Salkantay Trek crosses the Salkantay Pass at 4600m, descends into the cloud forest and passes through the archaeological place named Llactapata, with one of the wonderful views of Machu Picchu.
The trail starts in Challacancha or Soraypampa, a couple of hours away from Cusco and ends in Hidroelectrica giving access to town of Aguas Calientes - Machu Picchu. The trek is not as popular as the overbooked Inca Trail but many people find this trek just as beautiful as the Inca trail.
This trek was nominated as the 25 best Trek in the World, by National Geographic Adventure Travel Magazine. Salkantay has some outstanding views and the altitude will descend till 1,000 meters above sea level, the lands cape is gorgeous and not too steep.
The purpose of the Salkantay Inca Trail to Machupícchu was religious and ceremonial, a pilgrimage that included rituals to honor the mountains and peaks and lakes of the route, like Salkantay and Humantay.
Walking Time: Approximately 6 hours (including a picnic lunch in the route)
Walk and Terrain: Walk, on open roads, some steep ascending trails
Highlights: Humantay Lake trek
“Smooth trekking day” Acclimatization day.
Overnight at Soraypampa Lodge del Cielo “Sky Lodge” at 3,869 masl/12,690 ft.
About Our Lodge del Cielo base in Soraypampa: Our camp is located at 10 minutes walking from the village of Soraypampa, this gives us a huge advantage to have a 360 panoramic view of the Humantay lake glacier, also it is a perfect place, away from the crowd and where we can appreciate the beautiful scenery of the Andean Valley and enjoy the company of our pretty Alpacas.
Note: On the evening before this day there will be a briefing with your guide in Cusco. After an early breakfast at your hotel, our pick up time can vary and will be confirm only on the day of your briefing your Cusco hotel by ITEP guide and vehicle “Pick up time can vary and will be confirmed only on the day of your briefing”.
Tarawasi: In our way we will visit the Tarawasi Archaeological center (approx. 1.5 hrs. from Cusco). The archeological complex of Tarawasi is located in the district of Limatambo, providence of Anta (Cusco region), to the left of the Limatambo river and 2675 masl.
This name comes from the union of two Quechua words “Inca Language”, which would be: "Tara" that means bush and the second one is "Wasi" that means home. The construction of this complex would may be constructed by Inka Pachacuteq during the epoch of his reign. Due to the structure of the archaeological complex indicated that was a ceremonial center that is located in the beginnings of Chinchaysuyo; also, there is a construction of a temple which would be found seated on the Ushnu. A ceremonial altar with a pyramidal shape that was used for important ceremonies and due to its location is indicated that this also served as a resting place in route to the Chinchaysuyo.
After leaving Tarawasi, we pass through the mountain village of Mollepata where we stop for a short break before ascending to Soraypampa.
Here in Soraypampa our first campsite is going to be ”Lodge del Cielo”. After Lunch time, our excursion takes us to Humantay Lake, fed by glaciers far above on the slopes of the impressive Mt. Humantay. Our 4-hour walk is necessary in order to reach the lake, but the view is well worth and those brave enough, can go for a swim! Performed by our local Tour Guide, in full view of the awe-inspiring Mt. Salkantay, tops off this unique experience. Return to the Lodge.
Walk and Terrain: Walk, on mostly steep trails, and some open slopes.
Overnight at Collpapampa camp site Sky Lodge at 2,870 masl/9,414 ft.
Today very early in the morning at 4:00 am we will wake up with a very hot wake up té, at 4:30 am after a nice breakfast and at around 5:00 am we will be starting our trek to climb the Salkantay Pass “we will take advantage to walk in a fresh early morning and before the sun comes out, the characteristic heat of the Andes.
We continue our journey towards Machu Picchu, walking up the White River valley and circling Humantay Peak across Salkantay Peak. The highest point of the ride is the Salkantay Pass at 4,638 masl (15,213 ft). At the pass we stop to take a nice view of snow-capped peaks of the Vilcabamba Range in every direction, with the glaciated south face of Salkantay towering above us. We will keep our eyes out for Andean condors, often visible in this area. From the pass we descend towards the “Wayracmachay”: (‘the cave where the wind lives’) where we are going to enjoy a delicious lunch, later on we will continue 03 hours trek downhill until we reach our Campsite in the route dinner and overnight at the Sky Lodge.
Trekking Time: Approximately 10 hours (including picnic lunch in the route) our style is just walk slow, enjoy the scenery, and talk with our tour guide. A local man can make this trail in just 3 hours. But we are going to do it in 10 hours including the Lunch time.
A Little of History:
The name Salkantay or Salcantay is coming from the Inca´s word Salqa, a Quechua word meaning wild, uncivilized, savage, or invincible, and was recorded as early as 1583. The name is often translated as "Savage Mountain".
Directly to the north of Salkantay lies Machu Picchu, which is at the end of a ridge that extends down from this mountain. Viewed from Machu Picchu's main sundial, the Southern Cross is above Salcantay’s summit when at its highest point in the sky during the rainy season. The Incas associated this alignment with concepts of rain and fertility, and considered Salkantay to be one of the principal deities controlling weather and fertility in the region west of Cusco.
About Our campsite “Lodge del Cielo” in Collpapampa: Our camp is located at 10 minutes walking from the village of Chaullay. Our Camp site in Collpapampa gives us a huge advantage to have a 360 panoramic view of the Salkantay Valley, also it is a perfect place, away from the crowd and where we can get to know the local families
A short 30-minute walk through an avocado orchard brings us to our “Sky Lodge” in Lucmabamba. Dinner and overnight at our Sky lodge
Trekking Time: Approximately 5 hours
Walk and Terrain: Walk on narrow trails
Overnight at Lucmabamba Sky Lodge “Lodge del Cielo” at 2,062 masl/6,765 ft.
This day we walk along the Santa Teresa river valley, through more populated rural areas. We pass through banana, passion fruit, avocado orchards and coffee plantations. The coffee from this region is considered as the best organic coffees in the world.
Our ride will take us to fascinating place named “Llactapata Inca Trail”, where we say goodbye to our horses and equestrian staff.
About Our Lodge del Cielo base in Lucmabamba: Our camp is located at Lucmabamba, it is a perfect place, away from the crowed groups and where we be in touch with a local family.
At this time their economic activity is based in the Coffee plantations and is our responsibility to help them and also, we can learn a little bit more about the coffee.
Optional: If you request a Private Service, we can have a Local Coffee Experience
Responsible Tourist Development for the inka Community, "Heir of Machu Picchu"
The Coffee of the Inka´s
Perú is quickly building a global reputation for producing traditionally cultivated, shade grown, high quality coffee beans.
Coffee production came to Perú in the 1700s. After two centuries, the heirloom typical variety still comprises 60 percent of the country's exports. There are more than 110,000 coffee growers in Perú, most of them are indigenous to these landscapes and speak Spanish as a second language.
The 'Flor de Cafe' (Coffee Flower) Rural Community Tourism Association from Lucmabamba - Bayona is located in the Inca Trail (Lucmabamba - Llactapata - Aobamba), with a final destination in Machupicchu, at a height of 2026 m. a.s.l it was a dream of 15 families.
These families found an opportunity to improve their quality of life through touristic activities, sharing their ancient knowledge inviting tourists to live the experience of flavors and knowledge of the Coffee Tour (Ruta del Cafe).
Overnight in Aguas Calientes at 1,900 masl/6,232 ft.
Hiking Time: 5–6 hours
Hiking Level: Moderate to challenging.
After a healthy breakfast, we tackle the last day of our trek. We head uphill for 2-3 hours towards Llactapata Pass (2,736 m.a.s.l/8,974ft), where we come upon a distant with an spectacular view of Machu Picchu Sanctuary, from the southeast view, few travelers ever get a chance to admire the magnificent of the place, we take a short break to explore Llactapata archaeological place, which had been recently restored.
Lunch is served at a scenic viewpoint, looking out to Machu Picchu. After we begin our final descent to the Aobamba River through lush bamboo forests, orchards and coffee plantations.
We arrive to Hydroelectric Village “Train station Village”, we continue our walk a side of the rail way until Aguas Calientes also known as Machupicchu Village (approx. 3 hours)
Upon arrival, we check into the hotel for a celebration dinner with our guide and one last briefing for our next day experience!
Note - Those who prefer not to hike from Hydroelectric Village to Aguas Calientes can take the train experience, 40 minutes’ trip “price is not included”. They will meet the rest of the group at the train station in Aguas Calientes together. (The guide confirms your preferences the night before.)
About Our overnight in Machupicchu Village: Hotel in Aguas Calientes will vary according your request and expectations.
A LITTLE OF HISTORY:
Bingham first discovered Llactapata in 1912. "We found evidence that some Inca chieftain had built his home here and had included in the plan ten or a dozen buildings. Bingham locates the site "on top of a ridge between the valleys of the Aobamba and the Salcantay, about 5,000 feet above the estate of Huaquina." "Here we discovered a number of ruins and two or three modern huts. The Indians said that the place was called Llactapata." Bingham did not investigate the ruins thoroughly so they were not studied again for another 70 years.
A mid-2003 study of the site conducted by Hugh Thomson and Gary Ziegler concluded that the location of Llactapata along the Inca trail suggested that it was an important rest stop and roadside shrine on the journey to Machu Picchu. This and subsequent investigations have revealed an extensive complex of structures and features related to and connected with Machu Picchu by a continuation of the Inca Trail leading onward into the Vilcabamba. Llactapata may have been a member of the network of interrelated administrative and ceremonial sites which supported the regional center at Machu Picchu. It probably played an important astronomical function during the solstices and equinoxes.
Distance: 6 km/3.7mls
Returning to Cusco: 3,360 masl/11,021 ft.
After a very early buffet breakfast at your hotel, we make our way to the bus station for the ride up to Machu Picchu Sanctuary (30 min). Our trip leader will give an introductory guided tour of the Inca city.
Machu Picchu Guided Tour: Machu Picchu Inca City opens at 6 am. We are going to be in the Inka City between 6 am and 7 am, after we show our entrance ticket , we will climb the best point to take some pictures in the “The Guardian House”, after a 30 minutes free time at your own discretion, your guide will give you information about the Inka City for around 1 hour.
After the guardian House Guided explanation, you are going to have 02 options.
1. - After the explanation of your Tour Guide from the Guardian´s House. – You can choose to climb the Sun gate. A trek up around one hour, a really great option to get the best panoramic pictures of all the Andes and the fascinating MACHUPICCHU. Those who make the Inca trail will arrive trough the Sun Gate later on; you can come back to the Inca city and Visit by your own the Inka City.
2. - After the interpretation of your Tour Guide from the Guardian´s House. – We continue into the Inca city by another 1 hour, passing the main plaza, the temple of 03 windows and much more, once we arrive to the Sacred Rock “very close to the entrance gate for Huayna Picchu Sacred Mountain”, our tour guide will give you some free time in order to explore the Inca city at your own. Climb up Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Sacred Mountain (not included in the price, spaces are limited, please let us know)
Very Important 1: According Machu Picchu regulation, once you enter to the sacred city is not allow to get back by the same paths is just one way tour “there are a lot of signs about which route we should follow, and is forbidden to stop in some places”, For that reason we advise you to enjoy every minute you will be in each Inca place.
Very Important 2: According Machu Picchu Regulation, entrance fees are only one time, it means once you go out from the Inka City, you can’t return, unless you get a new ticket.
Back to Cusco: You will descend to Aguas Calientes by bus (included) and later board the Expedition train by 4:22pm (it depends of the train availabilities) to the Ollantaytambo Train Station where you will meet our private van and be transferred to Cusco arriving around 8:30pm.
Returning to Cusco: 3,360 masl/11,021 ft.
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"I had the pleasure of doing the four day, three night Inca Trail hike with this agency. The guides Primo, and Iza were wonderful. They were encouraging, knowledgeable, patient and kept us on track. The porters are super heroes. The food was phenomenal. I didn’t know it was possible to eat so well..."
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"Primo and Iza were amazing guides. They constantly kept a positive attitude among our group and kept us laughing even during our harder moments on the trail. I appreciate how they both went above and beyond to make our experience on the Inca Trail that much more special. Thank you again!..."