Ultimate Classic Salkantay Trek
5 Days / 5 Nights
The Salkantay Trek is a favorite among hikers for the Humantay Blue Lagoon, glass cabanas, and our exclusive campsite overlooking the mystical ruins of Machu Picchu!
Considered to be one of the best treks in the world, the Salkantay Trek offers a variety of Peru ecosystems; from deserts and jungles, to mountain passes, and azure lagoons!
Highlights: Stellar scenery, coffee farm, glass cabanas, lagoons, and campsite overlooking Machu Picchu.
Considerations: In order to include Humantay lagoon (Turquoise Lagoon) and Llactapata (amazing camping spot with Machu Picchu in the distance) we need to leave the afternoon before the trek starts making this trek 5.5 days and 5 nights.
Season: March 1st through January 10th.
Ultimate Classic Salkantay Trek 5 Days / 5 Nights
The Salkantay trek is one of the most famous and beautiful treks in all of South America. Placed at the top of must do experiences right next to the Inca Trail.
The Salkantay trail can be a VERY different experience based on which tour company that you choose to work with. Here at Alpaca Expeditions we are passionate about giving you the best possible experience while keeping your safety and comfort top of mind.
The Salkantay trekking experience is at the same level as the Inca Trail in beauty, challenge and popularity. It’s filled with amazing scenery, landscapes, deep contact with nature and a great challenge for hikers of all skill sets. On this trek you’ll get to see the Humantay Blue Lagoon, stay in our glass cabanas and experience our exclusive campsite overlooking the mystical ruins of Machu Picchu.
Alpaca Expeditions’ Ultimate Salkantay trek 5 day / 5 nights is the perfect mix of a challenging trek (due to the unpredictable weather and high altitude) and all the comfort that is exclusive to our longer treks.
This includes 2 nights at Alpaca Expeditions’ fully furnished lodges – our Glass Cabanas that allow you to sleep under the night sky, 2 nights in our established and beautifully located campsites and your last night spent in a hotel in Aguas Calientes before your Machu Picchu walking tour experience.
The Salkantay trail does goes higher than the Inca Trail. It reaches an altitude above the 4500 meters mark. This brings a little more challenge as it also comes with colder temperatures. However, don’t let these facts stop you from having this experience. Alpaca Expeditions team will help you out every single step of the way and you will be taken care of no matter what.
One of the most amazing part of the trek Salkantay offers is the chance to witness the change of weather when you’re moving from the High Andes to the Cloud forest. Going from cold temperatures to subtropical environments brings some amazing views. This trip also gives you the chance to visit a coffee farm where you will be able to ground your own coffee beans!
Be sure to check out the Itinerary Tab to see all the things this package includes. It’s one of our most popular for a reason!
Note: Before your Salkantay Tour begins Alpaca Expeditions will provide a complete briefing session the night before your trek begins. This is where you will meet your trekking guide and he/she will provide all the needed information such as Salkantay trek map, Salkantay trek altitude, weather, equipment needed and the whole itinerary.
AFTERNOON 1: Transfer to the Salkantay GLASS CABAÑAS
You’ll start this Classic Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu at 3 p.m. local time on Day 1. That’s when you’ll meet your Alpaca Expeditions trekking team and your adventure starts.
** Because you’ll likely be checked out from your hotel before the departure time, the meeting point for this Salkantay trek is at Alpaca Expeditions’ office located close to the main square.
At 3 p.m. we’ll load into our private van for a 3.5 hour drive to the Glass Cabañas, in Soraypampa, which is located at 3,800 meters above sea level (m.a.s.l.). We’ll arrive at the Cabañas just in time for you to take photographs of the sunset over the glacier peaks.
At the Glass Cabañas your guide will settle you in your rooms before you enjoy dinner along with some hot drinks. This area is known for its beautiful views of the night sky so be ready for some unforgettable stargazing.
NO HIKING TODAY
Elevation : 3800 meters above sea level
Weather: Cold, windy, rainy in the wet season
*When you book this Salkantay trek please choose the day you want to start the hike (so Day 1). Departure is the night before where you’ll stay at our private camping site and enjoy your first dinner prepared by your Alpaca Expeditions chef.
Salkantay Day 1: (Hiking Begins) SORAYPAMPA CAMPSITE – HUMANTAY LAGOON – SALKANTAY PASS - WAYRACPUNKO
After a good night’s rest, you’ll wake up early to enjoy your breakfast before your trek. During the morning there’ll be a short team introduction between all Salkantay trekkers and the Alpaca Expeditions Staff to ensure a positive family-like experience.
Following the introduction, you’ll give your duffel bag to the muleteers to carry to the next campsite. The day’s hike will begin with a 1.5 hour steady uphill hike to the renowned Humantay Lagoon. The serene views of the crystalline-blue water of Humantay Lagoon are absolutely incredible. If the skies are clear you’ll see the first sun rays peeking through the snow-covered peaks.
And!… If you’re brave, you’ll have the chance to touch the almost-frozen water that locals believe can help you stay young forever! The advantage of visiting Humantay Lagoon in the early morning hours is the quiet surroundings with no other Salkantay trekkers besides those in your group. Due to the popularity of this location, this isn’t something everyone can enjoy!
After breathing it all in you’ll begin your way back to the starting point to continue to the lunch spot in Soyroccocha. This portion of the Salkantay hike will be approximately 3 hours on gradually ascending terrain. On your way, you’ll pass breathtaking places such as Salkantay Pampa, which means outstanding views of the surrounding snow-covered mountains. These views are what make the journey the destination.
After lunch made by your Alpaca Expeditions local chef and a well-deserved rest, you’ll continue with you’re the next leg of your Salkantay hike. This next portion continues on for about 1 hour until you arrive at Salkantay Pass at 4,650 meters above sea level. This is the highest point of the trek. The group will rest there and you’ll be served hot drinks while you enjoy the views.
From Salkantay Pass, you’ll be on the last leg of the hike for the day, which is a 3 hour downhill trek to the evening’s campsite, Wayracmachay. When you arrive at the campsite the Salkantay trekking staff will have your tents all set up and your duffel bags ready.
Alpaca Expeditions’ team will provide you with warm water to get washed up from the day so you can change into some fresh warmer clothes for the night. Then there is a happy hour with hot chocolate and coffee followed by dinner. If the weather allows, you’ll get to enjoy the unbroken views of the sky along with a brief introduction to the visible Inca constellations.
Walking Distance: 18km
Elevation Gained: 850 meters
Elevation Descended: 850 meters
Weather: Cold, windy, rainy in the wet season
Salkantay Day 2: WAYRACMACHAY – CHAULLAY – CCOLLPAPAMPA LORETA (HOBBIT HOUSE)
Your Alpaca Expeditions trekking team will wake you up early with a hot drink to help you start the day. Hopefully as you open your tent, you’ll be welcomed by the sunrise over majestic glacier peaks and clouds lifting from the green cloud forest. You’ll have time to pack up and enjoy a nice breakfast prepared by your local Salkantay trekking chef.
At around 7 a.m. you’ll hike for approximately 4 hours downhill until reaching the lunch spot at Ccollpapampa (2,700 meters above sea level). During this part of the Salkantay hike you’ll begin to notice the micro-climate as well as fauna and flora changes. You’ll go from cold glacier views to warm green jungle surroundings. There’ll be many different species of orchids to see as well as ferns, begonia flowers, and even hummingbirds.
After lunch and a well-deserved rest, you’ll continue your trek to the next private campsite called La Loreta (2400 meters above sea level). This hike will be approximately 4 hours on gradually downhill terrain.
Along the way, you’ll be able to explore beautiful waterfalls, rivers, and more new flora and fauna. You’ll be able to experience another tropical forest micro-climate where local people farm coffee, passion fruit, papayas, oranges, and avocados. When you arrive at the evening’s campsite your Salkantay trekking staff will be there to welcome you.
You’ll have time to enjoy a nice hot shower, hot Jacuzzi and perhaps even swim in our swimming pool. There’ll also be plenty of time to walk around our ecological garden to see some of the local coffee, avocado, chilies, tomatoes, and pineapples. Dinner tonight will be at our building with views of the Salkantay River. Then when you retire for sleep, you’ll be able to hear the Salkantay River.
Walking Distance: 18 km
Night Elevation: 2,400 meters
Elevation Descended: 1,400 meters
Weather: Warm and hot
Salkantay Day 3: LORETA – LA PLAYA SAHUAYAKU – LUCMABAMBA COFFEE FARM – LLACTAPATA (Camp in front of Machu Picchu)
After a delicious homemade breakfast cooked by Alpaca Expeditions’ renown local chef, you’ll start the shortest but most exciting day of your Salkantay adventure. Today you’ll experience the most beautiful sights along your Salkantay trekking route to Machu Picchu.
You’ll explore the tropical forest and will visit a local organic coffee farm where you’ll have the opportunity to explore some of the orange and avocado plantations as well as taste some of the freshly-brewed coffee. During your visit to the coffee farm you’ll get a brief informational introduction to the region’s coffee history as well as its importance to the area.
Then you’ll continue with your Salkantay trek to Llactapata by hiking along a section of the Inca trail for approximately 2.5 hours. On your way to the Llactapata Inca site you’ll see amazing views of the Santa Teresa valley. The views you’ll be seeing along your hike today are impossible to put into words.
At Llactapata you’ll get your first glimpse of Machu Picchu. This includes the main archaeological sites Machu Picchu Mountain and Huayna Picchu Mountain. You’ll also have the opportunity to explore the Llactapata Inca site and take unforgettable photographs.
From here you’ll enjoy the last leg of your day’s hike with a 15 minutes downhill walk to your lunch and campsite area. This campsite is owned by a local family that only Alpaca Expeditions has permission to stay at so you’ll enjoy more privacy than other Salkantay trekkers could.
You’ll find the campsite to be a great place to enjoy the sunset and sunrise over Machu Picchu. After lunch you’ll have some free time to enjoy the views and relax from hiking.
Before your Alpaca Expeditions local chef serves you dinner, you’ll enjoy another lovely happy hour with tea and coffee. Once the sun has set then prepare yourself for another evening of unforgettable stargazing. You’ll see the Milky Way as well as the Inca constellations much in the same way as the Incan astronomers did to predict the weather.
Walking Distance: 12 km
Campsite Elevation: 2,700 meters
Elevation Gained: 400 meters
Weather: Hot and humid during the day, chilly at night
Salkantay Day 4: LLACTAPATA LOOKOUT – WATERFALLS AT HIDROELECTRICA – MANDOR HIRAM BINGHAM FARM – AGUAS CALIENTES
Your Alpaca Expeditions trekking team will wake you up early with a hot drink to help you start the day. You’ll get ready for the day’s activities and then enjoy your last breakfast prepared by your local trekking chef.
The day’s hike will begin with a 2 hour downhill path with unbeatable views of Machu Picchu until the Hydroelectrical Station that was built to harness the natural 300-meter high waterfall, which generates electricity for the region of Cusco. This waterfall is one of the most impressive features of this area.
From the Hydroelectrical Station you’ll continue to the famous Intiwatana (sundial rock). According to history, this Inca stone once worked with the legendary sundial rock in Machu Picchu to signal the winter solstice, which meant the beginning of a new farming season for the Incas.
Once you’ve seen the famous Intiwatana, you’ll continue on the path that runs alongside the train tracks for approximately 3 hours. This leads to the town of Aguas Calientes located at the foot of the valley of Machu Picchu. This part of the hike will be interesting as it was the trail used by the American professor Hiram Bingham when rediscovering Machu Picchu.
On his way to discovering Machu Picchu Hiram Bingham met with local farmer Melchor Arteag who eventually guided him to Machu Picchu. On your trek, you’ll hike past Melchor Artaeg’s farm. Here you’ll see many species of flora and fauna and amazing local birds such as Peru’s national bird (called cock of the rock), Toucans, Oropendolas and Parrots. Once you arrive in Aguas Calientes you’ll relax and enjoy your packed lunch.
Then you’ll go to your hotel to enjoy a hot shower and then take the opportunity to visit the famous hot springs (10 soles, not included) of Aguas Calientes. In the evening you’ll be served your final dinner prepared by your Alpaca Expeditions’ local trekking chef and you’ll have a chance to say goodbye.
Walking Distance: 14 km
Aguas Calientes Elevation: 2,000 meters
Accommodations: Inti Punku Hotel (or similar)
Salkantay Day 5: MACHU PICCHU – RETURN TO CUSCO
Today will be all about Machu Picchu. To get the most out of the day we encourage every group to have an early breakfast before catching one of the first buses up to Machu Picchu (starting at 5:30 a.m.). This allows you to get ahead of the crowds.
The hotel will hold your bags for you while in Machu Picchu. This way you’ll only need to take your backpack with all essentials up to Machu Picchu. The bus ride from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu takes approximately 30 minutes.
Once in Machu Picchu your guide will take you directly to the best place to watch the sunrise and take photographs. Your local guide will then show you around the main sectors of the citadel for a total of 2.5 hours. During this guided tour you’ll learn more about the history and culture of the Inca Empire.
At the end of the guided tour you’ll have some time to yourself to relax and wander around. That is unless you arranged to hike Huayna Picchu* (must be booked in advance, as it sells out and costs $75 per person) your guide will show you where to begin this hike. The hike will take no more than 2 hours round-trip.
For your return from Machu Picchu we recommend heading back to Aguas Calientes no later than 2 hours before your train departure. The return train rode from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo will take approximately 2 hours. In Ollantaytambo our Alpaca Expeditions’ staff will be waiting for you right by the station’s exit door. They’ll be ready to bring you back to Cusco by car. The car ride to Cusco will be approximately 2 hours and will have you dropped off at your hotel in Cusco.
Machu Picchu Mountain may be hiked as well instead of Huayna Picchu Mountain. This hike is more challenging and takes three hours minimum round-trip (at an extra cost of USD $75 per person).
- Briefing: The night before your Salkantay trek you’ll come to Alpaca Expeditions’ office for your briefing. You’ll receive your duffel bag that will stay with your porters while you hike. Your bag cannot exceed 7 kg/14 lbs. and needs to include your sleeping bag and air mattress.
- Professional Guides: All of Alpaca Expeditions’ guides studied English and tourism at Cusco National University. They all grew up in the Cusco region and are committed to teaching others about their heritage. They’re fun yet professional and will ensure you are safe and happy.
- Porters: Alpaca Expeditions provides a personal porter who is responsible for carrying your duffel bag. There is no additional fee for this. You’ll not have access to your duffel bag until you arrive at your evening campsite.
- Hotel: The alternative treks all end in or before Aguas Calientes. Your last night will be in a hotel in the village instead of camping. Your 2-star hotel is included in the trek cost and based on a shared room. If you would like to upgrade your hotel or prefer a single room there’ll be an additional cost.
- Transportation: You’ll have transportation included in this trek. You’ll be picked up at 3 p.m. from your hotel or our office. Then you’ll meet your Alpaca Expeditions trekking team. From here we’ll head in our private van for a 3.5-hour drive to the Glass Cabañas in Soraypampa located at 3,800 meters above sea level. Also included will be the Expedition Train from Aguas Calientes. You can upgrade to the Vistadome Train for $75 per person. Once you arrive at the train station, we’ll take you back to your hotel in Cusco. Additionally, your round trip bus ticket from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu will be included.
- Equipment: Alpaca Expeditions has the best equipment. We use Eureka Timberline 4 tents that are shared by only two people. You’ll also have a spacious dining tent to enjoy your meals in.
- Food: The Alpaca Expeditions chefs cook delicious meals that many previous trekkers have loved. We honor all food restrictions so be sure to add any that you have on your booking form. You can also inform your guide at your briefing. Food is typically all served family-style.
You’ll enjoy breakfast, lunch, and dinner each day for the trek along with a happy hour of tea, coffee and snacks. A snack will be provided each morning for you to enjoy along the hike. Your last meal with your chef will be after breakfast on day four. *Lunch on the last day is not included.
- Water: Beginning from your first lunch until your last breakfast Alpaca Expeditions will supply all the water needed. You need to bring your own water bottles and or camelback. We recommend carrying about 3L worth of water. You’ll be able to refill your water at each meal.
- First Aid: Every Alpaca Expeditions guide has received training in first aid from a physician. We conduct mandatory training sessions every February, which every Alpaca tour guide must attend. Your Alpaca Expeditions tour guide will always have a first-aid kit for basic medical problems (traveler’s diarrhea, cuts, scrapes, etc.) and oxygen. We’ll get you off the trail as quickly and comfortably as possible if needed and ensure you get directly to a clinic for treatment.
- Extras: Alpaca Expeditions believes it’s the attention to small details that separates us from other tour companies. Every trekker receives a small pillow to sleep with, a foam mattress for insulation, a day pack cover to protect their things while hiking and a rain poncho. We work VERY hard to ensure you have a once in a lifetime amazing trip to our country.
- Satellite Phones: Alpaca Expeditions’ top priority will always be the safety of our clients and our team. While all our guides are prepared and trained to deal with issues clients may have on the mountain, we also ensure you are never more than a phone call away from any doctor, hospital or friend. We have satellite phones on all treks. These can be used by our clients for non-emergencies in case you need to check in at home.
- Rentals: Every Alpaca Expeditions’ trekker needs a sleeping bag when camping. Inflatable air mattresses and walking sticks (with rubber tips) are optional but encouraged. If you don’t want to bring any of the above, they are all available for rent:
Sleeping Bag: $25
Inflatable Air Mattress: $20
Walking Sticks (Pair): $20
- Huayna Picchu: Huayna Picchu is the mountain that stands next to Machu Picchu. It’s a 45 minute hike to the top. Be warned that going back down is quite steep. So, if you are scared of heights this may not be a trek you’ll enjoy. You would do this after your tour of Machu Picchu and there is an additional fee of $75. Arrangements need to be made at least one month in advance due to popularity. Please understand that the weather is out of our control.
- Day packs: Day packs aren’t provided by Alpaca Expeditions. You must bring your own. Be sure you don’t bring anything too large, as you don’t want it to be too heavy while you’re trekking. Plus, Machu Picchu will not allow you to bring in a bag larger than 25L. If you have a large backpack it will need to be stored before your tour. Only essentials are needed while trekking. That includes water, snacks, camera, sunhat, warm layers, waterproof rain layers, insect spray, sunscreen and a first-aid kit.
- Headlamps: It’s strongly encouraged to bring a headlamp for your night camping. There’ll be no lights at the camping sites and it’s hard to get to your dining tent or your bathroom tent without one. Flashlights are acceptable if you don’t have a headlamp, but they make some tasks more difficult as you won’t have your hands free.
- Flights: Flying to Cusco can be tricky. Delays occur often and it’s not uncommon for flights to be cancelled. Please be sure to arrive in the city at least two days before your trek start date. LAN Peru is the most reliable of the airlines. Avianca and Peruvian Airlines are acceptable companies as well. You will not return from your trek until around 8 p.m. on the last day. Be sure your flight is not until the next day when leaving Cusco.
- Gratuities: Tipping is always appreciated and should be based completely on your satisfaction. Although tipping may not be customary to you, it is of considerable significance to the people who’ll take care of you during your travels.
- Travel Insurance: This is not required but always recommended. For those of you who live at sea-level landing in Cusco will take an adjustment period. Most people need one or two days to adjust to the altitude. In case you have a hard time adjusting we suggest you get travel insurance to protect you financially from any missed tours.
- Rentals: Every Alpaca Expeditions’ trekker needs a sleeping bag when camping. Inflatable air mattresses and walking sticks (with rubber tips) are optional but encouraged. If you don’t want to bring any of the above, they are all available for rent:
The Salkantay Trek can leave any day of the week, from March through December. We do not run this trek in January or February.
- $650 per person
A group tour means that it is open for other trekkers to join you. This means that your group will have varying hiking and fitness abilities. All our guides are experts on how to keep the trek moving and happy no matter how fast you hike.
Private tours are available and priced by party size.
2 Trekkers: $980 per person
3 Trekkers: $925 per person
4 Trekkers: $870 per person
5 Trekkers: $815 per person
6 Trekkers: $760 per person
7 Trekkers: $705 per person
8 or more Trekkers: $650 per person
* All our tours are priced in US Dollar.
- $25 off per person
Student discounts apply to anyone who has a valid UNIVERSITY STUDENT CARD at the time of the trek or who is 17-years-old or younger. For those using an university student card to receive the discount, we need to see a copy of the card at booking. For those booking children 17-years-old or younger, we need a copy of their passport at booking time. Please send all to email@example.com.
More Information about STUDENT CARD
The alternative treks all end in, or before Aguas Calientes. The last night is spent at a hotel in the village, rather than camping. This 2 star hotel is included in the trek cost, and is based on a shared room. If you would like to upgrade your hotel, or prefer a single room, there will be an additional cost.
There are several optional upgrades you can include in this trip. Below is a quick list of prices, but check our Overview section for more details.
Huayna Picchu: $75 per person
Montana: $75 per person
Vistadome Train (one way): $75 per person
All briefings are done at our office at 6:30p.m. the night before your trek. If you are unable to make this time you need to coordinate another time with a member of the Alpaca Expeditions office team. Briefings are approximately 30 to 45 minutes long. This is where you’ll receive your duffel bags.
* 2D/1N Inca Trail Trek with HOTEL does not include a briefing. Our office staff will review all details at your check-in time.
You will receive your duffel bag at your briefing. These bags will be carried by the porters and returned to you at each campsite. They measure 66 cm long X 36 cm wide/2ft long X 1ft wide.
Every duffel has a maximum weight of 7kg. 4kg will be for your clothes and other personal items. The final 3kg will be for our logistics such as your sleeping bag and pad.
Alpaca Expeditions is one of the only companies to pick you up directly from your hotel. As long as your hotel is in the center of Cusco City, we’ll coordinate this pickup based on a time that your guide will discuss at the briefing. Pick up times may vary 30 – 45 minutes based on traffic conditions and previous pickups.
Cusco is an old city with cobblestoned streets and very narrow passageways. Very small hotels and Air BNBs are often located on streets that cars cannot pass through. They’re also often located up on the hillside with long steep climbs to the property which is difficult to maneuver with luggage. We highly recommend that you do not stay at one of these places. We have a list of hotels that are all lovely and easy to pick up from.
Some treks will allow for pickups in the Sacred Valley, which is outlined below.
The following chart refers to possible locations we can pick you up from when beginning the tour.
Trek Possible Starting Locations Inca Trails Cusco, Urubamba, Yunahuara & Ollantaytambo Salkantay Treks Only Cusco Lares Trek Only Cusco Huchuy Qosqo Trek Only Cusco Ausangate and Rainbow Treks Only Cusco Day Tours Cusco, Urubamba & Ollantaytambo
Returning to Cusco
Leaving Machu Picchu requires a lot of logistics, which are all included in your tour.
- From Machu Picchu to Aguas Calientes, you will take a 25 minute bus down to the village. Buses are first come first serve and run all day.
- You’ll take a train from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo or Poroy. Your guide will give you your train tickets with train time. Make sure you get to the platform 30 minutes ahead of time.
* Train from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo is 2 hours
* Train from Aguas Calientes to Poroy is 3.5 hours
- Once you arrive at the train station look for a gentleman wearing green with an Alpaca Expeditions sign. He’ll then drive you to San Francisco square, Cusco.
* Van ride from Ollantaytambo to nearby San Francisco square is 2 hours
* Van ride from Poroy to nearby San Francisco square is 30 minutes
- Once you arrive near San Francisco square, you will be separated into different pre-paid taxis and driven back to your hotel.
Machu Picchu Entrance Times
Machu Picchu has two different time windows to visit: either morning or afternoon. Your entrance ticket will only a morning session option. When your time window is over the Rangers will ask you to leave.
MORNING SESSION: 6AM – 12PM
AFTERNOON SESSION: 12PM – 5:30PM
** If you have tickets to hike either Huaynapicchu or Machu Picchu Mountain you’ll have some extra time until 2:30PM.
If you would like to spend the whole day at Machu Picchu, we can add an afternoon session ticket to your booking for $50 per person.
Huaynapicchu / Machu Picchu Mountain
Machu Picchu is most beautiful when seen from above, which is why hiking one of the mountains next to the ruins is very popular to do after your guided walking tour.
Huaynapicchu is the most popular and must be booked in advance; it sells out very quickly. This hike takes approximately 45 minutes to the top and another 45 minutes back down. Tickets are sold in time sessions dictating when you can START this hike. The 1st session is from 7 to 8 a.m. and the 2nd session is from 10 to 11 a.m. Again, this refers to when you can begin your hike. We usually book the second session so you can enjoy your tour with your guide first. This hike is done on your own, but your tour guide will show you where to begin.
Machu Picchu Mountain is a bit longer and a bit less popular. It takes 1.5 hours to the top and another 1.5 hours to the bottom. Again, there are two time windows – from 7 to 8 a.m. and 9 to 10 a.m. and we normally purchase the second time window. 4 Day and 7 Day Inca Trail Trekkers CANNOT do this hike and enjoy a tour of the ruins. Time will not allow for this.
Hiking either mountain will allow you to have some extra time at the ruins once you complete your hike, as listed above.
It’s important that you are honest with your guide about any health concerns you may suffer from. While guides are not medical professionals, they’re trained in First Aid. Alpaca Expeditions also works with a clinic in Cusco that can help assist our team.
You’re responsible for assessing whether a Tour is suitable for you. You should consult your physician to confirm your fitness for travel and participation in any planned activities. You should seek your physician’s advice on vaccinations and medical precautions. Alpaca Expeditions will not provide medical advice. It’s your responsibility to assess the risks and requirements of each aspect of the Tour based on your own unique circumstances, limitations, fitness level, and medical requirements.
If you develop extreme altitude sickness or any other illness that prevents you from hiking and you wish to still visit Machu Picchu. We’ll work with you to coordinate this trip by train. This will be a new trip and may require additional fees. We’ll use as many of the purchased logistics from the original tour to keep fees low.
If you experience issues while hiking and cannot continue, a Alpaca Expeditions’ porter will accompany you to the closest road. They’ll also wait while a car comes to pick you up to bring you to the nearest health clinic.
Group tours are for all different types of people with various hiking skills and ages. By agreeing to a group tour, you must understand that some people might be slower or faster than you. Everyone can make their own pace for the trek and the guide will work through the group to spend time with everyone. Groups might request some modifications to the tour and the Alpaca Expedition guide will work with everyone to make the best decision for the group.
Unfortunately strikes are very common in Peru and can cause a lot of disruption to our Tours. Roads are often blocked as well as trains stopped. Alpaca Expeditions does everything possible to operate your Tour including leaving the night before your start date. Tours may need to be cancelled under these circumstances. Alpaca Expeditions’ Operation Department will coordinate with you in this situation. Your safety is always our top concern and will dictate how we decide.
You’re responsible for your personal items throughout the trek. Please be diligent about where you leave your things. Always remember to remove all items from our vans, tents, restaurant etc. Don’t leave anything unintended while hiking. Other trekkers or teams may pick it up not knowing who it belongs to.
Tipping is part of the tradition of any trek to Machu Picchu. While Alpaca Expeditions pays very good wages to our entire team, anything extra is always appreciated. Please know that this is not obligatory and that you should never feel pressured into this.
Typically, the participants in a group pool their tipping money together for the porters and chef. The amount recommended is different per trek and listed below. For the guide this is more personal and needs to be decided based on your relationship with the guide. This is done personally and not as a group together. Porters and Chef prefer soles if possible. Your guide is happy with US dollars, soles, or even your credit card.
Trek Per Porter Chef Inca Trails (4, 5 and 7 Days) 60 – 80 soles 150 soles 2D/1N Inca Trail with Camping 50 soles 100 soles Salkantay Treks 100-120 soles 200 soles Lares Trek 100-120 soles 200 soles Huchuy Qosqo Trek 50 soles 100 soles Ausangate 100-120 soles 200 soles
* These numbers refer to what each member of the Green Machine should receive after the group pools their money. This is just a reference guide.
Travel insurance is inexpensive and Alpaca Expeditions strongly recommends it. These trips are planned months ahead of time and you can never predict what’ll happen. Adventure traveling includes more risk than your normal trip. Insurance is a way to protect the investment you’ve made on this amazing journey. We can help to recommend an agent to walk you through this type of insurance if needed.
Of course, weather is unpredictable. Typically, the dry season in Cusco is from April through October. However, this doesn’t stop rain from falling in June or the sun from coming out in December. The best plan is to just be prepared. No matter what month you’re doing the trek please be sure that you have rain gear that includes a waterproof jacket, pants, poncho, and waterproof gloves. Many people forget about gloves but being cold and wet makes hiking very unpleasant.
Also prepare for four seasons. Many of the treks through the Andes involve many micro-climates and you’ll need to be prepared for all seasons. Layers are always key as they’re easy to adjust to the different temperatures. And evenings will always be cold so please be prepared with a warm winter weight jacket.
It’s also important to note that weather can change a listed itinerary. There are times that routes become impassable and Alpaca Expeditions’ guides will be forced to rework the itinerary for your safety.
As soon as people book their trip to Peru, specifically Cusco, they start wondering about altitude sickness. The air at high altitudes contains less oxygen than at sea level and forces your body to work harder to get oxygen. Over several days at high altitude your body adjusts to the lower amount of oxygen in the air. This is why we always recommend spending at least two days in Cusco before beginning any trek. If you have more time that’s even better. Cusco is an amazing city with a lot to do so you won’t be bored.
With altitude sickness you may first feel like you have the flu or a hangover. You may have a headache, tiredness, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, trouble sleeping, or trouble breathing during exercise. If any of these effects become severe please contact Alpaca Expeditions’ office and we’ll help you get to a doctor.
Most of the time these symptoms will be mild. We always recommend easing into activity slowly allowing your body to adjust. Drink plenty of fluids such as water or coca tea. Coca tea has been used since ancient times to help prevent altitude sickness. Leaves from the Coca Plant contain alkaloids which helps bring oxygen into your blood therefore helping your body avoid altitude sickness. Avoid drinking a lot of alcohol and coffee. They’ll cause you to urinate more often and become dehydrated. Avoid smoking. Smoking makes it more difficult for your body to get oxygen. Avoid sleeping pills. They may cause shallow breathing at night, making it more difficult for your body to absorb oxygen while you sleep.
Remember the trek to Machu Picchu is not a race. Even those in the best shape will suffer from altitude sickness when they race to the top of the mountain too quickly. Going slowly will give your body time to adjust to the mountain.
Your healthcare provider may prescribe medicines such as acetazolamide and dexamethasone to help prevent altitude sickness. Start the medicine two days before you get to a high altitude. Continue to take it while you are at high altitude.
You must remember that this is your holiday and you don’t want to stress out about the possibility of getting sick. Do everything slowly, drink lots of water, and enjoy the coca tea. If anything does happen and you unfortunately get sick let your guide know right away. All Alpaca Expeditions guides are trained in how to help you get through it.
Getting to Cusco
The airport in Cusco currently is only for domestic flights. All international travelers by plane must disembark in Lima and go through Customs. Even if your flight to Cusco is the same day by the same airline carrier you must grab your bags in Lima and then check them back in.
The best way to get to Cusco is by air and there are several options in airlines. LAN tends to be the most expensive but has the most options and flights. Expect delays or flight cancellations. Due to the high altitude of Cusco it tends to be difficult to land and any acclimate weather will stop air traffic. Bus travel is always available and while the trip can be long especially from Lima. The buses in Peru are very well maintained and comfortable. This option is strongly encouraged if coming from a city closer to Cusco, like Puno. Lima buses will take about 20 hours to arrive.
- Valid, STUDENT CARD (if you booked as a student)
- Immigration Card (given on the plane as you enter Peru)
- Good daypack (the smaller, the better)
- Water storage: Water reservoir like Camelbaks are encouraged – but enough for at least 2-3 liters.
- Comfortable hiking boots (lightweight with good soles)
FOR YOUR DUFFEL
Porters will carry up to 7 kg of your personal items. This must include your sleeping bag and air matt (if you bring/rent one). From us these two items weigh 3.5 kg.
- 2-3 wicking t-shirts
- 2-3 hiking pants
- 4 sets of undergarments.
- 4 sets of hiking socks
- 1 Fleece
- 1 Warm, down jacket: gets very cold at night
- 1 Rain jacket and pants
- 1 sun hat
- 1 wool hat
- Headlamp: essential
- Waterproof gloves (even if they are ski gloves, take them)
- Comfortable shoes for camp
- Walking boots
- Waterproof jacket/rain poncho
- Quickdry towel. We provide small ones, you might enjoy something a little larger.
- Small bottle of soap: we provide warm water each day to clean – might make you feel fresh if you had a little soap.
- Battery Charger: There is no place to plug in while trekking!
- Large plastic bags: to help organize and keep clean from dirty.
- Sleeping bag: Recommend down bags for -10C at least
- Face moisturizer
- Bug spray
- Wet wipes
- Toothbrush and paste
- Personal medication
- First aid kit: band aids, moleskin, etc.
INSIDE YOUR DAYPACKS
Daypacks can be any size for hiking, but we always recommend the smaller, the better. Inside Machu Picchu, no bag larger than 25L will be allowed in. If larger, you will need to store outside citadel gates.
- Water: we supply clean water at each meal. You are responsible for your first morning of water only as we won’t have time to filter water until your first lunch.
- Rain gear
- Music (IPhone)
- Toilet paper and small plastic bag for waste
- Extra Money for Souvenirs, Drinks & Tips
EQP & Food
Every Alpaca Expeditions’ camping tour includes a spacious 4 man tent that will be shared by only two people so you can spread out a bit. These are all Eureka Timberline Tents made for all seasons. Our rentals are top of the line: Black Diamond Adjustable Walking Sticks and Thermarest Luxury Air Matts. Sleeping Bags rented from us are mummy style down bags for -15C and liners are always included.
For more information on our equipment, CLICK HERE.
Every Alpaca Expeditions’ trek includes a local chef that has been trained in culinary school. They’ve learned the magic of mountain cooking and you’ll be amazed. The food is part of your cultural experience so there is a lot of pride involved. You’ll enjoy a full hot breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We also include Happy Hour with snacks and some hot tea or coffee before dinner. The key to feeling good and having the best experience on a trek like this is eating well and staying hydrated.
Meals are all served family style with large plates for everyone to take what they like. And all food restrictions are honored. Doesn’t matter if you’re vegetarian or gluten free you’ll always be well fed.
Water is provided by Alpaca Expeditions at every meal. We will boil, filter and cool down all water before distributing it to our clients to ensure that it’s healthy for drinking. Because of this process you do need to provide your own water for the very first morning of your trek. We won’t have a chance to get you clean water until lunch on Day 1.
You should always begin your hike with 2-3 liters of water. Be sure you bring a large enough water bottle or camelback to store this.
Porters & Horsemen
While our Salkantay trek does include horses, they will only be able to join you for the first day and a half of the trek. The rest of the time Alpaca Expeditions’ local porters will be responsible for all the heavy lifting. It’s also during this first day and a half that an emergency horse will be available. After this you’re responsible for hiking on your own.
Alpaca Expeditions’ porters, who we lovingly call the Green Machine, are the pride and joy of our company and what separates us from others. We’re dedicated to making a difference in their lives and their families’ lives. For that we’re rewarded with the hardest working team on the mountains.
Alpaca Expeditions Porters:
Raul Ccolque Ccolque, the owner & general manager of Alpaca Expeditions, worked as porter from 2000 to 2003. While he saw some companies treating their porters better than others, he felt there was not enough being done for them and their families. We could not have a company without our porters and because of that we want them to be part of our family. We want to know them, listen to them, and follow through on our promise to make their lives better.
Alpaca Expeditions’ porters range from 18 years old until 55 and come from several different villages in the Cusco region. We employ approximately 250 porters from the following villages:
Comunidad wakatinku 25 porters, located at 3800 meters
Comunidad Llullucha 20 porters, located at 3700 meters
Comunidad Choquekancha 25 porters , located at 3400 meters.
Comunidad Pumapunko 25 porters located at 3700 meters
Comunidad Kachin 25 porters located at 3700 meters
Comunidad Anparaes 25 porters located at 3500 meters
Quechua is their main language and farming is their main economic activity. Being a porter is a second income for them.
Our Promise to Our Porters:
Alpaca Expeditions understands clearly that we couldn’t be successful without our team of porters. They’ve promised us that they’ll work endlessly to ensure each of our trekkers has a magical journey. So, we made an equally important promise to them to do what we can to make this difficult job a little less daunting.
As we explained earlier, most of Alpaca Expeditions’ porters live in a village outside of Cusco – typically 2 to 4 hours away. We cover all entrance fees (45 soles – $15 US per porter) and transportation to and from the trek, separate from their salary.
Each Alpaca Expeditions porter is paid directly after each trek is finished allowing them to return home more quickly. They receive better wages than our competitors, health insurance and all their equipment for free. This includes hiking boots, pants, jerseys, fleeces, jackets, hats, flashlights, sleeping bags, sleeping bags, and amazing food to eat. Alpaca Expeditions makes sure each of our porters has a comfortable bed in a lovely room to sleep before and after each trek. We visit the communities they live in and supply toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap, and other needed supplies to their families. Books are also provided for their students.
This is just the beginning for us and we’re always looking for ways to do more.
How much does the Alpaca Expeditions Porter Carry?
While the government allows each porter to carry up to 25kg we keep our limit at 20kg. Each porter will carry up to 15kg from the company and 5kg of their own personal stuff. This is why it’s so important to keep your personal duffel down in weight and not exceed our allowed 7kg. You will see other companies carrying clearly more than the allotted weight but the health and safety is a priority for us. That’s why we will not allow Alpaca Expeditions’ porters to carry this burden.
Keeping them Comfortable…
Every year Alpaca Expeditions provides a new sleeping bag and sleeping pad for each porter. Our jackets are all lined and our boots that are provided are all waterproof.
What do the Porters Eat?
Alpaca Expeditions’ porters eat the very same amazing meals you have. Our chef buys enough food to cook for all our trekkers and porters and makes enough for everyone to be full at the end of each day. While you’ll notice that we always serve huge portions, none of this is wasted. Whatever is left over after you and our team eats will go home to the families of the team.
Helping Their Families…
All of the Alpaca Expeditions porters are Quechua language speakers who come from farming villages. Alpaca Expeditions will help them in many ways to keep growing their community especially in education, health and culture. We have different ongoing projects and hope to add many more. Some of the projects we’ve completed or continue doing are:
Every 3 months, we take a kit of toiletries to Wakantinku elementary school for 204 Quechua speaking children. They range from 3 – 12 years old and are in kindergarten all the way to 6th grade. When Alpaca Expeditions first arrived in this village a few years ago, we discovered that the children had trouble keeping up with daily hygiene. Since then, we’ve made sure they always have toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap and hand sanitizer.
Alpaca Expeditions planted more than 3,000 Queuña trees (andean polylepis), in the community of Wakatinku to reforest their village. This tree was chosen because it will be more sustainable than others they have used. They’ll eventually be a fertilizer for their village to grow more grass for Alpacas, which are the most common animals located in the village.
Starting in 2015, Alpaca Expeditions has covered the salary of a full time teacher in the High School of Wakatinku to teach math, art and English. This teacher has done amazing work and helped the very first class from the village graduate. We plan to continue this sponsorship and to ensure that the teacher’s salary is fully funded.
Every February we invite our porters and their families to come with us to visit Machu Picchu. Sadly, this is usually their first time to the ruins, which makes it a really special experience for all of us at Alpaca Expeditions.
Often our clients have asked how they can help. Some Alpaca Expeditions trekkers raised money back at home to buy some computers to donate to a local village. We matched their donation and went together to donate 4 computers to the school in Wakatinku village for the kids to enjoy. This was their first experience on computers and something that has been really successful. Of course, it’s hard for 204 students to share 4 computers so we have been doing our best to bring new computers every year.
We’re working with a local clinic in Cusco to provide dental care and skin examinations for the children of our porter’s villages.
We’ve recently bought land in Cusco that is currently being constructed to create dormitories, classrooms, and teaching kitchens for our team. This is for those who do not live in Cusco to have a place to stay before their treks. We’ll have English classes, computer classes, and cooking classes here. This can be used by any member of our team and their family free of charge. This is a huge project for us that we’re really excited about.
This is a touch of the projects we have done and continue to do. We’re a small local company here in Cusco who promises to be as dedicated to our team as they are to us. We’re lucky enough to have the best porters in the region. We feel responsible to make sure they are healthy, strong, and capable of providing their families with the best life possible.
Ultimate Classic Salkantay Trek 5D/5N
Please fill in our BOOKING FORM carefully with your correct personal details.
The Alpaca Difference
Alpaca Expeditions is a 100% peruvian, indigenous owned company. Started by Raul Ccolque, a former porter and tour guide, Alpaca Expeditions separates ourselves by our dedication to both our customer and our team. We work very hard to make sure that all our clients needs are taken care of throughout the tour with us. At the same time, we never forget about our brothers and sisters working tirelessly for us to make all of this possible. Responsible and sustainable tourism that gives as much to our community as to our clients.
Meet the AE Trekking Team!
Everyone on the Alpaca Team is from Cusco region, living the traditions and history they share with you while on one of our tours. Our guides are all graduates of university studying tourism, history and english. Our chefs are trained every February by a professional cooking team learning new meals, adding varieties of entrees for all types of eating. And all our porters are from HUARQUI, HUACAHUASI, PATACANCHA, QUISWARANI, CANCHACANCHA, QUEYUPAY, UMACHURCO and CCACCACCOLLO villages, very often working this job on top of maining their farms back at home. Most of our team has been with us for years, as we have the most loyal, hard working, happy employees in Cusco. We know how lucky we are to have the best team trekking and you will immediately fall in love with all the men and women who call Alpaca Expeditions their home.
Our Porters represent the Peruvian people, both men, and women who are at the heart of our...
Alpaca Expeditions aims to promote gender equality and empower women, hiring first Peru Wo...
Travelling and trekking along the mountains is one of the best activities in the World. Co...
Trekking along the mountain on your way to conquer Machu Picchu is a once in a lifetime ex...
What do we do for our porters?
Alpaca Expeditions would not be where we are today without these hardworking men and women. We could not imagine a harder job and our team does it smiling. We do our best to thank them for their hard work and loyalty by doing as much as we can to make their lives and their families lives better. All our porters receive all their equipment for free from warm winter hats to proper hiking boots. They sleep in proper tents and are given warm sleeping bags for night. They enjoy the same food we serve our clients and all leftovers are donated to their families. We visit their villages with doctors and dentists, donate school supplies and sports equipment. And our favorite time of the year is when we bring a group of porters and their families to Machu Picchu to visit the ruins for the first time.
Our Porters represent the Peruvian people, both men, and women who are at the heart of our company. It is not possible to ...
Alpaca Expeditions aims to promote gender equality and empower women, hiring first Peru Women as Porters opening the door ...
Free Medical Assistance to Porters
In 2019, we hired our first Alpaca Expeditions Medical Doctor to help tend to our guides, drivers, chefs…
Our Porter’s bus
We treat our porters with the same dignity and respect as we do our clients. Just as our clients enjoy our…
Our Porter’s House
As we mentioned above, our Porters like many Peruvian people come from distant villages to work our treks…
Tents and Sleeping bags
Again, this is something unique that Alpaca Expeditions provides, and sad others are not doing. We supply…
Proper Equipment for our Porters
Every porter of ours receives proper equipment. That includes moisture-wicking long/short sleeve shirts…
Nutritious Meals for our Porters
A general comment from trekkers on an Alpaca Expeditions tour is that we serve too much food. Well…
Alpaca Expeditions is always ready to make your trip safe and as easy as possible for you. Because these trips are a bit more complicated than your typical tour, we have put together some notes on logistics, storage, and even recommendations on where to stay in Cusco. And of course our team is ready to answer any other question, as we promise to be your partner from the moment you first contact us to our last goodbye in Cusco.
Alpaca Expeditions Recognitions
ISO (International Organization for Standardization)
In the pursuit to stand out from the rest, Alpaca Expeditions has obtained four ISOs plus our carbon footprint certificate to date. These achievements result from our efforts to implement the internationally-recognized integrated management system. They also represent our commitment to all of our clients and staff of operating sustainability and responsibility in every way possible.