The Salkantay Trail is an old alternative trail to the Inca Trail, along the route you can see beautiful places with ecological diversity of flora and fauna, an excellent trekking route for travelers who love adventure. Also this excursion is called as one of the alternate routes to reach the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu.
The excursion to Salkantay was recently named by the National Geographic Adventure Travel magazine among the best 25 excursions in the world.
This hike takes the name of the magnificent Salkantay Snowy, natural work belonging to the Vilcabamba mountain range, located in the province of the Convention, district of Santa Teresa and is also one of the highest mountains in the Cusco region.
Are you worried about the degree of difficulty of the walk? Feel the effects of altitude during the trip? The view is spectacular and with these more than 10 Recommendations to survive the Salkantay Trek in Peru, you don't have to worry at all!
As we said before this trek is really challenging so you need to be prepared for it. Here we give you 10 Salkantay Trek Recommendations for it:
Yes, we know it, sounds like a joke, “how will I not take my drink by hand?”, but you will be surprised to know the number of people that needs to take a break and remove the backpack to hydrate.
Never go out on the mountain to hike without a minimum of a liter and a half of water. When it comes to hydrate ourselves, choose water or isotonic drinks (never carbonated soft drinks).
In order to hydrate constantly, we will have to choose wisely our container of water in order to transport it within reach of the hand at all times to be able to take small drinks from time to time. There are multiple solutions for that, from the most sophisticated camel bag to the simplest canteen in an accessible backpack pocket. We recommend you always carry a half-filter tank on hand, and the rest of the bag inside.
There is always an old proverb (which of course, are attributed to the Chinese as all the old proverbs) that says: “Walk like an old man to come as a young man.” This does not mean that we have to be especially slow, what we must do is to keep a constant rhythm and when we reach an ascending slope area we should maintain the rhythm as much as possible, because if we do not know exactly how much of ascension is left, it is possible that we get exhaust early.
They help to unload some of the weight of our joints, in addition they offer us extra stability and help us to remove any branch or plant that has grown up cutting our way in some path with lacking maintenance. In the descents you will have to lengthen them, and in the climbs, shorten them. The walking sticks are cheap, they are light and they help a lot in the mountain.
Yeah… we all know that, but we still insist, it is much safer to walk with a hiking boot than to do it with other type of footwear. But, what shoes should I pack for Salkantay Trek? A comfortable boot with waterproof membrane (for example goretex) will not only prevent kinking and humidity, it will prevent loose stones from hitting our ankles.
Of course, the use of the boot will remove some mobility, but that will be solved with a correct lacing of the laces. For the descents we will tie the boot firmly, trying to keep the heel of the foot close to the back of the boot and in that way there will be a free space between the toe of the boot and the toes. With that, we will prevent the foot from slipping toward the front of the boot and as a result our fingers are crushed in the descent. For the ascensions we will release the pressure of the loop in the upper part of the boot and we will make sure to keep the instep tight and firm. If you do this, you will restore mobility in the ankle, and this will allow us to have more movement freedom on the ascent.
It is quite common that after a long time of ascent, our muscles begin to show the effort. A very simply and effective trick to give these muscles a breath is to slightly change the position in which we support the foot. If we tilt it a little, we will work a different muscle group. We will distribute the load of the effort and we will notice an immediate relief in the overloaded muscles.
Just like the onions. That is the first thing that the most experienced mountain people will advise you.
Always use clothes as thin as possible to avoid looking like the Michelin doll, imagine not fitting on the jacket. Avoid fabrics like cotton, and always try to use technical fabrics. In case they get wet (rain, fall to a river or simply sweat), they dry quickly… and never, ever take your jeans to the mountain. If they get wet you could not even walk with them. Always wear clothes that do not come too loose, it is better to go relatively tight but without losing mobility. Clothes that are too wide have a bad habit of getting caught in all the branches and protrusions we find on the path.
Okay, this is another thing that we all have clear, but if we were given a dollar for every time I have crossed with someone on the mountain with a backpack that only supports the shoulders, I would be millionaire.
Use a backpack that not only has shoulder straps, but also supports your lower back and hips. If you choose your backpack properly and tighten it correctly you may even forget that you wear it. Distribute the load inside the backpack properly and just walk, enjoy.
Have you ever heard of the chimney effect? The human body generates a great amount of heat when it is active, releasing calories, that although we are interested in losing them in summer and times of heat, it does not happen in winter. In this way our body becomes a real stove.
As I tell you, in the mountain we lose most of the body head by the feet and by the head. If we wear suitable socks and a correct boot we will have half solved, expect for some case of a minimalist athlete who is going to go barefoot, all the others wear shoes. But instead, there are many people who do not know that the other important part where we lose the body heat is the head, which without a cap or hat is exposed to the elements. The solution is simple, a hat.
Wear a hat or cap with protection at the nape of the neck, in both cases ensure that it has an ultraviolet filter. In that way you will avoid not only burn, but also suffering from heat stroke. In both cases, as with dehydration, the consequences can be very serious. Always use sunscreen, the ultraviolet radiation is more incisive in the mountain, and carrying a hydrated skin will prevent you from cutting and cracking with the wind and the cold winter, you will also delay the aging of it.
“Okay, I have had tried everything, the climb is endless. I carry walking sticks, I have hydrated, I am taking short steps and changing the support in each of them, I wear the top of the loose boot, my hat protect me from the sun, I like a mime with all the white face by the protective creak and my backpack is fastened, balanced and firm, but I cannot keep going…” That had happened to us too, it is time to put an extra dose of energy, always carry nuts, energy bars or add one of my friends, dried figs (I am particularly not in favor of the gels for the trekking practice, we are not mountain runners). An extra contribution of glucose of fast assimilation will allow you to endure that “little bit more”, which we have been told is missing. Of course, that means by hand, in a pocket or where ever you want, but as with hydration, do not put it somewhere where you need to remove all the backpack to achieve you extra contribution of energy.
If you stop, enjoy the view, the landscape, breathe deeply, but do not stop constantly and when you do it for lunch or to eat, avoid that these stops go beyond 15 or 20 minutes. Try not to overeat, you better taker the right amount, try to bring fruit and not just sandwiches. The fruit will give us a contribution of sugar and hydration that will help a lot. If we eat a lot of food, very heavy food and also stay on a place for a long time, when we are going to resume our trek it will cost a lot of effort and instead of enjoying the mountain we will suffer.
We hope all this 10 Salkantay Trek Recommendations helps you with your trip to Salkantay, enjoy!
There are two main seasons in the sub-tropical Peruvian Andes – a dry season that runs from late April through to early October, and a wet season that starts mid to late October and draws to a close in April. But, when to go to the Salkantay Trek?
The Salkantay trek can technically be completed all year round, the peak trekking season to Machu Picchu occurs during the dry season and is busiest between May and September.
So, answering the question when to go to the Salkantay Trek? The best trekking months run from the shoulder wet months March / April all the way through to the shoulder dry months October / November.
We advise that the best time to do Salkantay Trek is between May and October. It should be noted that the Salkantay trek is possible to do so throughout the year, but has to take into account that the months of rain are a problem in this trek which occur from December through March, so this is not the best time to do Salkantay Trek.
The weather during the Salkantay trek is very varied, because it winds through very different terrain at different altitudes. The only place where weather is a serious concern is the Salkantay Pass and the affected areas. Temperatures here and at the nearby Soraypampa camp may fall below the freezing point. The other camps are much warmer, due to its proximity to the cloud forest.
Salkantay Trek from October to March: The rainy season is presented during those months. The days are sunny (19 ℃) and the nights are not so cold (4 ℃) but the frequency of rains increases considerably.
Salkantay Trek from April to September: During those months is the dry season. The days in Salkantay have a stable climate (18 ℃), but the nights have their lowest temperatures in the year (-10 ℃).
Temperatures throughout the year follow a very consistent pattern. But, how Cold is the Salkantay Trek? Days are warm, in the high twenties Celsius (70/80 Fahrenheit), and cold at night and in the early mornings (single digits Celsius and sometimes below zero degrees).
Temperature fluctuation is further exasperated by the micro-climates that dominate as you ascend and descend in altitude.
If you are still worry about How Cold is the Salkantay Trek, the key to staying comfortable throughout the trek is layering (see our equipment packing list section below for details on ideal clothing requirements).
The Salkantay Trek Difficulty depends a lot on the physical condition that one may have, in addition to having experience in some similar route and in the state of health that one may have.
But how difficult is Salkantay Trek? In general, Salkantay trekking is considered by many travelers with greater effort, since the degree of Salkantay Trek Difficulty is "High", thus considering a great response for people who do it, especially considering the altitude.
The most complex day is the second, where the maximum point is Salkantay at 4600 m altitude, but with a good acclimatization of the first days it will not be so hard.
If you are still worry about how difficult is Salkantay Trek?, the Salkantay Trek Difficulty depends on the physical condition (see our recommendations of Training for Salkantay Trek below).
The Salkantay trek is a hiking route that takes the visitor to the Inca City of Machu Picchu.
But, how long is Salkantay Trek? The total Salkantay Trek Distance is approximately 74 Km (45.98 miles), which are traveled in 5 days of the route:
Salkantay Trek Distances
|Day||Destination||Salkantay Trek Distance||Hiking Time|
|Day 1||Mollepata to Soraypampa||13 Km (8.08 miles)||7 horas|
|Day 2||Soraypampa to Chaullay||22 Km (13.67 miles)||10 horas|
|Day 3||Chaullay to La Playa||16 Km (9.94 miles)||5 horas|
|Day 4||La Playa to Aguas Calientes||19 Km (11.81 miles)||10 horas|
|Day 5||Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu||4 Km (2.49 miles)||2 horas|
The minimum height is 2,200 m.a.s.l. in the last camp in Sahuayaco and the highest Salkantay Trek Elevation that you will reach on this trek is just over 4,600m (4,900m if you do the Salkantay and Inca Trail Trek), which might be the highest altitude you have ever gone to outside of an aeroplane.
At this altitude, available oxygen per breath is nearly 45% less than what is available at sea level, and results in a number of physiological impacts.
Cusco rises to 3,400 meters above sea level, which can be a problem for some people, so we recommend that you be in Cusco at least 48 hours before starting the tour, during which you should drink a lot of liquid, Avoid alcohol and rest.
Here is the profile for the Salkantay Trek Elevation. As you can see the first two days are tough, after which the trek gets a lot easier!
|Destination||Salkantay Trek Elevation||Distance|
Mollepata to Soraypampa
Soraypampa to Chaullay
Chaullay to La Playa
La Playa to Aguas Calientes
Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu
Now you know How High is Salkantay Trek, remember that comes with obvious altitude sickness risks.
It is nearly impossible to predict how Salkantay Trek Altitude Sickness will effect you as there is very little correlation between altitude sickness symptoms and age, fitness level, gender etc.
We do however know that going too high too fast is a key determinant of Salkantay Trek Altitude Sickness. Given enough time the body can adapt to How High is Salkantay Trek – this is called acclimatisation. It is important that you spend a few days (2 at a minimum) acclimatising in Cusco, or ideally in the Sacred Valley, which is nearly 1,000m below Cusco before starting your trek.
Also, the best advice to Salkantay Trek Altitude Sickness is sleep, drink plenty of fluids and you could also take coca tea. Local people chew coca leaves wrapped around a resin black called llipta, when walking to this can help, since it dilates the vessels to increase blood flow to parts of the body that need it most and have a higher oxygenation.
We have written a very comprehensive Salkantay Trek Packing List, which provides a perfect fit for the weather variations on the trail.
The best way to think about what to wear during the Salkantay Trek is through the lens of layering.
The ability to layer your clothing up or down from morning when it is rather cold to the mid afternoon when temperatures reach their peak and then drop back down to freezing at night is key.
Layering also comes in handy as you ascend high passes that are exposed to winds or descend into shaded valleys. Effective layering only works if each layer allows moisture to pass through and escape to the external environment. In fact the best layered clothing, like wool, promotes moisture transfer through its wicking properties. Cotton and denim absorb moisture and should therefore be avoided.
Below we set out the types of clothing you should bring with you and provide specific recommendations on what to wear during the Salkantay Trek.
We have listed the clothes and ítems you have to pack for Salkantay Trek, but What Shoes should I pack for Salkantay Trek? Hiking boots are one of the most important pieces of gear in your Salkantay Trek Packing List.
It is important that the trekking shoes are comfortable to not cause damage to the feet. Do not arrive with brand new boots that you haven’t worn yet – you will get blisters, sore feet and even loose toe-nails!
What kind of Shoes are recommended for Salkantay Trek? Mid-weight boots are best for Machu Picchu. Heavy boots provide great cushioning and are very durable but can be a little heavy to trek in.
Medium to high tops to support your ankle. The higher the top the heavier the boot. Ideally we recommend sturdy medium high tops made from leather or a leather-condura material. The sole should be made from rubber and have mid-to-deep lugs for good traction. The deeper the lugs the heavier the boot
The inner membrane should be waterproof. Gore-tex is the best material for this.
There are important accesories that form part of your Salkantay Trek Packing List.
In our Salkantay Trek Packing List we have suggest you to bring some money to buy souvenirs, snacks or water along the trail, but also is necessary to give some tips to your trekking team, and How Much to Tip Salkantay Trek?
Tipping is part of the tradition of any trek to Machu Picchu. Keep in mind that this is not mandatory and that you should never feel pressured by this. However, if you had a great experience while walking to Salkantay and Machu Picchu, you can show your gratitude to the chef, rider and guide by giving them a tip, but how Much to Tip Salkantay Trek?
The amount is entirely a personal preference: however as a guideline we suggest each hiker contributes $20 per horseman, and $40 for the chef = $60 per trekker. More is always appreciated.
Every year this trek becomes more famous, as well as the Inca Trail, that is why when they ask us when to Book the Salkantay Trek? We recommend making the reservation 2 or 3 months in advance so as not to have any problem with the income to Machu Picchu and train tickets that sell out quickly.
Another question when we decide when to book the Salkantay Trek is: Can I book it when we get to Cuzco or should I book it in advance?
You can book the Salkantay trekking in Cusco during your trip, but it is better to book Salkantay Trek in advance, and not wait until you get to Cuzco.
But why we recommend to book Salkantay Trek in advance and not until you get to Cuzco? The Salkantay trek always includes Machu Picchu at the end of the trip. For Machu Picchu you need entrance tickets that must be managed in advance. Trekking companies always need time to book these tickets. Therefore, it is convenient to book Salkantay Trek in advance online.
Since 2002, and as every year, the Inca Trail along with 18 other archaeological sites, which are along its route, are closed to the public in the month of February, this is because this season is carry out conservation, maintenance and cleaning activities of these places.
Another reason, to restrict the entrance to the Inca Trail in February, is because precisely this month, there are the strongest rains of the season, in this area. So in order to safeguard the integrity of visitors with a great spirit of adventure, as well as that of guides and other support staff, the Inca Trail closes during the month of February of each year.
But what about the Salkantay trek, it closes in February? Well, Inca Trail closes in February, but Salkantay Trek does not do that, is opening all year. In the month of February you have other very good options when it comes to hiking to Machu Picchu, like the Salkantay trek, Inca Jungle Trail or Lares trek.
The Salkantay trek is free, although it is true that the Government of Peru wants to restrict this trail and turn it into something similar to the Inca Trail. Although for now Salkantay trek is free, there is also the option of hiring an expedition with a guide, cooks, horseman and Salkantay Entrance fee.
You don't have one against a trekking company to do the Salkantay trek. Although we do not have the benefit of a guide, organized accommodation, ready meals and carriers, but you can hike the Salkantay Trek no guide.
Doing the Salkantay trek without Guide costs nothing. The only important expenses are the entrance to Machu Picchu, the train services from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo.
If you are thinking of crossing the Salkantay Trek no guide, you should think about the following expenses:
|How much does the Salkantay Trek no guide cost?||
Price in dollars
|Machu Picchu Ticket||$ 48|
|Train service (Aguas Calientes - Ollantaytambo)||$ 70|
|Bus from Ollantaytambo - Cusco||$ 5|
|Bus Aguas Calientes - Machu Picchu (round trip)||$ 24|
|Food, accessories and other expenses||$ 50|
If you are doing a Salkantay Trek without a Guide, you will need to carry your own gear, including food and a tent. This means that you will need to pack light, avoid taking too many duplicate items on the packing list (for example, take only one pair of trekking trousers instead of two).
Try to keep your pack under 15kg, anymore weight will make the trek very tough. If you are overweight, consider acquiring the services of an arrieros (horseman) in Mollepata.
They charge between 30-40 Soles per mule per day and an additional 30/40 Soles per day for themselves, but are a great help.
As you will be cooking your own food (go with 3 days worth of light food, like sachets of soup, ramen noodles etc), you will need to have fuel ignition cooking gear. Here are some good examples of camping cookware and camping gas stoves.
There are a few key equipment items that you will need to take with you on your Salkantay trek if you go without a tour: