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Salkantay Trek 6 Days

Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu – 6D/5N

Salkantay Trek to Machu PicchuThis amazing Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu 6 Days runs beneath the magnificent Salkantay mountain (6.271m/20569ft), one of the highest and most stunning in the Peruvian Andes. . The Salkantay Trek (or Salcantay Trek),was recently named on the National Geographic Ultimate Adventure bucket list – defined as “The 20 most extreme, hair-raising, legendary adventures on the planet, daunting even for the world’s elite athletes.” It is a trek open to everybody, and the most popular alternative to the Inca Trail trek to Machu Picchu, and rich in natural scenery. The trek´s namesake, Apu Salkantay (6,271 m/20,574 ft) is taller than the highest mountain in North America, Mt McKinley (6,194 m/20,332)in Alaska and highest peak in Africa, Mt Kilimanjaro (5,892 m/19,331 ft).

The six day version of the Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu has many advantages. First of all the trek begins at Marcoccasa, which is 9 km before the traditional start of the Salkantay trek at Soraypampa. Those who have hiked the Marcoccasa to Soraypampa portion of the trail say it, “is a destination in its own right and could be an enjoyable overnight trip for those with limited time.” Additionally having 5 days to complete the trail instead of four means you have more opportunities to visit “off the beaten path locations” and will see less crowds! You will have more time to be immersed in the natural beauty that surrounds this mountain due to its unique geographical location!

It is a trek open to everybody, and the most popular alternative to the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.

Action Peru Treks is highly recommended by TripAdvisor and Trustpilot. Join hundreds of happy trekkers who have experienced the adventure of a lifetime!


Pre-trek briefing (required): We provide a full pre-trek briefing at our office or at your hotel in Cusco. This gives you the chance to ask questions about the trek itinerary. Briefings are scheduled for the day before your trek starts.

Please take this into consideration when booking your travel plans to Cusco, to ensure you arrive in time for the briefing.

Day 1: Cusco –Marcoccasa –Challacancha – Soraypampa

We will pick you up at your hotel early to drive until Mollepata (2800 m/ 9184ft) where we will stop to get breakfast. Then we drive for about one hour until Marcoccasa where we are going to start our Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu. We hike up for about 2 and a half hours until we reach the high point for today. Then we go down for about 1 ½ hours to Challacancha (3600 m/ 11,808 ft) where we will have lunch. After a delicious lunch we walk two hours until our camp at Soraypampa (3,850m / 12,600ft).

  • Meals: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodations: Camping
  • Lowest Elevation: 2800 m/ 9184 ft
  • Campsite Elevation: 3850 m/ 12,600 ft
  • Distance to walk: 8.86 km/ 5.5 miles
  • Level of Difficulty: Moderate

Day 2: Soraypampa – Soyrococha – Huayracmachay

After breakfast we hike up for about 3 ½ hours until Soyrococha (4200 m/13,776 ft) where we are going to have lunch. After that we will continue up for one hour until we reach the highest point of our trek, Abra Salkantay (4650 m/ 15,088ft). After taking pictures and talking about the mountains we will go down for 2 hours to our next camp at Huayracmachay (3,800 m/12,500 ft).

  • Meals: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodations: Camping
  • Lowest Elevation: 3800 m/12,500 ft
  • Highest Elevation: 4650 m/13,776 ft
  • Distance to walk: 14.4 km/9 miles
  • Level of Difficulty: Challenging

Day 3: Huayrachmachay – Colpapampa

This day is all downhill for four hours. On the way down there is an Inca site called Andenes (3,500 m/11,480ft). We will stop here and have a tour. At this site you will see Inca Terraces. We will continue our hike with an easy downhill walk along the Salkantay River, enjoying the increasingly lush vegetation, passing waterfalls, passion fruit and coffee plantations. The arid highland landscape begins to transform into a cloud forest filled with trees and bromeliads. After 1 ½ to 2 hours we arrive at the settlement of Chaullay, and after another 45 minutes to the town of Colpapampa (2900 m/9,514 ft).

  • Meals: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodations: Camping
  • Lowest Elevation: 2900 m/9,514 ft
  • Highest Elevation: 3800 m/12,500 ft
  • Distance to walk: 9.66 km/6 miles
  • Level of Difficulty: Easy

Day 4: Colpapampa – La Playa – Lucmabamba

After working hard on day 2, we are rewarded with a more gentle hike today. We will have a fantastic breakfast and then hike 5 to 6 hours on gentle up and down segments. We will be hiking through the rain forest, following the path of the Santa Teresa river. We will have the opportunity to see multiple coffee plantations, banana plantations, and fields of passion fruit. Along this path you will also see the most beautiful waterfall along the trek.

We will reach Lucmabamba, our campsite for the evening, around noon. Here we will relax and enjoy a delicious lunch!

After lunch, we will do an incredible coffee tour at the plantation adjacent to the campsite. We will begin by browsing the fields, learning about the different types of beans, and picking our own beans. There are also several fields of tomatoes and avocados. We will pick vegetables that the chef will use for dinner that night.

After picking our beans, we will roast them and grind them. Finally, we will brew and drink our own coffee! It is a truly unique experience.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • 14 km (8 miles)
  • Time: 5-6 hours
  • Lowest elevation: 2,050 m/6,725 ft
  • Highest elevation: 2,800 m/9,184 ft
  • Area: Rain Forest
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Sights: Santa Teresa River, Colpapampa village, Lucmabamba

Day 5: Lucmabamba – Llactapata Inca Ruins – Hydroelectric – Aguas Calientes

We will wake up early and have breakfast. Today´s hike starts with a moderate 3 ½ hour climb through the rain forest until we reach the Llactapata Inca site (2,700 m/8,856 ft), where we will have a thorough tour. This is the location where you will have your first view of Machu Picchu in the far distance. You will also have a first look at the mountain you will hike tomorrow, Huayna Picchu!

Leaving Llactapata, we begin a 2 ½ hour descent to Hydroelectric, where we will have lunch. At 3 pm we will board the train for a 40 minute trip to Aguas Calientes.

On arrival at Aguas Calientes you will check into your hotel. Dinner will be at the finest restaurant.

  •  Meals: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Distance Covered: 13 km /8 miles
  • Time: 6-7 hours
  • Lowest elevation: 1,800 m/5,905 ft
  • Highest elevation: 3,100 m/10,170 ft
  • Area: Cloud Forest
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Sights: Llactapata Inca Ruins, Machu Picchu

Day 6: Aguas Calientes – Machu Picchu – Cusco

You will have breakfast at your hotel before we take a very early bus along the winding road to Machu Picchu, the Inca city that was lost to the jungle but rediscovered in 1911 by Hiram Bingham. Declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1983, Machu Picchu exceeds all expectations. Perched high on an inaccessible hilltop the citadel is protected by huge cliffs and the raging Urubamba River. Once there you will be given at 2 to 3 hour walking tour of the site.

If you have elected to climb Huayna Picchu mountain you should choose the 10 a.m. time. The ticket price for Huayna Picchu mountain is not included in the price of your trek. If you are not climbing the mountain you will have some time to be at the site before you return back to Aguas Calientes by bus.

Upon return to Aguas Calientes you will board the expedition train to either Ollantaytambo or to Poroy. From Ollantaytambo or Poroy you will travel by minivan to Cusco and we will drop you off at your hotel. Arrival time in Cusco depends on the time of your train ticket.

  • Meals: Breakfast
  • Lowest Elevation: 2040 m/6,692 ft
  • Highest Elevation: 2440 m/8,005 ft


  • Bilingual English speaking tour guide (additional tour guide for groups of nine people or more)
  • Pre-Departure Briefing at your hotel 1 or 2 days before your trek.
  • Pick up from your hotel and transportation to Mollepata
  • Four person tent for each 2 persons.
  • Mattress
  • Kitchen tent
  • Dining tent with tables and chairs
  • Toilet tent.
  • Chef
  • Wranglers and horses to carry all the equipment (food, tents, chairs, table, etc)
  • Horses to transport 8 kg of your personal gear
  • Emergency horse in case we need it
  • Six breakfasts, five lunches, and five dinners
  • Hot water for washing.
  • Daily morning boiled and cold water to fill the water bottles.
  • Emergency oxygen bottle and medical kit.
  • Return Expedition train ticket from Aguas Calientes to either Ollantaytambo or to Poroy
  • Private van transport from Ollantaytambo to Cusco
  • Entrance to Machu Picchu
  • Round trip bus from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu
  • Hotel in Aguas Calientes (double occupancy)

NOT included

  • Sleeping bag (can be rented from us)
  • Trekking Poles (can be rented from us)
  • Huayna Picchu Permit (this ticket can be purchased for an extra USD $75 per person)
  • Day 6 lunch in Aguas Calientes
  • Tips for the crew (porters, muleteers, chef and guide)
  • Travel Insurance (Highly recommended)

Items to bring with you:

  • Original passport (if you have acquired a new one after you made your booking, bring both)
  • Down sleeping bag (can be rented from us)
  • Clothes (trekking boots, warm fleece jacket, a few T-shirts, socks, sun hat, light long pants, gloves, rain jacket)
  • Toiletries (toilet paper, wet wipes, personal towel)
  • Sunscreen
  • Head lamp, batteries*
  • Sunglasses
  • Camera with spare batteries*
  • Binoculars
  • Book to read (there will be some spare time at camp)
  • Trekking poles
  • Bug repellent

NOTE: Batteries run down faster at higher altitude


Private: USD $800 per person

Group versus Private Treks: What’s the difference?

  • Depending on the number of people in your booking, additional people may join the trek to make a full group.
  • If you choose “private”, no additional people will be joining your group, no matter the size.
  • Minimum booking size is two people; one person may book a group trek if Action Peru Treks is able to join that person with additional groups.


  • Under 18 years Discount: USD $20
  • Under 7 years Discount: USD $35


  • Hiking poles – USD $25 (pair)
  • Sleeping bag – USD $30 per person


  • Return Vistadome Train – USD $60 per person
  • Return Hiram Bingham Train– USD $420 per person
  • Sumaq Machu Picchu Hotel (5-star hotel) – USD $255 per person per night (double occupancy)
  • Inkaterra El Pueblo Machu Picchu Hotel (5-star hotel) – USD $250 per person per night (double occupancy)
  • El Mapi Hotel by Inkaterra (4-star hotel) – USD $115 per person per night (double occupancy)
  • Tierra Viva Machu Picchu (3+ star hotel) – USD $50 per person per night (double occupancy)
  • Private Tent – USD $40 per person

Salkantay Trek 2024 FAQs.

What is the Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu?

The Classic Inca Trail is famed for the diversity of its topography and ecosystems; the Salkantay Route’s smorgasbord is even more impressive!

The 20,500-feet-high Mount Salkantay was one of the holiest apus, or sacred peaks, in the Inca religious pantheon.

It’s still revered today in traditional Andean religion. This mule-assisted hike cuts through the beautiful Mollepata Valley and traverses past Salkantay at an altitude above 15,000 feet.

From those chilly heights, the trail descends into subtropical cloud forest, where it meets up with an ancient Inca highway that leads to the recently rediscovered ruins of Llactapata.

From there, one can gaze a few miles across the valley to take in a rare sidelong view of the full Machu Picchu complex and Huayna Picchu mountain.

A downhill walk ends at the small train station, where a frequent train runs along the Urubamba River to Aguas Calientes, the town located at the base of Machu Picchu.

Why the Salkantay trek is so popular?

It is the most popular alternative trek to the Inca Trail. It features diverse ecosystems including cloud forest, rain forest and high mountain. You will have stunning views of snowcapped glaciers and a strikingly blue lake (Umantay lake).

The trek is named among the 25 best treks in the World, by National Geographic Adventure Travel Magazine, is a trek open to everybody.

A permit is not required for the Salkantay Trek and start dates are flexible.

It is best though to book your trekking trip in advance, especially during the high season (May to September), to assure reservations for daily excursions and at desired hotels in destinations you visit before and after the trekking experience.

How far in advance should I reserve my permit for the Salkantay trek?

Unlike the Classic Inca Trail, where there is a limit of 500 hikers per day and so permits can be sold out up to six months in advance, there are no limits for the Salkantay trek.

This makes it an excellent alternative if you’d been hoping to hike the Inca Trail but have found that there isn’t any space. 

The only restriction you’ll face is on the availability of entry tickets to Machu Picchu, so it’s still worth booking at least a few weeks in advance, particularly if you’re travelling between May and September.

Is a permit required to hike the Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu?

No permits are currently required to hike the Salkantay trek. However, you will need a ticket to enter Machu Picchu at the end of the trek. Also, if you plan on hiking any of the three mountain trails within Machu Picchu, you will also need to buy these tickets in advance too.

Again, be mindful, that tickets for Huayna Picchu sell out months in advance, as there is a limit of just 200 people per day. So, you may need to be a little more organized than usual if you plan to hike this trek. 

Does the Salkantay trek include your Machu Picchu entrance ticket?

Yep, the cost of entry is included in the trip price and it’s the responsibility of Action Peru Treks to take care of all that and provide you with the ticket on the day you’re entering the site.

Is there a waiting list for sold out Machu Picchu permits?

No, there is no waiting list for permits. Permits are only available for purchase through the Peruvian government.

Once a permit is purchased for one person, the permit cannot be refundable or transferred to another individual.

Is it possible to enter Machu Picchu with a different name?

No, you need to carry your valid passport to enter the city.

What is the terrain like? And how difficult is the Salkantay trek?

The difficulty of Salkantay trek is “Medium”.

The Salkantay trek is around 51 km (32 miles) long. For travelers interested, you must be physically capable for a trek like this.

Altitude effects aside, it is multiple days of 6+ hours of hiking through rough terrain and often up or down hill. But anyone who exercises regularly will manage just fine! It is exhausting but it’s certainly not unbearable.

All guides carry oxygen canisters, so if you start to feel altitude sickness you can rest and get some much-needed O2. If you’re an avid hiker or used to the altitude you won’t have a problem.

For everyone else, make sure you feel confident in your hiking abilities and you’ll do great.

Which campsites do you use along the trek?

Campsites may change depending on booking time and availability, weather conditions or on restrictions undertaken for safety reasons by our trekking team.

We generally try to camp in less trafficked areas so that trekkers can enjoy the natural beauty of the trek and minimize environmental impacts. Our regular campsite choice is Soyrococha, Colpapampa and Lucmabamba.

What do I need to carry on the trek?

We recommend that travelers carry the items that they will need each day while hiking such as water, snacks, camera and film.

Our horses will carry 8 kg of each of your personal gear including the camping equipment during the trek. We will give you a duffel bag for those belongings at the time of your pre trek briefing.

We generally ask trekkers to bring only the necessary items that they will need for the trail and leave any unneeded luggage at the hotel in Cusco or at our office.

Where do I store my luggage during the Salkantay Trek?

Your Cusco hotel will store your luggage for free while you will be on the trek. We can also store your extra luggage at our office in Cusco at not any extra cost.

How big are the groups?

Our groups are usually small. Average is 3 to 5 people and maximum 16 people plus the trekking team.

When Is the Best Time to Hike the Salkantay Trek?

 The end of the rainy season (April) and the beginning of the dry season (May) are generally considered the best times to hike the Salkantay trek.

The surrounding landscape is still green and lush from months of downpour and the chances of being caught out in the rain are significantly lower.

Is the Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu always open?

It’s possible to hike the Salkantay trek all year round, but for the best conditions (and to get those iconic views at Machu Picchu on the final day), try to avoid the rainy season, which is between November and March.

Are there toilets and showers at the campsites?

We provide you with a popup tent toilet that is clean and sanitary.

There are toilets 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 toilet.

Altitude and acclimatization

We recommend travelers spend a few days in Cusco before doing the trek to help adjust to the high altitude.

It’s better to acclimatize in Cusco, not the Sacred Valley, because the higher elevation of the city at 11,120 ft (3,400 m) is more akin to those at the start of the Salkantay trek.

Altitude sickness is caused by a rapid change in elevation without the necessary time for acclimatization.

Mild symptoms are common and include lingering headache, nausea, and loss of appetite. Every person responds differently to the change in altitude and unfortunately there is no way to prevent it or predict how seriously it may affect you.

What is the food like on the Salkantay trek?

A cook accompanies each group on the trek and prepares breakfast, three course lunches and dinners.

The meals are quite exquisite considering that all of the ingredients and cooking supplies are carried from Cusco and the Sacred Valley.

Each trekker is also provided with snacks to take with them on the trek. Vegetarian and vegan meals are also available upon request. Other special dietary requests can usually be accommodated as well with sufficient notice.

Is drinking water supplied?

Yes, our trekking team will provide drinking water every morning and at each meal. Each evening, water is collected from nearby streams, boiled, and left to cool overnight.

A reusable water bottle or hydration pack works well for this. We recommend that travelers bring their own refillable bottles to limit plastic waste along the Trail.

What equipment is supplied by us along the trek?

We supply the sleeping tents (4 person tents for two travelers), dining tents, tables, chairs, toilet tents, cooking equipment, water purifiers, sleeping pads, and other camping equipment.

Our outfitter purchases the highest quality equipment in Peru and older equipment is evaluated and replaced on a regular basis.

What are the guides like?

Our team are among the very best and most experienced guides anywhere. They are from the surrounding Cusco and the Sacred Valley areas and speak fluent English, in addition to Spanish and the Inca indigenous language of Quechua.

Most have 8-10 years of experience leading hikes to Machu Picchu and all have training in the history, spirituality, culture, and ecology of the area.

How can I prepare for the Salkantay trek?

The more training you do beforehand, the more you will enjoy your trek.

We recommend 30 minutes of cardio activities 3-4 times a week in the 2-3 months leading up to your departure. Take every opportunity to walk up and down stairs or hills for leg strengthening and aerobic fitness.

Are there any ATMs?

There are no ATMs along the Salkantay trek. You should bring enough money with you from Cusco for tipping and lunch in Aguas Calientes.

There are also some ATMs in Aguas Calientes if you need to withdraw additional cash.

What if I have a medical emergency while hiking the Salkantay trek?

Guides carry a first aid kit for basic medical problems (traveler’s diarrhea, cuts/scrapes, etc.). They receive Red Cross First Aid and other emergency training every year.

Our guides lead over 1000 travelers along the trek each year and we have rarely had a traveler unable to complete the hike.

In these rare instances when someone has not felt well enough to finish the hike, the client has been escorted back to Cusco and generally felt well enough to re-join the group in Machu Picchu via train a few days later.

Cusco city has the nearest modern medical facilities so travelers with a serious medical emergency would need to be evacuated there.

Guides and porters have pre-established evacuation strategies in place should this need occur.

Is there internet access on the Salkantay trek?

Wi-Fi is available at some places such the second camp and third camp.

Sometimes this is just a matter of paying a few coins for the local password and of course, there is internet service once you reach at Aguas Calientes town.

How much money should you bring on the Salkantay trek?

The vast majority of costs will be covered in the up-front price of your trip, but there are a few costs along the way for which you’ll need to bring cash:

  • Snacks and drinks from stallholders
  • Toilet entry fees (usually 2 soles at Machu Picchu)
  • Tips for porters and guides
  • Lunch on day 5 at Aguas Calientes.

It’s sensible to take this money in the form of smaller notes and coins.

We’d say at least 400 soles per person for the Trek-specific section.

Will I get altitude sickness on the Salkantay trek?

Many of the most popular places in Peru, such as Cusco and Huaraz, are at high altitude; this means that for anyone planning a trip to Peru understanding altitude sickness (and how to avoid it) is incredibly important. In fact, not approaching altitude correctly is one of the biggest mistakes of travelers in South America.

The best way to minimize the likelihood and impact of altitude sickness is factoring in enough time into your Peru itinerary to acclimatize to the conditions.

This means that it is incredibly foolish to arrive in Cusco, which is at 3,399m (11,152 feet) above sea-level, and leave the next day to do a strenuous hike or even start the Salkantay trek. Your body needs the time to adjust to the altitude!

A good rule of thumb is to give yourself and your body two easy days at altitude to acclimatize to the change, and to keep yourself well hydrated throughout.

What about medication?

Obviously, medical attention and facilities along the trek are pretty much non-existent so you need to bring any of your own required medication with you and keep it on your own person or in the daypack.

What climates can I expect on the Salkantay trek?

Variance in latitude, elevation and local winds all factor into the wide range of climates experienced in the central Sierra Mountain region.

Average temperatures in the Sierra vary little between seasons, but there is dramatic daily variance. 

While the average daily temperature may only vary a few degrees Celsius between January and July, the diurnal (daily) temperature range is often huge.

You can expect daytime temperatures in the highlands to be in the range of 10-25°C (50-77 °F), falling as low as -10 °C (14°F) at night especially at the first camp site.

How much time can I spend at the Machu Picchu sanctuary?

There are three time slots in which patrons can enter Machu Picchu for a maximum of four hours and must follow one of three predetermined routes.

Admission is not allowed after 4pm. Additionally, all visitors must always be accompanied by a guide.

The early morning is one of the best times to savour the views and atmosphere of Machu Picchu. The mystical morning light over the enigmatic sites is spectacular.

Try and catch the sunrise at the sanctuary, you won’t regret the early wakeup call!

$800 each (based on 2 people)
6 Days / 5 Nights


  • Hiking Poles – USD $25 (pair)
  • Sleeping Bag – USD $30 per person
  • Huayna Picchu Permit – USD $75 per person
  • Return Vistadome Train – USD $60 per person
  • Return Hiram Bingham Train– USD $420 per person
  • Sumaq Machu Picchu Hotel (5-star hotel) – USD $255 per person per night (double occupancy)
  • Inkaterra El Pueblo Machu Picchu Hotel (5-star hotel) – USD $250 per person per night (double occupancy)
  • El Mapi Hotel by Inkaterra (4-star hotel) – USD $115 per person per night (double occupancy)
  • Tierra Viva Machu Picchu (3+ star hotel) – USD $50 per person per night (double occupancy)
  • Private Tent – USD $40 per person


  • Day 1: Cusco – Marcoccasa – Challacancha – Soraypampa
  • Day 2: Soraypampa – Soroycocha – Huayracmachay
  • Day 3: Huayrachmachay – Colpapampa
  • Day 4: Colpapampa to La Playa/Santa Teresa
  • Day 5: Santa Teresa to Aguas Calientes
  • Day 6: Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu to Cusco
  • Beginning altitude: 2,170 m / 7,170 ft
  • Maximum altitude: 2,720 m / 8,920 ft
  • Hike Total Distance: 13 km / 8 miles
  • Overall trek difficulty: Challenging


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