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Salkantay Trekking

When it comes to stunning views and locations in the Andes, the Salkantay Trekking experience is one of the richest—including Humantay Lake (with its electric teal waters) and camping at the base of the prominent Apu Salkantay. You will also enjoy a night at our ecologically-friendly glass cabañas under a blanket of stars, and our unique campsite exclusive to Alpaca Expeditions that overlooks the sacred ruins of Machu Picchu!

Why Choose Alpaca Expeditions for Salkantay Trekking?

Our Salkantay Trekking commitment goes beyond providing you with top-quality camping equipment, nutritious meals on the trail prepared by professional chefs, and leading safety procedures on every trek. As a 100% Peruvian company, we support our local communities through social projects and initiatives in porter welfare.

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FAQ Salkantay Trekking

How hard are the hikes at Salkantay?

How is the weather on the Salkantay Treks?

What are some of the highlights while Salkantay Trekking?

How long are the treks in Salkantay?

Is a permit required for Salkantay Trekking?

Do I have to do anything to avoid altitude sickness?

What can I do if I have too much luggage to take Salkantay Trekking?

Do I need to pack food for Salkantay Treks?

Can I rent equipment, or do I have to buy my own?

Is there really a power plant in Machu Picchu?

What is the Difference Between the Salkantay trail vs Inca trail?

How hard are the hikes at Salkantay?

With the exception of the Salkantay Trekking one-day trip to Humantay Lagoon, most of the treks on the Salkantay are on the challenging side. Not for beginners, although we do have porters to help with getting your belongs to your destination, however you do need to be prepared for some strenuous exertion in these treks.

These hikes take place at high elevations, so a combination of cold temperatures and the need to acclimatize to the higher altitudes make Salkantay Treks more challenging. There is a lot of ground to cover and a lot of beautiful sights to see, and each day’s hiking typically varies between 10 and 20 kilometers (6-12 miles), so our Salkantay Treks are best suited for more experienced hikers who can handle those conditions.

How is the weather on the Salkantay Treks?

The Salkantay Trekking weather in the mountains can be difficult to predict even at the best of times. 

During the Salkantay Trekking dry season, rain and snow is much less likely than during the wet season, but that does not mean that it is impossible to experience sudden rain or snow while on the trail. Due to the high elevation, there is frequently snow on the ground even if it is not currently snowing. 

On certain parts of the trail, the temperature can be as high as 20 °C/ 70 °F. However, at the higher elevations of the trail, the temperature can drop to 0C/32F. 

For your own comfort and enjoyment of the trek, it is a good idea to dress warmly in layers and wear good, waterproof trekking boots.

What are some of the highlights while hiking the Salkantay Treks?

Your Salkantay Trekking journey through the Salkantay begins with a night in our signature, scenic glass cabañas, with a beautiful sunset view overlooking the glacier peaks of Soraypampa. Other noteworthy stops include our “Hobbit House” in La Loreta, where you can enjoy a hot shower and a possible dip in our jacuzzi or swimming pool. On day 3 of our most popular trek, you can catch your first glimpses of Machu Picchu after visiting the local coffee farms and trying their fresh coffee firsthand. The trip concludes with a night in Aguas Calientes followed by your final day visiting Machu Picchu before returning to Cusco.

How long are the treks in Salkantay?

Our Salkantay Treks range from a one-day trip to Humantay Lagoon to a 1-week voyage through the Salkantay and Inca trails.

Our most popular Salkantay Trek is our five-day, five-night trek, which begins at our Glass Cabañas and concludes with a guided tour of Machu Picchu. There is also a slightly shorter four-day, three-night trek. Treks along the Salkantay, while beautiful, are quite long, so be prepared for lots of hiking as well as camping at our specially prepared campsites.

Is a permit required for Treks in the Salkantay?

With the exception of our Salkantay Trekking that also includes the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, the Salkantay Treks do not require a government permit to hike. 

Any Trek that includes the Inca Trail will require a permit from the government in advance before it can begin. For people who want to go to Huayna Picchu (optional) or Montana, there is an additional ticket required, which costs $75 per person to acquire. And these permits need to bought in advance, they sell out very fast every year so aim at booking 6 months in advance if not more.

If you were not able to get your permit for the Inca Trail you can always try the  Quarry Trail or Choquequirao Trail instead; they’re awesome alternatives because you still end up at Machu Picchu, and you don’t need a permit. Both trails are just as challenging as the Inca Trail, with incredible scenery, there are more opportunities to meet locals along the way, and far fewer people to contend with. The Quarry Trail is a shorter trek – just two and half days – and takes you past five Inca ruins, while you’ll spend eight days working your way along the epic Choquequirao Trail, taking in six epic ruins as you go.

Do I have to do anything to avoid altitude sickness?

To avoid altitude sickness, it is advised that you avoid alcohol, tobacco, and sleeping pills. Keep yourself hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Eat high-carbohydrate foods (such as pasta, potatoes, and bread). Drink coca tea or chew coca leaves upon arrival at altitude and throughout your stay.

Most cases of altitude sickness are mild, but some may be life-threatening.

Symptoms tend to occur within hours after arrival at high altitude and include headache, nausea, shortness of breath, and inability to exercise.

Mild cases may resolve in one to three days. Severe cases may require oxygen, medications, and moving to a lower altitude.

Altitude sickness, also known as acute mountain sickness (AMS), can occur at heights of 2,500 meters (8,200 feet) and above. That means that many popular attractions in Peru fall under this category, including the city of Cusco where all of our Treks commence from. Once you hit this altitude, there is a real risk of illness and, in extreme cases, death.

Altitude sickness does not respect physical fitness or overall health. The Spanish Conquistadores — tough, hardened men — suffered from altitude sickness as they made their way to Cusco in 1533.

What can I do if I have too much luggage to take on the hike in Salkantay?

Alpaca Expeditions provides free storage to all of our customers joining us on the trail! Make sure that your bags are tagged with proper labels including your name, departure, and arrival dates. 

Luggage tags can be acquired from our front reception area or from your guide if you do not already have your own. 

When picking you up from your hotel, we will bring your bags to our storage facility. Upon returning from your trek, your luggage will be returned to you when you return to Cusco. If you are beginning your venture from the sacred valley, one of our drivers will be able to pick you and your bags up from the train and deliver them again upon your return to your hotel. 

If you have arrangements to return to the same hotel again after your trek, you can also ask if they can store your bags there for your return, which is usually a free service.

Do I need to pack food for Salkantay Treks?

It is best to check with the agency which is guiding your Treks to find out if they provide food or not. You will not need to worry about packing food for the trail when on our Salkantay Treks. 

Our Alpaca Expedition Chefs provide breakfast, lunch, and dinner during our treks and is served in a family style, apart from the final day, where lunch is not provided. These meals are prepared considering any food restrictions you may have, if we are informed of them in advance. Additionally, a snack is provided in the morning to be enjoyed during the day while you hike.

Can I rent equipment, or do I have to buy my own?

Every camping tour we offer includes a spacious 4-man tent that will be shared by only two people so you can spread out a bit and get comfortable after a long hard day of trekking. We use Eureka Timberline Tents exclusively which are made for all seasons. 

We do offer rentals and make sure that our rentals are top of the line. We offer:

  • Black Diamond Adjustable Walking Sticks and 
  • Thermarest Luxury Air Matts. 
  • Mummy Style down Sleeping Bags rated for -15C
  • Sleeping Bag liners are included

You are free to bring your own, keep in mind the weight restrictions of 8kg per person of which 3.5kg is usually accounted for by your sleeping bag and sleeping mat.

Bring a refillable water bottle with you, we do provide filtered water, but we don't provide the water bottles.

Is there really a power plant in Machu Picchu?

Yes, there is, it is the renowned Machu Picchu Hydroelectric Power Plant and was built in the 1980's. It is managed by the Graña y Montero Group.

This project is in a protected area, so the care of the national historic sanctuary was prioritized. The Hydroelectric Station was built to harness the natural 300-meter-high waterfall, which generates electricity for the region of Cusco

It is Peru's most important hydroelectric power plant. It is in the cradle of the Inca civilization, at the Urubamba province, department of Cusco. It uses the water resources provided by the Vilcanota River.

You will get to see this engineering marvel when taking the most popular of our treks the Salkantay Trek. 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!

What is the Difference Between the Salkantay trail vs Inca trail?

Hiking the Inca Trail is the most popular hike to Machu Picchu, but its not the only trail to the world wonder. There are other hikes through the Andes, alternative trails to the Inca Trail, that will still end with an amazing tour through the Inca citadel. The Salkantay Trek is the most popular of these alternative routes.

So what is the difference between hiking on the government sanctioned Inca Trail to the alternative treks like Salkantay? Most importantly, government oversight. Only the Inca Trail is regulated by the government, requiring all trekkers and team to have a permit on a specific date to start the hike. No permit is required for any alternative trek, allowing you to book much closer to your start date. Availability for hiking Salkantay is never a problem, no matter when you book.

The other major difference between ANY alternative trek and the Inca Trail is how you enter Machu Picchu. ONLY the Inca Trail hikes directly into the ruins on your last day of hiking. All other treks have you end in or near Aguas Calientes, the town below Machu Picchu, spending your last night in a hotel there. It is possible to spend that night at a campsite by the town, but still you will need to enter through the main gates of Machu Picchu complex to enter the next morning. Inca Trail hikers enter through the Sun Gate and walk right into the ruins with no lines – entering from above with amazing views you see in photos. (Anyone can walk to the Sun Gate at any time for free – but this is where the Inca Trail hikers enter through to get to the citadel).

Because the Inca Trail is so popular, the trail can get crowded. The government restricts the amount of people who can hike each day, but areas can get a bit bottle necked in certain areas, especially on the last day and at the last campsite. Alpaca Expeditions does create a unique route on the trail, staying ahead of most companies and using quieter campsites, but on night 3 all companies use the same campsite close to the last checkpoint, making it a bit crowded and loud. Alternatively, Salkantay is usually very quiet at all times. Every company has different routes that all include going over Salkantay Pass with the beautiful snow peaks around you, but completely different campsites and itineraries. This allows trekkers to really be at one with the mountains.

And finally, Salkantay and other alternative routes tend to be more beautiful. While the Inca Trail is absolutely beautiful with waterfalls, lakes, rolling hills, the views on Salkantay with the snow peaks, lagoons, and variety of ecosystems just can not be beat. Salkantay begins high up in the mountains, often with views of snow around. As the days progress you will head lower and lower in altitude, with the colors and views changing dramatically.

While Salkantay steps up the beauty, the Inca Trail shows off the history of the incas. Trekkers will get to run around smaller, quieter inca ruins along the way each day of the Inca Trail. And some of them are not all that small…Winawayna is one of the most exquisite inca sites only available for those hiking the inca trail. On Salkantay there is just one ruin you visit before you get to the main attraction.

The bottomline is that you can’t go wrong. No one has been disappointed hiking one over the other. It just gives everyone more options and a reason to come back and visit our country again for another adventure.

The Alpaca Difference

Leading the Way in Sustainable Tourism and Community Projects in Peru Since 2013

100% Peruvian Company

About Us

Alpaca Expeditions has been growing year by year, not only in number of clients, but also the number of employees.

Active in our Community

Empowering Women

Alpaca Expeditions is trying to give a voice to these women. Give them a safe place to say "I want more." We have opened

Commitment to our Home

Social Projects

Alpaca Expeditions is based in Cusco, Peru. The company was created by Raul Ccolque, an ex-porter and tour guide

Green Machine

Porter Leadership

These men and women are at the heart of our company. It is not possible to create the experience we provide