The Salkantay Trek is a popular alternative to the classic Inca Trail for reaching the iconic ruins of Machu Picchu in Peru. The trek takes hikers through stunning Andean landscapes, high mountain passes, remote villages, and ancient Inca ruins. The Salkantay Trek is named after the Salkantay Mountain, which stands at an altitude of 6,271 meters and is one of the highest peaks in the Andes.
The Salkantay Trek is typically a 5-day, 4-night trek, covering a distance of approximately 74 kilometers. The trek starts in the town of Mollepata, located 100 kilometers from Cusco, and ends at Machu Picchu. Along the way, hikers pass through beautiful landscapes, including snow-capped mountains, lush valleys, and high-altitude passes. The highest point on the trek is the Salkantay Pass at an altitude of 4,600 meters.
The Salkantay Trek is considered a challenging trek and requires a moderate level of physical fitness. However, it’s a great option for those who want to avoid the crowds of the Inca Trail and experience the beauty of the Andes. The trek is also flexible, allowing hikers to choose their own pace and itinerary, and it does not require permits or reservations like the Inca Trail.
Most tour companies and guides offer organized Salkantay Trek packages that include camping equipment, food, and transportation. It’s recommended to choose a reputable tour company or guide and to book in advance, especially during peak season (June-August).
Preparing for the Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu requires physical fitness, proper gear, and adequate planning. Here are some tips to help you prepare for the trek:
- Physical Fitness: The Salkantay Trek is a challenging trek that involves steep ascents and descents at high altitudes. It’s important to prepare your body for the trek by doing regular cardio exercises, strength training, and practicing hiking on steep terrain. It’s recommended to start preparing at least 2-3 months before the trek.
- Altitude Acclimatization: The highest point on the Salkantay Trek reaches an altitude of 4,600 meters, which can cause altitude sickness. It’s important to acclimate to the high altitude by spending at least 2-3 days in Cusco before the trek, staying hydrated, avoiding alcohol and caffeine, and taking it slow on the first day of the trek.
- Gear: Proper gear is essential for a comfortable and safe trek. You will need good quality hiking boots, comfortable and breathable clothing, a waterproof jacket, a warm hat, gloves, sunglasses, and sunscreen. It’s also recommended to bring trekking poles, a daypack, and a high-quality sleeping bag rated for sub-zero temperatures.
- Food and Water: Food and water are not readily available along the trek, so it’s important to bring enough supplies for the entire trek. It’s recommended to stock up on food and water in Cusco before departing and to bring high-energy snacks such as nuts, dried fruits, and energy bars. Water sources along the trek are scarce and unreliable, so it’s important to bring a water filtration system or purification tablets.
- Permits and Tickets: Unlike the Inca Trail, the Salkantay Trek does not require a permit, but you will need to purchase a ticket to enter Machu Picchu. It’s recommended to purchase tickets in advance, either online or in person at the ticket office in Cusco or Aguas Calientes.
By following these tips, you can prepare for a safe and enjoyable Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu.