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Plan your trek on the Salkantay trail - trek only option

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Although we call this trek our "Budget Salkantay trail" you get the same great guides, the same amazing food and in fact the only things you do not get are private airport transfers and hotels which you can then arrange yourselves. If you are looking for a really great trek but would like to save a little money on the extras this is a fantastic choice.

Located northwest of Cuzco, Nevado de Salkantay, the cordillera's tallest peak rises to 6,271 metres above sea level. The name Salkantay means 'Savage Mountain' - it is a strikingly beautiful single peak providing a great focal point for this route. The trek takes 5 days including a day in Machu Picchu. It is popular with trekkers wanting to combine a quieter, less trodden route with a visit to the Inca ruins of Machu Picchu. 

One of the reasons the Salkantay trail is so popular is the incredible diversity of the views and ecosystems.  Voted among the top 25 best treks in the world, the walk is dominated by the 20,500-feet-high Mount Salkantay, cuts through the beautiful Mollepata Valley and passes Salkantay at an altitude above 15,000 feet, before traversing around the mountains to arrive at Aguas Calientes. The trek is only a little more difficult than the Inca Trail, and horses are used  to carry food and equipment.

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How difficult is the Salkantay trek?

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In general, the Salkantay Trek is considered more difficult than the Inca Trail.  You will be trekking at least 6 or 7 hours each day for four days, over mountain trails. 

Day 2 and Day 4 of the trek are the toughest days.  On day 2 you will be climbing over the Salkantay Pass at 4,650 metres and will feel the effects of altitude.  The hike from Lucmabamba to Aguas Calientes on Day 4 is hard, although relatively flat - it is a long day, taking around 8-9 hours.

Due to the high altitude reached, and the long hours trekking  each day, a good level of fitness is required.

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Trip dossier, route maps and profile

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Budget Salkantay Trail - trek only Animated Route Map
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Budget Salkantay Trail alternative to the Inca trail Route Profile

Frequently asked questions

The questions and answers below specifically relate to the Salkantay Trail. For more general questions and answers about trekking to Machu Picchu see here.


The total trekking distance is 45 miles or 72 kilometres.


The trail passes through spectacular mountain landscapes where lowland jungle gives way to high alpine scenery and glaciated mountains.


No permit is required for the Salkantay Trek.


The Salkantay Trek is certainly not as busy as the Inca Trail, but it is always safer to book early - we recommend at least 1 month in advance.


The high season is during the dry season from May to September.

Detailed itinerary

Day 1Cuzco - Pre-trek briefing

Attend pre-trek briefing meeting in Cuzco.  You will need to arrange your own accommodation for this night as it is not included.

Day 2Drive from Cuzco to Soraypampa, trek to Salkantaypampa

We will leave Cuzco very early by private transport 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 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 3From Salkantaypampa to Collpapampa, via Salkantay Pass

Today we ascend to the highest point of our trek, the Salkantay Pass at 4600m, where we can take time out to see the sacred, snow-capped Mount Salkantay. In the afternoon we will descend to our campsite at Collpapampa.

  • Elevation: From 4000 metres to 2900 metres
  • Trekking distance: 16 kilometres
  • Trek time: 8 to 9 hours
  • Highest point: 4600m (Salkantay Pass)
Day 4From Collpapampa to Lucmabamba

On the third day of the trek, we will walk for 5-6 hrs downhill at a steady rate, moving into the jungle zone at Ceja de Selva where coffee, cocoa and fruit plantations can be seen. If we have time, you can stop to shower in a waterfall here and, with luck, can see the famous Peruvian National Bird "Gallito de las Rocas". We arrive at our third campsite, Lucmabamba, in time for lunch. This campsite is located in a coffee farm, and in the afternoon we can watch a coffee demonstration where you will be able to taste the best coffee in Peru! There is also an option to visit the hot springs in Cocalmayo.

  • Elevation: From 2900 metres to 2100 metres
  • Trekking distance: 15 kilometres
  • Trek time: 6 to 7 hours
Day 5From Lucmabamba to Aguas Calientes

We will trek to the archaeological site of Llactapata, from where we will catch our first sight of the Lost City of Machu Picchu in the distance. After our last camping lunch, we will follow the railway into Aguas Calientes where you will spend the night in a hotel.

  • Elevation: From 2100 metres to 2050 metres
  • Trekking distance: 22 kilometres
  • Trek time: 8 to 9 hours
Day 6Tour of the ruins at Machu Picchu

Today we'll bring you back to Machu Picchu for a full tour with one of our guides, and give you the option to climb nearby Huayna Picchu . Permits to climb the mountain must be purchased in advance.

Afterwards, we will return to Aguas Calientes by bus, then by train back to Ollantaytambo.  From here, our driver will transfer you back to Cuzco.

Availability and prices

Last Updated June 13 2019
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Arrival: July 6 2019
Days: 6
Prices from: £723 $939 €0
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Arrival: August 25 2019
Days: 6
Prices from: £749 $974 €0
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Arrival: September 16 2019
Days: 6
Prices from: £749 $974 €0
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Arrival: October 12 2019
Days: 6
Prices from: £699 $909 €0
Comment: OFFER Save £50 was £749
Arrival: November 15 2019
Days: 6
Prices from: £749 $974 €0
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Arrival: November 25 2019
Days: 6
Prices from: £749 $974 €0
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Arrival: December 16 2019
Days: 6
Prices from: £749 $974 €0
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Arrival: March 16 2020
Days: 6
Prices from: £799 $1039 €0
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Arrival: May 11 2020
Days: 6
Prices from: £799 $1039 €0
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Arrival: June 29 2020
Days: 6
Prices from: £799 $1039 €0
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Arrival: July 13 2020
Days: 6
Prices from: £799 $1039 €0
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Arrival: September 14 2020
Days: 6
Prices from: £799 $1039 €0
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Arrival: November 9 2020
Days: 6
Prices from: £799 $1039 €0
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Sarah Orson

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