The Salkantay + Inca Trail Expedition is a 6-day, 5-night trek that combines two of the most popular trails in the Cusco region of Peru: the Salkantay Trek and the classic Inca Trail. This challenging but rewarding journey leads to the iconic Machu Picchu, guiding you through diverse landscapes, including snow-capped mountains, lush cloud forests, and ancient Inca ruins, before reaching your destination.

Trek details

Duration
6 days 5 nights
Activities
Hiking - Camping - Adventure
Difficulty
Challenging
Maximum Altitude
5100 m / 16732 ft
Destination
Machu Picchu
Group Size
12
Overview

The Salkantay + Inca Trail Expedition is a challenging and adventurous trek combining two iconic Peru routes: the Salkantay Trek and the Inca Trail. This expedition spans 6 days and 5 nights, providing participants with a comprehensive overview of the Andes Mountains and the Inca civilization's breathtaking landscapes and historical sites. Here's a general itinerary for this expedition:

Highlights: 

  • Explore stunning glacial lakes with turquoise waters.
  • Enjoy breathtaking panoramic views of snow-capped peaks.
  • Hike the ancient stone pathway of the Inca Trail.
  • Arrive at Machu Picchu and witness the sunrise from the Sun Gate.
  • Return on the Panoramic Vistadome Train

Salkantay + Inca Trail Expedition at a Glance!

Day 1: Soraypampa — Humantay Lake — Ichupata

  • Distance: 16 km / 10 miles
  • Start your trek from Soraypampa and hike to Humantay Lake, a beautiful turquoise glacial lake.
  • Enjoy some time at the lake for photos and to take in the scenery.
  • Continue your trek through the highland landscapes to Ichupata, where you'll set up camp for the night.

Day 2: Ichupata — Sisaypampa — Canal Inca

  • Distance: 13 km / 8 miles
  • Begin your day with a descent to Sisaypampa.
  • Hike through the Andean valleys and enjoy the stunning views of the surrounding mountains.
  • Continue your trek to Canal Inca, where you'll camp for the night.

Day 3: Canal Inca — Huayllabamba — Ayapata

  • Distance: 15 km / 9.3 miles
  • Start your trek with a descent to Huayllabamba, the beginning of the classic Inca Trail.
  • Join the famous Inca Trail and hike through lush cloud forests.
  • Camp at Ayapata, nestled in the high-altitude forest.

Day 4: Ayapata — Warmiwañuska — Chaquicocha

  • Distance: 16 km / 9.9 miles
    This is a challenging day with a steep ascent to Warmiwañuska (Dead Woman's Pass), the trek's highest point.
    Enjoy panoramic views from the pass before descending to the Pacaymayo Valley.
    Continue to the beautiful campsite of Chaquicocha.

Day 5: Chaquicocha — Phuyupatamarca — Wiñaywayna

  • Distance: 10 km / 6.2 miles
  • Hike through the cloud forest and visit the archaeological site of Phuyupatamarca.
  • Descend to Wiñaywayna, another impressive Inca site.
  • Camp at Wiñaywayna and prepare for your final day of hiking.

Day 6: Wiñaywayna — Machu Picchu — Cusco

  • Distance: 6 km / 3.7 miles
  • Wake up early and hike to Inti Punku (the Sun Gate) to witness the sunrise over Machu Picchu.
  • Descend into the iconic Machu Picchu citadel and explore the ruins with a guided tour.
  • Return on the Panoramic Trains
Full Itinerary
Day 1: Soraypampa — Humantay lake — Ichupata (16 km / 10 miles)

On the first day of the Salkantay + Inca Trail Expedition, you'll start at Soraypampa and trek to Humantay Lake, Salkantaypampa, and finally to Ichupata.

  • Soraypampa (3,900 meters / 12,795 feet): Begin your trek from the campsite at Soraypampa, which is the starting point for both the Salkantay Trek and the Humantay Lake hike.
  • Humantay Lake (4,200 meters / 13,780 feet): After a 2-hour uphill hike, you'll reach the stunning turquoise waters of Humantay Lake. Take in the breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains, including the snow-capped Humantay Peak.
  • Salkantaypampa (4,100 meters / 13,451 feet): After enjoying the views at Humantay Lake, you'll descend back to the trail and continue towards Salkantaypampa. This area is characterized by its beautiful meadows and views of the Salkantay Mountain.
  • Ichupata (4,350 meters / 14,271 feet): Continue your hike towards Ichupata, where you'll set up camp for the night. This campsite offers a fantastic view of the Salkantay glacier and is a good spot to rest before the challenging second day.

Throughout the day, you'll cover a distance of approximately 15 km (9.3 miles) while experiencing the region's diverse landscapes. Staying well-hydrated and pacing yourself is important, as you'll be trekking at a high altitude. The total hiking time is roughly 7-8 hours, including breaks for lunch and sightseeing.

Day 2: Ichupata — Sisaypampa — Canal Inca (13 km / 8 miles)

On the second day of the Salkantay + Inca Trail Expedition, you'll trek from Ichupata to Sisaypampa and then to Canal Inca, covering a distance of approximately 13 km (8 miles).

  • Ichupata (4,350 meters / 14,271 feet): Begin your day at the campsite in Ichupata, enjoying breakfast and preparing for the day's hike.
  • Salkantay Pass (4,630 meters / 15,190 feet): After a challenging ascent, you'll reach the highest point of the trek at the Salkantay Pass. Enjoy the stunning views of the Salkantay Mountain and the surrounding snow-capped peaks.
  • Sisaypampa (5,100 meters / 16,732 feet): Descend from the pass to the grassy valley of Sisaypampa. This area is known for its wildflowers and scenic views of the Vilcabamba Mountain Range.
  • Canal Inca (3,800 meters / 12,467 feet): Continue your trek towards Canal Inca, where you'll set up camp for the night. This campsite is located near an ancient Inca water channel and is a great spot to rest and recover from the day's hike.

Throughout the day, you'll cover a distance of approximately 13 km (8 miles), with a total hiking time of around 6-7 hours, including breaks for lunch and sightseeing. This day is considered one of the most challenging trek due to the altitude and the ascent to the Salkantay Pass. It is essential to stay well-hydrated and maintain a steady pace to conserve energy for the upcoming days

Day 3: Canal Inca — Huayllabamba — Ayapata (15 km / 9.3 miles)

On the third day of the Salkantay + Inca Trail Expedition, you'll trek from Canal Inca to Huayllabamba, where you'll join the classic Inca Trail, and then continue to Ayapata. This day marks the beginning of the Inca Trail portion of your trek.

  • Canal Inca (3,800 meters / 12,467 feet): Start your day at the campsite near the ancient Inca water channel and begin your trek towards the Classic Inca Trail.
  • Huayllabamba (3,000 meters / 9,843 feet): After a descent through the cloud forest, you'll reach the small village of Huayllabamba. This is where you'll join the Classic Inca Trail, which will lead you to Machu Picchu.
  • Ayapata (3,300 meters / 10,826 feet): Descend from Llulluchapampa to the campsite at Ayapata, where you'll set up camp for the night. This campsite is located within the cloud forest and is a great spot to rest and recover from the day's hike.

Throughout the day, you'll cover a distance of approximately 15 km (9.3 miles), with a total hiking time of around 7-8 hours, including breaks for lunch and sightseeing. This day features a mix of ascents and descents through diverse landscapes, including cloud forests and valleys. It is important to stay well-hydrated and pace yourself, as the trek's difficulty level increases with the added challenge of hiking along the Inca Trail.

Day 4: Ayapata — Warmiwañuska — Chaquicocha (16km / 9.9 miles)

On the fourth day of the Salkantay + Inca Trail Expedition, you'll trek from Ayapata to Warmiwañuska, also known as Dead Woman's Pass, and then continue to Chaquicocha. This day is considered one of the most challenging of the trek due to the steep ascents and high altitude.

  • Ayapata (3,300 meters / 10,826 feet): Start your day at the campsite in Ayapata, enjoying breakfast and preparing for the day's hike.
  • Warmiwañuska (4,215 meters / 13,828 feet): After a challenging uphill hike, you'll reach the highest point of the Inca Trail at Warmiwañuska, or Dead Woman's Pass. Enjoy the panoramic views of the surrounding valleys and mountains, and take a moment to appreciate your accomplishment.
  • Pacaymayo (3,600 meters / 11,811 feet): Descend from the pass to the valley of Pacaymayo, where you'll have a well-deserved break for lunch and a chance to rest your legs.
  • Runkurakay Pass (3,950 meters / 12,959 feet): Continue your ascent to the second pass of the day, Runkurakay Pass. Along the way, you'll pass the Runkurakay Inca ruins, a small circular structure that was likely a rest stop for Inca travelers.
  • Chaquicocha (3,670 meters / 12,040 feet): Descend to the campsite at Chaquicocha, where you'll set up camp for the night. This campsite offers beautiful views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.

Throughout the day, you'll cover a distance of approximately 16 km (9.9 miles), with a total hiking time of around 8-9 hours, including breaks for lunch and sightseeing. This day is challenging due to the steep ascents and high altitude, so staying well-hydrated and maintaining a steady pace to conserve energy for the upcoming days is essential.

Day 5: Chaquicocha — Phuyupatamarca — Wiñaywayna (10km / 6.2 miles)

On the fifth day of the Salkantay + Inca Trail Expedition, you'll trek from Chaquicocha to Phuyupatamarca and then continue to Wiñaywayna. This day is filled with impressive Inca ruins and stunning views.

  • Chaquicocha (3,670 meters / 12,040 feet): Start your day at the campsite in Chaquicocha, enjoying breakfast and preparing for the day's hike.
  • Phuyupatamarca (3,650 meters / 11,975 feet): After a gradual ascent, you'll reach the archaeological site of Phuyupatamarca, also known as "The Town Above the Clouds." This well-preserved Inca complex offers stunning views of the surrounding valleys and mountains.
  • Intipata (2,710 meters / 8,891 feet): Descend through the cloud forest, passing the terraced Inca site of Intipata, which was likely used for agricultural purposes. The site offers spectacular views of the Urubamba River and the surrounding mountains.
  • Wiñaywayna (2,650 meters / 8,694 feet): Continue your trek to the impressive Inca site of Wiñaywayna, which means "Forever Young" in Quechua. The site features a series of impressive agricultural terraces and a beautiful ceremonial center. Nearby, you'll set up camp for the night.

Throughout the day, you'll cover a distance of approximately 10 km (6.2 miles), with a total hiking time of around 5-6 hours, including breaks for lunch and sightseeing. This day is less strenuous than the previous days, with more opportunities to explore the Inca ruins and enjoy the beautiful scenery. Remember to stay well-hydrated and pace yourself, as you'll be trekking at a lower altitude.

Day 6: Wiñaywayna — Machu Picchu — Cusco (6km / 3.7 miles)

On the final day of the Salkantay + Inca Trail Expedition, you'll trek from Wiñaywayna to the iconic Machu Picchu and then return to Cusco. This day is the highlight of the journey, as you'll finally reach the world-famous Inca citadel.

  • Wiñaywayna (2,650 meters / 8,694 feet): Start your day early at the campsite in Wiñaywayna, enjoying breakfast and preparing for the final stretch of the trek.
  • Inti Punku (2,720 meters / 8,924 feet): After a short hike, you'll reach the Sun Gate or Inti Punku, which offers a breathtaking first glimpse of Machu Picchu. Take a moment to soak in the awe-inspiring views of the ancient citadel and its stunning surroundings.
  • Machu Picchu (2,430 meters / 7,972 feet): Descend from the Sun Gate to the entrance of Machu Picchu, where you'll join a guided tour to learn about the history and significance of the site. After the tour, you'll have some free time to explore the ruins on your own or hike to the Inca Bridge or Huayna Picchu, if you have pre-booked permits.
  • Aguas Calientes (2,040 meters / 6,693 feet): In the afternoon, make your way to the nearby town of Aguas Calientes. You can choose to walk or take a bus to the town. Here, you'll board a train to Ollantaytambo.
  • Cusco (3,400 meters / 11,155 feet): From Ollantaytambo, you'll be transferred back to Cusco by private transportation, where your Salkantay + Inca Trail Expedition comes to an end.

Throughout the day, you'll cover a distance of approximately 6 km (3.7 miles), with a total hiking time of around 2-3 hours, not including the time spent exploring Machu Picchu. This day is less strenuous than the previous days, allowing you to fully enjoy the experience of visiting Machu Picchu.

Inclusions:

Professional bilingual guide (English/Spanish)

Pre-trek briefing and orientation

Transportation to the starting point of the trek and return to Cusco

Permits for the Inca Trail and entrance to Machu Picchu

Accommodation in tents for five nights, including a dining tent and toilet tent

Camping equipment such as sleeping pads, tents, and cooking equipment

Meals during the trek (breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks)

Boiled or purified water for drinking during the trek

Porters or pack animals to carry camping equipment, food, and up to a certain weight of personal belongings

First-aid kit and emergency oxygen

Guided tour of Machu Picchu

Bus ticket from Machu Picchu to Aguas Calientes

Train ticket from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo

Private transportation from Ollantaytambo to Cusco

Environmental and local community fees

Exclusions:

International and domestic flights

Hotel accommodations before and after the trek

Personal trekking equipment such as hiking boots, backpacks, and trekking poles

Sleeping bags (usually available for rent from the tour operator)

Travel insurance (highly recommended)

Meals not specified in the itinerary (e.g., meals in Cusco or Aguas Calientes)

Additional activities or entrance fees not mentioned in the itinerary

Tips for the trekking crew (guides, porters, and cooks)

Personal expenses, such as souvenirs or snacks

Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain permits

FAQs

What is the best time of year for this trek?

The best time to trek the Salkantay + Inca Trail is during the dry season, which runs from April to October. The weather is typically more stable, with clear skies and less rain, making the trek more enjoyable. However, it is also the busiest time of year, so booking well in advance is recommended.

How difficult is the Salkantay + Inca Trail trek?

The Salkantay + Inca Trail trek is considered challenging due to the high altitude, steep ascents and descents, and the long distances covered each day. A good level of fitness and some prior trekking experience is recommended. Acclimatizing to the altitude in Cusco for a few days before the trek can also help reduce the risk of altitude sickness.

What is the maximum altitude on this trek?

The highest point on the Salkantay + Inca Trail trek is the Frozen Inca pass at 5,100 meters (16,732 feet).

Do I need a permit for the Salkantay + Inca Trail trek?

Yes, a permit is required to hike the Inca Trail portion of the trek. Permits are limited and sell out quickly, especially during the peak season, so it's important to book your trek well in advance. Your tour operator will usually take care of obtaining the necessary permits for you.

How far in advance should I book the trek?

It is recommended to book the Salkantay + Inca Trail trek at least 6 months in advance, especially during the peak season. This allows enough time to secure the necessary permits and make any additional arrangements.

What should I pack for the trek?

Some essential items to pack for the Salkantay + Inca Trail trek include:

  • Hiking boots with good ankle support
  • Backpack with a rain cover
  • Trekking poles
  • Warm clothing (layers, thermal underwear, fleece, down jacket)
  • Waterproof clothing (rain jacket and pants)
  • Sun protection (hat, sunglasses, sunscreen)
  • Quick-drying clothes
  • Personal toiletries and a small towel
  • Water bottle or hydration bladder
  • Headlamp or flashlight
  • Snacks and energy bars
  • Camera and extra batteries
  • Personal first-aid kit and any necessary medications
  • Travel documents (passport, travel insurance, permits)

Can I trek the Salkantay + Inca Trail independently?

No, trekking the Inca Trail portion of the Salkantay + Inca Trail expedition requires a licensed tour operator. This ensures that the trail is well-maintained, and that the local communities and environment are protected. Additionally, a professional guide can enhance your trekking experience by providing valuable insights into the history and culture of the region.