Hike to Machu Picchu along the Salkantay Trail on this extraordinary lodge-to-lodge Peru hiking adventure.
Join us high in the Andes and experience the Salkantay Trail, the road less traveled to The Lost City of the Incas. This invigorating and adventurous hike to Machu Picchu traverses a landscape like nowhere else, over spectacular mountain passes, past dramatic, snow-capped peaks, glaciers, rushing rivers, and gushing waterfalls. Beyond indelible scenery, this Salkantay trek also offers hikers surprising comforts. Each day ends in one of four cozy lodges with hot showers, gourmet food, outdoor jacuzzis, and highly personalized service by local staff. Discover Peru’s real and rugged outdoors—a world surrounded by magical moments—culminating in a guided tour of Machu Picchu.
What to Expect
Itinerary & Map
Itinerary at a Glance
We pride ourselves in running a relaxed and flexible schedule. Every Salkantay trek is different depending on the group, other trips in the area, and sometimes the weather. The following is a sample of what your trip might be like:
The Day(s) Before Your Trip
If possible, we highly recommend spending two nights in Cusco before your trek begins in order to acclimate. The night before your trip begins, there will be a pre-trip orientation in Cusco (location determined closer to your departure date).
Cusco to Salkantay Lodge at Soraypampa
You’ll be picked up from your hotel this morning to begin the journey to the Salkantay Lodge. The first stop is a visit to the Quillarumiyoc archaeological site en route to the mountain village of Mollepata. We enjoy lunch at El Pedregal, a beautiful farmhouse in the village, where you will also have the opportunity to learn about local agriculture and livestock. After lunch comes a scenic ride on the winding mountain road to Challacancha.
At Challacancha, we begin our trek to Soraypampa on an ancient route called the “Camino Real.” This is a good opportunity for everyone to acclimate while enjoying the beautiful scenery. As we round the final turn of the Camino Real, the Salkantay Lodge comes into view.
After a warm welcome by our friendly staff at Salkantay Lodge, we have time to wash up and relax before the evening briefing, followed by aperitifs and dinner. (L, D)
Hiking Miles: 5 (~5 hours) / Highest point: 12,690 ft
Today we take an acclimatization hike on the slopes above the lodge to Lake Humantay, fed by the glaciers of Mt. Humantay. The hike is optional, but the views are amazing and well worth the effort. We return to the lodge for lunch, with the afternoon free for you to relax, soak in the outdoor hot tub or further explore the area by foot or horseback (available for an additional cost).
This evening, our guide briefs us on gear and the itinerary for the next day’s adventure. The lodge’s gourmet food and warm, comfortable beds will have you settled into your surroundings in no time. (B, L, D)
Hiking Miles: 4 (~4 hours) / Highest point: 13,845 ft
Soraypampa to Wayra Lodge at Huayraccmachay
After breakfast, our four-day trek to Machu Picchu officially begins. We’ll get an early start and hike up the Rio Blanco Valley in the shadow of Humantay Peak. We’ll soon come to the highest point on the trek—Salkantay Pass at 15,213 feet. From the pass, we’ll have out-of-this-world views of snow-capped peaks of the Vilcabamba Range in all directions—the south face of Salkantay towering above us. Keep your eyes out for the Andean condors often soaring on air currents above or below us.
From the pass, we’ll begin our descent towards Wayra Lodge—the place where the wind lives—our destination for the evening. A hot lunch is served en route during today’s trek.
You may also opt to ride a horse today (available for an additional cost). (B, L, D)
Hiking Miles: 8 (~6-7 hours) / Highest point: 15,213 ft
Huayraccmachay to Colpa Lodge at Collpapampa
With our first long day behind us, we’ll enjoy a leisurely morning at Huayraccmachay and a bit of free time for exploration. Lacing up our boots, we’ll begin our hike downhill along the Salkantay River through increasingly verdant scenery. Warm air rising from the jungle greets us, along with butterflies and colorful orchids. We arrive at Colpa Lodge to a traditional, festive Peruvian meal known as a Pachamanca—meats, vegetables, and local herbs baked in an underground oven layered with hot stones, plantain leaves, and high Andean grass. There is time this afternoon to relax or explore the nearby orchid trail. (B, L, D)
Hiking Miles: 6 (~4 hours) / Highest point: 12,812 ft
Collpapampa to Lucma Lodge at Lucmabamba
Breakfast will be prepared early to allow ample time for an ambitious descent of the Santa Teresa River Valley. We’ll be passing through more populated, rural areas interspersed with coffee plantations and banana, granadilla, and avocado orchards. A hot picnic lunch will be served riverside. From the river, we hike another hour until we meet a vehicle for a short drive to the beginning of the Llactapata Inca Trail. This restored portion of the Inca trail delivers us to Lucma Lodge, set in an avocado orchard. On the way, we visit an organic coffee plantation where we join the owner on a short tour of the farm and learn how coffee is grown, harvested, dried, and processed. An optional canopy zip-line tour is available for an additional cost. (B, L, D)
Hiking Miles: 10 / (~5-6 hours) / Highest point: 9,414 ft
Lucmabamba to Aguas Calientes
Today, we’ll begin the final leg of our Salkantay trek, eager to catch our first glimpse of the fabled Machu Picchu. After a morning ascent toward Llactapata Pass, we arrive at a viewpoint where we’re able to get a special view of Machu Picchu from the southwest—a vista few tourists have ever seen. In this vicinity, we’ll also take some time to explore the recently restored Llactapata Ruins. After lunch at a scenic viewpoint looking out to Machu Picchu, we’ll start our final descent to the Aobamba River, passing through lush bamboo forests, orchards, and plantations. At the completion of our trekking journey, we’ll climb aboard a train for the short, scenic ride to Aguas Calientes, the town of Machu Picchu, checking into our hotel in the late afternoon with time to wander the streets of this bustling tourist mecca. (B, L, D)
Hiking Miles: 7 (~5-6 hours) / Highest point: 8,974 ft
Machu Picchu back to Cusco
We’ll get an early start this morning to make the most of our time at Machu Picchu. Here, high above the Urubamba River, our guide will lead us on a tour of the extraordinary Lost City of the Incas.
For an additional cost, you may choose to climb Huayna Picchu—a steep, vertical hike that takes about 2 hours and affords great views of the sanctuary. Be sure to request this well in advance, as tickets are limited.
Afterward, we return by bus to Aguas Calientes for lunch and then catch our train that takes us to Ollantaytambo. From there, our private vehicle takes us back to Cusco where you’ll be dropped off at your hotel. (B, L)
Accommodations this evening and return airport transfer are not included. OARS can arrange extra nights of lodging in Cusco, airport transfers, and additional tours of the region for before and/or after your Machu Picchu hiking adventure. Contact your Adventure Consultant for more details.
Optional Extended Machu Picchu Visit
Because there is so much to see at Machu Picchu Sanctuary, there is an optional 1-day, non-guided Machu Picchu extension available for an additional cost. This includes a second night in Aguas Calientes at the Inkaterra Pueblo Hotel, meals, round-trip bus and entrance tickets to the Sanctuary, and transfer back to Cusco. Ask us for additional details and pricing.
Meeting Time & Place
7 PM the evening before your trek
Day 7, approximately 7-8 PM
Dates & Prices
Frequent Departures: Call for Details
|2023 & 2024 Departures||Price|
|Value Season: March 1 – March 30||$3,300|
|Peak Season: April 1 – October 31||$4,400|
|Value Season: November 1 – December 14||$3,300|
|Peak Season: December 15 – December 31||$4,400|
Price per person based on double occupancy.
Optional 1-day Machu Picchu Extension
• $395 per person based on double occupancy
• $540 per person based on single occupancy
• Travel insurance
• Mandatory emergency medical & evacuation coverage
• Optional ticket to hike Huayna Picchu $100/person (includes a guide) or Machu Picchu Mountain: $72/person
• 50% supplement of the retail cost per person. Single willing to share incurs no fee.
The Need-to-Know Info
Included in Your Trip Cost
Not Included in Your Trip Cost
- Flights to and from Cusco, Peru
- Cusco airport transfers
- Pre- and post-trip accommodation in Cusco
- Single supplement—50% supplement of the retail price. If you are willing to share a room, but we are not able to pair you up with someone, you will be charged 25% of the retail price.
- Ticket to hike Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain
- Optional activities—canopy zip line, horseback ride
- Insurance of any kind, including a travel protection plan or mandatory emergency medical & evacuation coverage
- Medical immunizations (if necessary)
- Gratuities for the lead and assistant trekking guides
The Salkantay trek is spread over four days with a minimum of 27 miles of moderate to strenuous hiking at elevations between 6,600 and 15,000 feet on steep, rocky trails and stone-paved Inca paths. An additional two days and 16 miles of hiking are offered in the itinerary, but these distances can either be omitted or a portion completed by vehicle. This trip is designed to allow everyone to hike at their own pace, with plenty of breaks throughout the day.
Important Peru Hiking Information
Trekking in the High Andes takes a toll on the average person, which is why previous high-elevation hiking is recommended for this adventure. Although the level of exertion is only moderately strenuous overall, good physical fitness is required. It is a good idea to come prepared with proper elevation sickness medicine, which can be prescribed by your local doctor before your trip. This trip is not recommended for people who have a fear of heights or children under the age of 12 years.
All four mountain lodges have been designed and built in accordance with traditional building techniques, Inca architectural and mythological concepts, and respect for the surrounding environment.
The Salkantay Lodge has 12 private double, twin, or triple rooms with private bathroom facilities, while the other lodges (Wayra, Colpa, Lucma) have 6 private double, twin, or triple rooms, all with private facilities. Salkantay, Wayra, and Colpa lodges have an outdoor hot tub.
Every lodge guarantees an ample supply of hot water for showers and room heating ensures the temperature remains comfortable. While embracing the wonders of nature, you can still have your conveniences available to you, with each lodge offering satellite-based communications and Wi-Fi internet.
Breakfast is provided at each lodge on the morning of days 2-7. Lunch varies. You’ll carry a provided lunch bag on day 1, while a picnic lunch on days 3, 5, and 6 will be prepared fresh, en route, by the cooks and may include hot soup, gourmet sandwiches, and salad. The other days, lunch is provided at the lodge. Additionally, each day you will be handed a “snack-pack” to carry in your day pack with dried fruits, peanuts, chocolates, and fresh fruits. Dinners are prepared for you at each lodge.
We need to know as soon as possible about any dietary restrictions we must consider in planning your trip. If you have food allergies or necessary restrictions, we will do our best to accommodate your needs.
Peru is known worldwide for its unique and varied cuisine. You will be able to experience a great variety of regional foods during your adventure. Peru’s variety in cuisines is based on the ancient cultural traditions of the Incas and their predecessors, the diversity of its ecosystems, and the more recent influence of European and Asian culinary traditions. In the markets, you will discover a great festival of colors, aromas, and flavors.
The mountainous region is noted for a great variety of corn dishes. There are also countless offerings of potatoes due to Peru‘s vast variety of the tuber. Researchers believe that Peru is host to over 4,000 varieties of potatoes. Other flavorful offerings of this region include alpaca and guinea pig seasoned with Andean products such as chili peppers, goosefoot, black mint, or pampa savory. Regardless of where you are—urban or rural—you will be delighted by the incredible variety of traditional foods served.
There are several optional activities and add-ons for this trip available at an additional cost. In most cases, your OARS Adventure Consultant can arrange the options in advance.
For arrival or departure in Cusco, transport can be arranged to and from your hotel (pricing varies based on the number of passengers)
- 4–5 hour guided horseback/trekking combination allows you to enjoy the best views of the Soraypampa Valley, Mt. Salkantay, Mt. Humantay, and Humantay glacier lake. A mystical offering to Pachamama (Mother Earth) at the Chakana (Inca Cross) performed by a local Shaman, in view of the awe-inspiring Apu Salkantay (“Apu” or mountain god), tops off this unique experience.
- 2–3 hour guided rides around the valley. Itineraries vary depending on the guests’ riding experience.
Day 3: You may choose to trade the hike up to Salkantay Pass for a horseback ride (entirely or partly).
May be available at each lodge. Advance notice of your interest increases the likelihood of this service being available.
Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain
These popular side hikes can be done with the advance purchase of a ticket. Each hike will take you away from the included guided tour of the sanctuary.
- Ticket to hike Huayna Picchu: $100 per person (includes a guide)
- Ticket to hike Machu Picchu Mountain: $72 per person
Extra Day at Machu Picchu
Although you have enough time to see the core of Machu Picchu Sanctuary during the regular guided tour, many of our guests opt to stay longer since there is so much to explore.
Optional 1-day Machu Picchu Extension: $395 per person based on double occupancy; $540 based on single occupancy
Weather in the region is extremely variable and you should pack for a variety of conditions. In addition, the Salkantay trek passes through nine bio-zones ranging from high-altitude alpine conditions to high jungle. During a sunny day, you can expect temperatures of about 65–80°F, however on the pass the weather is very unpredictable and temperatures can drop to 30°F during the day (but your time there will be limited).
The Cusco area has two defined seasons: the wet season and the dry season. The wet season starts in November and ends in March. During this period, it rains almost every day for three or four hours, but there are sunny days. The dry season begins around March and lasts until October. June and July are the coldest months.
Average High/Low Temperature & Rainfall for Cusco:
|Temp. °F||Rainfall||Temp. °F||Rainfall|
The Machu Picchu area has a humid climate and tends to be warmer since it is located at a lower altitude and near to the Amazon Jungle. The average temperatures at Machu Picchu are between 73°F and 77°F, with the minimum temperature around 64°F.
Average High/Low Temperature & Rainfall for Aguas Calientes:
|Temp. °F||Rainfall||Temp. °F||Rainfall|
Before booking your trip with OARS, there are a few important considerations we’d like you to know about.
Reservations and Deposit
An $800/person deposit is required at the time of reservation. Deposits may be made by check, money order, or Visa/Mastercard (American Express and Discover incur a 3% processing fee). Prices are in US Dollars and all payments must be made in US Dollars. Payment of the deposit establishes your acceptance of our complete Terms and Conditions. Individual departures and trip capacity are strictly limited by the managing agency.
Canceling your trip after your deposit is processed will incur cancellation fees because OARS has absorbed costs on your behalf and will turn others away who would like to book the spaces we’re holding for you. Final payment is due 90 days before departure. Accounts on which final payment has not been received 80 days before the departure date will be canceled without exception.
Cancellations and Refunds
Your deposit is fully refundable, less a 3% processing fee, for 7 days after you book when you submit a deposit 7 days or more before the final payment due date.
If you must cancel your reservation after the rescission period described above, your cancellation fee will be determined according to the schedule below. We regret we cannot make exceptions to the cancellation policy for any reason, including foul weather, poor air quality, wildfire activity, acts of terrorism, civil unrest, or personal emergencies. There is no refund for arriving late or leaving a trip early. For these reasons, we strongly urge you to consider purchasing a travel protection plan.
|Date of Cancellation||Cancellation Fee|
|90 or more days before your trip||Deposit ($800/person)|
|89 to 30 days before your trip||50% of the trip price/person|
|29 to 0 days before your trip||100% of the trip price/person|
The terms below are only applicable to another Mystical Peru trip (payments can’t be transferred to a different OARS program). The transfer fee is due at the time the new trip date is booked. Transfers are subject to any change in the trip price and may only be applied to a trip within 12 months of the original trip date.
|Date of Cancellation||Cancellation Fee|
|60 or more days before your trip||$400/person (50% of deposit)|
|59 to 30 days before your trip||50% of the trip price/person|
|29 to 0 days before your trip||100% of the trip price/person|
OARS International and the outfitter Mountain Lodges of Peru reserve the right to cancel any trip due to insufficient registration or other factors that make the trip impractical to operate. Do not make nonrefundable travel arrangements unless you have spoken to your Adventure Consultant regarding the status of your trip.
If a trip must be canceled or postponed due to force majeure (factors outside the control of OARS), OARS will provide full credit for payments made toward future travel, or a refund less a 5% service fee plus any nonrefundable payments made on your behalf to 3rd-party suppliers. OARS will make good faith efforts to recover deposits made on your behalf to 3rd-party suppliers, however, we can’t guarantee recovery of any or all of the advance payments made. OARS is not responsible for expenses incurred by participants in preparation for a canceled trip.
Our Mystical Peru Lodge Trek is run by an affiliate company and arranged through O.A.R.S. International, Inc.
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