The Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu | Mountain Madness


Trek to Machu Picchu along the less-travelled, stunningly rugged Salkantay route.

Meaning “savage” or “wild” in Quechua, the language of the indigenous Andean/Peruvian people, the Salkantay is indeed a wilder experience than the popular Inca Trail: fewer people, dramatic views, and rich history.

On this tour you enjoy increased solitude as you trek across high valleys and the Andean foothills to climb and cross the Salkantay Pass, which gets you breathtakingly close to the towering peaks of the Cordillera Vilcabamba range. From the pass the trail descends into the Santa Teresa Valley, passing small farms and villages, eventually reaching the Urabamba River. There are numerous archaeological sites along the way. A short but very scenic train ride takes you to the town of Aguas Calientes, where you spend the night, before rising early the next morning for your visit famed Machu Picchu.

This trek, and the Santa Teresa Valley, is richly described in the New York Times’ bestseller Turn Right at Machu Picchu, by author Mark Adams. The Salkantay Trek combines the spectacularm, ancient city of Cusco, where the Incas once reigned, the beauty of the Sacred Valley, and a road less travelled to Machu Picchu.

Itinerary Overview

Day 1  Fly to Lima. Take early morning flight to Cusco (at 11,152 feet/3,399 meters).

Day 2  Arrive Cusco. A Mountain Madness representative picks you up at the airport and transfers you to your hotel. Most flights arrive in early morning, so you have some time to get familiar with Cusco. In the afternoon you go on a tour of the city, visiting its cathedrals and Inca temples, and explore the famous Sacsayhuaman ruins.

Day 3  The Sacred Valley. Visit the Vilcanota/Urubamba River valley, also known as the Sacred Valley. You will Andean markets, the ruins at Pisac and/or Ollantaytambo. Return to Cusco to overnight.

Day 5  Collpapampa. Trek uphill to reach the highest point of the trek, the Apacheta Pass, at 15,091 feet/4,600 meters, with views of mounts Salkantay, Humantay and Huayanay. Hike downhill for two hours to get to your campsite at Collpapampa. (The longest hiking day at approx. 8 hours.)

Mount Salktantay, Peru (Maurizio Nasi/Mountain Madness)

Day 6  Santa Teresa Valley. Hike pass farms, villagers and pleasant terrain of the high jungle zone, where the top of the Amazon  stretches the meet the Andean valleys. Camp at village of Santa Teresa.


Spectacular valleys of the Andes are everywhere along the Salkantay Trek in Peru. (Outpost)

Day 7  Aguas Calientes. Hike 4 hours to catch a train to town of Aguas Calientes, at the base of Machu Picchu. Spend the night at a hotel in this tiny tourist mecca.

Day 8  Machu Picchu. Enjoy a two-hour guided tour of the famed mountaintop citadel of the Incas, then spend a few hours exploring the site on your own. Take a train to. Catch a train to Ollantaytambo, then road trip back to Cusco.

Day 9  Fly to Lima to connect with flight home.


  • Phone: 800.3285925
  • YouTube
  • Length/Departs: 9 days; contact Mountain Madness directly for current depart dates
  • Accommodation: hotels, campsites
  • Price: contact operator for current price; —$200 (Outpost promo code)
    Difficulty: Moderate to Challenging



  • Scheduled hotel nights
  • Scheduled restaurant meals
  • Park and museum entrance fees
  • Porters and pack animals
  • Food while on the trek
  • Group tents and cooking gear
  • Airport transfers to and from Cusco International Airport

Description/details from operator site. To see more or book this trip click here.

More fantastic trips to PERU here!

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