7D/6N SALKANTAY TREK
This 7-day lodge to lodge trekking experience will take you on a historic section of Inca trail through 15 different eco-systems, while you traverse a mountain pass over 15,000 feet, explore villages where locals still maintain age-old traditions, and re-discover 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 lodge, complemented by a massage or a dip in an outdoor jacuzzi, followed by a gourmet meal with select wines and all provided with 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.
After an early breakfast (not included), we are picked up starting at 7:00 am at your Cusco hotel by a guide and vehicle. En route we take a short break to visit the Inca ruins of Tarawasi near the town of Limatambo (approx. 1.5 hrs from Cusco). After leaving Limatambo, we pass through the mountain village of Mollepata where we stop for a short coffee break before ascending a winding mountain road to a place called Marcoccasa (30 minutes from Mollepata by vehicle).
Here, we begin our trek to Soraypampa, on an old route called the “Camino Real” (Royal Path). This is a good opportunity for everyone to acclimate while enjoying a beautiful six-hour trek. Salkantay Lodge takes its name from the majestic peak at the head of the valley – Mt. Salkantay, the second most sacred peak in Inca mythology and, at 6,270 m (20,600 ft), the highest in the region. After a warm welcome by our friendly staff, we are shown to our rooms and have time to freshen-up, before tea and cookies. The trip leader will hold a briefing by the fireplace, followed by aperitifs and dinner.
Trekking Time: Approximately 6 hours (including picnic lunch en route)
Hiking Level: Moderate
Option: Guests who do not wish to trek may be transported to the lodge by vehicle.
Overnight at Salkantay Lodge at 3,869 m/12,690 ft
Meals: Salkantay Lodge (12,690’ / 3,869 m)
DAY 2 | A HIKE TO HUMANTAY LAKE
After breakfast, you begin an ascent up the slopes that border the plateau behind Salkantay Lodge*. An hour and a half later, your hard work will be rewarded with a first glimpse of the lake’s glistening turquoise waters and the Humantay glacier looming overhead. Upon arrival, you will have a chance to relax, enjoy a snack, meditate in the tranquility of this magical spot, and participate in a traditional ceremony to honor “Pachamama” (Mother Earth). After your descent back to the lodge, the Salkantay staff will be waiting with a hot lunch. Afternoon at leisure to relax, enjoy a massage, or soak in the outdoor hot tub for a spectacular view of the Salkantay Peak at sunset. Note: While the morning hike to Lake Humantay is optional, we strongly recommend your participation in preparation for the strenuous hike on Day 3.
Trekking Time: Approximately 4 hours
Hiking Level: Moderate
Overnight: Salkantay Lodge (12,690’ / 3,869m)
Meals: B, L and D (all at Salkantay Lodge)
DAY 3 | CROSSING THE SALKANTAY PASS
After an early start, the ascent toward the Salkantay Pass begins. You will circle Humantay Peak, gradually making your way along expansive plateaus connected by enormous boulders, remnants of the Rio Blanco Valley that was once bisected by a fast-flowing river. The last and most challenging part of the ascent is conquering the mountain switchbacks that lead you to the pass, the highest point on the trek (15,213’ / 4,636m). The journey continues with a dramatic descent through fields of large boulders and natural stone formations often shrouded in fog, followed by a very welcome hot picnic lunch. After lunch, you will have some time to rest before the final hike through the area’s bucolic countryside; its rolling hills will eventually lead you through marsh-like plateaus to the Wayra Lodge at Wayraccmachay.
Trekking Time: Approximately 6–8 hours (including lunch)
Hiking Level: Challenging, crossing a 4,638m (15,213 ft) mountain pass
Overnight at Wayra Lodge at 3,906 m/12,812 ft
Meals: B (Salkantay Lodge), L (en route) and D (Wayra Lodge)
DAY 4 | Descending into the Cloud Forest
After a leisurely breakfast at Wayra Lodge, you will continue the descent toward the cloud forest along the banks of the Salkantay River through increasingly verdant scenery. The warm air will begin to rise from the edge of the jungle, accompanied by colorful butterflies and striking orchids. Today you will see more local Andean people as the trail takes you past their simple homes and makeshift fences. At approximate midday, you will arrive at Colpa Lodge, located on a high promontory at the confluence of three rivers. The Colpa staff will greet you with a Pachamanca lunch, a traditional Peruvian meal cooked below ground with hot stones that create a natural oven.
After lunch, spend the afternoon lounging in the sun or relaxing in the outdoor hot tub while you take in the panoramic views of the lush green mountains that surround you.
Trekking Time: Approximately 3 – 4 hours
Hiking Level: Easy to moderate
Overnight at Colpa Lodge at 2,870 m/9,414 ft
Meals: B (Wayra Lodge), L (en route), D (Colpa Lodge)
DAY 5 | Following the Santa Teresa River Valley
Today you will hike through the Santa Teresa River Valley along a rolling trail that crosses fertile fruit orchards and bisects streams originating from glacier-fed waterfalls. After a hot picnic lunch by the river and some time to relax, the group will continue for one more hour before you are met by a transport vehicle for the short drive to the bottom of the Llactapata Inca Trail steps that lead to Lucma Lodge. On the way to the lodge you will visit an organic coffee plantation, one of many in the area that produce some of the best organic coffees in the world. You will also begin to notice another shift in the climate; in Lucmabamba, the hot air and increased humidity signal that you are even closer to the edge of the Amazon Jungle.
Trekking Time: Approximately Time: 5–6 hours (including lunch)
Hiking Level: Moderate to Challenging (because of distance, not terrain)
Overnight at Lucma Lodge at 2,135 m/7,003 ft
Meals: B (Colpa Lodge), L (en route), D (Lucma Lodge)
DAY 6 | First Views of Machu Picchu from Llactapata Pass
After breakfast, depart from Lucma Lodge and embark on a 2-3-hour climb through the cloud forest up a path mostly comprised of original Inca steps. A lush tree line creates green canopies overhead and the constant sound of rushing water suggests that the river is nearby. Your first milestone today will be the top of the peak, the last one before you descend to the Aobamba River Valley that connects you to Machu Picchu. Upon arrival at the Llactapata Pass (8,974’ / 2,736m), you will delight in a southeast view of Machu Picchu, a sight few travelers get the chance to admire. After exploring Llactapata, the Inca tambo (fort) that marks the pass, enjoy a picnic lunch at a mountain lookout point with panoramic views. The final descent along a trail that zigzags down to the roaring Aobamba River will take you through lush bamboo forests, varied fruit orchards, and more coffee plantations. Celebrate as you cross the bridge over the river and take your final steps of the trek en route to the Hidroelectrica train station for a scenic one-hour train ride to the town of Aguas Calientes, on the banks of the Urubamba River at the base of Machu Picchu.
Trekking Time: Approximately 4–6 hours
Hiking Level: Moderate to Challenging
Overnight in Aguas Calientes at 1,900 m/6,232 ft
Meals: B (Lucma Lodge), L (en route), D (at hotel)
DAY 7 | Visit Machu Picchu Sanctuary
Your journey to Machu Picchu begins with a morning rollicking uphill bus ride. As you enter the ‘sanctuary’ (as locals refer to it), prepare to be awed by the imposing, skillful architecture of the Watchtower, the Temple of the Sun, and the royal Inca residences, among others. After a two-hour guided tour, you will have free time to explore on your own, including a hike up Huayna Picchu*, the iconic mountain that looms over the citadel, for dramatic views that stretch from the Urubamba River Valley to the edge of the Amazon Jungle. At some point, be sure to take a moment and sit quietly–listen to the wind, meditate, and absorb the mystical energy that envelops you. After the visit, you will have lunch in Aguas Calientes before a scenic Vistadome train ride to Ollantaytambo (approximately 1.5 hours) and vehicle transfer to your hotel in Cusco (approximately 1.5 hours). As night falls and you arrive amidst the hustle and bustle of the city, you will be touched by a feeling of peace and rejuvenation that will linger long after your journey home.
Note: Tickets for Huayna Picchu are subject to availability. Please consult with your Travel Specialist when you confirm your reservation. In the event that Huayna Picchu permits are not available for your desired date, Mount Machu Picchu (the second peak within the sanctuary) permits will be secured instead.
Meals: B and L (at hotel)
** END OF ITINERARY **
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