cusco machupicchu inca trail

  • Inca Trail Salkantay to Machu Picchu


Inka trail four days around the slopes of Salkantay and its’ snowy cordillera, through altitudes, landscapes and ecosytems from Alpine to Cloud Forest. Backcountry trekking, visiting isolated farmers villages and quechua speaking peoples, recovered Inca Trails and Archaeology, dramatic scenery and extra Explorations of Machu Picchu

Difficulty of the trek: easy to moderate , good physical conditions.

Day 1: Distance: 12km-Altitude: 3553 to 4000 mts-hours 5-camping 4000mts

Day 2: Distance: 15km-Altitude: 4000 to 4600mts-hours 8 -camping 3000mts

Day 3: Distance: 26 km-Altitude: 3650 to 3000 mts-hours 7- hotel at 2050mts

Day 4: Machu picchu 2450mts

Ecosystems: Scrub bush vegetation, andean semi dry forest, cloud forest, inter andean valleys. Grass land, alpine, glaciers.

Highlights: Some Inca remains. High biodiversity, flora, fauna. Ancient Inca road, sacred mountains, amazing landscape.

Climate: The temperature varies in between below ceroºC -10 to -2ºC,morning ,night 20ºC,middle day to 25ºC day.Mountain weather sunny to cloudy,windy.

The Inca road system called Capac Ñan (beautiful road or Great Inca road) it was the most extensive and complex ancient system in the new world. It is believed that this main road built it by the Incas was the main net work system that connected the four cardinal points in this part of the world. This sacred road was also part of the Inca empire high way of the Tawantinsuyo( the empire of the four corners).Chinchaysuyo(the north region,Contisuyo( the south region),Collasuyo (the west region) and then the Antisuyo( the east region )ending in the jungles of the unexplored Amazon

It use to run from south to north and from west to the east parts of the Andes with several primary and secondary roads that were connecting several sacred places, Inca cities, shires and administrative places as well military stations.All of them with great scale, beauty and functions, providing also all kind of sources for the people, helping the redistribution and spreading around the messages of the Incas, carried by Inca runners who where coming from the capital Cusco. The Capac ñan was a great web and work system with all the communication well organize with imperials and government messages and member in duty, used by the Inca people .In this way the Incas achieve a well organize empire and only with one language, one religion and one culture ,The Inca culture.
The Capac ñan covered a distance of over 40 thousand kilometers of primary and secundary roads made it by the Incas or added to their sistem from preInca civilizations and over 3000 kilometers long in a territory filled with one of the longest mountain range called the Andes over 9000 kilometers long, one of the densest jungle in the world the Amazon and one of the dries places in the world the dessert of Peru and Atacama. With elevations in between 100 to 5000 mts providing access to different ecosystem and territory estimates in over 5,000,000 square kilometers of territory, where the Incas built and crossed mountains valleys rivers and glaciers. The main road of the Incas was also beginning in the great capital of the Inca empire Cusco or Qosqo (navel of the world).According with the evidence found in this capital .There was the four main roads beginning in the sacred plaza of Aukaipata in the heart of the Inca capital city and used to go to the four directions of the empire ending in the places like the jungle and the high plateau of the Andes. Others covering valleys and then deserts ending close to the ocean.

It went in to places like Ecuador and Colombia in the north .as well to places like Bolivia, Argentina and the deserts of Atacama in between Peru and Chile. To access to those Inca roads it was mandatory to get permissions because many of f those Inca roads were used by members of the high classes and soldiers as well many representers of the government in duty. In some bridges taxes where charged as well many messagers were running through stations to deliver the messages that were connecting the different places.

The most spectacular and scenery road is found near Cusco that connects some sacred cities like Machu picchu, Choquequirao, Vilcabamba, Vitcos, Espiritu well Sacred mountains called Apus like the Mythic Ausangante (6384 mts) and the Salcantay (6221mts).Finally some of those Inca trails are connecting communities in the area of Lares and the sacred valley ending some of the in the jungles of the department of Cusco.


DAY 1 – Challacancha to Salkantay Pampa

From our lodgings in Cusco, we drive northeast passing small villages and valleys to reach Mollepata, a little town at 2,745 meters. Then it’s about 90 minutes to the trailhead, Challacancha at 3,353 meters. At this point we rendezvous with our expedition staff and pack animals. Salkantay looms closer here as we hike about 3 hours to the Humantay lake where we will see a beatiful view of the migthy Humantay snow capped at 5900 mts with a beatiful lake with cristal and green turqoise waters in Paramo grassland conditions,then we will go down , stoping for lunch and a beautiful view of the Peak of Salkantay at 6,271 meters. After a light lunch and a short rest we continue upwards on gravel and dirt trails to Salkantay Pampa.We will folow the beautiful trail along the Salkantay river with the views of the Salkantay peak ,Humantay peak and the moraine to our camp. While walking this trail we have the chance to see wildlife in the scrub bush vegetation and grassland ecosystems with some bushes like Chillca(bacharis peruviana)Ichu grass(stipa ichu).As well if the time is right the Andean Condor(vulture gryphus) and the black chested buzzard eagle(geranoaetus melanoleucus).We will camp with spectacular views of the Salcantay Mountain. We have dinner and camp here, at 4000mts, on a plateau close to a glacial moraine, wide open to the elements and tremendous views.

DAY 2 – Salkantay Pampa to Colpapampa

Today we start off hiking up the Salcantay pass for about two hours, which has an altitude of 4600 meters (15500 ft) and straddles the east ridge of Salcantay Mountain in the Vilcabamba Mountain range at 6271 meters, affording an unbelievable view of the glacial mass. We celebrate our achievement in the pass and then descend through two different ecosystems. First we descend through the grassland area and then scrub bush Andean vegetation, great variety of flora and fauna. After about 2 hours, we arrive to Huayrac Machay for lunch. In the afternoon, we continue the trail and go in to the cloud forest for bird watching and enjoying nature’s bounty, arriving in camp late afternoon, after 3 hours of hiking. There are hot springs near our camp in a place called Collpapampa at 10,000 feet, dinner is at camp.

DAY 3 – Colpapampa to Machu picchu

After one hour drive…Today we climb up to the city of Patacllacta, another religious retreat of the Incas. After the tour and a rare view of Machu Picchu from this nearby valley, we begin descending the little-known and seldom-explored Aobamba river valley. Near the point of confluence of the Aobamba and the Urubamba Rivers, we encounter the hydroelectric power plant. Here, after a well-deserved break we will climb aboard the train to Aguas Calientes, rewarded with even more fantastic views of Machu Picchu from the bottom of the canyon. The train slowly makes its way following the gorge of the Vilcanota “Urubamba River”. Upon arrival in the town, we go to our hotel and then we will enjoy hot springs and a nice dinner.

DAY 4 – Machu picchu

We get an early start to see Machu Picchu before the crowds arrive. If it is a clear dawn, we may try to go up to the site for the sunrise. Our wonderful tour of the entire Inca city will take about 3 hours.

Machu Picchu is situated at the beginning, or “eye brow”, of the cloud forest. This allowed access to different altitudes, each with unique ecological conditions. The crops found at Machu Picchu include different varieties of corn, chilies, quinoa, tomatoes, trees, potatoes, suggesting that this was a good place to acclimate and domesticate species from the high and low jungles that later would be successfully introduced into the hanging valleys and elsewhere.

This small valley was suitable for the building of temples and astronomical observatories,plazas,palaces, streets, utilitarian and functional buildings,

ceremonial places, granaries, store houses and terraces for agriculture, Inca roads.

By analysis of soil, seeds, wood, and bones, Carbon Dating situates Incas in the area during the mid-1400s to mid-1500s. Machu Picchu was built by the Inca number 9 who named it “Pachacutek” or “Cusi Yupanqui”. Throughout the site, there is fine masonry and beautiful stonework, all of which is done without mortar. Construction used outside sources for laborers and two large granite quarries nearby. It is believed that the site was occupied by royalty and dignitaries, and that it was visited by the Inca and his entourage or royal court. Even though it was never quite completed, local scholars and historians believe that within a mere 100 years Machu Picchu was built, inhabited, and abandoned.

Several roads connect to bring pilgrims and essential supplies to Machu Picchu, the site of temples and astronomical observatories dedicated to the sun, moon, stars, the universe, the mother earth “Pachamama” and the creator “Wiracocha”.

All these beautiful buildings were occupied by royalty, nobility and important people and their entourages. These were palaces, religious retreats, plazas, ceremonial places, astronomical observatories and they also served as military stations, store houses, granaries, and terraces for farming, all connected by Inca roads. Construction included existing rock, the small valley itself, and the mountain. Fine masonry and well carved, well-polished stonework, all assembled without mortar. The work was done by laborers from elsewhere who used ramps, rollers, and manpower.

After that we go to relax and wander the site or we can climb one of the mountains, Machu Picchu, Huayna Picchu (requires an extra ticket) or hike part of the original trail to the spot known as Intipunku “Sun Gate”. Today also we will see some orchids and some bird life around our trail and the citadel. We will take the late afternoon train back to Cusco.


We Provide and Include: Itinerary transport roundtrip from Cusco-Licensed, Bilingual, history and naturalist Tour Guides-All Itinerary Meals, including vegetarian & snacks, Safety orientation and Equipment for optional activities-First Aid kit and Oxygen-Tour specific Sleeping bags, air mattresses and Expedition grade tents-Dining tent, Cook & Services-Horses,Mules,Llamas for tour outfitting, wrangler staff, and emergency or back-up horse-Ecological, portable toilets-All Entrance Tickets-Bus up and down for Machu Picchu-Pre-purchased Return Train connections to Cusco.optional hikes in Machu picchu and Huayna picchu mountains and the Intipunku Inca trail.


We can recommend the best and more comfortable hotels or we can take care of the reservations for you.

For adjusting to tour altitude, we suggest one day tours like the Sacred Valley hike,one day River Rafting before the Apurímac River and the City Tour of Cusco hike. As Guides we offer 100% Gauranteed Information, for your sensibilities – about the best specific hotel rooms and services around Peru, like extra windows and other amenities.

What to bring

This is a list designed to advise you what equipment is appropriate to bring according to the weather conditions predominating at the time of your trip:

Jeans and other pants are good as well any clothes that cover the request of being water proof or resistance to water or cold are fine as long they are resistance to the conditions are fine.

  • Flashlights (at least one headlamp among them).
  • Sun Block; Insect Repellent.
  • Towels (Small; cotton and hygienic).
  • Rain Gear (Pants and Jacket)
  • A couple of pairs of socks, perhaps even an extra pair.
  • One pair of trousers for the evening plus two more pairs for trail use (zipp-offs).
  • Sandals for River OR DRYSHOES.ASWELL use or CAMP OR HOTEL use (Teva types).
  • Low ankle height hiking shoes or regular hiking boots (check the season).
  • Reading material.
  • Binoculars (always useful regardless of season and activity).
  • Bathing Suit.
  • Water Bottle (I liter capacity).
  • Good Sun glasses, perhaps two sets.
  • A bandana for neck protection.
  • A couple of sets of underwear (perhaps an extra pair).
  • Camera and plenty of film.
  • Passport (plus a couple of Xerox copies).


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