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Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu 5 Days

Cusco - Soraypampa - Salkantay Mountain - Aguas Calientes - Machu Picchu
Service Level:
Activity type:
  • Hiking
  • Camping
  • Wildlife
  • Train journeys
  • Scenic Vistas
Physical Rating:
Trip Type:
Private Tour & Semi-Private Tour
Trip Length
5 Days
Starting from
$ 780
per person

Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu 5 Days Experience

The 5-day Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu is an alternative to the Inca Trail Trek to Machu Picchu and is considered by most to be the best alternative route (and maybe even better!). This magnificent trail is perfect for adventurers who wish to become personally integrated with changing ecosystems from one day to the next.

You will walk through sweeping, magical landscapes of a snowy mountain paradise to a tropical jungle where you will find a wide range of animals and vegetation. The Cordillera Vilcabamba is an impressive mountain range extending over 260 km. The snow-capped mountain Salkantay rises to 6271m– 20,574 ft in height. It is an outstanding glacier peak, located less than fifty miles northwest of the city of Cusco in south-central Peru, because of its proximity to the city, it is easily accessible by car and it has been climbed by professional mountaineers since 1952.

Why you will love this tour

  • Hike and experience one of National Geographic’s 25 “World’s Best Treks” in the Peruvian Andes.
  • Witness the scenic views of Humantay and Salkantay glacier peaks and incredible scenery like cascades, mountains, green valleys, rivers, cloud forest, and wildlife
  • Grab some coffee beans from local crops and roast them, to make your own espresso, what a cool
  • Trek by a short section of the original Inca Trail to the Llactapata ruins, from which, you’ll have the first sights of the famed Machu Picchu.
  • Explore the fascinating citadel of Machu Picchu and the surrounding area with your own trek guide.
  • Your own private trek guide, muleteers, horses, delicious camp cuisine prepared by your personal cook.
  • Live a genuine camping experience in proper natural areas far away from crowds.
  • Hike this Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu 5 days with a local tour operator, managed by expert local guides, accredited by the Peruvian Ministry of Tourism.

Trip Details

  • Tour duration: 5 days
  • Activities: Hiking, Archaeology, and nature.
  • Trek starts from: Cusco
  • Trek ends in: Cusco
  • Group Size: Small groups for big adventures (min 2ppl – max 8ppl – average 4ppl)
  • Good For: Those with a sense of adventure and in good hiking shape
  • Physical rating: Moderate – demanding due to the altitude of the trail
  • Consideration: Please remember coming prepared for this trek.
  • Hiking time: 7-9 hours every day.
  • Trail distance: 45km
  • Highest point: 4,600m/  ft.
  • Departure: Daily


DAY 1: Cusco – Humantay Lake – Soyroqocha Camp

At 4:30 am, our Cusco Local Friend tour guide will come to your hotel to pick you up by private van, you will then drive roughly for 2 hours to reach the Mollepata town, where we’ll stop for about 30 minutes for breakfast (not included). Following the short stop, we’ll keep driving for about 1 more hour until we reach the trailhead called Soraypampa (3,880m/ 12,726 ft). At our arrival at the trailhead, we’ll meet up our muleteers, horses and get ourselves introduced to them and make our rucksacks ready to get the adventure started. This place will treat us with great views of the snow-capped Humantay (5,900m/ 19,356 ft) and Salkantay (6,271m/ 20,574 ft).

We’ll then take a detour from the regular Salkantay trail and make our way up to Humantay Lake (4,300m / 14,108 ft) for 2 hours and 30 minutes. It’s a beautiful, crystal blue glacial lake, located at the skirt of the snow-capped mountain of Humantay and surrounded by incredible mountain vistas. Next, we’ll walk down to the trailhead again, around this place you will have a succulent lunch. After lunch, we will head out to our first camp for 3 hours following a bridle path along the banks of the stream and the highland valley until our first camp, called Soyroqocha, located at a glacial moraine with a small lagoon at an altitude of (4,450m/ 14,596 ft). On this section of the trail, the panorama that unfolds before our eyes is stunning and certainly is one of the highlights of the first day of our Salkantay trek itinerary. After feasting our eyes and taking those Insta-worthy photos, we’ll rest in our tents. Later on, we’ll have our tea time, which consists of having biscuits, popcorn, hot chocolate, milk, coffee, variety of tea, and right shortly after we will have our dinner, after that, you’ll have a refreshing briefing for the second day, we’ll go to our tents for a nice dream. All meals included, except breakfast.

  • Walking Distance: 11 km/ 6.83 miles
  • Total Walking Time: 7 hours approx
  • Minimum Altitude: 3,800 m / 12,464 ft
  • Maximum Altitude: 4,450 masl/14,596 ft
  • Physical rating: Moderate to challenging
  • Meals: Lunch, afternoon tea, dinner, and snacks

In the morning, we’ll wake you up with a hot cup of coca tea to get you going! followed by a nutritious breakfast while enjoying Sunrise at the summit of Salkantay. We’ll then start hiking for 1 hour and 30 minutes to reach the highest pass called Salkantay Pass at (4,632m/ 15,193 ft) along the way, we’ll have a chance to spot vizcachas, the elusive Andean chinchilla that likes to jump and scurry among the rocks.

From the highest pass, we’ll enjoy the impressive views of the massive snow-capped mountains over the surrounding valleys as well as Salkantay Mountain sitting right next to you (6,271m/20,574ft), the second highest mountain in the Cusco region and one of the Apus (Inca Gods). After you’ve taken in the views and enjoyed a rest, we’ll start walking downhill for about 2 hours and 30 minutes towards Wayracpampa (3,850m/ 12,631ft) and stop for lunch; the downhill is long and steady with stunning views. After lunch, we’ll leave the crowds behind and we’ll continue walking until we enter cloud forest where we’ll see the contrast of sceneries and we’ll also be able to see the highland forest and notice the change of temperature and witness how quickly and dramatically the landscape change from the Andes to the lush high jungle. As we keep going down, we’ll spot lush scenery, native plants and flowers, orchids, and birds.

Once we arrive at our second camp, called Collpa (2,750m / 9,020 ft), Cusco Local Friend staff will welcome you to our camp and show you to your tent so you can rest. We’ll eventually have our tea time, dinner, and rest. All meals included

  • Walking Distance: 18 km/ 11.18 miles
  • Total Walking Time: 8 – 9 hours
  • Minimum Altitude: 2,750m / 9,020 ft
  • Maximum Altitude: 4,632 m / 15,193 ft
  • Physical rating: Challenging
  • Meals included: Breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner, and snacks.

Today, a great just prepared breakfast will make us ready for a hike through the lush forest to the next campsite. Along the trail, we’ll enjoy a more leisurely walk with more downs than ups as we soak in the incredible variety of wildlife from birds, insects, and butterflies to orchids and bromeliads, as well as diverse flora and fauna manifest in absolute abundance. As we’ll continue our slow and easy descent for about 4 hours to La Playa Sahuayaco (2,100 masl/6,890 fasl), the landscape will change before our very eyes, with the eyebrow of the Amazon giving way to fruit trees, avocados, bananas, and coffee plants. From Playa village, we’ll still trek for about 1 hour to the next campsite called Lucmabamba (2,050m/ 6,724ft) – a great campsite to get away from the crowds, which is our last campsite and also the beginning of the Inca Trail to Llactapata Inca ruins.

In the afternoon, we’ll have a chance to explore the coffee and fruit crops right next to the camp. During this visit, we’ll learn about different types of coffee beans, the production of organic coffee, which is increasingly popular around the world. After this, we’ll be immersed ourselves in the coffee production process, from harvesting the coffee beans, peeling, and roasting to grinding them, in a hands-on coffee-making experience. Next, we’ll enjoy the fruits of our own labor and enjoy some freshly-brewed coffee! Later on, we’ll have our last supper made by our cook. All meals included.

  • Walking Distance: 15 km/ 9.32 miles
  • Total Walking Time: 5-6 hours
  • Minimum Altitude: 2,050 m / 6,724 ft
  • Maximum Altitude: 2,750 m / 9,020 ft
  • Physical rating: Moderate
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner, and snacks.

Another exhilarating day as we make our way to Machu Picchu. This morning, after breakfast, we’ll walk an uphill short section of the original Inca Trail to reach our next place called Llactapa ruins for 3 hours. After a climb through the woods and fascinating views over the Santa Teresa Valley, we’ll descend to the interesting but largely covered ruins of Llactapacta (2,700m/ 8,858 ft), an Inca archaeological site right in front of Machu Picchu.

Llactapata is the first Inca site we’ll see on this Salkantay trekking route to Machu Picchu, and we’ll learn all about the mysteries of the ancient culture and the extraordinary site. From Llactapata, we’ll have our first exciting glance of Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu, perched on the saddle of the mountain opposite us. It’s a breathtaking view and an odd sensation to see such an important Inca site from a remote mountain top. Your Cusco Local Friend guide also will fill you in on all the history of the Incas while you take all the photos you want to share your fantastic experiences with friends and family back home.

After enjoying the gorgeous scenery around and the history, we’ll take a short walk to reach our next lunch spot located at a scenic spot. We’ll enjoy our last meal on the trek while delighting in the views of Machu Picchu ruins and Huayna Picchu on the opposite side. After lunch, we’ll start descending to Hidroelectrica train station for 2 hours and 30 minutes, from where we’ll take our train to Machu Picchu Pueblo (Aguas Calientes) for 45 minutes. At our arrival, we’ll get to our hotel for check-in. At night by 7:00 pm, we’ll enjoy a celebratory dinner with our group at one of the local restaurants (this dinner is not included) right after the dinner we’ll have a detailed briefing and recommendations for the next day, eventually, we’ll return to our hotel to rest. All meals included, except the last dinner.

  • Hiking Distance: 11 km/ 6.83 miles
  • Total Walking Time: 6-7 hours
  • Minimum Altitude: 1,850 m / 6,068 ft
  • Maximum Altitude: 2,850 m / 9,348 ft
  • Accommodation: Hotel Inti Punku Suites & Hotel, Tierra Viva Machu Picchu, or a similar hotel
  • Physical rating: Moderate – Strenuous
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch, and snacks.

After an early breakfast at the hotel in Machu Picchu Pueblo/Aguas Calientes, we will take the bus to the Machu Picchu main entrance for 30 minutes. This morning, you’ll have a 3-hour private guided tour of this spectacular and mystical site.

This private guided tour includes walking through the different sections of the city like shrines, granaries, farming terraces, dwellings, solar observatory where you’ll learn the real significance of this unique place from your guide. If you have booked a permit for Wayna Picchu Mountain, you’ll climb the mountain after the tour; however, spaces are subject to availability. In the unlikely event that Wayna Picchu permits are not available for your departure date, you will climb Machu Picchu Mountain instead. If you are planning to hike one of these mountains, please let us know at the moment of booking to purchase an extra ticket. After Machu Picchu exploration, we’ll take the bus back to Aguas Calientes town, where we’ll celebrate our Lares Trek accomplishment with some Pisco Sours or Inca Kola. We’ll eventually take the train to Ollantaytambo from Ollantaytambo, you’ll be transferred by private van to your hotel in Cusco. End of the adventure. Only breakfast included.


  • Private transportation for all transfer services.
  • Camping Equipment (tents, sleeping pads)
  • Other camping equipment like a dining tent with table and chairs; and a kitchen tent.
  • Entrance tickets to Machu Picchu.
  • 1 night hotel in Aguas Calientes town.
  • Entrance tickets to Salkantay.
  • Round trip bus tickets in Machu Picchu.
  • Train ticket from Hidroelectrica to Aguas Calientes town.
  • Train tickets to return Cusco.
  • “Cusco Local Friend™” Tour Guide.
  • Meals: Breakfast (4), lunch (4), dinner (3), and snacks. If you’re veggie? no problem! we have great options.
  • A professional cook.
  • Horses, and muleteers; horses carry your 8-kg / 16-pound personal items.
  • Emergency horse to escort us during the trek.
  • Oxygen tank.

Not Included

  • First breakfast on day 1 and last dinner on day 4.
  • Sleeping bags.
  • Hiking poles.
  • Entrance ticket to hot springs if want to enjoy it (optional).
  • Extra expenditure during the trek.
  • Tipping for the trek leader, porters or muleteers, and other staff.
  • Travel Insurance.

Prices per person

We require a minimum of 2 participants to book this tour
# Price / Person Book Now
1 People We have special rates for SOLO travelers. Get started by filling out the information below. Enquire Now
2 People $ 900.00 Enquire Now
3 People $ 870.00 Enquire Now
4 People $ 820.00 Enquire Now
5 People $ 780.00 Enquire Now
6+ People We have special rates for groups over 6ppl. Get started by filling out the information below. Enquire Now

What to Expect

In order to complete the Salkantay Trek, you need to have a reasonable level of fitness, but age shouldn’t be a barrier. The most important thing is to be well acclimatized to the altitude as the highest you will trek the entire time is (4, 650 m – 15092 ft). Two days of acclimatization before the trek is recommended.

Impressive views, mild temperatures during the hiking days although kind of windy at high points and very cold temperatures at night; mostly sunny days during the months of May, June, July, and August; mosquito area; big altitude gain and loss every day so you need to have enough time in Cusco to get acclimated before your trek begins.

Food is amazing from vegetables, just made soups, pasta, to Peruvian delicious cuisine, desserts, and buffet options. All this, prepared by our experienced cook.


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Why Travel with us

Local Knowledge & Expertise

It's great to travel with professional experts from the same destination you are going, that's how you get first-hand information. With deep in-country knowledge, We know the ins and outs of all the logistics, we will ensure you can make the most of your time away.

Personalized Experiences

Your time is precious - we know that. Your experience is our top priority. No big bus groups, No flags to follow! Traveling with a private guide and driver you’ll do what you want, when you want with the freedom to change your plans on the fly.

Friendly Local Guides

Great sights don’t make an amazing tour. Great guides do! Our guides don’t read from a script, we give them the freedom to make each tour their own, and your experience unique. We love what we do and it shows. From the moment you arrive, you'll feel the buzz and excitement that Cusco Local Friend to offer.

Exclusive Itineraries

It’s not all about the destination, it’s also about the journey. We offer only the best itineraries and tours. As local experts, we know first-hand what tours or experiences are the ones that most travelers enjoy and request. Escape the crowds! Never waste any minute, never miss any highlight!

Trip Reviews

Cusco Local Friend has been awarded the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence due to the most consistent 5-star reviews in Cusco, the Sacred Valley & Machu Picchu for exceptional levels of service and care.

Kathy C
Kathy C
August 29, 2022.
Most Amazing Guided Tour EVER! I very highly recommend this amazing tour company. We worked closely with Percy and customized a 4 day trip with the incredible Juan Carlos. We had the best time and felt like family since the very beginning of our time. Hats off to our fabulous driver as well. I have already told several friends that THIS is the tour company you want. I have hired many in different countries and this was the best experience. Fell in love with Peru, I'll be back. Thank you Percy, Juan Carlos and Team for making this the best trip ever! Kathy C
Elizabeth M
Elizabeth M
August 4, 2022.
Best tour guides ever! We had Edgar and Abraham as our drivers/guides on a full day tour of the Sacred Valley and they were phenomenal! They were already outside at 7am when we walked out. Both were friendly and held meaningful conversations along the way, in addition to Abraham explaining the historical significance of each site. We loved the unexpected, fun stops we made along the way. They even took us to the train station at the end of the tour and showed us how to get there from the plaza so that we could spend time exploring the area instead of waiting 2 hours at the train station. We highly recommend them!
jason p
jason p
July 24, 2022.
A great service provider Excellent trip arrangements by Hugo to for airport transfer, and visit to Humantay lake and rainbow mountain. He took extra effort to arrange us to get visa in Bolivia consulate in Cusco and bought us SIM card in advanced which is so useful. The tour guide, Smith is also a very nice person and we enjoyed the trip very much even though it was tiring. Thumbs up to Cusco Local Friends !
Dee P
Dee P
July 22, 2022.
Cusco to Ollantaytambo made pain-free Used this service to go from Cusco Airport to Ollantaytambo and then Ollantaytambo to Cusco city. Can't say enough good things about how easy it was to book service with them and I highly recommend using a private taxi vs a bus. I was forced to use a taxi due to the bimodal service via PeruRail having issues with a bus driver strike. This meant that the bus from Cusco to Ollantaytambo was canceled. Cusco Local Friend emailed me within minutes of requesting taxi service and charged $35 USD which was such a good deal that I used them to return to Cusco even though the bus driver strike was over. Drivers Daniel and Rafael were safe and efficient on the roads. Recommend that you speak a little bit of Spanish but not necessary.
baron s
baron s
July 12, 2022.
7 day Journey through Cusco, sacred valley, macchu Picchu, rainbow mountain We planed a honeymoon 7 day adventure with local Cusco friends and my wife and I had a 5 star experience. First off the communication between Hugo and Percy were amazing in helping plan this once in a lifetime experience. A lot goes into planning a Trip to Peru including admission tickets, transportation, train tickets etc and everything was orchestrated flawlessly. Ferdinand was out tour guide and he went above and beyond in teaching us about the Incan/ preincan/ modern culture. As well as show us many local spots. Alex was our driver and he was extremely professional and was prompt at making our itinerary move smoothly. I can honestly say that by the end of the trip we were sad to leave Alex and Ferdinand as we have all become good friends. I have already referred this company to two couples that are visiting in the next few months. Go ahead and book with this company you won’t regret it.
July 6, 2022.
Yes - They are locals and they are friends! I had a terrific experience with Cusco Local Friend and wouldn’t hesitate to tell any of my friends to use them. I started working with them back in 2019 to plan my dream trip to Machu Picchu. My private tour all arranged with Cusco Local Friend included hiking the short Inca Trail, a day visit at MP with an additional hike up Huayna Picchu, another day around Aguas Calientes, and then the Belmond Hiram Bingham train back to Cusco. My trip was originally scheduled for April 2020, and the world shut down. I worked with Cusco Local Friend to postpone my trip until further notice, and they did not hesitate to make that accommodation on our arrangements. Then, a year later, I finally rescheduled the trip for September of 2021, but the Delta variant was high and Huayna Picchu was still not open, so I decided to postpone indefinitely again. Again, no issues with this from our Cusco Local Friends! I FINALLY was able to get the trip successfully completed at the beginning of June this year. When we arrived in Cusco, Hugo and a driver were there waiting for us. We went into town for coffee and talk about the details of our planned MP experience. Afterwards, the driver took us to our hotel in the Sacred Valley where we were staying to acclimate for 4 days prior to our trek. On the morning of our trek, we were greeted by our guide, Juan Carlos and a guide in training at the time, Smick. We had an incredible day! The trek was hard, but Juan Carlos kept us on pace and even brought some wine for us to have during lunch, which was a fabulous touch. Note: It was raining most of our trek, so a nice glass of red wine warmed up, and prepared us for the final push, along with our coco leaves, of course. The next day when we toured MP and climbed Huayna Picchu, we had both Smick and Juan Carlos along for the ride. They took amazing pictures for us and answered all our questions. The following day, we had not planned anything, but to relax, but Hugo at Cusco Local Friend said that Smick could hang out with us that day and take us to the butterfly place and do a hike to a waterfall that was close to town. Since Smick was in training and needed the experience, they just threw that time in for us! So generous! We had a great day with Smick! When we finished up our day, Smick got us to the train station, and we said our farewells. Back in Cusco, we planned to see Hugo again and give him our feedback on our trip. He came and met us at our hotel and even brought us a little gift. He also arranged for a transport to the airport for us in a couple days, no extra charge. I had an excellent experience with Cusco Local Friend! They are all LOCALS to Cusco and the Sacred Valley, and that is always what is important to me when deciding on what tour company to use. Plus, the communication and number of times we had to change plans, was all smooth and easy. We learned so much on our MP trek, and it will be an adventure that I will never forget. Thank you, Cusco Local Friend!
Aubry A
Aubry A
June 23, 2022.
We Loved Rumi For Helping Our Different Abilities Wonderful experience. My family and I loved Rumi our guide. Unfortunately for Rumi, we got confused about when and where we were supposed to meet Rumi, but he did really well tracking us down in no time even though we were like herding cats. The confusion was our fault not his. On the tour Rumi was wonderful. He had brought a binder full of pictures and references to show us Machu Picchu at different times in history and different references about the area. He was also very sensitive to my family members that had ability differences. He even held my mother-in-laws hands while she walked up and down the more precarious areas of Machu Picchu. Be aware that this isn't an easy hike. My father-in-law had a knee replacement a year prior to our trip and he struggled with the ups and downs and the length of the hike. If you are determined, like he is, you can do it but just be aware its not like an American National Park with rails and flattened walk ways. It was 100% worth it for all of us though. Thank you Rumi and Cusco Local Friend.
Timo W
Timo W
May 15, 2022.
Perfectly organised, great and knowledgeable guide. Unforgettable experience! From start to finish our tour was perfectly organised. During the planning of this trip Percy was our contact person. He replied quickly, proposed ideas and he felt really engaging en determined to create the best experience in and around Cusco for us. During our stay Abraham was our guide and we had a variety of drivers. Abraham was super knowledgeable and found the perfect balance between explaining but not overloading us with knowledge. All of the drivers were super punctual and drove us around very comfortable. We had some challenges as there was a strike in the region that we visited however we never noticed a thing about it. Percy contacted us in advance and was super flexible in changing our itinerary. When the train back from Aquas Calientes was fully booked due to the strike Percy upgraded us to make sure that we didn’t have to change our itinerary. If you are to plan your trip to Cusco make sure to use Cusco Local Friend as they will make sure that you will get an unforgettable journey.
May 14, 2022.
Remarkable World Wonder From the pre-booking, to booking, to post-booking, the information given and provided is spot on. Our tour guide was extremely knowledgable, gave an in-depth insight into the area and provided "theorized" answers to questions asked. Would rebook hands down without hesitation! September was a great month. Cool weather, slight rain encountered, which made the experience even better as the climate shifting throughout the day could be easily felt.
May 7, 2022.
Sacred valley tour Our guide Abraham was very knowledgeable, friendly and flexible allowing stops for photos. Edgar our driver had the van so clean and windows clear for taking pictures. He cleaned windows after each stop. We were a small group but had a wonderful experience. Would highly recommend these fine men. We did the Sacred VALLEY. Thank you so much. PAUL AND BARBARA BURLEIGH, CANADA

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      Absolute Sacred Valley Tour Full Day

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