group of hikers in mountains on sunny day on salkantay trek to macchu picchu
local spiritual leader performing blessing on salkantay trek to machu picchu
several hikers and a horse approach ridge on salkantay trek to machu picchu
approaching machu picchu on salkantay trek land tour
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South America Peru Land Tour

Salkantay: Trek to Machu Picchu

This 9-day Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu lodge-to-lodge private trekking experience follows a historic section of the Inca trail through 15 different eco-systems, traversing a mountain pass over 15,000 feet in elevation and exploring villages where locals still maintain age-old traditions. 

The journey begins in Cusco, Peru, former capital of the Inca empire at 11,000 feet, and follows a little-known route through the Vilcabamba range, a spellbinding region of misty foothills blanketed in lush greenery and high Andes peaks cloaked in white. Cross a mountain pass at nearly 15,000 feet, marvel at hidden ruins and visit isolated communities where traditions of pre-Columbian cultures still thrive. Complete the journey by rediscovering the mystical beauty of Machu Picchu, the crown jewel of the Inca Empire. 

Each day’s trek ends with a hot shower in a cozy private lodge, complemented by a massage or a dip in an outdoor jacuzzi, followed by a gourmet meal with select wines and highly personalized service by local staff. The Salkantay experience goes beyond deluxe lodges and a great trek; it is a unique opportunity to experience ancient history in the Land of the Incas, as well as the most interesting and exotic variety of flora and fauna, all in the company of new friends and like-minded souls—or make it private with just your own friends and family. Spend evenings unwinding at a variety of mountain trekking lodges, each offering a full bar, hot tub and views of snow-clad peaks or subtropical hillsides.

AdventureSmith’s Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu is booked as a complete 9-day Peru travel package. The trekking portion consists of 6 days (2 days the hikes are optional) of moderate to strenuous hiking at elevations of 6,600 to 15,000 feet and up to 6 miles per day along diverse trails that range from flat and grassy to steep and rocky slopes. Read on to view the 9-day Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu Full Itinerary, which includes pre- and post-trek accommodations in Cusco, as well as a guided city tour. There is also a 7-day trek-only option and a 7-day Lodge-to-Lodge Equestrian Adventure that includes 5 days of horseback riding on fine American Quarter Horses from top farms in Uruguay and 1 day hiking (as horses cannot travel over the newly restored Llactapacta Trail). Please call AdventureSmith Explorations for pricing and more details. 

Read on for details about this trip, or learn more about AdventureSmith’s Peru tours.



Itinerary

9-Day Full Itinerary

The 9-day full itinerary includes pre- and post-trek accommodations and a half-day guided city tour of Cusco, for an all-inclusive experience. This itinerary also offers an optional full-day Sacred Valley tour.

Route map of Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu, operating in the Andes mountains, roundtrip from Cusco, Peru with stops at Salkantay Lodge, Humantay Lake, Salkantay Pass, the Santa Teresa River Valley, Llactapata Pass and Machu Picchu.
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Day 1
Arrive Cusco, Peru

Upon arrival at the Cusco airport, be transferred by a local representative to your accommodations. Cusco, at 10,856 feet, is the center of the Inca Empire. Embark on an afternoon guided orientation of Cusco’s Spanish churches and ancient Inca sites, including the fortress of Sacsayhuaman with its megalithic stone terraces. Enjoy a briefing at your Cusco hotel and then have time to relax before your trek. Overnight in Cucsco at 10,856 feet.

Optional Full-day Sacred Valley Tour

For an additional cost, choose to begin your trek a day earlier and add a full-day guided excursion to the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Tour the picturesque village of Pisac, best known for its well-preserved Inca ruins, impressive agricultural terraces and open-air markets on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays. Enjoy a traditional Peruvian lunch in Urubamba, a small town located by the eponymous river under the snowcapped peaks of Mount Chicon. Then visit the town of Ollantaytambo, which dates from the late 15th century and has some of the oldest continuously occupied dwellings in South America. Before returning to Cusco, visit the town of Chinchero, which comprises mainly mud brick (adobe) houses and where locals go about their business in traditional dress.

Accommodations

El Mercado Hotel or similar

Meals

n/a

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Day 2
Cusco to Salkantay Lodge

After an early breakfast, be picked up by your tour guide and driver at your hotel in Cusco. Visit the Quillarumiyoc archaeological site first. Then stop in the mountain village of Mollepata and visit El Pedregal, a beautiful farmhouse, to learn about local agriculture and livestock.

After lunch, take a scenic ride on the winding mountain road to a site called Challacancha and begin your hike to Soraypampa along a picturesque path called the “Camino Real” (Royal Path). Begin to acclimate to the higher altitude. Around the final turn of the Camino Real, the Salkantay Lodge will come into view. Guests who do not wish to trek may be transported to the lodge by vehicle. Overnight at Salkantay Lodge at 12,690 feet.

Trekking Time
: 3 hours approximately, including lunch at organic Farm El Pedregal
Hiking Level: easy to moderate

Accommodations

Salkantay Lodge

Meals

lunch, dinner

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Day 3
Hike to Humantay Lake

Day three presents another opportunity to gauge your altitude acclimatization with a half-day hike to Lake Humantay. After breakfast, begin the ascent up the slopes that border the plateau behind the Salkantay Lodge. An hour and a half later, see the stunning turquoise water of the lake and the glacier looming overhead. Relax, enjoy a snack, meditate in the tranquility of this magical spot and be part of a traditional offering to “Pachamama” (Mother Earth). The morning’s hike to Lake Humantay is optional, but participation is strongly recommended to prepare for tomorrow’s strenuous hike. After descending back to the lodge, staff are awaiting with a hot lunch. Spend the second half of the day in leisure: soak in the outdoor Jacuzzi, indulge in a relaxing massage or take a long nap. Overnight at Salkantay Lodge at 12,690 feet.

Trekking Time
: 4 hours approximately
Hiking Level: easy to moderate

Accommodations

Salkantay Lodge

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 4
Crossing Salkantay Pass

After an early start, hike up the Rio Blanco valley, circling Humantay Peak. Gradually make your way up the mountain trails and encounter expansive plateaus dotted with boulders of varying sizes, the remnants of a valley that was once bisected by a fast-flowing river. The final and most challenging part of the ascent is conquering the mountain switchbacks that take you to the Salkantay Pass, the highest point on the trek at 15,213 feet. What follows is a dramatic descent through fields of giant boulders, often shrouded in fog. After a hot picnic lunch, continue down through bucolic rolling hills and marsh-like plateaus that lead to the Wayra Lodge at Wayraccmachay. Overnight at Wayra Lodge at 12,812 feet.

Trekking Time: 7 hours approximately
Hiking Level: challenging

Accommodations

Wayra Lodge

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 5
Descending into the Cloud Forest

After a leisurely breakfast at the Wayra Lodge, continue the descent along the banks of the Salkantay River through increasingly verdant scenery. Encounter local people, as the trail passes their simple homes and makeshift fences. Arrive at Colpa Lodge, located on a high promontory at the confluence of three rivers. Be greeted by the staff with a Pachamanca lunch, a traditional Peruvian meal cooked in the earth by hot stones that create a natural underground oven. After lunch, spend the afternoon lounging in the sun or relaxing in the outdoor Jacuzzi while taking in the panoramic views of the surrounding lush green mountains. Overnight at Colpa Lodge at 9,414 feet.

Trekking Time: 3-4 hours approximately
Hiking Level: easy to moderate

Accommodations

Colpa Lodge

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 6
Following the Santa Teresa River Valley

Today, hike in the Santa Teresa River Valley. Hop over small streams fed by waterfalls that descend from the glaciers and cross through fruit orchards. Stop for a hot picnic lunch by the river, then walk for 1 hour before meeting a vehicle to take a short drive to the beginning of the Llactapata Inca Trail, which leads to Lucma Lodge. On the way, visit an organic coffee plantation, one of many in the area that produces some of the best organic coffee in the world. In Lucmabamba, the hot air and increased humidity indicate your proximity to the edge of the Amazon Jungle. Overnight at Lucma Lodge at 7,003 feet.

Trekking Time
: 6 hours approximately, including lunch
Hiking Level: moderate to challenging

Optional Canopy Zip Line Tour

For an additional cost, choose a full day activity that replaces the trek and includes vehicle transfer, a 2.5-hour guided canopy zip line tour, all necessary safety equipment, training and lunch. Activity must be booked in advance (limited spaces available, runs with minimum of two guests).

Accommodations

Lucma Lodge

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 7
First Views of Machu Picchu from Llactapata Pass

After breakfast, depart on a 2-3 hour climb up a path mostly comprised of original Inca steps, to get a sense of what hiking through the rainforest would be like. Today’s first milestone is the top of the peak, the last before you reach the Aobamaba River Valley that connects to Machu Picchu. Arrive at the ruins of Llactapata at the Llactapata Pass (8,974 feet) and be delighted to see a southeast view of the backside of the Machu Picchu ruins. Enjoy lunch farther down the trail in a meadow with panoramic views. The final descent leads through lush bamboo forests to the Hidroelectrica train station. A 1-hour scenic train ride delivers you to your final stop: the town of Aguas Calientes at the base of Machu Picchu. Overnight at Aguas Calientes Lodge at 6,332 feet.

Trekking Time
: 5 hours approximately
Hiking Level: moderate to challenging

Accommodations

Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 8
Machu Picchu Sanctuary

At dawn, begin the journey to Machu Picchu with a short and rollicking uphill bus ride. Prepare to be awed by the imposing and skillful architecture of the Watchtower, the Temple of the Sun, and the royal Inca residences, among many others. Learn about and contemplate the history of Machu Picchu and its mysterious origins.

Perhaps choose to hike to Huayna Picchu, the iconic towering mountain often seen in photographs (tickets subject to availability). After, have lunch in Aguas Calientes before transferring by train back to Cusco. As night falls and you arrive at your hotel amidst the hustle and bustle of Cusco, feel the peace and rejuvenation which lingers after a visit to Machu Picchu.

Trekking Time: 4 hours approximately
Hiking Level: challenging

Optional Additional Day at Machu Picchu

For an additional cost, choose to extend your trip and spend an extra day in Machu Picchu. Even though there is enough time to see the core of Machu Picchu Sanctuary during the regular guided tour, most guests realize they would have liked to stay a little longer since there is so much to explore. Tell your Adventure Specialist at the time of reservation if you would like to add this optional day.

Accommodations

El Mercado Hotel or similar

Meals

breakfast, lunch

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Day 9
Depart Cusco

After a final breakfast at your Cusco hotel, transfer to the airport for your flight or to continue on to other adventures.

Accommodations

n/a

Meals

breakfast

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Details
Inclusions, Terms & Notes

Included

Accommodations; all meals as indicated in the itinerary; transfer services; guided tours during the whole trip; entrance fees and permits to touristic and archaeological sites; tips for staff at the lodges and staff in the field (except guide tips, which is suggested US $5-10 per day); half-day guided city tour in Cusco; all airport-hotel transfers.

Exclusions

Airfare; excess baggage charges; airport departure tax from Peru; optional activities (optional extra day in Sacred Valley, canopy zip line, biking in Santa Teresa, etc.); items of a personal nature like alcoholic beverages, bottled water and sports drinks, massage/spa services, laundry fees and insurance of any kind.

Payment & Cancellation

Reservations Made Prior to July 2020:
(Cancellation fees waived for departures from August 2020, on – see Deals)
In order to confirm this trip, a deposit of $500 is required per person at time of booking. The balance of the trip price is due 90 days before the departure date. Special holiday payment and cancellation terms may apply. Guests who must cancel their trip for any reason must do so in writing. Standard cancellations are subject to the following per-person penalties, based on number of days prior to departure:
Up to 90 days – 100% of deposit
89 to 30 days – 50% of total trip cost
29 to 0 days – 100% of total trip cost

Reservations Made July 2020, On:
In order to confirm this trip, a deposit of $500 is required per person at time of booking. The balance of the trip price is due 90 days before the departure date. Special holiday payment and cancellation terms may apply. Guests who must cancel their trip for any reason must do so in writing. Standard cancellations are subject to the following per-person penalties, based on number of days prior to departure:
Up to 90 days – full refund
89 to 30 days – 25% of total trip cost (or re-book free of charge – see Deals)
29 to 0 days – 100% of total trip cost (or re-book free of charge – see Deals)

Terms & Conditions

This trip is subject to AdventureSmith Explorations Terms and Conditions. Please read this information carefully and call us if you have any questions. A Traveler Information Form, which includes a release of liability, must be completed and signed by all travelers. Your Adventure Specialist will send you a unique link to complete this form along with a packing list and extensive pre-departure and travel insurance information upon booking confirmation.

Arrival & Departure

The Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu 9-day Full Itinerary begins and ends in Cusco, Peru (CUZ). Arrive in Cusco by 2:00pm on day 1 to accommodate your Cusco city tour this afternoon. Depart from Cusco at any time of day on day 9. If you would like assistance with international flights, please visit our Booking Flights resource page.

Activities

The Peru Mountain Lodge Trek requires good physical conditioning. Travelers hike up to 6 miles each day with elevation gains of over 15,000 feet. Spending 1 or 2 nights in Cusco, Peru, at 10,856 feet in elevation prior to departure will help with acclimating to the altitude. Included adventure activities may include hiking and glacier viewing. Additional cost activities may include mountain biking, horseback riding and a canopy zip line tour.

Room Configuration

Willing-to-share accommodations may be available at 25% of the per person double rate (reservations made prior to July 2020) or free of charge (reservations made July 2020, on); contact your Adventure Specialist for details.

Families & Children

The recommended minimum age of participants is 12 years old; however, some exceptions may be considered depending on experience. Please call an Adventure Specialist for details.

Travel Insurance

This trip requires proof of insurance coverage as a minimum for Medical Emergency Treatment and Evacuation; please be sure that your policy includes Adventure Travel Activities or similar when purchasing. If you do not present valid proof of insurance at least 60 days prior to your trip start date, you will be charged a rate of $10 per person per day for such insurance through IHI – a member of the BUPA Group. Our partners at Travelex Insurance offer a variety of plans and policies to fit every trip and budget. You must purchase your travel insurance policy within 15 or 21 days of booking (depending on plan) for it to cover pre-existing medical conditions; refer to plan details. Learn more about travel insurance or get a free quote.

Itinerary Notes

Use the itinerary as a guide only. Itineraries may be altered due to weather, wildlife, National Park regulation or at the guides’ discretion. The ability to be flexible makes this type of adventure travel unique.

Rates & Dates

Trip Rates & Details

For 2020 & 2021: High Season rates apply April 1-October 31 and December 15-31. Low Season rates apply March 1-31 and November 1-December 14.

See Deals section for details on flexible booking policies.

High Season 2020
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From $4425USD
Per Person
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Low Season 2020
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From $3425USD
Per Person
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High Season 2021
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From $4405USD
Per Person
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Low Season 2021
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From $3405USD
Per Person
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Accommodations

Learn About the Lodges & Hotels on Your Itinerary

Lodge
Mountain Lodges of Peru - Salkantay Trek

Mountain Lodges of Peru operates four distinct lodges along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu: Salkantay, Wayra, Colpa and Lucma Lodges.

Hotel
El Mercado Tunqui

El Mercado Tunqui is located in the heart of Cusco. Featuring original and eye-catching interiors and exceptional customer service that starts right at the very beginning of the adventure, in Cusco itself.

Lodge
Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel

At the luxury Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel in lovely Aguas Calientes you are only minutes away by bus from Machu Picchu, the premier archeological adventure of the Inca Empire.

Deal

Current Deals on This Trip

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Offer expires October 31st, 2020
Flexible Cancellation & Re-Booking On Sacred Valley & Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu Adventures

Book or re-book Peru adventures with confidence using these risk-free, flexible policy details.

Testimonials

Hear It from Travelers Who Have Explored with Us

"This Was My Best Holiday Ever"

This was my best holiday ever, I loved it and it was made so easy by Andrew and AdventureSmith because I didn't have to worry about finding accommodation or transfers from airports etc, it was sooooooooooo relaxing for me. All the accommodation was first class and the food was amazing.

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"Truly One of the Best Trips We've Ever Taken"

We felt like it was designed to accommodate participants' varied abilities and levels of fitness. It truly was one of the best trips we've ever taken. Lodges were spectacular, food was amazing and our guide was not only well qualified and knowledgeable, but also wonderful company for the entire week.

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"It Was a Wonderful Trip!"

It was a wonderful trip! We had good accommodations in Cuzco and the lodges were fantastic! As difficult as some of the treks were for me, I really enjoyed the variety of places where we trekked and the information (history, nature, etc.) I learned along the way. This trip was put together well.

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Extend Your Trip

Additional Travel Options Before or After Your Land Tour

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4 - 5 Day Cruise
Delfin I Amazon River Cruise

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From $4400USD
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Legend Galapagos Cruises

Galapagos Legend small ship cruises bring luxury, quality and service in a casual setting. The 100-passenger Galapagos Legend is known for being affordable, stable and great for family travelers who want to see wildlife, hike and snorkel in the Galapagos.

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4 - 5 Day Land Tour
Peru Amazon Adventure

Combine your Peru travels with an extension to the Amazon. Visit Lake Sandoval and Tambopata while staying at the famed Inkaterra Reserva Amazónica lodge. Birds, primates, extraordinary landscapes and breathtaking scenery await.

From $755USD
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Salkantay: Trek to Machu Picchu

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