A true Andean odyssey, this 4-day trek through the dramatic Cordillera Vilcabamba is a wonderful alternative for those who want to take a less-traveled and exceptionally beautiful route to Machu Picchu. Mount Salkantay is the 2nd largest mountain in the entire Cusco area (2nd only to the mighty Mount Ausangate) and is said to be the “guardian” that stands between the mountains and the jungle. Crossing over a pass between the peaks of the immense mountains, Salkantay (6270m) and Humantay (6070m), you will get to see some spectacular views of the glacial monsters and the sprawling valleys that they stand over. The great thing about this particular trek, that none of the other treks can offer (including the Inca Trail) is that you get to see so many different microclimates in such a short amount of time. You will start on day 1, in the high plateau area of the Andes. Then, on day 2, you will start the day in the plateaus, then go up to an altitude of 4,650 meters (aforementioned pass) and then down into the lush outer rim of the jungle on the other side of the mountains. You can actually see the microclimates changing before your eyes.
On day 3, when you are getting deeper and deeper into the “Ceja de Selva,” or the “Eyebrow of the Jungle,” you will encounter numerous wild tropical fruit and coffee plantations as well as an abundance of wild flowers and exotic birds. Down in the valley, we take an ancient, original Inca trail up through a fertile cloud forest replete with Quehuna trees, orchids, moss, wateralls and rivers, making for a gorgeous tropical atmosphere. On day four, we follow an Inca trail pathway to a low-jungle pass. At the top, we enjoy a gorgeous view of the backside of the Machu Picchu ruins.
From here, we walk down to the hydroelectric plant and take the train to Aguas Calientes, where we spend the night in a comfortable hostel. On the last day of the tour, we take a tour of the magnificant ruins of Machu Picchu before catching an afternoon train back to Cusco.
Day 1 : Cusco to Soraypampa
Leaving Cusco early in the morning, we take 6 hour ride along a scenic route to the small village of Marcocasa, located high above the Apurimac River. This is where we meet up with the mules, horses, and arrieros (wranglers) that will carry our gear during the trek. We will begin with a gentle hike into the green river valley beneath the Vilcabamba Mountain Range, and then we will begin hiking steadily upwards to the high plateau. Along the way, we will get our first incredible view of Mount Huamantay (5917 m). As we approach our campsite at Soraypampa, the enormous Salkantay peak (6270m) will be towering over us making for some beautiful views. Mount Salkantay has the highest point in the Vilcabamba Mountain Range.
Morning snack, L,D
Day 2 : Soraypampa to Chaullay
Following a series of switchbacks known as `Siete Culebras`, or “Seven Snakes”, our path leads up the side of a mountain and levels out again in the shadows of the grandiose Mount Salkantay. With Mount Salkantay looming above, we come to a summit marked by small piles of stones, or apachetas, left by locals and travelers to honor the mountain gods. From this high pass (4750m) flanked by Mount Salkantay and Mount Huamantay, we make our way towards the valley below to camp for the night in Chaullay.
B, L, D, snacks
Day 3 : Chaullay to Playa
The trail leads us down the eastern slope of the Andes and into a sub-tropical valley, where the temperature is noticably warmer and we can even see a variety of orchids, wild flowers, and hummingbirds. After a morning of downhill walking, we arrive to the natural hot springs of Ccolpapampa, where we can take a relaxing dip in the naturally heated waters, if we choose to. Continuing through the “Ceja de Selva,” or “Eyebrow of the Jungle,” we encounter bright flowers, butterflies, parrots, and lush groves of tropical fruit, cocoa, and coffee. At the small village called, la Playa, we set up camp for the night.
Day 4 : Playa to Aguas Calientes
Today we continue through the sub-tropical vegetation on our way to the village of Lucmabamba, where an original Inca trail still remains to this day. A gradual uphill climb through lush sub-tropical forest brings us to Llactapata (2700m), where we enjoy a stunning view of the backside of Machu Picchu amongst its neighboring peaks.
In the afternoon, we take the hydroelectric train to Aguas Calientes where we spend a comfortable night in a nice, clean hostel.
Day 5 : Aguas Calientes/Machu Picchu/Cusco
We can take the earliest bus up to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes and get in to the site as early as 6:00 am. After partaking in an informative 2 hour guided tour of the ancient ruins, you will have some additional time to explore around the site on your own. In the late afternoon, you will board a train that will take you back to Cusco.
Includes / Not Included
- Hotel collection and transport to trailhead
- Professional, bilingual tour guide and trek staff
- Plentiful, nutritious meals (Vegetarian option available) and snacks
- Drinking water provided throughout trek
- Overnight stay in Aguas Calientes
- Train from Aguas Calientes to Cusco
- Entrance fees to Machu Picchu
- Round trip bus tickets from Aguas Calientes-Machu Picchu-Aguas Calientes
- Professionally-guided tour of Machu Picchu
- Transfer from Train Station in Poroy to your hotel in Cusco
- Hot water for washing in the morning
- High quality, double-occupancy tents
- Camping equipment: dining tent, kitchen tent, and latrine tent, eating utensils, cooking equipment, etc
- Pack animals (horses and llamas) to carry baggage and equipment
- Emergency horse(s) for riding in case of illness or injury
- Duffle Bag
- Camping mattress
- First aid kit and oxygen tank
- Sleeping Bag
- Breakfast Day 1, Lunch and Dinner on Day 4, Lunch and Dinner Day 5
- 1 sol toilet fee for each use on the trek
- 10 soles optional hot shower on the trek
Group Service starts with Min. 6 Trekkers
Four days of trekking (ends at Hidroelectric): USD 390 per person
Extension to Machu Picchu (Day 5): USD 220 per person
Extension to Machu Picchu includes:
- Train tickets
- Bus tickets
- Machu Picchu entrance
- Guided tour