Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu 5D/4N
- Hike through the Vilcabamba Mountain Range and pass through stunning landscapes, varying from the tropical Cloud Forest, to the high Andes on this beautiful Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu.
- Camp the first night at our private campsite, located at the skirts of the Salkantay mountain, surrounded by stunning views of the snow-capped peaks. In the evening, enjoy stargazing with out telescopes to learn about the Incan constellations.
- Camp the second night in our private, ecological campsite, surrounded by green, lush vegetation, as well as some fruit plantations, such as bananas, mangoes, avocados and coffee (this campsite has a free hot shower).
- Camp on the third night overlooking Machu Picchu, to enjoy the sunset and sunrise over the Machu Picchu mountain.
- Pass through different micro-climates. Your scenery will constantly be changing.
- Experience the most popular itinerary of the Alternative Treks.
- Enjoy more the nature than big groups of tourist.
Day 1: Soraypampa – Salkantaytampa – Salkantay Pass – Wayracmachay
We will pick you up from your hotel at 4:30 a.m. to begin our expedition to Machu Picchu. You will be met at your hotel by your trekking guide, cook and porters to drive three hours in our private van to the trail head, Soraypampa. You will enjoy your first breakfast, prepared by your trekking chef, and then you will start preparing for your journey. If the weather allows, the views from this area are breathtaking. You will be looking at two big mountains, called Humantay (5,900 meters above sea level) and Salkantay (6,215 meters above sea level). Your guide will introduce the team, take a group photo and at around 8:30 a.m., you should be hiking, on your way to Machu Picchu. During the day's hike, you will explore the Andes with alpine views, the entire time. For two hours, you will partake in gradual, uphill hiking along the Salknatay valley, until we arrive to Salkantay Pampa, located at 4,000 meters, for a break and some beautiful views of the Salkantay glacier peak and the Salkantay river. After your break, you will continue the last one hour uphill, by switchback, to our lunch spot at Laguna Suyroccocha, located at 4,200 meters high. You will be impressed with the view along the way, as you pass by streams, waterfalls from the hillsides and views of both mountains (Salkantay and Huamantay). Meals are always something to look forward to when you hike with Alpaca Expeditions. For your first lunch, you will be met by your trekking chef and porters, who will be ready with hot beverages, followed by an amazing family-style meal for you to enjoy. This spot is located close to the mountain of Salkantay, so you will be able to see and hear some avalanches falling from the hill of the Salkantay glacier peak. You can have a small nap after lunch until its time to continue your expedition. It will begin with the last uphill portion of the day, towards Salkantay Pass at 4,650 meters high, the highest point of the trek. This will take about an hour, We will reward your hard work with some hot drinks, or coca tea. As the sky starts changing colors, you will be able to enjoy these amazing views without any other tourists. The views will surround you. You will be looking out at Salkantay peak, valleys, waterfalls, clouds lifting over the valleys and the beginning of the sunset, over the mountains. If there is enough time, you will take a short walk to enjoy the small, colorful lake, located at the foot of the glaciers. Finally, your last two hours will be downhill to our first campsite, called Wayracmachay, located at 3,800 meters high. Again, you will experience some impressive views. You will enjoy the back side of the mountain, which always has snow on the roof, and the cloud forest at the bottom of the valley. Hopefully, the weather will allow you to watch the sunset over this magical location, and see the condors flying above. At around 5:30 p.m., you will get to your campsite, located at the foot of Salkantay mountain, and your trekking staff will have your tents set up and with your duffel bags ready. They will provide you with warm water to get washed up and change into something warm. We will have a happy hour with hot chocolate and coffee, followed by dinner. If the weather allows, you will get to enjoy the blue sky, as your tour guide will show you the Inca constellations.
Walking Distance: 15 km
Elevation Gained: 850 meters
Elevation Descended: 850 meters
Weather: Cold, windy, rainy in the wet season
Day 2: Wayracmachay – Chaullay – Ccollpapampa La Playa – Sahuayaku
Your trekking team will wake you early with a hot drink, to help you start the day. Hopefully, as you open your tent, you will see the sunrise, over glacier peaks and clouds, lifting from the green, cloud forest. Your will have time to pack up and enjoy a nice breakfast, prepared by your trekking chef. Around 7 a.m., you will begin the hike, which will be four hours downhill, until you arrive at your lunch spot, called Ccollpapampa, at 2,700 meters high. Shortly after you begin to walk from breakfast, you will notice that the micro-climate changes from cold and glacier views, to a warmer forest with green, lush jungle and beautiful flora and fauna. There will be many different species of orchids to see, as well as ferns and begonia flowers. Humming birds will be above you, a difference from the day before. At lunch, you will have some time to enjoy the hot, natural thermals. This is volcanic water, with different minerals, which are used as medicine (thermal baths are optional, for five Peruvian soles). After lunch, it will be five more hours, on a gradual downhill, to our campsite, called at Sahuayacku or La Playa, at 2,400 meters high. Along the way you will explore beautiful waterfalls, rivers, and again, flora and fauna. This will be another micro-climate, called a tropical forest, where local people farm coffee, passion fruit, papayas, oranges and avocados. Upon your arrival to the campsite, you will be welcomed by your trekking staff and have time to enjoy your afternoon with hot drinks and dinner.
Walking Distance: 18 km
Campsite Elevation: 2,400 meters
Elevation Descended: 1,400 meters
Weather: Warm and hot
Day 3: La Playa Sahuayaku – Lucmabamba Coffee Farm – Inca Trail – Llactapata – Camp In Front Of Machu Picchu
After a delicious breakfast, you will get started on your shortest, but most interesting day. You will experience the most beautiful sights along your trekking route to Machu Picchu. You will explore the tropical forest and have a visit at an organic coffee farm, where you will be able to taste the coffee, prepared by the local people. Coffee is the main farming industry for the local people. They farm big hectares of coffee to export to the United States, Asia and Europe. Coffee was first discovered in Ethiopia, but it wasn't until the Spanish invaded Cusco, that it was brought to this region. You will also explore some orange and avocado farms. When you are finished, you will get the opportunity to climb part of the Inca trail for two and a half hours. You will see amazing views of the Santa Teresa valley, until you arrive at the Llactapata Inca site, right in front of Machu Picchu. This will be the first site you see, of the Lost City of the Incas. You will be able to see the Machu Picchu ruins, Huayna Picchu and Machu Picchu mountain from this spot. You will explore and learn about the Inca site with your tour guide. There will be plenty of time to take photos. It will then be 15 minutes downhill, to your lunch and campsite area. This campsite is owned by a local family, and only Alpaca Expeditions has permission to stay there. This is a great place to enjoy the sunset and sunrise over Machu Picchu. After lunch, you will have some free time to enjoy the views and relax from the hiking. Again, we will serve a lovely happy hour, with tea and coffee, and your chef will prepare a delicious meal for dinner. Once the stars come out, you can enjoy the Milky Way and the Inca constellations. This is where Incan astronomers studied the sky to predict the weather.
Walking Distance: 12 km
Campsite Elevation: 2,700 meters
Elevation Gained: 400 meters
Weather: During day time hot and humid, chilly at night
Day 4: Llactapata Mirador – Hydroelectric Water Falls, Mandor Hiram Binghams Farm – Aguas Calientes Hotel
There will be an early wake up, with a hot glass of coca tea. You will get ready for today’s activities and enjoy your last breakfast prepared by your trekking chef. You will begin your hike on a two hour, downhill path, with views of Machu Picchu, until you arrive at the hydroelectric station. The impressive part of this area, is the natural waterfall, at 300 meters high, which generates the electricity for the region of Cusco. You will then arrive at the famous Intiwatana (sun dial rock). According to history, this Inca stone used to work with the famous sun dial rock in Machu Picchu, during the winter solstice, which was the beginning of a new farming season for the Incas. After you pass this small Inca site, you will reach the train rain road, which has a nice path to walk on. It will take approximately three hours to arrive in Aguas Calientes, located at the foot of the valley of Machu Picchu. This section is interesting because it is a trail used by the American Professor, Hiram Bingham, who rediscovered Machu Picchu after centuries of it being lost. He walked along this valley looking for the lost city of Vilcabamba. He met the farmer Melochor Artaega, who guided him to Machu Picchu. You will get to pass by the farm of Melochor Artaega, where you will see many species of flora and fauna, including the famous Peruvian national bird called cock of the rock, tucanets, propendolas, parrots and orchids. Finally, upon your arrival in Aguas Calientes, you will enjoy a packed lunch. You will then go to your hotel to enjoy a hot shower and a visit to the famous, hot springs (10 soles, not included), of Aguas Calientes. In the evening, you will enjoy your final dinner with your trekking chef and say good bye to him.
Walking Distance: 14 km
Aguas Calientes Elevation: 2,000 meters
Day 5: Machu Picchu (The Sacred City Of The Incas) – Return to Cusco
Today is the most important day in your expedition. 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.). The hotel will hold your bags for you, until you return from your tour. The bus will take 30 minutes to get to the top. Once you arrive, your guide will introduce you to Machu Picchu. You will head directly to a beautiful place to watch the sunrise and to take pictures. Your guide will walk you around the citadel, for two and a half hours, teaching you more of the history and culture of the Incas. At the end of the tour, you will have some time to yourself or, if you arranged to hike Huayna Picchu (must be booked in advance, as it sells out and costs $35 per person), your guide will show you where to begin this hike, which will take no more than two hours round-trip. You should start heading to the bus line to head back to Aguas Calientes around 3 p.m., as your train will typically leave at 4:20 p.m. (your guide will inform you if the train time is earlier). You take a two hour train back to Ollantaytambo, followed by a two hour car ride, back to your hotel for drop off.
Machu Picchu mountain can be climbed instead of Huayna Picchu for $35 per person. This hike is more challenging and takes three hours minimum, round-trip. You always have the opportunity to climb to the Sun Gate for free. This is a much easier walk of two hours, round-trip.
The Salkantay Trek can leave any day of the week, from March through December. We do not run this trek in January or February.
$595 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: $755 per person
3 Trekkers: $730 per person
4 Trekkers: $680 per person
5 Trekkers: $655 per person
6 Trekkers: $625 per person
7 Trekkers: $615 per person
8 or more Trekkers: $595 per person
* All our tours are priced in US Dollar.
Inti Punku (or similar)
This is a 3 star hotel and is based on sharing a room – either double, matrimonial or triple. There is a single room surcharge of $30 if you are booking alone. Rooms all include private bathrooms, with hot showers and wifi. We can also upgrade your hotel, if you prefer something fancier. Please remember that the service you receive in Aguas Calientes may not be comparable to that in Cusco. Below is a list of possible upgrade options, although we can usually work with most hotels in Aguas Calientes.
La Cabana: +$40 pp shared (+$110 for a single)
Casa Andina: $40 pp shared ($110 for a single)
El Mapi: +$70 pp shared (+$170 for a single)
$25 off per person
Student discounts apply to anyone who has a valid Green ISIC card at the time of the trek or who is 16-years-old or younger. For those using an ISIC card to receive the discount, we need to see a copy of the card at booking. For those booking children 16-years-old or younger, we need a copy of their passport at booking time. Please send all to email@example.com.
More Information about ISIC STUDENT CARD
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: $35 per person
Montana: $35 per person
Vistadome Train (one way): $75 per person
Professional Guides: All of our guides studied English and tourism at Cusco National University. 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.
Briefing: The night before your trek, you will come to our office for your briefing. You will receive your duffel bag that will stay with your porters, while you hike. This bag should not exceed 7 kg/14 lbs and does need to include your sleeping bag and air mattress.
Porters & Horsemen: We include a personal porter, who is responsible for carrying your duffel bag containing your personal items. There is no additional fee for this. We will give you your duffel bag at your briefing the night before, to be filled with the things you will need for the next night and day. You will not have access to your duffel bag until your arrive at your evening campsite.
Emergency Horse: All of our Alternative Treks include an extra horse for our clients to use if they need a break from trekking. Due to the path conditions, this horse is only available for the first day and a half, so please conserve your energy. If you are feeling unwell, you will also have the option to take a car to the second campsite, with the porters.
Hotel: The trek will include three nights of camping and one night in a hotel in Aguas Calientes, the town below Machu Picchu. We include a 3 star hotel, typically at Inti Punku Inn (or similar), if available. Your booked hotel will be listed on your confirmed invoice. Upgrades are always possible.
Transportation: All your transportation is included in this trek. You will be picked up directly from your hotel around 4:30 a.m. (unless you are staying in Ollantaytambo before the trek) and brought to the trail head to begin your trek. Your train returning after Machu Picchu is Expedition class and can be upgraded on your way home to the Vistadome train for $75 per person. Once you arrive at the train station, you will be brought back to your hotel in Cusco. Your round-trip bus ticket from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu is also included.
Equipment: Alpaca Expeditions has the best equipment. We use Eureka Timberline 4 person tents that are shared by only two people. You will have a spacious dining tent to enjoy your meals in.
Food: The Alpaca Expeditions chefs cook delicious meals that many previous trekkers have raved about. We honor all food restrictions. Be sure to remind your tour guide of any food restrictions at the beginning of your trek. Food is typically served family-style. You will enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner each day of the trek, along with a happy hour of tea and snacks. You will also be provided a snack each morning, for you to enjoy along the hike. Your last meal with your chef will be after breakfast on day four. Lunch the last day is not included.
Water: Beginning from your first lunch until your last breakfast, Alpaca Expeditions 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.
First Aid: Every Alpaca Expeditions guide has received training in first aid from a physician. We conduct mandatory training sessions every February, which every single Alpaca tour guide must attend. Your tour guide will always have a first-aid kit for basic medical problems (traveler’s diarrhea, cuts, scrapes, etc.) and oxygen. We will get you off the trail as quickly and comfortably as possible, if needed, and ensure you get directly to a clinic for treatment.
Extras: We believe 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 will work hard to create your best vacation.
Rentals: Every 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 Matt: $20
Walking Sticks (Pair): $20
Huayna Picchu: Huayna Picchu is the mountain that stands next to Machu Picchu. It is a 45 minute hike to the top. Going back down is quite steep, if you are scared of heights. This is done after your tour of Machu Picchu. The cost is $35. Arrangements need to be made at least one month in advance, due to popularity. Please understand that weather is out of our control.
Another highlight of booking with Alpaca Expeditions is getting top equipment and probably the best food you will eat while in Peru.
Every 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 trek includes a chef that has been trained in culinary school. They have learned the magic of mountain cooking and you will be amazed. You will enjoy full breakfast, lunch and dinner all served hot and tasty. We also include Happy Hour with snacks and some hot tea before dinner. The key to feeling good on a trek like this is eating well and staying hydrated.
Meals are all served family style - large plates for everyone to take what they like. And all food restrictions are honored. No matter if you are vegetarian or gluten free, you will always be well fed.
Water is provided by Alpaca Expeditions at every meal. We will boil, filter and cool down all water before distributing out to our clients to ensure that its 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 - so make sure you have a large enough water bottle or camelback to store this.
For more information on our Food & Water, CLICK HERE.
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, our porters will be responsible for all the heavy lifting. It is also during this first day and a half that an emergency horse will be available. After this, you are responsible for hiking on your own.
Our porters, who we lovingly call the Green Machine, are the pride and joy of our company and what separates us from others. We are dedicated to making a difference in their lives and their family's life and for that we are rewarded with the hardest working team in 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.
Our porters range from 18 years old until 55 and come from several different villages in 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:
We understand clearly that we could not be successful without our team of porters. They have promised us that they will work endlessly to make each trekker have a magical journey, so we have 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 our 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 for our porters, separate from their salary. They are paid directly after the trek preventing them from traveling back to Cusco before heading home. This is unfortunately not common. They receive better wages, 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. We make sure they have a comfortable bed in a lovely room to sleep before (and after if needed) the trek instead of crashing on a floor like others. We visit the communities they live in and supply toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap and other needed supplies to their families. Books for their students.
This is just the beginning for us and we are 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 its 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 – we will not allow our 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 warm and our boots that are provided are all waterproof.
What do the Porters Eat?
Our porters will 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 too full at the end of the day. While you will notice that we always serve huge portions, none of this is wasted. Whatever is leftover after you and our team eats will go directly back home to the families of the team for them to enjoy themselves.
Helping Their Families…
All our porters are quechua language speakers who come from farming villages where they take only advantage of the seasons to grow their crops but Alpaca Expeditions will help them in many ways to keep growing their comunity especially in education, health and culture. We have different ongoing projects and hope to add many more. Some of the projects we have 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 from kindergarden to 6th grade. When we arrived to this village for the first time a few years ago, kids had trouble keeping up with daily hygiene. We make sure they always have toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap, and hand sanitizer.
We planted more than 3,000 native trees, Queuña (andean polylepis), in the community of Wakatinku to reforest their village. This tree will be more sustainable than others they have used and will eventually be a fertilizer for their village to help grow more grass for their Alpacas which are the most common and typical annimals located at this village.
We covered the 2015 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 to graduate the first class from the village. We plan to continue this sponsorship and supply another years salary.
Every February we invite our porters and their families to come with us to visit Machu Picchu. Sadly, this was their first time to the ruins and a really special experience for us. Last year we went with families from Wakawasi village, a community we visit on the Lares Trek. We plan on doing this trip every February with new families to help them enjoy their own history.
In October 2015, we helped celebrate the end of the school year with 17 students and their parents and some of our porters for a trip through the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu. This 2 day trip followed the same itinerary that our clients enjoy.
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 its hard for 204 students to share 4 computers, so we hope to bring some more in 2016.
To help celebrate the anniversary of Llulucha village this last July, we booked and provided transpiration for an amazing local band, Alicia de Acomayo, to play. It was a great party for everyone to enjoy.
We are working with a local clinic in Cusco to provide dental care and provide skin examinations for the children of each of our porters villages.
We have recently bought land in Cusco that is currently being constructed to create a dormitories, classrooms and teaching kitchens for our team. This is for those who do not live in Cusco to have a nice, warm place to sleep before their treks. We will have english classes, computer classes and cooking classes here for any member of our team and their family to use, free of charge. This is a huge project for us that we are really excited about.
This is a touch of the projects we have done and continue to do. We are a small local company here in Cusco who promises to be as dedicated to our team as they are to us. We are lucky enough to have the best porters in the region and we feel responsible to make sure they are healthy, strong and capable of providing their families with the best life possible.
THE GREEN MACHINE
- Valid, GREEN ISIC 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 8 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
- Bathing suit (Optional for hot springs)
- 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
Getting to Cusco
The airport in Cusco currently is only for domestic flights, so 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.
Any extra luggage you have with you can be left safely in Cusco at either your hotel or with us at the Alpaca Expeditions deposit while you trek. We will grab from you the morning of your trek and return once you are back in Cusco. Make sure your bags have some kind of identification on them so they are easy to locate.
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 the oxygen it needs. 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, 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 or vomiting, dizziness, trouble sleeping, trouble breathing during exercise. If any of these effects become severe, please contact our office and we will 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, helping your body avoid the effects of altitude sickness. Avoid drinking a lot of alcohol and coffee. They will 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. Go slowly, it 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 do not want to stress out about the possibility of getting sick from the mountains. 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.
Of course weather is unpredictable. Typically the dry season in Cusco is from April through October, but this does not stop rain from falling in June or the sun from coming out in December – just be prepared. No matter what month you are doing the trek, please make 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 will need to be prepared for all seasons. Layers are always key as they are easy to adjust to the different temperatures. And evenings will always be cold, so please be prepared with a warm winter-weight jacket.
Every Alpaca Expeditions guide has received training in first aid from a physician. We conduct mandatory training every February – every single Alpaca guide attends. When guiding you, they will have with them a first aid kit for basic medical problems (traveler’s diarrhea, cuts/scrapes, etc.) and oxygen. They know how to make you feel better.
In case something unexpected happens and you feel you can no longer complete the trek, they will figure out the safest and quickest way off the course and to a clinic. You will never be left alone, you will have a member of the team escort you every step of the way until safely with a doctor. When you are feeling up to it, we will make sure that you still have the chance to visit Machu Picchu and re-connect with your group, traveling by train comfortably.
To protect your travel investment, we highly recommend the purchase of travel insurance. Obtaining travel insurance before you leave home is strongly encouraged and very easy. In fact, we work with a great agency in the United States that has helped to make it easy and affordable. This is a great way to protect yourself while visiting Peru.
If interested in booking through our trusted partner, Ahart, Frinzi & Smith, CLICK HERE.
Alpaca Expeditions uses biodegradable soap and transports all our garbage back to Cusco. Our porters are trained to look after the trail and pick up any waste from other groups, as well. We also use environmentally-friendly chemical portable toilets that allow us to pack waste out. We believe in leaving no footprint behind.
Alpaca Expeditions is really proud of the work we do for our community. This is a main focus for our company. We have worked with villages directly to help supply them with needs their families were missing. We have supported local schools with by giving them computers and books. We currently sponsor a teacher at the village most of our porters come from to ensure their children are offered the best education.
We buy all our food from local farmers and markets and serve the freshest ingredients. We provide English classes for all our team: guides, porters, chefs and drivers. And we are building a house for our porters to give them a safe and comfortable place to stay before and after our treks so they no longer need to sleep on the floor of a friend.
And twice every year we bring our porters and their families to Machu Picchu. This is our favorite trip to do as they guys who work tirelessly have never visited the Lost Citadel of the Incas. Showing them this place is our biggest honor.
We are always looking to do more and for partners. Please let us know of your ideas and we will work to help.
Alpaca is dedicated to making sure we have the best equipment available. Casual Adventure Camping Store is a family owned business in the United States that is dedicated to the outdoor travelers needs and helps us with all our equipment needs.
Enjoy a good night’s sleep in our spacious Eureka tents. All our tents are 4 man tents, but you will only have to share with one other trekker leaving lots of room to spread out comfortably and store your duffels. They are an A-frame design with entrances on both sides of the tent. They also include a little vestibule in front, giving you some extra outdoor space to leave your boots and walking sticks so you don’t have to bring in dirt. We are proud to be the only company to use these tents.
Our Toilet Tents
No need to add some additional hiking in the middle of the night when you have to use the bathroom! We set up our spotless, environmentally friendly, toilet tents right at your camping site and lunch sites so you don’t have to bother with the park toilets that are not in great condition. This is our way to lessen our footprint on the environment while adding the convenience and luxury of a private bathroom to your trekking adventure.
A foam mat is included to separate and insulate you from the ground. For added comfort you may want to consider upgrading by renting an inflatable sleeping pad which adds 3 inches of comfort on top of the provided foam mat to help you sleep like a baby alpaca each night on the Andes. We use Thermarest and Eureka inflatable air mattresses.
Our Sleeping Bags
We use only mummy style sleeping bags that are 100% down for -15°C/5°F . Please note that if you are over 1.95 meters / 6´4" tall then you won't be able to find a sleeping bag rental in Cusco. In this case it is recommended to bring your own. For everyone else, you will have a great night's sleep in this comfy, warm bag. We provide liners to everyone that are machine washed between every use. These do need to be included in your duffel weight and weigh 2 kg.
Our Walking Sticks
All our sticks are black diamond and fold up for when you are not using them. They are sturdy and adjust to your height. Even for those of you who are great trekkers, having a set of sticks is helpful on all treks. Especially if the weather turns bad or just heading down some of the steeper portions of the hike.
Personal Porter Included
All of our treks include porters, who are responsible for carrying and setting up all equipment. They will also carry your personal duffel, which you will receive at your briefing the night before your trek. This duffel can not exceed 7 kg/14 lbs, and must include your sleeping bag and air mattress.
Each Alpaca Expeditions porter is given a proper uniform, salary and insurance. They are the backbone of our company.
All of these videos and blogs were created by Alpaca Expeditions clients doing the Salkantay Trek with us. They are full of helpful tips from trip preparation to packing lists. There is no better guide...
Here Where We Are
This is an older site but gets honorable mention as they have a wonderful blog with a detailed description of their trek with us, but the video they created at the top should be part of National Georgraphic. Beautiful showcase of Peru.
The Journey is the Destination
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