Rightly celebrated by National Geographic Adventure Travel magazine as one of the world's greatest treks, exploring Salkantay is an adventurous journey into remote Andean reaches, and gets us up close and personal with the grandest peaks of Peru's Sacred Valley. Topping out at nearly 5000 metres, at the awe-inspiring Inca Chiriaska Pass, the trail descends to join the classic Inca Trail at the ruins of Sayacmarca before culminating in unforgettable Machu Picchu. An adventure that tests the legs as it takes in varied, wondrous landscapes and historical riches, the trip ends with free time to explore Cusco, where Spain's colonial legacy has been built on ancient Incan architecture – a unique sight, and a fitting end to an incredible exploration.
Day 1-2 - Cusco - The Sacred Valley
On arrival at Cusco Airport you are met and transferred to our hotel, close to the centre of the town. Please check the noticeboard at the hotel reception for details of the time and place of your pre-tour briefing. This meeting is generally followed by an optional group dinner at a nearby restaurant. If you arrive early in Cusco, there is plenty to see and do in this former Inca capital. Most of the major attractions are easily accesible on foot and it is easy to while away the time. Please remember to walk slowly and take it reasonably easy upon arrival, as you will no doubt feel the effects of altitude, Cusco is 3350 metres above sea level Cusco is a favourite destination of many visitors to Peru. Its main sites radiate outwards from the Plaza de Armas, which is dominated by the 17th century Baroque cathedral. It was in this very plaza that the Spanish conquistadors put to death the last Inca king, Tupac Amaru I. on Day 2 we take to the surrounding hills and visit the impressive ceremonial ruins of Sacsayhuaman, where massive stone blocks that form the walls of this site give us an awesome picture of how highly developed Inca engineering was. In our free time, it is also possible to visit the Inca Museum, Religious Art Museum, Church of San Blas and Santa Catalina Museum.
The Sacred Valley, located between the towns of Pisac and Ollantaytambo, was greatly treasured because of its climate, fertile land and the presence of the Urubamba (Sacred) River. On our full day tour of the Sacred Valley, we will see evidence of the Incas engineering skills in the ruins of ancient aqueducts, irrigation canals, dams on the Urubamba River, imposing sets of terraces and centres of worship dedicated to Pachamama (Mother Earth). At the Sacred Valley we visit the Awana Kancha tourist centre where we see llama, alpaca, vicuna and guanaco all in the one place, the ruins at Qenko, the colourful market town of Pisac and the towering Inca citadel at Ollantaytambo. Built on a steep mountainside this grand citadel served as both a temple and fortress. A walk up to the top is rewarded by fine views over the village and out further into the valley.
Day 3-5 - Salkantay Trek
This morning we set off by road on the 4-hour journey from Cusco to the village of Mollepata. From here we start walking and ascend through the picturesque valley towards Nevado Salkantay (6271m). Our route takes us over high mountain passes, with magnificent views of Nevado Humantay (5917m), and through landscape dotted with well-preserved remnants of Incan culture. On this trek we pass some of the most spectacular mountain scenery to be found anywhere in the Andes. We camp at nights, surrounded by towering Andean peaks and rocky crags which are home to the Andean condor - the world's largest flying bird. For this section of the trek our luggage is carried on horseback, so you need only to carry a small daypack with your personal items such as water, jacket and camera, whilst walking.
Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner
Day 6 - Inca Trail to Yuncachimpa
Our trek today meets the Classic Inca Trail at the village of Wayllabamba. Here we say goodbye to our horses and horsemen, as porters carry our luggage for the remainder of the trek. For the next three days we follow the course of an old Inca pathway that will eventually lead us to the impressive Lost City of the Incas - Machu Picchu.
Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner
Day 7 - Inca Trail - Pacaymayo (11km)
Today is the most difficult part of the trek as we climb to Warminwanusca, or Dead Woman’s Pass (4200m). Along the way we trek through some of the most spectacular mountain scenery to be seen anywhere in the Andes. This is the first and highest of three Andean passes on the Inca Trail, with breathtaking views over the snow capped Vilcanota and Vilcabama mountain ranges. Ahead of us we can see the ruins of Runkuracay and in the valley below, Rio Pacamayo (Sunrise River). Here the trail changes from dirt to steps and stone pathways, our route takes us through a landscape dotted with rural hamlets, grazing llamas and well-preserved remnants of the Incan culture. Although it's not too arduous we still need to make a steep descent to the valley below, and our camp beneath the cliff tops at Pacamayo (3600m), overlooking the cloud forest.
Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner
Day 8 - Inca Trail - Winaywayna (15km)
We climb up to the oval shaped ruin of Runkurakay, which is believed to have once been an Inca tambo or post house. Pushing on up the Inca staircase and beside two tiny and fast diminishing mountain lakes, we are rewarded at the summit of our second pass (3900m) with spectacular views of Pumasillo (6245m) and the entire snow-capped Vilcabamba range. From here it is a steep descent and then ascent to our third pass and the ruins of Phullupatamarca, where we embark on a long descent into a beautiful orchid-filled cloud forest. The scenery will blow you away! Butterflies flutter across the trail and the air is pure and clean as we head to breathtaking Winaywayna (2650m).
Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner
Day 9 - Machu Picchu - Aguas Calientes (5km) - Cusco
On our final morning we make an early start to reach the Sun Gate for sunrise. Here we enjoy our first views of the complex of Machu Picchu, often referred to as the Lost City of the Incas. On a clear morning the view from the Sun Gate can be quite stunning and creates a lasting impression that will stay with you long after you return home. Built around 1450 the city was deserted less than a century later following the Spanish invasion and lost for hundreds of years before it was rediscovered by Hiram Bingham in 1911. The architecture of Machu Picchu is quite extraordinary, with the mortar-free design particularly earthquake resistant and the stones so precisely cut that to this day not even a knife fits between them. We tour the site with our guide and then have some free time to explore by ourselves, before taking the bus down to the small town of Aguas Calientes. There are some small shops and restaurants in the town where we can while the time away. Alternatively you may choose to wash away the dust and grime of the trail in the hot thermal baths located on the edge of town. In the late afternoon we take the train back to Cusco.
Day 10 - Cusco
Our Adventure ends in Cusco this morning after breakfast. you may decide to stay on in Cusco, the oldest continuously inhabited city in the western hemisphere, Cusco is a wonderful place in which to stroll aimlessly or participate in an outdoor activity. If you are feeling energetic there are a myriad of adventures available in and around town, such as cycling and horse riding. There are plenty of opportunities to shop for handicrafts or wander around the cobblestone streets and visit museums, churches and colonial sites. You may just wish to relax with a cerveza or a pisco sour in one of the restaurants and penas(traditional local bars) surrounding Plaza de Armas. We are able to organise additional accommodation in Cusco for you if you wish to stay on after your trek, please contact us for details.