Salkantay Trek – Everything you need to know for the Salkantay Hike to Machu Picchu

Salkantay Trek – Everything you need to know for the Salkantay Hike to Machu Picchu

The Salkantay Trek is for the most knowledgeable who know that there is more than the classic Inca Trail or the Short Inca Trail. If you are interested in the Salkantay Trek in Peru, then you know that the Incas created other beautiful trails and that there are more ways to get to Machu Picchu. One of them is the Salkantay Trek.

If you decide to do this Salkantay trek 4 days and 3 nights you will discover a little-known side of Peru. Of course, the Salkantay route is not for cowards. For the Salkantay trail you need to have that adventurous spirit running through your veins. Do you think you are enough for the Salkantay Trail in Peru? Come on!

If you are reading this it is because you already know that the Salkantay trek is the most beautiful in the Cusco region, or because you are looking for options after having discovered that there are no more permits for the classic Inca Trail. Either way, you came to the right place.

What is the Salkantay trek?

The Salkantay trek is one of the many treks that can be found in the region of Cusco, Peru. It is about 46 miles (75 km) long and about 10,000 feet (3,000 m) high, so it is considered to be a tough trek compared to the other trekking options in the area. A typical Salkantay trek begins in Cusco, where you are picked up at your hotel to be taken to Mollepata or Soraypampa. A great attraction of the Salkantay trek is that you can not only see Machu Picchu but also Llaqtapata. Pronounced as ” Yakhta- Pata”, Llaqtapata is an archaeological site about 5 km from Machu Picchu. It is believed that in Inca times, it was a resting place on the way to Machu Picchu. Still today, on some walks, Llaqtapata is used as a resting place. Make sure you choose the correct itinerary if you want to spend the night here.

Salkantay trek expeditions


The Salkantay trek is all about the Salkantay pass. This 4580 m of altitude are the highlight of the trek and one of the reasons why the Salkantay trek is not easy. You can get altitude sickness while doing this hike. Later, we will tell you what you can do to prevent this from happening to you. The Salkantay trek was named after the Salkantay mountain, also known as Salcantay or Sallqantay, in Quechua. It is the highest peak of the Vilcabamba mountain range and is called the wild mountain. This is because the word Sallqantay means something like a wild, uncivilized, or invincible. Now, do you understand why we ask you if you are Sallqantay enough ?

How difficult is the Salkantay Trek?

You might believe that the Salkantay trek is extremely difficult. Don’t worry, it’s not. You will not be climbing mountains like Everest or Mount Kilimanjaro. None of the itineraries of the tours to Machu Picchu are designed for mountaineers. They are designed for tourism, which means that all people with moderate physical conditions are capable of doing them. The same applies to the Salkantay trek. It’s not easy, but it’s not very difficult to achieve either. When considering doing the Salkantay Trek, you just need to be aware of a few things. We list them here.

  • Spend at least one extra day in Cusco to get used to the altitude.
  • The second day of the Salkantay trek is the hardest.
  • Do not rush. Enjoy.
  • Once you cross the Salkantay pass, it gets easier.

To get the most out of your trip, you should always take it as easy as possible. It is not a mountain race, so it is better that you take the time to enjoy the landscape. You don’t spend every weekend in the Andes. Bring plenty of snacks and hydrate properly. At higher altitudes, you need more water and one of the benefits of trekking is that you burn a lot of calories. 😉 If you have difficulties on the first day of the Salkantay trek , you have to know that you can rent a horse for the second day. This can help you relax when climbing the Salkantay Pass. You will not need any help during the rest of the trip. you will enjoy more

Salkantay Trek 5 Days to Machu Picchu

When should I do the Salkantay trail?

If you are thinking of doing the Salkantay Trek , it is good to know what weather conditions you are in. The Cusco area in Peru has two distinct seasons: the dry season and the rainy season. The dry season lasts from April to October and the driest months are June, July, and August. The latter is also the season with the highest number of visitors. Don’t worry, it’s not like the classic Inca Trail, so you don’t have to worry too much about permits.

The rainy season is from November to March and the worst months to trek to Machu Picchu are December, January, and February. It’s not impossible, but you have to ask yourself if it’s worth it. Do you like rain? Then go ahead! At least the Salkantay trail, unlike the classic Inca Trail, is not closed in February.

How much does the Salkantay Trail cost in Peru?

It is not an unimportant question. If you want your Euros, Dollars, or Soles to go further, you should research the options carefully. Most people prefer to do the Salkantay trek with a trekking company, but of course, it can also be done privately. Below we give you an approximate estimate of the costs of your next trek .

Salkantay Trek 3 Days to Machu Picchu

Salkantay trek with guide

The cost of the Salkantay Trek with a guide depends largely on the trekking company that operates the trip. There are many options and therefore there is also a lot of competition. However, it does not only depend on the competition. Some trekking companies, for example, offer an extra night in Llaqtapata, while others just stop and go straight to Aguas Calientes. Also, the most expensive is not always the best. Some companies specialize in the Lares trek or the Inca jungle trek and that is why they have more costs when operating the Salkantay trek. The costs of the Salkantay Trek with a guide vary between EUR 310 (USD 350) and EUR 700 (USD 780). It is a big difference if you take into account that each trek follows the same route and ends in Machu Picchu. Depending on the trekking company, a 5-day trek may be more affordable at one company than a 4-day trek at another. Check the offers for the Salkantay route here and compare the options. The prices of the Salkantay Trek with a guide are always without accommodation in Cusco. You will have to add it to the expenses if the only reason to travel there is to go trekking and visit Machu Picchu.

Salkantay trek without a guide

You do not necessarily have to hire a trekking company to do the Salkantay trek. Although you will not have the benefit of a guide, organized accommodations, ready meals, and porters, you can do it on your own. If you are thinking of crossing the Salkantay pass on your own, you should consider the following expenses: Transportation: EUR 40 / USD 50 per person for the bus to Mollepata, the bus from Hidroeléctrica to Cusco and the bus from Aguas Calientes to Cusco. Accommodation during the tour: EUR 58 / USD 70 per person for a shared room during the tour. Meals: You will spend around EUR 30 / USD 35 on meals during the tour. Permits and entrance to Machu Picchu: about EUR 68 / USD 75. You will have to manage them in advance.

How high is the Salkantay pass?

The Salkantay Pass is your biggest obstacle during the Salkantay trek. The pass has an altitude of 4,600 meters above sea level (15,100 feet). On a typical Salkantay trek you are more likely to cross the pass on the second day. It is essential to take things slowly. If you are prone to altitude sickness, then this is where it can occur. Luckily, once you cross it, you’ll descend pretty quickly. This will aid acclimatization and should resolve the worst symptoms of altitude sickness.

Salkantay Trek 3 Days to Machu Picchu

Altitude sickness during the Salkantay Trek in Peru

Altitude sickness (AMS) can ruin your trip to Machu Picchu. Often people who want to do the Inca Trail or the Salkantay are in a hurry and fly from Lima, which is at sea level. Then they are in Cusco at an altitude of 3399 meters above sea level. To give you some perspective, mountaineers like to climb the so-called “three thousand”, mountains at 3000 meters above sea level. You can understand that Cusco is high and from there it goes even higher because the Salkantay trek crosses the Salkantay pass (4600m). There are a good “four thousand”. Keep in mind that there are treks that go much higher than that, such as the ascent to Huayna Potosi, Bolivia, which reaches 6,000 meters above sea level. However, at 3000 meters the symptoms can appear and the dangers of altitude sickness must be taken seriously. Our trekking experts always advise those interested in Salkantay trekking to spend at least one day in Cusco. The ideal is to spend two days. And why not? There is a lot to do. It’s a big city and spending some time there will help you get used to the altitude. Our experts are well aware of the dangers of altitude sickness. They have blogged about MAM while trekking in Nepal and they know there is no need to rush up Mount Kilimanjaro. There is a golden rule that applies during high-altitude trekking: Listen to your body.

Salkantay Trek 5 Days to Machu Picchu

listen to your body

When the body needs to rest, it tells you. Listen carefully to your body. You must be attentive and talk about the symptoms of altitude sickness. Let your friends, guide, and porters know how you feel and take a break. Don’t let it get worse. Eat all you can. Don’t skip meals, even if you don’t like what’s on your plate. Believe us, you will enjoy the food in Peru. The body works hard and needs a lot of carbohydrates to go further and overcome altitude. Forget the diet and buy extra nutrition bars. Trekking is hard work and you can easily burn more than 4,000 calories a day. In fact, perhaps it is one of the reasons why you like trekking. Eat, the body will thank you.

The Best Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu 4 Days

Alcohol and Coca Leaves

If you drink alcohol, be sure that you should avoid it before and during the walk since alcohol hinders physical resistance. Some trekking companies do a ritual to get lucky in the Salkantay pass. But be careful, because it will not help acclimatization. You will have to increase your water consumption. This is much easier when it’s hot and you’re sweating, but at high altitudes, you need to have discipline. Drink 3 to 5 liters per day and some tea when you can. You’re out on the road and not partying, so save (most of) the alcohol for after the trip. Alcohol stimulates mountain sickness and it’s not just because it dehydrates you.

The Incas used coca leaves as a remedy for illnesses and physical problems. Today, coca leaves are still used to suppress the effects of altitude sickness. Don’t tell your mom we told you this, but try it. Last but not least: Choose a longer itinerary. You can do the Salkantay trek, but doing it in 5 days will not only make you enjoy it more, but it will also help you acclimatize. The longer the better.


The best trek to Salkantay

If you are looking for an itinerary that covers everything there is to see and that includes accommodation, guides, and porters, you can opt for the 5-day Salkantay trek

Salkantay Trek 4 days and 3 nights

The above itinerary is for the 5 day Salkantay trek. However, if you are short on time, you should know that the Salkantay Trail can also be completed in 4 days and 3 nights. The difference between the 4 and 5-day tours is on day 3, after crossing the Salkantay Pass. The itineraries vary a bit depending on each hiking agency. Here you can find and compare all our options for the Salkantay trek


What to bring to the Salkantay trek

If you go alone, you will have to carry everything on your own. If you make this decision, we trust that you know what you’re getting into and that you know how to make it as comfortable as possible. You will need many things, things that you will not need if you decide to do it with a trekking company. This packing list is for those who have booked with a company and are wondering what they need and what they don’t. I don’t need it, that’s right. This is one of the additional benefits of booking the Salkantay trek with an Aremika.

Salkantay Trek 3 Days to Machu Picchu


When packing your bags for Peru and the Salkantay trek, there are some things you can’t leave behind. The following items are a no-brainer.

  • Valid passport (copies are not accepted)
  • Valid student certificate (if you book as a student)
  • Immigration card (the paper you receive when you arrive by plane)
  • Trekking boots (light, comfortable, and molded to your feet)
  • A good backpack (comfortable, small, and light)
  • Water storage for at least 2 liters (bottle, thermos, or hydration pack)


Backpack for the Salkantay Trek

The benefit of booking with a trekking company is that you don’t have to carry all your belongings on the trails. You just have to carry your backpack and you can leave some things with the amazing porters that will make the walk more comfortable. Don’t compromise on the quality of the backpack. It is important to note that due to local regulations, the backpack must not exceed 25 liters. Large backpacks cannot be brought into Machu Picchu, so they are kept outside at the entrance.

  • Hat and sunglasses
  • Waterproof jacket
  • Warm layers (long-sleeved/fleece shirts)
  • Sunscreen and insect repellent
  • Sanitizer
  • Toilet paper
  • personal medications
  • adhesive bands
  • Camera and extra batteries
  • Flashlight
  • Extra snacks, nutrition bars, chocolate
  • Extra money for gifts, drinks and tips (having cash and change is useful to pay for the use of the bathroom on the first day)

Andean Wonder 9 Days


The trekking company will provide you with a canvas bag that you can fill with everything you do not need during the day. The maximum weight allowed is usually 7kg and that includes the sleeping bag and air mattress. We advise you to bring as light as possible and not too much. Bring at least the following items:

  • Sleeping bag (can be rented from the trekking company )
  • Air mattress (can be rented from the trekking company )
  • Lightweight shoes for camping
  • Comfortable jacket, hat, gloves
  • 2 or 3 breathable shirts
  • 1 or 2 trekking pants
  • 4 sets of underwear
  • 4 pairs of socks
  • 1 fleece jacket
  • 1 down and warm jacket for the coldest nights
  • quick dry towel
  • Soap
  • Wet toals
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • face cream
  • portable battery charger
  • Plastic bags to separate wet or dirty clothes

If you feel comfortable wearing some of the garments again the next day, it can definitely save weight for the porters. Excess baggage can usually be stored with the trekking company. This service is free or a small payment is calculated.

How to train for the Salkantay Hike

A sure way to get good at what you do is to practice. The best practice for hiking is hiking. Seeing that you are interested in Salkantay trekking, we assume that you like hiking. Walk a little more. If you are lucky enough to be surrounded by hills or mountains, it is time to visit them more often. When? If you’re new to this, we suggest starting six months before your planned hike, with just an hour (or two) of walking a week. When you get in shape, after about three weeks, it’s time to increase the intensity. He carries a 10-15kg backpack and adds a longer three-hour hike a week. If this lifestyle is new to you, you will soon reap the benefits of trekking. After a good few months of hiking, it’s time to put your stamina to the test. Take longer walks and more often. You can simulate a few days of constant trekking by hiking for a few days. Carefully. Plan a shorter trekking holiday or repeat your favorite route. If you’re comfortable walking for 4 hours a day, 3 days in a row while carrying a 10-15kg backpack, you’ll be fine.

Train to Machu Picchu ATE

Moderate strength exercises

You will need a little more force. One way to get stronger is by doing some basic strengthening work. You do not need to join the gym, since the mere use of body weight can give you the results you are looking for. Once or twice a week, depending on how you feel, you can do two sets of 10 lunges, 10 squats, and 10 step-ups. If you want to push yourself a little harder, you can try adding some weight-bearing exercises and upping the routine. However, it is not really necessary to do much more. You can enjoy trekking doing the basic exercises. It is not a competition. This should get you fit!


Where to book the Salkantay trek

You can book the Salkantay trek in Cusco during your trip, but it is better to book in advance. The Salkantay trek always includes Machu Picchu at the end of the trip. For Machu Picchu, you need entrance tickets that must be managed in advance. Trekking companies always need time to book these tickets. Therefore, it is convenient to book in advance, online. At you can easily compare and book local providers and excursions. In addition, we guarantee the lowest price.

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