Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Salkantay Trek: Impartial Hiker’s Information

When most individuals consider mountaineering to Machu Picchu, the primary title that involves thoughts is the Inca Path. And justifiably so. For many years that basic trek was the only point of interest for anybody seeking to arrive on the fabled ‘misplaced metropolis’ on foot. Nevertheless, as Machu Picchu’s fame elevated, so did the amount of individuals desirous to expertise the Inca Path. Within the early 2000’s authorities put in a a lot wanted quota on mountaineering numbers, a choice which led to the emergence of the Salkantay Trek on the world’s backpacking radar.

I hiked the Salkantay Trek in August, 2017. The data contained under is generally geared in direction of hikers who select to do the stroll independently moderately than with a guided group (Notice: Since 2001 it’s prohibited to hike the Inca Path and not using a information).

Ryan “Dirtmonger” Sylva descending from Salkantay Cross (4630m/15,190ft).

Distance:  57.2 miles ( 92 km)

Avg. Time:  5 days.

  • That’s the usual period of time taken by guided teams . If you’re match, acclimatised and carrying a light-weight pack, there aren’t any actual points in doing the hike in three or 4 days when you really feel prefer it.

Begin:  Mollepata

  • As of 2017, nearly all organized teams begin at Soraypampa, which cuts off some 12 miles/20 km from the general distance talked about above. We determined to start our hike on the conventional trailhead of Mollepata, and hike from there to Soraypampa.  From Mollepata you may both comply with the grime street or take a properly marked path (the signed junction is only a few minutes out of city) all the best way to Soraypampa.

End: The summit of Machu Picchu mountain.

  • The standard finish of the Salkantay Trek is the Machu Picchu archeological web site. We determined to increase it a bit of by making the summit of Machu Picchu Peak (3061m / 10,042ft) our ending level.

Yours really and Ryan “Dirtmonger” Sylva on high of Machu Picchu Peak – ending level of our Salkantay Trek.

Highest Level: Salkantay Cross 4630 m (15,190 ft)

Lowest Level: Hydroelectric Plant 1800 m (5906 ft)

Issue:  Simple to average.


    • Mollepata – Three hours by common buses from Cusco. Price 15 Peruvian Soles (about US$5). As of 2017, you may catch day by day minibuses from close to the junction of Arcopata and Avenida Apurimac. They often go away round 7 to eight am.
    • Machu Picchu – Returning to Cusco from the end of the hike is both costly or time consuming. The priciest, best and most snug manner is to take the prepare from Aguas Calientes to Cusco (4 hrs). Alternatively you may catch the prepare to Ollantaytambo, then take a Collectivo minibus or taxi from there to Cusco (between 3 hrs and 4 hrs whole). Lastly, the most affordable and most time consuming technique to return to Cusco from Machu Picchu is as follows: 1. Stroll the 11 km again to the Hydroelectric dam alongside the railroad tracks; 2. From there take a minibus or collective taxi to the village of Santa Teresa; 3. Catch one other bus again to Cusco. This three step journey can take the most effective a part of a complete day relying on connections, and it’s possible you’ll properly end up overnighting in Santa Teresa; not such a nasty factor because it does sport some soothing sizzling springs (Notice: In the event you plan on taking the prepare, you need to e-book properly upfront).

The world’s most futile hitching try on the best way to Aguas Calientes (picture from Ryan Sylva).

SeasonPotential all yr, although the dry season between Might and October is good. Throughout this era nights may be chilly (0°C is frequent), however days are typically clear.

Guidebook / Maps / On-line Info:

    • Guidebook: Alexander Stewart’s The Inca Path (2013) accommodates trekking notes and fundamental maps for the Salkantay Trek (in addition to different hikes within the space).

Permits & Charges: No permits are wanted to hike the Salkantay Trek. Nevertheless, you’ll need to buy an entrance ticket to the Machu Picchu archeological web site and Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu peaks. Impartial hikers can organise these upfront via the official Peruvian Ministry of Tradition web site. Alternatively, in case you are going with an organised group, the tour firm might do it for you. It’s value noting that as of 2017, you can too decide up entry tickets to Machu Picchu (however not the peaks) when you arrive in Aguas Calientes. 

For a radical overview of the ins and outs of buying Machu Picchu tickets, see Thrifty Nomads.

The view from Machu Picchu Peak overlooking the citadel and Huayna Picchu (Picture courtesy of Ryan Sylva)

MealsYou have got just a few choices: 1. Bring all of your provides from Cusco; 2. Buy provisions and organise meals alongside the best way at Soraypampa, Colpapampa and La Playa, or; 3. Do a mixture of each. We went with the ultimate possibility, and loved just a few great house cooked meals throughout our journey. For these desirous about taking the identical strategy, I’d advocate beginning the trek with not more than two days meals.

Water: Loads of water obtainable all through the trek (we by no means carried greater than 1.5 lt at a time), nevertheless, due the prevalence of livestock and human settlement it is suggested that every one water needs to be handled.

Guided Vs Impartial: Greater than 95% of hikers sort out the Salkantay Trek as a part of a guided group. Nevertheless, when you’ve got the mandatory gear (it’s additionally attainable to hire gear in Cusco) and an affordable quantity of backpacking expertise, there aren’t any points with doing the hike independently. The path is straightforward to comply with all through its course and as talked about above, you should purchase meals alongside the best way (i.e. which interprets to a lighter load). 

DM descending the Quebrada Humantay.

How does the Salkantay differ from the Inca Path? The first variations are as follows: it’s longer, barely more difficult, much less crowded, boasts a better variation of ecozones, however doesn’t have the a number of archeological websites you could go to on the Inca Path. It’s additionally cheaper, no matter whether or not you go along with an organized group or independently; considerably so when you select the later possibility. In brief, they’re totally different treks that each occur to finish on the similar spectacular vacation spot.

Overview map of various trails to Machu Picchu (

Trekking Notes:

    • Total Character: The Salkantay is maybe most notable for its ecological variety. It traverses picturesque valleys, alpine meadows, goes up and over a dramatic mountain cross and meanders its manner via a lush subtropical rainforest.
    • The Cross: The excessive level each geographically in addition to scenically is the 4630 m (15,190ft) Abra Salkantay. Upon reaching this spectacular cross, hikers are afforded jaw-dropping vistas of Mount Salkantay (6271 m), a peak that has lengthy been thought-about sacred by the inhabitants of the Peruvian Andes.

Views from Salkantay Cross.

    • Transformation: From the cross, the path descends greater than 2000 meters (6562 ft) into cloud forest. The change in flora, in addition to temperature is dramatic. Alongside the best way there are numerous lodging/tenting choices the place it’s attainable to interrupt up the descent (i.e. Huayracmachay, Collpapampa and Challway).

    • Ascend to Llactapata: Not lengthy after leaving the pleasant village of La Playa, the pathway ascends once more by way of banana and low plantations (make sure to cease for a cup or two) to the not too long ago rediscovered ruins of Llactapata. There’s a campsite near the archeological web site with spectacular views in direction of Machu Picchu.
    • Alongside the Tracks: From Llactapata the path goes steeply downhill to the hydroelectric plant. Quickly after you cross the railway station the place provisions may be bought. From this level it’s a flat and simple 11 km to the city of Aguas Calientes following the railway tracks.
    • Stairway to Inca Heaven: The ultimate stage of the Salkantay is steep, quick and consists of lots of of steps. Give your self anyplace between 45 minutes and an hour and a half to hike from Aguas Calientes as much as the doorway to the archeological web site. From there it’s one other half-hour to an hour to achieve the summit of Machu Picchu mountain.
      • DM strolling via a espresso plantation on the best way to Llactapata.

      • Phases: The Salkantay Trek is often damaged down into the next 5 levels:
        • Day 1Mollepata to Soraypampa: 20 Km (12.4 miles);
        • Day 2:  Soraypampa to Collpapampa: 22 Km (13.7 miles);
        • Day 3Collpapampa to La Playa: 16 Km (9.9 miles) (**Replace – March 13, 2018: In line with report, path between Collpapampa and La Playa is closed as a result of landslides. No info as to when it is going to be cleared; within the meantime take street as a substitute. See feedback under – Calvin Benson – for particulars).
        • Day 4La Playa to Aguas Calientes: 25 Km (15.5 miles) – by way of Llactapata;
        • Day 5Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu Peak: 9 Km (5.6 miles).

          Ascending the steps to Machu Picchu Peak (picture courtesy of Ryan Sylva).

Last Ideas:

    • Route Selections: There are just a few totally different route choices for the Salkantay Trek. I might recommend the next: 1. Begin at Molletapa, moderately than Sorayapampa; 2. Take the path moderately than the grime street on the part between Colpapampa and La Playa; 3. Go for the path to Llactapata, moderately than the grime street to Santa Teresa. Sure, it’s tougher, however the payoff is an attractive stroll via espresso plantations and nice views of Machu Picchu within the distance.
    • Go Impartial: By any standards, the Salkantay just isn’t a troublesome trek. If in case you have the gear, are fairly match, properly acclimatized and know how you can comply with a path, I’d extremely advocate going independently. It’s lots cheaper, an even bigger sense of accomplishment, extra alternatives to work together with locals, and also you present your self the factor of freedom; the liberty to decide on the place you camp, what you eat, whom you hike with (if anybody), if you take a break, how briskly or gradual you stroll, and so on.  

Yours really on the finish of the Inca Path in 1996, and 21 years later on the finish of the Salkantay Trek.

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