Peru | The Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu

Discover the mysterious origins of the royal Inca.

Peru Flag
  • Machu Picchu
  • Peru Trek
  • Peru Hike
  • Peru Trek
  • Machu Picchu with mountains shrouded in fog.
  • Hiker's walking with a mountain view
  • Hiker's walking up the mountain
  • Hikers posing in front of a lake.
  • Woman hiking on a trail
  • Woman hiking on a trail
  • "Peru is a magical country filled with history and culture. The trek was well planned and the lodges exceeded my expectations. I think the time of year was perfect. Right after the rainy season and before high tourist season."- Patsy T
  • "The Salkantay adventure goes beyond deluxe lodges and a great trek... it is a unique opportunity to experience ancient history in the Land of the Incas, as well as the most interesting and exotic variety of flora and fauna, all in the company of new friends and like-minded souls."- Mountain Lodges of Peru
  • "I'm not sure the trip could be made any better!"- Anonymous
  • "Great group of friends and the guide from RW and our local guide were truly amazing. The scenery, food and overall experience was unmatched. As a whole the best food on any trip I have done."- Nigel C.

Trip Highlights:

  • Hike to the historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Gaze at the Andes Mountains while sipping wine at our amazing guest lodges.
  • Trek through 15 different eco systems on an historic section of the Inca Trail.

Hike Machu Picchu, and enjoy this unique opportunity to experience ancient history in the Land of the Incas. Our 10-day Salkantay Trek begins in the beautiful and bustling city of Cusco, which is perfectly tucked into the hillsides at an elevation of 11,200 feet and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983.

Our lodge-to-lodge trekking experience takes us on a historic section of Inca trail through 15 different eco-systems. We climb a mountain pass over 15,000 feet, walk to villages where locals still maintain age-old traditions, and re-discover the mystical beauty of Machu Picchu, the crown jewel of the Inca Empire. Each day’s hike ends at a deluxe lodge followed by gourmet meals.

Trip Itinerary

Arrive in Cusco, the once capital of the Inca Empire. Meet the group and guide(s) for welcome drinks and dinner at 7:00 pm.

Today’s walking tour of the city includes the ruins of Sacsayhuamán, the Cathedral Basilica, and the historic Plaza de Armas. In the afternoon relax at the hotel or wander around the city exploring its many nooks and crannies.

Our first stop is a visit to the Inca ruins at Quillarumiyok near the town of Mollepata before ascending a winding mountain road to a site called Challacancha. Here we begin our hike to Soraypampa along a picturesque path called the “Camino Real” (Royal Path). Our lodge for tonight sits under the glaciatedpeak of Mt. Salkantay, among the most sacred in Inca mythology, and the highest in the region (20,600 ft).

Distance: 5 miles. Elevation gain: 800 ft.

Today we continue our slow and steady acclimatization with a half-day hike up to Lake Humantay and its amazingly turquoise blue waters. Relax at the lake, at an elevation of 13,845 ft, and wonder at the Humantay glacier looming above. You have the afternoon to yourselves.

Distance: 5 miles. Elevation gain/loss: 1150 ft.

We embark on our longest and most strenuous, but arguably the most magical, day of the trek. Our hike begins up the Rio Blanco valley and circles Humantay Peak, where we encounter an expansive plateau dotted with boulders of varying sizes. The final and most challenging part of today’s ascent is conquering the mountain switchbacks that take us to the Salkantay Pass, the highest point on the trek (15,213 ft). What follows is a dramatic descent through fields of giant boulders, often shrouded in fog. We stay at the remote Wayra Lodge at Wayraccmachay.

Distance: 8 miles. Elevation gain/loss: 2500/2400 ft.

We descend along the banks of the Salkantay River into the lower elevations of the cloud forest and the warmer air of the jungle below en route to the Colpa Lodge, located on a promontory above the confluence of three rivers. Upon arrival at the lodge we get to experience the centuries-old tradition of the Pachamanca meal of local meats and vegetables cooked under hot stones in the ground.

Distance: 6 miles. Elevation gain/loss: 400/3400 ft.

Today’s hike winds us down through the Santa Teresa River valley. We cross waterfall fed streams and fruit orchards. A van takes us to the start of the Llactapata Inca Trail that leads us to the Lucma Lodge at an elevation of 7000 ft.

Distance: 9 miles. Elevation loss: 2400 ft.

Today we leave the last of our lodges and hike for several hours under the jungle canopy, treading on original Inca steps, to the ruins at the Llactapata Pass (8975 ft). From the Llactapata Pass you get your first glimpse of the “back” side of Machu Picchu. After we explore the ruins at the pass our hike ends with a steep descent through bamboo forest. Enjoy a one-hour train ride to the village of Aguas Calientes.

Distance: 7 miles. Elevation gain/loss: 1900/3100 ft.

In the early morning hours we begin our journey to the sanctuary of Machu Picchu, where we are given a 2-3 hour guided tour of the grounds, plus a Huayna Picchu hike. Prepare to be awed by the supremely skilled architecture of the Temple of the Sun, the Watchtower, and the many beautiful royal Inca residences. This afternoon we transfer by train to our hotel in Ollantaytambo.

We enjoy a morning tour of the Ollantaytambo Ruins, gateway to the Antisuyo (the Amazon corner of the Inca Empire) and located at the northern end of the Sacred Valley. From there we stop at small local restaurant for lunch before transferring to Cusco for our final night.

Have breakfast and depart Cusco.

The Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu | Peru

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Travel and the Coronavirus for Ryder-Walker Guests

Ryder-Walker is monitoring the coronavirus outbreak and acknowledges that there is growing uncertainty about the safety of traveling right now. Currently, our guided and self-guided treks are on schedule to run. Should travel restrictions be implemented by local or global authorities we will post updates on this link.

For more information please visit the websites of the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.