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Frequently Asked Questions about the Salkantay Trek

  1. Salkantay Trek
  2. How far do we walk each day?
  3. How difficult is the hike?
  4. What's the most challenging section of the hike?
  5. How Old do I have to Be?
  6. Can I hike the Salkantay at any time?
  7. When is the best time to hike the Salkantay?
  8. Can I make the trek by myself?
  9. Can I do the trek with my kids?
  10. Can I use my mobile/cell phone on the mountain?
  11. Will there be an international cell phone on the trek?
  12. What is the weather like?
  13. What should I bring to the trek?
  14. Why do I need to make a deposit?
  15. What happens after I make the security deposit?
  16. Can I change my starting date for the Salkantay?
  17. Is altitude sickness a problem? What should I do to avoid altitude sickness?
  18. What should I do if I get altitude sickness?
  19. Do you provide water during the trek?
  20. What is the environmental impact of my trek like?
  21. Are there bathrooms during the trek?
  22. What is the food like on the Salkantay trek?
  23. What are the guides like?
  24. What happens if I fall ill, can't keep up or there is an emergency?
  25. What is the food and drink like?
  26. What is done to protect the environment?
  27. Who will be leading the group?
  28. What are the toilet/washing facilities like?
  29. What about hygiene?
  30. What kit do I need to buy? What can I borrow?
  31. Do we need to take our own sleeping bags and mats?

Salkantay Trek

The Salkantay Trail connects Cusco to the Citadel of Machu Picchu and runs approximately 89 km/55 miles through high Andean peaks, cloud forest, and steamy jungle. The hike starts at the village of Mollepata, a few miles from Cusco.
The Salkantay Peak - Savage Mountain - is located within the Vilcabamba mountain range, to the northwest of Cusco. Salkantay is one of the highest and most spectacular mountains in the Andes (6,271m/20,574ft).
National Geographic’s Adventure Travel Magazine named the Salkantay trek among the 25 Best Treks in the World.
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How far do we walk each day?

The amount you walk each day varies. An average day is 5-8 hours, but on summit night combined with the following day you can walk between 8 and 11 hours. Have a look at the itinerary for a day-to-day account.
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How difficult is the hike?

For an average traveller or tourist, Salkantay is considered a challenging but certainly not impossible hike. Due to the physical demands, anyone who wishes to trek Salkantay should at least be moderately fit. Plus, all trekkers should spend at least 2 days in Cuzco before the trek, to get acclimatized. Being extremely fit does not grant any immunity from altitude sickness.

The entire hike is approximately 72 kilometers (approximately 45 miles), and this hiking takes place during 4 days and 3 nights. The remaining 1 day of the trek is spent at Machu Picchu. In general, Salkantay is considered to be slightly harder than the Inca Trail. Other trails, such as Choquequirao, are considered to be slightly harder than Salkantay.
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What's the most challenging section of the hike?

The Salkantay Pass, at 14,760123 feet above sea level, is the most difficult section in the trail. Expect wind and cold temperatures. Some hikers might experience symptoms of altitude sickness. Symptoms will disappear as soon as you start your descent. Oxygen will be provided if needed. The Salkantay Pass, at approximately 4,650 meters above sea level is the most difficult section in the trail. These challenges are a result of several factors: the challenge of uphill climbing, bitter cold winds, low temperatures in general, and the fact that you are trekking at a low-oxygen altitude.
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How Old do I have to Be?

Very young children may not enjoy this. They should be able to walk (without being carried) for 90 minutes without whining (the whining part applies to children of all ages.
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Can I hike the Salkantay at any time?

Weather conditions during the rainy season makes the Salkantay trek into a risky decision. Therefore we cannot guarantee the availability of the Salkantay treks from mid-march to the end of February. If the weather is good, we will give the OK for a trek to start. If we think the safety of our porters and clients is being threatened, we will cancel the trek.
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When is the best time to hike the Salkantay?

The dry season is the best time for this trek. In Cuzco, the dry season lasts from April to November, and the wet season is from December to March. From June to September are the most popular months to do the trek, due to summer vacations in Europe and the US. It is generally thought that May and October offer the best weather conditions.

Can I make the trek by myself?

Yes, it is possible for a single traveller or a small group to hike the trek by themself, without guides or porters. However, the trail is not clearly marked at all points, which makes getting lost a high possibility. This is one of the biggest advantages of hiring a tour agency like Mystic Salkantay. Our guides know the route very well.
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Can I do the trek with my kids?

Children under 14 years old are not allowed to do the trek, and children who are over 14 years old should be in good physical shape and used to hiking long distances.
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Can I use my mobile/cell phone on the mountain?

You will get sporadic phone coverage during the trek and there will not be anywhere whilst trekking to charge your phone.
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Will there be an international cell phone on the trek?

One of the trek leaders will be carrying a satellite phone. However this is emergency use only.
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What is the weather like?

Weather is very varied on this trek, due to the fact that it winds its way through wildly different terrain at different altitudes. The only place where weather is a serious concern is the Salkantay Pass, and the nearby areas. Temperatures here, and at the nearby Soraypampa campsite, can fall below freezing. The other camps are much warmer, due to their proximity to the cloud forest.
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What should I bring to the trek?

  • A backpack with a change of clothes for the whole period of the trek
  • Rain gear (jacket and pants if available) or rain poncho (plastic ponchos can be purchased in Cusco)
  • Strong footwear, waterproof trekking boots recommended
  • Sandals or jogging shoes for a higher comfort while at camp
  • Warm clothes, including jacket, fleeces. Thermal clothing is also recommended, especially for sleeping
  • Flashlight/headlamp and batteries
  • Camera, films and batteries (batteries consume more quickly under cold conditions)
  • Hat or cap to protect you from the sun, rain and cold
  • Sun block
  • After-sun cream or hydrating cream for face and body
  • Insect repellent – minimum recommended 20% DEET – no malaria risk has been reported
  • Handkerchiefs
  • Toilet paper
  • Snacks: biscuits, energy bars, chocolate, raw fruits, muesli, etc. Please note that we do provide a daily morning snack and our meal service is very complete and well supplied. This recommendation applies for all clients being used to a specific snack, as it may happen that it is not included in our selection
  • Water container and water for the first morning. Important notice: plastic water bottles are no longer allowed into Machu Picchu. Plastic water containers (ie. Nalgene) or metal ones are recommended
  • Optionally: water- sterilizing tablets in case you pick up water from streams or rivers along the route. Otherwise, we provide filtered boiled water, which is safe to drink and has not reported any health problem so far
  • Small towel
  • Swimsuit (if you wish to go to the hot springs in Aguas Calientes)
  • Cash in soles and/or US$
  • Original passport
  • Original International Student Identity Card (in case you have applied for a student discount)
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Why do I need to make a deposit?

We recommend to make your reservation in advance and we will guarantee your Spaces for this hike. Each reservation needs 30% of deposit as first payment. The final balance(70%) will be paid in Cusco(Briefing Day). About Payment you must choose where would you like to make the deposit: Payment system online ,

  • Paypal by Debit or Credit Card
  • Western Union, Money Gram
  • Peruvian Banking Account

We use the money from your deposit to make several important purchases, including the entrance fee to Salkantay, the entrance fee to Machu Picchu, bus tickets, and train tickets. In addition, making a deposit assures us that you will be coming on the trek, and are unlikely to cancel at the last minute. This helps us with knowing how much food to buy, how many of our guides to use for the trek, etc. The deposit is non-refundable once we receive it, because we will immediately use it to purchase the tickets mentioned above.
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What happens after I make the security deposit?

First, we will send you an email to confirm your payment. Then we will contact you to offer you different hotel or hostel options in Cuzco, as well as inform you of other tours you might be interested in.

Two weeks before your tour date, we will contact you by email to request the final payment. We will also ask you where you will be staying in Cuzco, to be able to pick you up on the day of your hike.

After we receive the final payment, we will send you an email confirming your tour date and informing you of important contact information for our tour agency, as well as some final tips to prepare for the trek.
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Can I change my starting date for the Salkantay?

Once we have purchased your tickets, with your security deposit, you can only change your start date if you pay an additional amount. This amount is usually around $200 USD. The reason for this is the tickets we purchase are non-refundable and non-transferable, so we are not allowed to simply change your tour date.
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Is altitude sickness a problem? What should I do to avoid altitude sickness?

To avoid altitude sickness, give yourself time in Cuzco to acclimatize to the change in altitude. Two days minimum is recommended!!! Try to avoid alcohol before and during your trek, and make sure you eat lightly and drink plenty of water. Make sure to stay hydrated during the trek, don't force yourself to walk faster than your body wants to, and take frequent breaks. Drinking coca leaf tea helps a lot, and you may wish to speak with your doctor about Diamox pills.
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What should I do if I get altitude sickness?

If you get altitude sickness while on the trail, let your guide know immediately. They will help you. Recognize the symptoms of altitude sickness: a headache, nausea, extreme tiredness, dizziness, and a general malaise are all symptoms.
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Do you provide water during the trek?

Yes, we will give you safe drinking water at every meal and in the morning when you wake up.

In addition, there are small streams and mountain springs along the way. The water here is clean, but to be safe, you should drop in a water purification pill. Most pharmacies in Cuzco sell them.
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What is the environmental impact of my trek like?

The Salkantay trek is a low-impact activity. We will only be travelling short distances by bus and train, and almost the entire trek is done by walking. We will avoid areas with endangered plants, and we will give you steps on minimizing your impact even further. For example, please give your trash to you porters at the end of the day. This helps keep the trail as clean as possible.
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Are there bathrooms during the trek?

During most of the trek, there are no bathrooms, or just basic toilets. This is an inevitable part of adventure treks. Once we arrive in Aguas Calientes your hotel will have a private bathroom with hot water.
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What is the food like on the Salkantay trek?

A cook accompanies every group on the Salkantay. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and hearty snacks are provided for your hike. Meals are a mix of local specialties and international favorites. Vegetarian meals are also available upon request.
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What are the guides like?

Having a good guide is an essential part of having a good trek. Because of this, Mystic Salkantay hires and works with some of the best guides in the business. Our guides are knowledgable in the areas of history, archaeology, ecology, and are natives of the Cuzco area.

In order to continue working with our guides, we pay them a higher wage than most agencies, and assure they are treated well. They are given free use of high-quality sleeping bags, mats, and good food. The same goes for our porters and horse-men.
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What happens if I fall ill, can't keep up or there is an emergency?

The event is not run as a race and there is always a large discrepancy in people's walking ability. This is allowed for. There will always be a staff member at the back of the group to ensure you are not left behind and can take things at your own pace. If necessary you can be carried off the mountain by mule.
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What is the food and drink like?

There will be a hot breakfast (porridge, eggs, toast, tea and coffee) to start the day, a packed lunch on the mountain or at your camp and a filling hot meal in the evening (soup, followed by rice, potato or pasta and sauce, but fresh fruit is difficult to find.) There will be ample drinking water, as we will be filling up from local water sources. This will need to be treated with iodine drops or tablets to purify the water. The staff will collect water each morning and evening for drinking and cooking. Are requested to inform the leader of the walk before departure if you have any specific dietary requirements or allergies.
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What is done to protect the environment?

We are keeping to a small group so that we limit the impact we have on the surrounding environment. The Salkantay Mountain National Park is a very delicate environment.
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Who will be leading the group?

We employ a number of qualified leaders. All of them speak English. They will also be a first aid qualified medical officer. They will ultimately be responsible for the running of the itinerary and the safety of your group. The itinerary is there as a guide and may change due to unusual weather patterns, the strength of the group and so on. We will do our very best to keep to the set itinerary. However we cannot be held responsible for any last minute changes that might occur. In all such circumstances, your challenge leader will have the final say.
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What are the toilet/washing facilities like?

There are no toilets on the wilderness route, so you must make sure you bury all waste. Where local conditions permit, we arrange basic long drop toilets in the camps. Mountain streams will be the main washing facility! Your camp team will provide washing bowls of warm water as you arrive at camp at the end of the day's trekking. Take plenty of toilet paper with you, and antiseptic wipes / anti-bacterial hand gel.
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What about hygiene?

While trekking there will be hot washing water for you in the morning and again after the walk at an agreed time in the afternoon.
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What kit do I need to buy? What can I borrow?

It is extremely important that you have the right kit. Please take the time to have a good look through your kit list and contact Charity Challenge if you have any questions regarding the list.
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Do we need to take our own sleeping bags and mats?

Yes, you will need to bring (or hire) a warm sleeping bag (four season or three season with silk or fleece liner) And the mat is included.
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Best regards from Cusco

INKA TRAIL EXPEDITIONS PERU


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