- Acclimatise on a three night pre-trek stay in Cuzco, with a private walking tour of the city
- Explore the fascinating Inca ruins of Tambomachay and Sacsayhuaman and hike to the mystical Temple of the Moon
- Avoid the crowds of the Classic Inca Trail, while still experiencing original Inca pathways and traditional Andean culture
- Enjoy views from Salkantay, one of the highest peaks of the Peruvian Andes
- Camp, fully-supported, for three nights under the Andean stars, waking each morning to mountain vistas and fresh alpine air
This guided hike starts and ends in Cuzco, where we spend three nights pre-trek acclimatising to the high altitude. The Salkantay Trek is one of South America’s most stunning mountain hikes and is a great alternative to the well-trodden Classic Inca trail.
Our 4-day trek takes us through majestic snow-capped mountains crowned by the Nevado Salkantay (6271m). We’ll see beautiful glacial lakes and lush cloud forest and jungle with unique flora and fauna. We walk in the footsteps of the Incas, taking ancient pathways, and camp for three nights.
To finish this rewarding journey we explore Machu Picchu.
Please note: Trip price is based on two people travelling together (enquire for group pricing).
Are you a first-time or solo traveller?
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Day 1: Arrive Cuzco
After arriving at Cuzco’s airport, walkers are welcomed by our representative and transferred to the hotel. Wander the streets and side alleys of the city to see the perfect tapering Inca stonework that provided the foundations for many of Cuzco’s colonial and modern buildings. The city itself is the continent’s oldest continuously inhabited city and was the home of the Inca Empire for two centuries before the Spanish built their first capital here. Today Cuzco is a fascinating combination of both cultures. Take the time to acclimatise to the city’s high altitude (3,400m) and explore the many Baroque churches and ancient temples in the city. The adventure continues with a welcome meeting in the evening with our local guide (look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask at hotel reception for details).
Overnight: Cuzco Hotel (3400m)
Day 2: Explore Cuzco
In the morning, a guided walking tour explores vivid examples of the mixture of Inca and Spanish cultures. We see the Stone of Twelve Angles at the Inca Roca Palace and visit the most sacred Inca building: the Temple of Qoricancha. Qoricancha was the most important temple of the Inca Empire. According to archaeologists, it housed over 1000 priests and attendants. It was built over an Inca palace dedicated to the worship of the Sun.
Next is a visit to the heart of the city, the Plaza de Armas, surrounded by colonial arcades and four churches. You will see the beautiful Cathedral of Cuzco facade, a fine example of colonial Baroque art. Explore the San Pedro Market with its vegetables, meats, local cheeses (which we recommend trying) as well as chocolates, herbal medicines and local handicrafts. It’s a great place to purchase souvenirs. The market is also where locals go to eat ‘mystery soups’. Some may be just chicken though the most popular amongst the locals are usually the more unusual ones like frog soups or soups that contain “nose to tail” of various animals. Our lunch is at Museo del Cafe (Coffee Museum), with its free museum. We sample hot chocolate made from local cacao beans, and recommend trying the mate de coca (coca tea).
- Altitude: Cuzco 3400m
- Duration: 2.5-3 hours
Overnight: Cuzco Hotel
Meals: B L
Day 3: Explore Cuzco
We begin today with a drive to Tambomachay, an archaeological site just outside of Cuzco. Tambomachay was a temple dedicated to water. We visit the fort of Puka Pukara and the large Inca ceremonial centre of Sacsayhuaman. This enormous structure overlooks the city of Cuzco. Its construction is amazing, with huge rocks perfectly fitting together. It is said that it took over 10,000 workers 50 years to build it. We also visit another important Inca site known as Qenqo, with subterranean passages and carved stone channels with a zigzag pattern. Inside is a carved stone table where it is said the Incas mummified their dead. Next is a visit to the Temple of the Moon. After a picnic lunch, we walk a beautifully-preserved section of The Royal Inca Trail into the old San Blas district, home to the city’s artists.
- Altitude: Sacsayhuaman 3,700m
- Duration: 5-6 hours
Overnight: Cuzco Hotel
Meals: B L
Day 4: Transfer Cuzco to Maroqasa, Hike to Soraypampa (11km)
An early morning transfer takes us to Tarawasi Inca site. After a visit, we continue by vehicle to the checkpoint at the mountain town of Mollepata, a few hours’ drive from Cuzco. A little further on is the beginning of the trek.
Our trek begins on the southwest facing slopes of the Andes, an area of coarse bushes and gnarly trees, and where small parrots can be heard. We gradually climb northwards towards the broad snowy peak of Humantay (5917m), following an Inca canal which is still in use today. Our first night of camping is at Soraypampa (3900m). Tents will be already set up for us, and camp staff will prepare a delicious hot meal while we relax. Camp facilities include a dining tent and toilet tent.
- Max trek altitude: 3900m
- Ascent: 515m
- Trek Duration: 5 hours
Overnight: Camping Soraypampa (3900m)
Meals: B L D
Day 5: Soraypampa to Ichu Pata (12km)
We start the day with a three-hour circuit walk to Humantay Lagoon. This magnificent, beautifully-blue water mirror sits perfectly with its snow-capped background. We head back to the previous evening’s campsite for an early lunch, before resuming our ascent towards the massive bulk of Salkantay (6271m) which soon dominates our view. We camp at around 4,400m in the high grassy meadow of Ichu Pata, below the south face and glaciers of the impressive peak.
- Max trek altitude: 4400m
- Ascent: 500m
- Descent: 1,030m
- Trek duration: 6.5 hours
Overnight: Camping Ichu Pata (4,400m)
Meals: B L D
Day 6: Ichu Pata to Pampa Cahuana (12km)
The high point of the trek and this morning’s goal is the Inca Chiriasqa pass at almost 5000m. Climbing more steeply now, we walk close to the spectacular glaciers and ice walls of Nevado Salkantay. Passing through Pampa Japonesa (base camp for a Japanese mountaineering expedition) we finally top the pass and gain some excellent 360° panoramic views. Inca Chirisaqa means ‘the Inca fell ill from cold’, and the exposed situation makes it easy to see why. Descending from the pass, we drop down into the upper reaches of a broad valley where Salkantay reappears in a new profile. After passing a huge ridge of terminal moraine, once the snout of the East Salkantay Glacier, the river suddenly becomes dead straight, having been turned into a canal by the Incas centuries ago. We spend our last night of camping pitched alongside the canal close to Pampa Cahuana (3,870m).
- Max trek altitude: 4900m
- Ascent: 500m
- Descent: 1030m
- Trek duration: 7 hours
Meals: B L D
Day 7: Pampa Cahuana to Piscacucho, bus to Ollantaytambo (18km)
After setting off from camp we follow the canal as it drops into a steep-sided valley. The path follows the side of the valley all the way to the Paucarcancha Ruins. We will have time to explore this small site before continuing walking down to Piscacucho (2,700m). From here we take a 45-minute bus ride to our hotel in Ollantaytambo (2800m).
- Max trek altitude: 3000m
- Ascent: 100m
- Descent: 1270m
- Trek duration: 8 hours
Overnight: Ollantaytambo Hotel
Meals: B L D
Day 8: Machu Picchu and Transfer to Cuzco
An early morning train takes us to the town of Aguas Calientes, where we board a bus for the short 30-minute journey to the 15th-century Inca citadel of Machu Picchu. Here we walk up to the guard house to enjoy a panoramic view of the site. We follow this with a private guided tour to explore what makes up Machu Picchu: ruins with perfect masonry and architecture that has baffled many since its “discovery” in the early 1900s. We return via the same method as we arrived: bus to Aguas Calientes town, then train from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo. Our journey continues with a private vehicle transfer back to Cuzco.
- Altitude Machu Picchu: 2400m
- Duration: 4 hours
Overnight: Cuzco Hotel
Day 9: Depart Cuzco
Our tour ends today after breakfast, with transfers provided to the airport for onward flights.
Please note that distances and times are approximate and do vary depending on the pace of the group or if alternate routes need to be taken due to inclement weather.
This itinerary offers the flexibility of selecting your own travel dates (subject to availability). Please select your preferred dates below. It is helpful to offer the sales team one or two alternative start dates in the event that we cannot secure your preferred date. Please note that submitting a booking form does not guarantee a booking confirmation. Please do not book other travel arrangements until you have received a formal confirmation from the sales team.
From May 8th to October 1st 2020 our special offer of $1 deposit applies to new bookings made in this period for website trips*. $1 is all you will pay in 2020 for trips departing in 2021.
From January 1st 2021 we will invoice you the remainder of the standard deposit ($499*) and the remaining balance payment at the standard 2 months before departure. All your arrangements will be fully confirmed then, as per usual. The $1 deposit offer does not apply to private groups or significant tailormade trip requests, please speak to one of our consultants if you have any questions.
If Government restrictions don’t allow for any travel in your chosen destination at that time (when the balance is due at 60 days prior to departure) then we will either postpone your trip or allow you to transfer to another destination and trip that has availability instead.
*Note - the standard deposit for Peru Lodge trips is $1000.
- Flexibility to select your own departure date* and travel with your own group of family or friends
- Private tour with your own private guide
- Airport transfers
- Experienced English-speaking trek guide
- Guided walking tour of Cuzco with local guide
- Guided visits to archaeological sites near Cuzco
- 6 nights hotel accommodation
- 3 nights full-service camping
- Sleeping bags and camping equipment
- 8 breakfasts, 6 lunches, 4 dinners
- Transport by private transfer, public train and bus while on tour
- Entrance fees as per the itinerary
- Guided tour of Machu Picchu with a local guide
- Luggage transferred by horses/mules on Salkantay Trek (max 6kg)
- RAW Travel luggage tag and buff
*subject to availability
- Travel insurance
- Single supplement $555
- Solo traveller supplement (available on request)
- Meals not outlined above
- Tips for guides, drivers, horsemen and camp staff
Map & Guide
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Zoe Rees – Japan and South America
(03) 5976 3763