The Salkantay Trail connects Cusco to the Citadel of Machu Picchu and runs approximately 89 km/55 miles through high Andean peaks, cloud forest, and steamy jungle. The hike starts at the village of Mollepata, a few miles from Cusco.
The Salkantay Peak - Savage Mountain - is located within the Vilcabamba mountain range, to the northwest of Cusco. Salkantay is one of the highest and most spectacular mountains in the Andes (6,271m/20,574ft).
National Geographic’s Adventure Travel Magazine named the Salkantay trek among the 25 Best Treks in the World.
The amount you walk each day varies. An average day is 5-8 hours, but on summit night combined with the following day you can walk between 8 and 11 hours. Have a look at the itinerary for a day-to-day account.
For an average traveller or tourist, Salkantay is considered a challenging but certainly not impossible hike. Due to the physical demands, anyone who wishes to trek Salkantay should at least be moderately fit. Plus, all trekkers should spend at least 2 days in Cuzco before the trek, to get acclimatized. Being extremely fit does not grant any immunity from altitude sickness.
The entire hike is approximately 72 kilometers (approximately 45 miles), and this hiking takes place during 4 days and 3 nights. The remaining 1 day of the trek is spent at Machu Picchu. In general, Salkantay is considered to be slightly harder than the Inca Trail. Other trails, such as Choquequirao, are considered to be slightly harder than Salkantay.
The Salkantay Pass, at 14,760123 feet above sea level, is the most difficult section in the trail. Expect wind and cold temperatures. Some hikers might experience symptoms of altitude sickness. Symptoms will disappear as soon as you start your descent. Oxygen will be provided if needed. The Salkantay Pass, at approximately 4,650 meters above sea level is the most difficult section in the trail. These challenges are a result of several factors: the challenge of uphill climbing, bitter cold winds, low temperatures in general, and the fact that you are trekking at a low-oxygen altitude.
Very young children may not enjoy this. They should be able to walk (without being carried) for 90 minutes without whining (the whining part applies to children of all ages.
Weather conditions during the rainy season makes the Salkantay trek into a risky decision. Therefore we cannot guarantee the availability of the Salkantay treks from mid-march to the end of February. If the weather is good, we will give the OK for a trek to start. If we think the safety of our porters and clients is being threatened, we will cancel the trek.
The dry season is the best time for this trek. In Cuzco, the dry season lasts from April to November, and the wet season is from December to March. From June to September are the most popular months to do the trek, due to summer vacations in Europe and the US. It is generally thought that May and October offer the best weather conditions.
Yes, it is possible for a single traveller or a small group to hike the trek by themself, without guides or porters. However, the trail is not clearly marked at all points, which makes getting lost a high possibility. This is one of the biggest advantages of hiring a tour agency like Mystic Salkantay. Our guides know the route very well.
Children under 14 years old are not allowed to do the trek, and children who are over 14 years old should be in good physical shape and used to hiking long distances.
You will get sporadic phone coverage during the trek and there will not be anywhere whilst trekking to charge your phone.
One of the trek leaders will be carrying a satellite phone. However this is emergency use only.
Weather is very varied on this trek, due to the fact that it winds its way through wildly different terrain at different altitudes. The only place where weather is a serious concern is the Salkantay Pass, and the nearby areas. Temperatures here, and at the nearby Soraypampa campsite, can fall below freezing. The other camps are much warmer, due to their proximity to the cloud forest.
We recommend to make your reservation in advance and we will guarantee your Spaces for this hike. Each reservation needs 30% of deposit as first payment. The final balance(70%) will be paid in Cusco(Briefing Day). About Payment you must choose where would you like to make the deposit: Payment system online.
We use the money from your deposit to make several important purchases, including the entrance fee to Salkantay, the entrance fee to Machu Picchu, bus tickets, and train tickets. In addition, making a deposit assures us that you will be coming on the trek, and are unlikely to cancel at the last minute. This helps us with knowing how much food to buy, how many of our guides to use for the trek, etc. The deposit is non-refundable once we receive it, because we will immediately use it to purchase the tickets mentioned above.
First, we will send you an email to confirm your payment. Then we will contact you to offer you different hotel or hostel options in Cuzco, as well as inform you of other tours you might be interested in.
Two weeks before your tour date, we will contact you by email to request the final payment. We will also ask you where you will be staying in Cuzco, to be able to pick you up on the day of your hike.
After we receive the final payment, we will send you an email confirming your tour date and informing you of important contact information for our tour agency, as well as some final tips to prepare for the trek.
Once we have purchased your tickets, with your security deposit, you can only change your start date if you pay an additional amount. This amount is usually around $200 USD. The reason for this is the tickets we purchase are non-refundable and non-transferable, so we are not allowed to simply change your tour date.
To avoid altitude sickness, give yourself time in Cuzco to acclimatize to the change in altitude. Two days minimum is recommended!!! Try to avoid alcohol before and during your trek, and make sure you eat lightly and drink plenty of water. Make sure to stay hydrated during the trek, don't force yourself to walk faster than your body wants to, and take frequent breaks. Drinking coca leaf tea helps a lot, and you may wish to speak with your doctor about Diamox pills.
If you get altitude sickness while on the trail, let your guide know immediately. They will help you. Recognize the symptoms of altitude sickness: a headache, nausea, extreme tiredness, dizziness, and a general malaise are all symptoms.
Yes, we will give you safe drinking water at every meal and in the morning when you wake up.
In addition, there are small streams and mountain springs along the way. The water here is clean, but to be safe, you should drop in a water purification pill. Most pharmacies in Cuzco sell them.
The Salkantay trek is a low-impact activity. We will only be travelling short distances by bus and train, and almost the entire trek is done by walking. We will avoid areas with endangered plants, and we will give you steps on minimizing your impact even further. For example, please give your trash to you porters at the end of the day. This helps keep the trail as clean as possible.
During most of the trek, there are no bathrooms, or just basic toilets. This is an inevitable part of adventure treks. Once we arrive in Aguas Calientes your hotel will have a private bathroom with hot water.
A cook accompanies every group on the Salkantay. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and hearty snacks are provided for your hike. Meals are a mix of local specialties and international favorites. Vegetarian meals are also available upon request.
Having a good guide is an essential part of having a good trek. Because of this, Mystic Salkantay hires and works with some of the best guides in the business. Our guides are knowledgable in the areas of history, archaeology, ecology, and are natives of the Cuzco area.
In order to continue working with our guides, we pay them a higher wage than most agencies, and assure they are treated well. They are given free use of high-quality sleeping bags, mats, and good food. The same goes for our porters and horse-men.
The event is not run as a race and there is always a large discrepancy in people's walking ability. This is allowed for. There will always be a staff member at the back of the group to ensure you are not left behind and can take things at your own pace. If necessary you can be carried off the mountain by mule.
There will be a hot breakfast (porridge, eggs, toast, tea and coffee) to start the day, a packed lunch on the mountain or at your camp and a filling hot meal in the evening (soup, followed by rice, potato or pasta and sauce, but fresh fruit is difficult to find.) There will be ample drinking water, as we will be filling up from local water sources. This will need to be treated with iodine drops or tablets to purify the water. The staff will collect water each morning and evening for drinking and cooking. Are requested to inform the leader of the walk before departure if you have any specific dietary requirements or allergies.
We are keeping to a small group so that we limit the impact we have on the surrounding environment. The Salkantay Mountain National Park is a very delicate environment.
We employ a number of qualified leaders. All of them speak English. They will also be a first aid qualified medical officer. They will ultimately be responsible for the running of the itinerary and the safety of your group. The itinerary is there as a guide and may change due to unusual weather patterns, the strength of the group and so on. We will do our very best to keep to the set itinerary. However we cannot be held responsible for any last minute changes that might occur. In all such circumstances, your challenge leader will have the final say.
There are no toilets on the wilderness route, so you must make sure you bury all waste. Where local conditions permit, we arrange basic long drop toilets in the camps. Mountain streams will be the main washing facility! Your camp team will provide washing bowls of warm water as you arrive at camp at the end of the day's trekking. Take plenty of toilet paper with you, and antiseptic wipes / anti-bacterial hand gel.
While trekking there will be hot washing water for you in the morning and again after the walk at an agreed time in the afternoon.
It is extremely important that you have the right kit. Please take the time to have a good look through your kit list and contact Charity Challenge if you have any questions regarding the list.
Yes, you will need to bring (or hire) a warm sleeping bag (four season or three season with silk or fleece liner) And the mat is included.
Best regards from Cusco
ITEP Travel and Salcantay.org
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