trip advisor Andean Paths

The famous SALKANTAY TREK TO MACHU PICCHU is ranked among the “Top 25 Best Treks” in the world by National Geographic Adventure Travel Magazine. When offered by ANDEAN PATHS ADVENTURES this trek is open to everybody with no limitation on spaces or permits. The route links the City of Cusco with the villages of Mollepata and Machupicchu. The SALKANTAY TREK TO MACHUPICCHU passes between snowcapped mountains and amazing cloud forests.  The route is ancient and rugged and lies where most of the Inka Road System was located: the eastern side of the Andes. 

This route is situated 80 kilometers (50 miles) northwest of the City of Cusco in south-central Peru.  Salkantay is an outstanding glacier-capped summit, and at 6,271 m (20,574 ft) is the highest of the Vilcabamba mountain range. The peak was considered one of the most important Apus—“mountain deities”—in Inkan theology and is still revered by the Quechua people of Peru of today.  The Quechua spellings of Willkapanpa and Salqantay translate respectively to “Sacred Plain” and “Savage Mountain”.

The classic SALKANTAY TREK TO MACHU PICCHU is a custom-designed alternative to the traditional Inca Trail.  Absolutely extraordinary and unforgettable, this is an experience for adventure travelers seeking a little more solitude and exploration than what is offered in classic route. With endless breathtaking vistas of the “American Himalayas”, the SALKANTAY TREK TO MACHUPICCHU offers the peaceful and quiet contemplation that such a sacred path deserves.






This trek begins in Cusco. We will pick you up between 4:30 and 5:00 a.m. from your hotel in a private bus. We will set out for THE VILLAGE OF MOLLEPATA (2,800 meters; 9,186 ft.), passing by ISKUCHAKA and LIMATAMBO. On arrival at MOLLEPATA (7:00 am roughly), the guide and staff workers are going to carry all the heavy things such as food, cooking and camping equipments  on horses, while you have the opportunity to have breakfast on your own (5-10 Peruvian soles). Afterwards, we will start hiking for approximately 7 hours (3.5 hours after breakfast and the others 3.5 hours after lunch).  Along the way we will take in views of some astonishing landscapes until we arrive at SORAYPAMPA (the highest and coldest campsite of the trek), where hot beverages await us before having dinner and where we will later spend the night.

  • Walking time: 7-8 hours (roughly).
  • Total distance: 19 km “9 miles” (roughly).
  • Campsite altitude: 3,900 m “12,795 feet” (roughly).



We will rise early for the challenging day ahead. After we have a hearty breakfast we will begin our ascent gently, walking as a group at a leisurly pace for about four hours as we cross by boulder fields, a small lake, and impressive moraines of glacial soil and rock. At 4,600 meters (15,091 ft) we will reach a mountain pass which is the highest point on the SALKANTAY TREK TO MACHUPICCHU. From there we will enjoy the massive and stunning snow-capped peak of SALKANTAY, which stands at 6, 271 meters high (20,574 ft). The Quechua spelling Salqantay means “Savage Mountain” and the peak is considered an apu—a mountain deity of the Quechua people. After you take in views of other dazzling 20,500-footers (6,248m) like Humantay and Salkantay snow-capped mountains, we will head down into Chaullay Valley—a confluence of the Vilcanota, Maranura, and Urubamba rivers (?). As we descent into the valley will experience many different ecological levels of the Andes, from ice-clad hills to lush cloud forest. Of course, we will stop for lunch in Huayracmachay.  Here we will have dinner and spend a night camping in tents. 

  • Walking time: 8-9 hours (roughly).
  • Total distance: 22 km “13 miles” (roughly).
  • Campsite altitude: 2,900 m “9,500 feet” (roughly).



We will wake up early in the morning at 6:30 am and have a tasty breakfast. Be ready for an unforgettable day! We start trekking through the upper jungle and through its renowned valleys, crossing Santa Teresa River, with its fabulous vistas of creeks, waterfalls, coffee plantations, avocado trees and tropical fruits. We will have lunch and rest at Playa Sahuayaco. Afterwards we will then get on a bus to Santa Teresa, 45 min away, and spend the night in Santa Teresa village. We will have spare time to visit either the thermal baths or to take a stroll around the village.

REMINDER: You should not miss out on the hot springs that are also known as healing waters. Dinner and cozy hostel await you after the relaxing baths.

  • Walking time: 5-6 hours (roughly).
  • Total distance: 12 km “7 miles” (roughly).
  • Hostel altitude: 1,650 m “5,413 feet” (roughly).



After breakfast, we set off on the last day of hiking. It will be a 7-hour walk altogether, passing by the hydroelectric power plant, where we will have lunch. We will then carry on to Aguas Calientes walking alongside the train tracks and taking in the beautiful landscape. From there we are able to spot some parts of Machupicchu far away and some old farming terraces overrun by the forest that are still yet to be excavated. As soon as you arrive at Aguas Calientes (Machupicchu Village), famous for its thermal baths, we will have dinner at a nice restaurant and spend the last night here in a hostel.

Walking time: 6-7 hours (roughly).
Total distance: 16 km “10 miles” (roughly).
Hostel: 2,050 m “6,700 feet” (roughly).



Day 45will be our earliest wake-up, at 4:30 am, but only so you will have time to enjoy the sunrise over Machupicchu, one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World.  We will walk by flashlight as a group up the famous Inka Stairs to Machupicchu, arriving just before daybreak.  (There is also the option to take an eco-friendly bus up to the park as well!)

This vast archeological park is also known as the “White Stone City” and is surrounded by apus, the snow-capped mountains regarded as deities by the Quechua people.  The latest archeological research stipulates that Machupicchu was built during the reign of Pachaqutec, the Alexander the Great of ancient South America.  You will have a guided walking tour for two hours throughout the ancient citadel, after which you will have free time to explore the vast city for yourself.  After you are ready to leave Machupicchu, you can take an eco-friendly bus down to Aguas Calientes.   Here you will have the opportunity to relax in the thermal springs the town is famous for and have dinner at many of the fine bars or restaurants in Aguas (both are optional and at your own expense).  At the end of the day we will take the train back to the Sacred Valley, where a private van will return you to the City of Cusco.  

  • Machupicchu archaeological site: 2,400 m “7,800 feet”.


REMINDERS: It’s possible that any part of the program might change due to circumstances out of our control such as weather conditions, flight schedules, etc.


  • Pre-departure briefing. 
  • Private transport from Cusco to Mollepata.
  • Official English-speaking Guide.
  • Salkantay Trek Cook, who will prepare healthy, hot meals throughout the trek.
  • Breakfast x 4, lunch x 4, dinner x 4.
  • Wake up call with coca leaf tea each morning in your tent for a gentle start to the day.
  • Boiled water during the trek, with a limit of 2 liters per day (bring your own water bottle).
  • A duffel bag from Andean Paths Adventures to store your personal belongings during the trek.
  • A trained equine expert and horses that will carry camping and cooking equipment, plus 7 kilos (16 pound) of  your personal belongings including the provided down sleeping bag and roll pad mattress, which will be on horses (only for 3 days).
  • Air sleeping mattresses included.
  • All camping equipment.
  • Emergency horse (if you feel ill or weak you can ride the horse).
  • Warm water every morning and nights for washing your hands.
  • First-Aid kit.
  • Oxygen canisters for any emergency. 
  • Entrance to Machupicchu included in trek fee (Huaynapicchu Mountain optional. Huaynapicchu reservations must be made in Cusco so please let us know in advance if you would like to take this option).
  • 1 night hostel in Aguas Calientes that is nice, clean, safe, and cozy with private bathroom, in double or triple accommodation, and with breakfast included.
  • Guided walk for two hours at Machupicchu Archaeological site.
  • Ecological bus service (one way) either from Aguas Calientes up to Machupicchu or Machupicchu down to Aguas Calientes.
  • Return trip train service to Sacred Valley.
  • Transport from the Sacred Valley to Cusco.
  • Free Andean Paths t-shirt and certificate upon trek completion!


  • The first breakfast, and lunch and dinner on the last day in Aguas Calientes.
  • Extra Expenses. 
  • Entrance to the thermal baths at neither Santa Teresa nor Aguas Calientes village.


  • Original Passport (and ISIC student card if applicable).
  • Travel and Health Insurance (bring only copies with you).
  • A backpack to carry your belongings.
  • Trekking boots with ankle support.
  • Trekking poles.
  • Warm clothes for variable temperatures, especially at night.
  • Thermal underwear.
  • Gloves or mittens, scarf, wool socks, woolen hat for cold nights.
  • T-shirts and trekking pants that zip off to short pants for comfort.
  • Head light or torch and extra batteries.
  • Camera and extra batteries
  • A hat with a broad visor to keep the sun off your face.
  • Sunscreen and sunglasses.
  • Rain jacket and rain poncho.
  • Toilet paper, small towel.
  • Insect repellent, with at least 15% DEET.
  • Personal medicinal kit.
  • 2 liters water bottle.
  • Water purifying tablets.
  • Bathing clothes for the hot springs.
  • Extra money, preferably in Peruvian soles.
  • And a sense of humor!