and mattresses for our staff to sleep in, plus a budget for their meals


  • 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
  • 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.


  • 1 emergency horse which can be ridden if you are feeling ill or if you are a little slower
  • First aid kit including emergency oxygen bottle

Additional inclusions

  • Pre-trek briefing
  • Entry fee to Machu Picchu and Salkantay trek

What is Not Included?


  • Breakfast on the first morning.
  • Dinner on the last day.


  • Sleeping bags. Available for rent if you don’t have one with you.
  • Additional horses to carry luggage exceeding the allowed 7kg (15lbs) per person

Optional Activities

  • Entrance to Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain, if you choose to add this to your Salkantay trekking itinerary
  • Entrance to the Aguas Calientes or Cocalmayu hot springs


  • Tips for the guide, cook and porters
  • Flights to/from Cusco
  • Travel Insurance

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.

Equipment Available for Rent

  • Extra horse to carry luggage exceeding the allowed 10kg (22 lbs) 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.

Service Upgrades

Optional Activities


  • 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.

What to Pack

The Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu crosses several different climates, so it’s important to be prepared for all kinds of weather. Layering and flexibility are key. The temperature varies widely on this trek. Be prepared for all types of weather, and be able to both bundle up and de-layer!

At the highest point on day 2 you will need thermals, a winter hat (toque or beanie), mitts and scarves. During the night, temperatures drop below freezing and you will need very warm clothes. By Day 3, however, you are already starting to walk down into the high jungle and temperatures warm up. On Day 4 of your Salkantay trekking itinerary, you might just be in a t-shirt and shorts!

Our preference is for convertible pants made from a quick-dry fabric. Most of these hiking pants have special designs allowing a maximum range of motion, and when it gets hot you can zip off the lower section of the pants to convert them into shorts. The many pockets on this style of pant can make you look a little more like an adventurer than a tourist, but can be very useful on the trail. Personally, we wear thermals underneath our hiking pants to give them the necessary warmth during the colder parts of the trek.

Water-resistant trekking boots with a high top are the best hiking boots for your Salkantay trek. However, we understand that if you are not an enthusiastic trekker you don’t want to invest in specialist hiking boots. At a minimum, solid sports shoes or cross-trainers will suffice, or possibly investing in hiking shoes.

Hiking shoes are durable, trekking shoes that are generally water-resistant. They don’t have ankle support though. What is the difference between hiking shoes and hiking boots? Hiking boots are tough footwear that last a long time due to their strong construction. They have ankle support and often are very waterproof.

There are a lot of biting insects on the Salkantay trek and so good insect repellent is also necessary!

For more help with what to pack, check out our blog How to Prepare for a Trek in Peru and see What To Bring for our comprehensive recommendations on what to pack for your trek.

Salkantay Trekking Map


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: 75% off. A valid passport must be presented upon booking. Children under 4 will not count towards the total number of guests in a group, but will be charged 25% of the per person price based on final group size. For example, a group of 4 adults and one child under 4: adults will be charged the full price per person based on a group size of 4 and the child will be charged 25% of the per person price for a group of 4. Children under 3 will not be considered to occupy a seat on any train or bus, and instead must ride on a parent’s lap. Car seats, cribs and other baby needs may not be included and must be discussed in advance. For more information about travelling with infants and toddlers, please see this blog as well as the Age Requirements section of our Booking Conditions.
  • 5% off a day tour listed price when you also book a 3-day or longer trek operated by Apus Peru

Salkantay Trekking Guides & Safety

Our Salkantay trekking guides are all handpicked for their personality, strong communication skills, and expert knowledge of the trekking routes. In addition to being formally licensed guides, they receive frequent training from Apus Peru which includes topics such as mountain rescue as well as high altitude first-aid. Get to know our team!

Apus Peru is one of an elite group of trekking agencies in the Cusco region that put people before profit. Safety is paramount and we have a comprehensive risk assessment policy that covers a very wide range of details from vehicle maintenance to illness and evacuation on the trail. We will not operate many treks in the wet season under any circumstances due the safety considerations.

Trekkers Wanted

Want to join our Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu 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 Salkantay trekking 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.
  • Apus Peru takes no responsibility for trail conditions, as it is directly related to the weather, which is unpredictable. That said, 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 trekking trail is also a highly used route and is showing signs of degradation.

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

      • Walking Distance: 8.8 km (5.5 mi)
      • Total Walking Time: 5-6h
      • Minimum Altitude: 3930m (12,894 ft) / Maximum Altitude: 4230m (13,878 ft)
      • Altitude of Campsite: 4200m / 13,780 ft
      • Approx. night temperature: 2˚C

Today, you begin your Salkantay tour 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.

Our 5 day trek is the classic Salkantay Trek. For a more adventurous Salkantay trekking option, check out our 4 Day Salkantay Trail Challenge.

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 (3930m / 12,894 ft), the trailhead for the Salkantay trek, and where we will meet our muleteers.

While our personal chef chef starts preparing a delicious gourmet meal for lunch, we will take a detour from the normal Salkantay trail and head towards the stunning Humantay Lake (4230m / 13,878 ft). Lake Humantay is a beautiful, crystal blue glacial lake, surrounded by incredible mountain vistas.

The hike to Humantay Lake from Soraypampa is about 3 hours, round trip. We start by hiking upwards for about an hour and 45 min until we reach the lake (considered one of the top instagrammable spots in Peru!). The panorama that unfolds before our eyes is stunning and certainly is one of the highlights of the first day of our Salkantay trek itinerary. After feasting our eyes and taking those Insta-worthy photos, we head back down a little over an hour to Soraypampa where we will have lunch.

You can also take a day trip to Humantay Lake. Talk to our Trek Experts for more details on doing a day tour to Humantay Lake.

When we finish our delicious lunch, it’s time to start the Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu! We begin climbing in the direction of Salkantaypampa (4200m / 13,780 ft), 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.

Day 2Salkantaypampa – Salkantay Pass – Huayracmachay – Collpapampa

      • Total Walking Distance: 17.6km (10.9 mi)
      • Total Walking Time: 8h – 9h
      • Minimum Altitude: 2870m / 9,416 ft / Maximum Altitude – 4600m /15,091ft
      • Altitude of camp: 2870m / 9,416 ft
      • Approx. night temperature: 3°C

It’s a full day of hiking on day 2 of 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 Mountain (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 (3920m / 12,861 ft) 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 Collpapampa (2870m /9,416 ft) 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 a special experience, strike off on a detour from the standard Salkantay tour which is exclusive to Apus Peru and 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.

Day 3Collpapampa – Wiñaypocco – Lluscamayo – Lucmabamba

      • Total Walking Distance: 11.5km (7.1mi) (16.7km if you walk the last hour instead of taking transport)
      • Total Walking Time: 4.5-5h (5.5-6h if you walk the last hour)
      • Minimum Altitude: 2040m / 6693 ft / Maximum Altitude: 2870m / 9,416 ft
      • Altitude of camp: 2040m / 6693 ft
      • Approx. night temperature: 10°C

After a rejuvenating night’s sleep and a nourishing breakfast, we start day 3 of our Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu. The first leg is a 20 min walk along a road before meeting up with the trail. From there we continue along the trail, 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 along a dusty road (5km). Tonight we camp at Lucmabamba (2040m / 6693 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 which will be charged over and above the standard Salkantay trek price. 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 of your Salkantay trek relaxing in the Cocalmayu hot springs, we will camp at one of the other campsites instead of Lucmabamba, which is closer to this attraction.

Day 4Lucmabamba – Llactapata – Aguas Calientes

      • Walking Distance: 15.5 km (9.6 mi)
      • Total Walking Time: 5-6 h (7.5-8.5h if you walk to Aguas Calientes)
      • Minimum Altitude: 2040m (6693 ft) / Maximum Altitude: 2815m (9236 ft)
      • Altitude of hotel: 2040m (6693 ft)
      • Approx night temperature: Hotel Accommodations

Day 4 of your Salkantay trek in Peru starts off with an early morning wake up call! This morning we climb for about three hours through the jungle before descending to the interesting but largely covered ruins of Llactapacta. Llactapata (2720m / 8924 ft) 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 (1840m / 6037 ft) 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.

Day 5Aguas Calientes – Machu Picchu – Cusco

We’ve finally made it to the last stretch of our 5 day Salkantay trek in Peru! 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 guide will give you a 2-3h walking tour of the historic citadel.

You may want to climb Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain to cap off your Machu Picchu experience, but remember that permits are limited and must be reserved at the time of booking! There is an additional cost to hike either Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain not included in the Salkantay trek price.

For more tips on what to see at Machu Picchu, check out our Visiting Machu Picchu page.

Want more time to explore? Consider our Extra Day Upgrades.

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.

Salkantay Trekking FAQs

How difficult is the Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu?

We rate the 5 day Salkantay Trek as moderate to moderate plus. (See how we rate all of our treks in the Cusco region!)

The second day includes a climb up to the Salkantay Pass, reaching an altitude of 4600m. That is 3 hours of very tough trekking. The Salkantay Pass is 400 m higher than the infamous Dead Woman’s pass on the Inca Trail. Believe us, 400m feels like a lot when you are hiking upwards! However, the Salkantay trail’s terrain may be easier for some compared to the Inca Trail, whose steep stone steps are very hard on the knees.

Days 3 and 4 of your Salkantay trekking itinerary are much easier, though you still need to hike substantial distances.

Remember all treks in the Cusco region are challenging for most people due to the high altitude and steep mountains.

For more details about trek difficulty, check out our blog about how hard the Salkantay 5 day trek is.

How can I prepare for the Salkantay trek and what training do you recommend?

A young person of average fitness who works out several times a week will most likely find the Salkantay trek challenging. Older people, or those that are not fit, should most definitely embark on a fitness training program prior to doing the Salkantay trail, in consultation with a medical and fitness professional. What this will entail depends on each person and their own abilities.

We can only advise in general terms: the fitter you are, the easier and more enjoyable the trek is going to be! And of course, you want to have fun while on holiday.

See our Tip #3 for how to get ready for your trek.

How many days do I need to acclimatize to the altitude?

The best way to prepare yourself for the Salkantay trek altitude is very easy: spend time at a high-altitude location such as Cusco. Most trek agencies around Cusco say that 2 days is enough; we say that if you could spend more time it is better for you. In an ideal world, 3-4 days would give your body an excellent chance to acclimatize.

In addition, being kind to your body – eating healthy food and staying away from alcohol – helps your body deal with the extra pressures that altitude creates.

Read more about Altitude and How to Acclimatize before starting your trek.

When is the best time to do the Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu?

Trek conditions vary according to the season. The best months to do the Salkantay trek are the dry winter months from May to August. During this time, there is little rain, so the trail can be dusty. Night-time temperatures also can be very low, even reaching below freezing!

December through March is the wet season in Peru and trekking the Salkantay route is not recommended for safety reasons, as the trail can be slippery and muddy. It is also possible for the 4600m Salkantay Pass to be snowed under during the rainy season.

At Apus Peru, we personally like trekking Salkantay in the shoulder seasons: April, September and October are excellent months to plan your trip. There might be a little rain but in general things won’t be as busy.

Read more about the best time to hike and take note of our wet season trekking policy.

What are the average hours of trekking per day?

    The average daily walking time is about 7 hours per day, with day 2 being the longest and toughest day of all. See the day-by-day Salkantay trekking itinerary for exact hiking times per day.

Can I charge my devices along the route?

    Yes! The guides from Apus Peru take solar-powered chargers with them during the Salkantay hike so that you can charge your phone or other devices along the way.

What kind of food and accommodation do Apus Peru provide?

The 5 day Salkantay trail includes 3 nights of camping accommodation and 1 night at a comfortable Aguas Calientes hotel (for an idea of what the hotel is like, check out our list of
Standard Aguas Calientes hotels). You also have the option to stay in a family homestay in Lucmabamba on night 3 instead of camping! This is a great option to get to know some local people, learn about coffee growing and enjoy a night in a comfortable bed.

On the trail, you are treated to first-class service from the Apus Peru field team. We use 4 season North Face tents on our treks, all dutifully set up by our team of hardworking staff. Whatever the conditions, you will have sound protection on your side!

Go luxe! You can also choose our Comfort Camping option for a full-on luxury camping experience.

You will also be accompanied by a personal chef who prepares first-class gourmet meals on the trail. Our chefs receive annual training in order to offer you delicious culinary creations on the trail! This is not basic trail food, but fully catered for trekking.

We have many vegetarian travellers and our cooks have a variety of great options for them to enjoy their meals. We can cater for all other types of dietary requests with adequate preparation and clear communication.

Read more about What to Expect on the Trail, including more about meals and equipment.

What Salkantay trekking permits are required?

No permits are required for the Salkantay trail, however, you do require an entry ticket to visit Machu Picchu. This entry ticket is included in the price of your trek. If you wish to climb Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain, this requires an extra permit not included in the Salkantay trek price.

Permits can sell out in advance, so you are best to tell us at the time of booking that you would like to hike Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain. Huayna Picchu is the conical shaped mountain that appears in all the classic pictures of Machu Picchu – the climb is very steep and not for the faint-hearted!

Read more about Visiting Machu Picchu.

Is it possible to customize the tour?

As alternative trekking specialists, Apus Peru already offer a range of unique customized Salkantay tours, including the 4 day Salkantay Trail– for those short on time and looking for an extra physical challenge – and our combined 6 Day Inca Trail & Salkantay Trek– for those who want to do both these famous treks.

You can also customize your Salkantay trekking experience by adding on one or more of our Cusco day tours, or opting for one of our upgrade packages which include not only an upgraded hotel but also a luxury train service and meals at the top restaurants in Aguas Calientes.

Or, customize your Salkantay tour to allow for 2 days of exploring at Machu Picchu. With our Extra Day at Machu Picchu, you can visit the site at different times of day, make sure you see all the highlights, and also have enough time to do one of the Machu Picchu hikes, like Huayna Picchu.

What do you carry on your Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu?

All you need to carry with you is a light day pack. In your day pack, you should carry things such as your water bottle, some extra layers in case it gets cold, camera, sun hat, beanie, sunscreen and insect repellent.

Water is vital on the trek. You should start the day with 2L; you will have a chance to refill at lunchtime, and again in the evening. We also provide an ample range of snacks which will fill up the average person – if you have hollow legs, you might need to bring some of your own!

The rest of your belongings – up to 10kg (22 lbs) – are carried in a duffel bag that we provide, by mules. All camping equipment needed on the trek is also carried by mules.

Is the 5 Day Salkantay trek right for me?

The Salkantay trekking trail is an adventurous trek and one of the most spectacular in the region, but it comes with its own set of pros and cons. Our Salkantay blog provides a great overview of what the trek is like and will give you a good idea of whether it’s what you’re looking for. In order to answer whether this trek is right for you, ask yourself the following questions:

    • Am I prepared to hike a challenging pass? Remember, Day 2 is a steep uphill climb to reach the Salkantay Pass at a breathtaking 4600m – 400m higher than Dead Woman’s Pass (Warmihuañusca) on the Inca Trail. This requires a solid level of fitness and mental preparation.
    • Am I okay with hiking a busy trail with lots of other trekkers? Salkantay is the second most popular trek in Cusco after the Inca Trail, especially among “backpackers”. It is a highly used route and is showing signs of degradation. The trail is often busy and campsites can be crowded and noisy. 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 in Peru, you might consider another alternative like Ausangate or Ancascocha.
    • Do I want to see a range of changing scenery & climates? Like the Inca Trail, Salkantay lets you hike through high alpine scenery which then changes to semi-tropical Andean jungle terrain. You will see snowy peaks as well as lush vegetation. This is a trek for nature lovers.
    • Am I interested in hands-on learning and interacting with locals? At Lucmabamba, you have the option to learn first-hand about the coffee-making tradition, and even stay overnight with a local family in a homestay.
    • Am I looking for a trek that includes Machu Picchu? Not all hikes in the Cusco area include Machu Picchu, so if you want a hike that does, Salkantay might be a good choice for you.
    • Is hiking past Inca Ruins important to me? If so, then Salkantay may not be the trek for you. If Inca ruins are your focus, a trek like Choquequirao might be more suitable.
    • Am I interested in learning about contemporary Andean culture? The Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu has wonderful mountain views, but little to no interaction with local, Peruvian culture. If you would like to experience traditional culture, then one of our Lares treks might be a better option.

For more information about the difference between Salkantay and other routes like Lares or the Inca Trail, check out our Salkantay vs Lares page.

How to get to Cusco, Peru?

Travel Direct…

      • By Plane – Most international flights land in Lima, Peru’s capital. From here, you can take a domestic flight to Cusco. Some international flights go through other South American capitals, like Bogotá, Colombia, which also has connecting flights to Cusco.
      • By Bus – You can take an overnight bus from Lima to Cusco (it takes about 20-23 hours). One of the benefits of travelling slowly up from the coast is that you are automatically acclimatizing as you travel. Not to mention you get an idea of the stunning landscape and mountains as you travel! The top recommended buses are Cruz del Sur, Palomino and ExcluCiva.

…or Take the Long Way

    • Via Arequipa and/or Puno – If you have the time, spend a day or two in Lima and then head to Arequipa or Puno (or both!) to gradually acclimatize to the altitude over the space of several days before you arrive in Cusco for your trek. We offer 3 and 4 day package tours to Arequipa and Puno that you can add onto to your trek.

Elevation Map

Salkantay trek Difficulty

More Resources on the Salkantay Trek 5 Days

    If you’re still not sure if Salkantay 5 days is right for you, or want to read more about the area or other people’s trekking experiences, check out these helpful articles from our blog:

    • Salkantay vs Lares – Many people looking for an alternative to the Inca Trail have trouble deciding between Salkantay and Lares, the two most popular Inca Trail alternatives. Both are quite distinct and have different things to offer, depending on what you are looking for. This helpful page is designed to walk you through the advantages and disadvantages of each, so you can plan your best Peru trekking vacation.
    • How Difficult is the Salkantay Trek? – This blog provides an overview of some of the highlights of trekking Salkantay as well as the challenges that hikers face on the trail and as they prepare.
    • Which Trek Around Cusco, Peru? – Apus Peru Co-Founder Ariana Svenson writes about the best alternative hikes to the Inca Trail around Cusco, Peru, including Salkantay.
    • Inca Trail vs Salkantay – If you’re debating between two of Peru’s most famous hikes, our comparison guide between the Inca Trail and Salkantay will be a must-read.
8 Reviews
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Tracie E.

Couple Traveller

[What convinced me to book with Apus peru] was the good communication and the options. The food was absolutely delicious, and loved the variety of food. [The highlight of my trek was] Machu Picchu, Humantay and learning about Peru.

9 October, 2023

Andrea B

Family Traveller

We couldn’t be happier with our Salkantay Trek with Apus Peru. We chose the company due to its flexible departure dates which allowed us to book a private family trip, and also because it was recommended to us by a guide friend.

Every time we contacted Claire about absolutely everything, her responses were quick and reassuring. Planning a family trip in Peru can be very stressful when you’re 50 years old! But Claire’s excellent advice gave us the confidence that we were making the right decision.

Our guide Elizabeth was incredible. I can’t say enough about how she encouraged us, anticipated our needs and kept us entertained with her relaxed attitude.

Every aspect of the trip went off without a hitch and was well organized. Elizabeth and Claire allowed us to elaborate an itinerary that suited us perfectly. The cook, Fortunato, was exceptional.

The hike itself was impressive, so many highlights and enough out of our comfort zone to be a real adventure. One that we, as a family, will never forget.

10 June, 2019

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

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