This trek is named by the mountain that runs along the main path. The salkantay Mountain, from the quechua “Sallqa” means litteraly “wild”, and is 6271m high. This is actually the highest peak from the Cordillera of Vilcabamba, which is a part of Peruvian Andes.
Located at approximately 40km from Cusco, this walk brings you along glaciers, lakes and mountains during 4 or 5 days. I highlty recommend the 5 days because it’s almost the same price (20 US $) and you have the opportunity to relax in the hot spring one day before the Machu Picchu, and also to do zip lining (for a very fair price). Those who choose 4 days have to go directly at the final step without enjoying those options.
If you’d like to do the Salkantay trek by yourself, you can refer to the map adjacent. The walk is not particulary hard if you got used to the altitude.
I personnaly did the trek with an agency during 5 days. We were 2 groups, with 1 guide per group, and we met up at each breaks.
1st day :
You start the treck with a short and easy way. Quite flat and strewn with concrete, you arrive around 12h to your first camp. After droping your stuff and enjoying a lunch, you have the possibily to keep walking the afternoon to see the Humantay Lake. Even if you’re tired or if it’s raining, you should go there : the view is spectacular. The way can be a bit rough for a first day, especially if you’re not used to walking at this altitude. However, the mix between lake, glacier and mountain is incredible and there is no way that you could regret it.
2nd day :
Probably the most tiring day, because you have to walk up until 4600 meters high, which is the highest point of the treck, before going down for the rest of the time. Once the highest point reached, I personnaly did the Pachamama Ritual, to bless the mountains, but this depends of your guide/company if you’re doing the treck with one. Because you’re already at the highest point, now you have to go down for several hours. It’s kind of a long way down, so it would be easier if you are provided with a pole. Once at the pretty camp, you can enjoy a shower and WI-FI for 10 soles each, as differents others stuff (food, beers, …)
3rd day :
Way easier than the previous day, you have to walk couple of hours to reach a shelter, then directly catch a van to join the lunch place. This spot is a little paradise where you can taste and buy delightful homemade coffee, and learn about all the manufacturing process.
At this point, those who choose the 4 days trip have to join Hydro Electrica, and walk until the last stop before the big day.
This is more relaxing for the 5 days group, who got more time for lunch. After this soothing time, you catch a van to go to the next camp, Santa Théresa where you have the possibility to join the famous hot spring for 20 soles. This is a good idea to recover and enjoy a hot bath surounded by the mountains. The camp is also nice and allows you to spend great time around a camp fire.
4th day :
You start the day with the possibility to do zip lining for a very fair price of 150 soles (45 US $). Located behind the mountain that houses the Machu Picchu, it’s 2 hours of glide above forests and rivers. Afterwards, a collective bus brings you to Hydro Electrica, which is the start of the last walk before joining Aguas Calientes, where you spend a night before the big day.
5th day :
Finally ! According to your schedule, given by you guide the day before, you have to join the site’s entrance on foot or by bus (see the article « How to get to: Machu Picchu ») and after all reach this magical place that we don’t name anymore…
National Geographic Adventure Magazine rated the Salkantay trek as one for the 25 Best Treks in the World.
For mountaineers, Salkantay has a reputation of being a very tough summit. Although it was first successfully climbed in 1952 by a French-American expedition, the mountain is not often conquered.
Don’t forget to bring coca leaf with you to prevent the Soroche, Peruvian name for high altitude sickness!
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