by PROJECT CORDILLERA
Cordillera Vilcabamba, Perú
Often considered an alternative to the reservation-heavy itinerary of the Inca Trail, the Salkantay is a nature lover’s paradise. Camp adjacent to alpine glaciers, drop down through orchid-spotted cloud forests, witness cascading waterfalls break through dense jungle and stroll along coffee plantations and tropical fruit orchards in lush valleys and forests.
From the highest pass at Huaracpampa down to the bustling town of Aguas Calientes, you will literally feel the oxygen levels shift along with the surrounding landscape.
Upon reaching the sub-tropical archeological site of Llactapata, the silhouette of Machu Picchu graces the horizon, luring you in to discover her mysteries on the final day of your adventure.
Read more about your upcoming adventure on the Salkantay trail.
"One of the joys of this trek was seeing how much our local team revered and respected the awesome environment we were surrounded by."
- Cindy Fisher
There are a number of options for this trek, including staying in locally owned cabins - instead of camping - as well as entering Aguas Calientes along an abandoned railway line. You can also combine this trip with a number of local mountain climbs and/or other hikes in the mountains around Cusco.
Early pickup and travel by bus to Mollepata, a small town situated on the slopes of the Apurimac River. A three hour hike to Cruzpata for lunch will provide panoramic views of snow-capped Humantay and Salkantay (6271m/20575ft). Head towards your first campsite at Soraypampa, the highest and coldest campsite of the trip, situated at 4000m/12750ft.
Start the day climbing for the highest pass on the trek, located at 4650m/15200ft and nestled halfway between two looming giants: Salkantay and Tucarhuay. After marveling at these high altitude spectacles, you will witness a rapid environmental transition from high mountain landscapes to tropical jungle. After lunching at Huayracmachay, hike approximately three hours more to your second campsite, Colcapampa.
Pass through valleys with wonderful views of waterfalls, tropical fruits and plants. Set up camp in the warmth of La Playa (2500m/8202ft), and after some rest, head to the nearby hot springs and enjoy a well-deserved soak in its soothing waters (Optional).
A three hour steady climb through lush sub-tropical forest brings you to Llactapata, an incredible Incan fort from which you will see the backside of Machu Picchu against the surrounding mountain tops. Arrival at Aguas Calientes, where you will spend the night (optional hot spring in town).
Enjoy an early morning visit to the fabled ruins, witnessing Machu Picchu awake with the sunrise, and spend the day in both guided and individual exploration. Optional climb of Huayna Picchu (2720m/8890ft). Meet with your guide in Aguas Calientes for lunch and receive your train tickets back to Cusco.