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Kandoo Adventures: September 3rd 2020

Plan your trek on the Inca trail via Salkantay

With only 500 permits available each day, including permits for guides and crews, popular dates sell out very quickly. So now is the time to consider your travel plans and set a date for your Inca Trail via Salkantay adventure so that we can secure your permit as soon as possible. 

Kandoo's View

Located northwest of Cusco, Nevado de Salkantay, the cordillera's tallest peak rises to 6271 meters above sea level. The name Salkantay means 'Savage Mountain' and it is a strikingly beautiful single peak providing a great focal point for this route. The Salkantay to Machu Picchu trek normally takes 7 days walking and has become popular with trekkers wanting to combine a quieter, less trodden route with a visit to the Inca ruins of Machu Picchu. For the first 4 days you will be surrounded by magnificent scenery and rarely see other groups of trekkers. On the fifth day you join up with the Inca Trail at Wayllabamba and continue to Machu Picchu, arriving at the Sun Gate. 

The trek is only a little more difficult than the Inca Trail, and horses can be used for the first 4 days to carry food and equipment. Since horses are not allowed on the Inca Trail, you'll swap over to using human porters for this final section.

This route is only operated as a private trek because of limited demand.

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Permits for the Inca Trail via Salkantay

As you will be trekking on part of the Inca Trail, the same rules apply with regards to a trekking permit as they do for the Classic Inca Trail. The permit system restricts numbers on the Inca Trail to 500 persons per day and this number includes all the guides and crew who also need a permit. As a result, the number of permits available for trekkers is probably only 200 each day. 

Until 2017, all the permits for each year were put on sale in January for all dates for that year. For the current year the "permit on sale" date has moved to October. The critical things to understand is that prior to that date no operator can guarantee that you will have a permit. When permits go on sale it is a free-for-all and operators scramble to reserve the permits for the dates for which they have bookings. Fortunately, for the 9 years we have been operating treks to Machu Picchu we have never failed to obtain the permits we required.

If an operator ever informs you that they are able to block-book or pre-order permits they are lying. The permit system is policed very strictly and permits are only issued against specific names and passport numbers and you are required to check in for the trail at the 82km start point with your passport. If you have married recently you must take a passport in your maiden name as the park authorities are totally inflexible enforcing these rules.

With such a limited number of permits available, and demand extremely high, popular dates sell out completely within days . So if your heart is set on the Inca Trail via Salkantay route then follow our advice here on how to get your permit. Alternatively have a look at some of the other great routes we operate.

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Trip dossier, route maps and profile

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Inca trail via Salkantay Animated Route Map
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Inca Trail via Salkantay Route Profile

Detailed itinerary

Day 1Arrive Cuzco

Our Kandoo representative will meet you at Cuzco airport and transfer to your hotel. Rest of the day free to recover from the journey and to start to explore Cuzco.

Day 2Acclimatisation day in Cuzco

A day to acclimatise in Cuzco (3500m) and let your body adapt to the altitude. Full and half day tours of Cuzco are available.

Day 3Drive from Cuzco to Soraypampa, trek to Salkantaypampa

We will pick you up early from your hotel for a private transfer to the start of our trek, which will take around 4 hours. Along the way, we will pass through the picturesque towns of Pampa de Anta (Izcuchaca, Zurite, and Ancahuasi). Our journey will take us into the Limatambo Valley, where we will see the ruins of Tarawasi, and then toward Soraypampa, where we will begin our expedition. At Soraypampa, we will complete the arrangements for our trek and meet our arrieros (horsemen). We begin by hiking up to Humantay Lake, the stunning turquoise lake at the base of the Humantay glacier. We then continue to ascend to our campsite at Salkantaypampa. From here we have great views of the peaks of Tucurway (5910m), Humantay (5917m) and Salkantay (6917m)

  • Elevation: From 3400 metres to 4000 metres
  • Trekking distance: 12 kilometres
  • Trek time: 5 to 6 hours


Day 4From Salkantaypampa to Pampa Japonesa

Today we leave the main Salkantay trail to skirt around the southern edge of Mt Salkantay. As we gradually ascend to Pampa Japonesa (Japanese Climbers Base Camp) we will be surrounded by snow-capped mountains, deep valleys and glacial lakes. The campsite is only 1km away from the peak of Salkantay, so we will hear the glaciers creaking during the night. Due to the altitude, the temperatures can drop below freezing and there may be snow.

  • Elevation: From 4000 metres to 4400 metres
  • Trekking distance: 14 kilometres
  • Trek time: 6 to 7 hours
Day 5From Pampa Japonesa to Sisaypampa via Incachiriaska Pass

Day 5 begins with a slow challenging ascent for around 4 hours to reach the Incachiriaska Pass, which translates as ‘the place where the Inca cools down’. At 4880m, this is the highest point of our trek. If we are fortunate, we may see the Andean condors that live on the rocky crags. From the pass we will descend to our campsite at Sisaypampa.

  • Elevation: From 4400 metres to 4200 metres
  • Trekking distance: 10 kilometres
  • Trek time: 4 to 5 hours
  • Highest point: 4880 metres (Incachiriaska Pass)
Day 6From Sisaypampa to Llulluchapampa

After breakfast, we will hike through the valley to the community of Pampacahua. Here the valley widens and we will find the Inca Canal, where the Inca harnessed the water from Mount Salkantay to irrigate their crops in the valleys below and which is still used today by local farmers. At the end of the valley we will reach our first archaeological site at Paucarcancha. From here we enter the Cusichaca Valley and trek to Wayllabamba where we will join the Inca Trail. Here we will say goodbye to our arrieros and hello to our porters who will be with us until we reach Machu Picchu. After lunch, we will hike for around 3 hours to our campsite at Llulluchapampa.

  • Elevation: From 4200 metres to 3800 metres
  • Trekking distance: 11 kilometres
  • Trek time: 6 to 7 hours
Day 7From Llulluchapampa to Phuyupatamarca via Dead Woman's Pass

From Llulluchapampa the path continues less steeply following an original Inca stone path for 2 hours until we reach the highest point of this section, the Warmihuañusca Pass (Dead Woman Pass) at 4200m. This climb is the most difficult part of the Inca Trail. After a short break at the summit, we continue our hike down with a long and steep descent to the river Pacaymayo where we will have lunch. After lunch we ascend again towards the Runkurakay Pass (3900m) from where we will descend until we reach our camping site at Phuyupatamarca.

  • Elevation: From 3800 metres to 3700 metres
  • Trekking distance: 16 kilometres
  • Trek time: 8 to 9 hours
  • Highest point: 4200 metres (Dead Woman's Pass)


Day 8From Phuyupatamarca to Aguas Calientes

Today will bring a noticeable change in climate (warmer), flora, and fauna, as you move close to Peru's cloud forest. From Phuyupatamarka we continue to descend, visiting the site of Intipata (Terraces of the Sun).  We stop for lunch at Winay Wayna, where we say goodbye to our team of porters. In the afternoon we continue on the Inca Trail to finally reach the Sun Gate, the entrance to Machu Picchu.  You will not tour the ruins today but will have plenty of time to soak up the view before catching the bus down to Agua Calientes for the overnight stay at a hotel.

  • Elevation: From 3700 metres to 2050 metres
  • Trekking distance: 12 kilometres
  • Trek time: 5 to 6 hours
Day 9Tour of Machu Picchu

An early start to take the bus to the Citadel of Machu Picchu where you will have a guided tour which will last for around 2½ to 3 hours. There is also the option of climbing Huayna Picchu, the iconic mountain behind Machu Picchu, but you will need to book a permit with us in advance. After the tour of the ruins we will take the bus down to Aguas Calientes where you will catch the train to Ollantaytambo to be met by our driver who will take you back to your hotel in Cuzco.

Day 10Depart Cuzco

We will collect you from your hotel and transfer you to Cuzco Airport for your departing flight.

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