Short Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu 4 days is the best alternative to the Classic Inca Trail and best alternative trail to reach Machu Picchu. On this 4 day hike you overcome the highest point of the trek, which is the Salkantay Mountain at 4,550 meters above sea level! In the first part of the trek you also enjoy amazing mountain sceneries with snowy peaks, mountain lagoons and remote Andean villages to later experience a subtropical area of Cusco with its warm climate! The icing on the cake is obviously a guided tour of Machu Picchu in the end! Our Salkantay Trail is an alternative to the classic Inca Trail. This sacred route is an innovative experience for adventure tourists that want a bit more solitude and credibility. With more impressive surroundings, the Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu offers you the chance of a calm but rich meditation on the nature. You will appreciate the testing ecosystem and the splendid appearance of the frost-topped Salkantay Mountain (6264m/20551ft.), known as the mountain that represents the mountain range of Vilcabamba the most. The short version of the Salkantay Trail is available for hikers with less time.
Day 01: Cusco - Soraypampa - Wayracmachay - Los Andenes
Day 02: Los Andenes - Luscamayo - La Playa
Day 03: La Playa - Llactapata - Hidroeléctrica - Aguas Calientes
Day 04: Aguas Calientes - Machu Picchu - Cusco
Departure Point: Cusco - We pick you up from your hotel.
Departure Time: 05:30
Briefing Point: Our guide will visit your hotel 2 or 1 day before the trek
Briefing Time: Between 17:00 - 18:00
Return Point: Cusco - Our driver will drop-off in your hotel or Airbnb department
Service Level: Superior service all inclusive, extra horses for your equipment and private transport.
Physical Rating: 3 - Demanding - Some high-altitude hikes or more strenuous activities, but accessible to most healthy travellers
Age requirement: 12+ / All travellers under age 18 must be accompanied by an adult.
Tour Operator: Tierras Vivas Travel
Crew: A professional Tour Guide, A Cook, Horseman and Horses.
Accommodation: Campsites (2 nights), Hotel (1 night).
Meals: 3x breakfast, 3x lunch, 3x dinner, 2x afternoon hot beverage.
Transportation: A private transportation, 1x train (Expedition Class).
Camping equipment: Double tent, Sleeping bag, Inflatable mattress, a blanket, a pillow, day pack and duffel bag. You can view our Salkantay Trek camping equipment.
Do I need to book it in advance? The Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu 4 Days has departures guaranteed, but train tickets and entrance to Huayna Picchu Mountain are subjet to availability. For that reason, we HIGHLY recommend booking it in advance to ensure you receive exactly what you want!
PLEASE NOTE: May, June and July are peak months of a HIGH TOURIST SEASON in Cusco. It means that train tickets ARE SELL OUT QUICKLY!! Please be aware that the trek leaves daily; however, return train tickets may not be available, if you like to book on last moment. To avoid this inconvenience, please book it several weeks in advance!
Early in the morning you are collected from your hotel for a 3 hour ride to Mollepata. We stop for breakfast and can buy some last minute supplies. We then carry on to Soyrapampa, the trail head. Here we meet the support staff that help us pack all our gear on to the horses. We then begin our hike. The first few hours are uphill. Vegetation is not natural at this altitude, so the landscape is quite stark apart from some grass that has adjusted to the altitude. Eventually we reach the highest point of the hike, the apacheta path (4590m).
The Salkantay Mountain is at 6271 meters above sea level and a powerful sight from this close. Salkantay is a Quechua word that means "Wild Mountain". The rest of the trekking today is easy, we descend to 2890 meters, where there is more vegetation and warm weather, to our campsite.
After a nice breakfast, we continue our hike through the upper jungle. Each step of the way the surroundings are altering, there is more plant life, waterfalls, and warmer weather, some small brooks, we pass the Lluscamayo River. After a five hour hike we reach the settlement of Lluscamayo where we have lunch. Then we trek for 3 hours more, passing an awesome waterfall where we can catch our breath and take some photos. The backdrop here, of course, is astonishing. Green valleys, mountains, trees, a diversity of birds and if your lucks in you might see the Peruvain national bird, the "gallito de las rocas". Finally we get to the village of La Playa. From this point you can choose from two options.
Llacatapata Ruins The route up to Llacatpata is on a part of an aged Inca Trail. Firstly it goes through some old villages of coffee and coca plantations, citrus tree orchids before extending to some exquisite high altitude meadows and then entering into an ancient forest close to the top. The scenery on the way up is the most varied and gorgeous than on the entire Salkantay Trek.
Close to the top, the trail changes to seemingly never ending stone steps as tall as park benches! Which you might find strange as the Incas were not known for being tall! The reason behind this was that the Incas were a very forward thinking population and aimed to build constructions that would not fall apart and that people could not destroy! We reach the top in a little over two hours.
The weather is cold and wet in the forest and then we walk down to the Llactapata ruins. In under 10 minutes we arrive at the ruins, the sight will leave you amazed! Beyond the valley you are rewqarded with the majestic sight of Machu Picchu!
After this we descend to the Hydroelectric plant, it's 913 meters (2995 ft)in one hour. From her the hike to Aguas Calientes is mostly level. En route you will hear a roaring sound which is a powerful waterfallthat cools us down with its spray as we pass by. It is man made and shoots out of a long tunnel in the mountain from the hydroelectric plant, a fascinating and useful. Once there we have our lunch break.
The Hydroelectric plant is also the end of the railway line from Cusco to Machu Picchu. Hydro is actually farther than Machu Picchu Town on the train. It is mostly used by locals. The hike to Aguas Calientes is down the railway tracks, 12 kilometers (7.5 miles). Its a fun trek, along the tracks, with a wide path and is sheltered by jungle vegetation, trees and flowers. This is ideal after a tough 3 day Salkantay Trek.
Its hard to explain the great happiness when we finally reach the town of Aguas Calientes, you will notice for the first time in days people that look clean with fresh clothing..Day trippers!
We finally arrive to our hotel! Then we have dinner at a restaurant and plan the next day. Overnight in a hotell!
If you chose the Santa Teresa option, we have breakfast and after a short bus trip (1hour) we hike for about 2 hours past the Urubamba River and onward to the Hydro Electric Station, where we have lunch nearby.
We have a ver early morning start(before dawn), so we can get to Machu Picchu via the Sun Gate or Intipunku before the crowds. we trek the last 2 hours up to the mysterious city of Machu Picchu. We are one of the first to enter and revel in the view of the sun rising over the magnificent citadel of Machu Picchu that we have waited for so long to see. It takes about an hour and a half to reach Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes. Once there you will have a two hour guided tour, also time to take plenty of pictures and spare time to discover and explore the ruins at Machu Picchu and walk around on your own.
The you will return to Aguas Calientes where you can have lunch (not included) and take the train back to Cusco.
Our guide will visit your hotel a day before the trek for your briefing. Our guide will provided the duffel bag for your personal belonging,
Note: It is very important let us know, where you will be staying in Cusco;
Experienced bilingual Tour Guide. They all grew up in this region and have a true passion to teach others about their heritage. They are fun yet professional, and will ensure you are safe and happy.
Note: A group up to 8 participants has 1 Tour Guide, a groups over 8 participants receives 2 Tour Guides
Camping (3 Nights) and Hotel in Machu Picchu (1 Night)
Our tents are of the brand Eureka Mountain designated for 4 seasons. We provide with 3 person capacity tents; however, just 2 trek participants use it! In this way, we provide you more space and comfort. In case of a single traveller, we provide with a 2 person capacity tent.
Hotel in Machu Picchu with private bathroom and hot water (Single, Double or matrimonial room)
We provide with inflatable mattresses of the brand Therm-A-Rest. The mattresses are 3 cm heigh that will ensure you a sufficient isolation from the cold earth!
This inflatable mattress for more comfort to sleep in the trail
We use only feather sleeping bags that are suitable up to minus 16°C. This means you do not need to be worry about cold as temparature at night at each trek reaches just up to 0°C (maximum -5°C)!!
Included the Salkantay and Machu Picchu.
3x breakfast, 3x lunch, 3x dinner, 2x afternoon´s hot beverages and Snack every morning
The Tierras Vivas chefs cook delicious meals that many previous trekkers have raved about. If you are a vegetarian or have any restrictions, our chef will prepare special food, please advise us in advance. A vegetarian meal option is for NO extra cost. Food is typically served and buffet.
Excluding the first 4 hours of the trek when you need to bring your own, Tierras Vivas will supply all the water needed. This water will be boiled, filtered and then cooled, before distributing. You must supply your own water bottles or camel back. We recommend carrying about 3L worth. We will refill our waters at each meal.
Our horses will carry the all camping equipement for your trek and 7 kg for your personal beloging + Sleeping bag;
An emergency horse which can be ridden if you are feeling ill or if are a little slower;
Muleteer is responsible to take the horses;
Tierras Vivas DOES NOT permit this exploitation!! We guarantee that our horses carry only an amount given by the Peruvian law!!
From Machu Picchu to Ollantaytambo, there are two companies train (Incarail and Perurail),you can choose two time of your train return to Cusco
If you take the train return at 14:55, you will be in Cusco at 18:00
If you take the train return at 19:00, you will be in Cusco at 22:00
On the high season, it is very important let us know in advance, because it is very difficult find spaces available.
Tables and chairs, cooking tent with cooking equipment, dining and toilet tents and bottled gas
A shuttle bus down from Machu Picchu to Aguas Calientes Town
Early morning transfer by private bus to Challacancha - the initial point of the trek;
The train service is finishing in Ollantaytambo Train station, then our driver is waiting for you and he will take to Cusco;
Our guide has received training in first aid from a physician. Your tour guide will always have a first-aid kit for basic medical problems (traveler’s diarrhea, cuts, scrapes, etc.) and oxygen.
Meal budget: Please allow USD 20-50 for meals not included.
Single room: Please note that if you have booked the "Single room" option for this trek, you receive your own single tent and a single room in Aguas Calientes.
Local flights: No local flights are included in the trek´s price!
Day 1: Early morning at 05:00, we pick you up from your hotel, taken on a 3 hour drive from Cusco to Mollepata. After breakfast continue drive for an hour and a half until Soyrapampa, the trail head to start your Salkantay Trek. Ascend for 4 hours until high pass (Salkantay Mountain), then descend. After lunch descend for two and a half hours more to Chaullay campsite, where we are served dinner.
Day 2 - 3: Hike through a tropical cloud forest, passing the Lluscamayo River. After a 5 hour trek we reach the settlement of Lluscamayo. After lunch continue the trek for 3 hours, finally reaching the village of La Playa. From this point you can choose from two options for your hike to Machu Picchu.
From La Playa its a 2 hour walk to Aobamba, where you camp. The next day its a 4 hour hike to the Llacatapata ruins. After the visit you will descend for 4 hours till you reach hidroelectrica, then continue the hike by railway to Aguas Calientes town or Machu Picchu.
The easy route down the valley to Santa Teresa. If your group decide to go straight to Santa Teresa you will take the bus for an additional cost. At Santa Teresa you will visit the hot springs. The next day, continue the trek to Machu Picchu or Aguas Calientes town by railway.
Day 4: Wake up at 4:00 and walk up to Machu Picchu (1hr 30min), guided tour in Machu Picchu, then free time in the lost city, in the afternoon train to Ollantaytambo, then bus to Cusco
It’s very important to take EXTRA MONEY. You need to take at least 200-300 soles emergency money:
During the Short Salkantay trek we spend three nights full-service camping, meaning that our camp staff will erect and dismantle the tents, cook, and do all camp chores for you: you need only carry your day pack. There will also be dining and toilet tents and bowls of warm water are provided both morning and evening for washing with. and last night you spend a small hotel.
Please Note: Hotel in Aguas Calientes town is not a 3 star hotel but it is clean, safe and comfortable with a friendly and very helpfully staff. They have private Twin, Double and Triple rooms, with small private bathrooms and hot gas water system. Hotel has one of the best locations in town, only few blocks from Train and Bus Station and you don't have to do anymore long uphill hikes to get to your room! It is about 10 minutes from the hot spring pools. We try to include an economical accommodation option for this trek to make it accessible for everyone but recommend that if you are wanting better accommodation in Aguas Calientes to celebrate your accomplishment of the trek.
UP-GRADING HOTELS in Aguas Calientes town: If you would like to stay in a Hotel 3 star or more, you have to pay extra. Please request this at the time of booking.
Single Supplement: If you are traveling on your own, and would prefer to share a tent, we'll pair you with another trekker of the same gender and there will not be an extra cost. If you prefer to have a tent to yourself a surcharge of USD 50 will have to be paid. If you want an upgrade any service to the train or accommodation or do you want to stay extra night in Machu Picchu, contact us directly to firstname.lastname@example.org for this to be done and confirmed to you.
IMPORTANT TO ACCOMMODATION: You must present your passport with the TAM immigration slip (copy) to all hotel accommodations. The national sales tax (18%) is charged to all Peruvian citizens and foreigners staying 60 consecutive days or more. In case the room is shared by both a taxable and non-taxable guest at the same time, the sales tax will be applied to the whole room. So please take every caution to not lose this piece of paper. You need to bring it to the Cusco office for your checking.
In this trek is included the train Expedition the return is 18:20 from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo, then you will take the tourist bus to Cusco, you will arrive between 22 hrs to 23 hrs to Main square or Plaza Armas.
If you prefer Vistadome train or Luxury train for this trek, the extra price is U$ 45 dollars. let us know before your booking your service.
Generally speaking you should pack as lightly as possible. The horses carry your luggage from Soraypampa (1st day) to Playa camping (3th day). 3 day hike, our chef takes your luggage by bus to Hidrolectrica. From there to Aguas Calientes, you are expected to carry your own luggage (max 3 hrs), in case, the local train running, our chef take your luggage to the town. We recommend keeping the weight under 7 kg/15lb. You will need to carry clothes.
If very important your take best cover backpacker, because the weather in Salkantay trek is change every date, we can’t predict it raining or no. If you don’t have, we recommended to put your clothes, sleeping bag and other personal equipment inside the plastic bag.
Forget the Inca Trail and hike to Machu Picchu along the higher, more beautiful and less touristy Salkantay Trail! Discover a different side of the great Andes mountain range and get the most amazing views of the mountains by taking this alternative route to Machu Picchu. Ascend to the highest pass at 4,550 meters above sea level for up-close-and-personal views of the massive Salkantay and Humantay mountain peaks in the Vilcanota mountain range, which are among the highest in Peru
This trip passes through the Valley of Lares, where locals are largely disconnected from the outside world. Much of the Incan culture is preserved, which can be seen in the brightly colored traditional outfits and the herds of alpacas and llamas that wander the valley. The hot springs of Lares are said to have healing properties, which travelers get the opportunity to experience on the first day of the trip. The hike reaches Aguas Calientes via train from Ollantaytambo after three days of cultural immersion with the native Andeans and beautiful views of the mountains and lakes, and the next morning travelers have a traditional visit to the unforgettable Machu Picchu.
This trek takes hikers through the beautiful Sacred Valley, full of natural and man-made (Incan) sites worth seeing. Aside from some incredible panoramic views of the mountains from a vantage point of 4,400 meters, the trail will pass waterfalls, Incan terraces, mountain lakes, and the archeological site of Choquetacarpo before finally boarding the train to Aguas Calientes. The final day, travelers enjoy the sunrise over the ancient city Machu Picchu and then a guided tour of the incredible Incan site.
Often referred to as the “sister city” of Machu Picchu, these Incan ruins are more secluded than most, being reachable only by hiking. Most tourists don’t even know about this option, so any travelers choosing to make the trek will find the road less traveled to be much more peaceful and personal than the classic Inca Trail. The city of Choquequirao, the last home of the Incan empire, is quite magical and quite worth the 2 days of hiking through the scenic mountains.
This trail is famous for a reason – hiking it is a truly magical experience, one that enough people want to have that government regulations have had to be implemented to preserve the trail and the Incan city itself. The hike does not stop in Aguas Calientes, instead entering through the Sun Gate into the city at sunrise. With four days on trail, hikers have plenty of time to appreciate all of the other Incan ruins along the trail as well as take their time with the challenging walk from Km 82 to the final destination of the city itself.
Inca Trail to Machu Picchu 4 Days