14 days

Mt Salkantay & the High Trail

Mt Salkantay & the High Trail

Warminwanusca - 'Dead Woman’s Pass' on the Inca Trail

The floating reed islands of the Uros people on the highest navigable lake in the world - Lake Titicaca

The towering Inca citadel at Ollantaytambo

UNESCO World Heritage-listed ancient Inca capital of Cusco

UNESCO World Heritage-listed historic centre of the Peruvian capital Lima

The colourful market town of Pisac

The 'Lost City of the Incas' - UNESCO World Heritage-listed Machu Picchu

Puno - a town four kilometres above sea-level

Salkantay - trekking the most remote reaches of the Sacred Valley

Trip rating
  • Why we love it

    • Trekking Salkantay should be on every trekker’s ‘to do’ list – it gets you among the finest scenery, and takes you higher than any other trail (4950 metres), before joining the classic Inca Trail to majestic Machu Picchu.
    • For those wanting ancient trails, imposing mountain scenery, traditional villages and fascinating cities, this is the perfect adventure!


    Day 1 - Cusco

    • The trip will start in Cuzco today. At approximately 2pm you will have short walking tour of the Inca capital, including a visit to the Qoricancha
    • Sun Temple.
    • Please ensure you arrive in time for the walking tour. If there are no suitable flights, please speak with your travel consultant as you're able to book an additional night accomodation before the tour.

    Day 2 - Cuzco ruins walk

    • The hills above Cuzco city are dotted with some of the most interesting Inca ruins. You will drive to the highest, Tambomachay, and return on
    • foot to Cuzco via Puca Pucara, Qenco and Sacsayhuaman: an easy acclimatisation walk to get used to the altitude. An open-air picnic
    • lunch is included during the hike near the spectacular ruins.
    Breakfast | Lunch

    Day 3 - Free Day

    • You will have a free day in Cuzco today, to relax and further acclimatise before starting the tour. If you're feeling energetic, rafting, cultural tours or a visit to the Rainbow Centre can be organised.

    Day 4 - Start trek

    • A few hours drive via the interesting Inca remains of Tarawasi will take you high to the hill town of Mollepata. You will start by walking from Mollepatato to your campsite near Marcocasa where you will spend your first night undercanvas.
    • The total driving time is approx three hours, and the walk will take around three to four hours of steady climbing along well-made tracks. From the campsite you will have excellent views of the Apurimac Valley.
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 5 - Trek towards Salcantay

    • Your trek today will begin on the southwest facing slopes of the Andes where moderate precipitation generates coarse bushes and gnarly
    • trees, small parrots can be heard, if not seen.
    • You will climb gradually northwards, heading through the farming hamlet of Soraypampa, towards the broad snowy peak of Humantay (5917m). Soon the whole of the massive bulk of Salcantay (6271m) will dominate your view. You will camp at around 4200m in the high grassy meadow of Ichu Pata, below the south face and glaciers of the impressive peak.
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 6 - Inca Chiriasqa Pass

    • The high point of the trek and this morning's goal is the Inca Chiriasqa pass at almost 5000m. Climbing more steeply now, you will walk close to the spectacular glaciers and ice walls of Nevado Salcantay. Passing through Pampa Japonesa, base camp for a Japanese mountaineering expedition, you will finally top the pass and enjoy excellent 360º views.
    • Inca Chirisaqa means 'the Inca fell ill from cold', and the exposed situation makes it easy to see why. Descending from the pass, you will drop down into the upper reaches of a broad valley where Salcantay reappears in a new profile. After passing a huge ridge of terminal moraine, once the snout of the East Salcantay Glacier, the river suddenly becomes dead straight, canalised by the Incas centuries ago. You will camp alongside the canal close to the hamlet of Pampa Cahuana.
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 7 - Pampa Cahuna Valley

    • Setting off from camp this morning, you'll follow the canal, which soon drops into a steep-sided valley. The path follows the side of this valley all the way to our next camp at Paucarcancha (an Inca watchtower), close to the start of the Inca Trail.
    • You will normally have a free afternoon here to relax, buy a beer and prepare for the second half of the trek, and there is time for a short walk around the small fortress, which guarded the entrance to the Pampa Cahuana valley.
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 8 - Join Inca Trail

    • Today you'll join the main Inca Trail, the classic trek to Machu Picchu. From the village of Huayllabamba, a long and steady climb will take you through an area of cloud forest to the meadows of Llulluchapampa, then over the Warmihuañusca (Dead Woman) Pass at 4,234m.
    • After quite a long, steep descent you'll camp in the scenic Pacaymayo valley (3600m).
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 9 - Inca Trail

    • Another easier climb, past the small ruins of Runcuracay, takes you over the Runcuracay Pass, and from now on the Inca Trail becomes a clearly defined path made of flat boulders. You will pass the ruins of Sayajmarca and suddenly enter cloud forest.
    • At one point the trail passes through a short Inca tunnel before crossing onto the Amazon side of the continental divide. Normally, you'll camp on the ridge above the Inca site of Phuyupatamarca (3700m) to benefit from the views of sunset and sunrise, and to avoid the crowded Wiñay Wayña campsite.
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 10 - To Machu Picchu

    • From the ridge you'll embark on the infamous Inca steps: a two kilometre stone staircase taking you rapidly downhill amid a panorama of overwhelming immensity, the peaks of the Vilcabamba range above, and the river thousands of metres below. After visiting the attractive ruins of Wiñay Wayña, you will have an undulating walk through cloud forest high above the river to Inti Punku, the Inca Gate of the Sun.
    • From here you will get your first full sight of Machu Picchu itself. Descending to the city, you'll have a short introduction to the site before descending to the river to relax in camp at Puente Ruinas, near Aguas Calientes, a busy village with thermal springs.
    • It is usually possible to stay in a hotel for this night at the nearby village of Aguas Calientes for an extra fee (paid locally) - please speak to your guide at the start of the tour if you wish to arrange this.
    Breakfast | Lunch

    Day 11 - Machu Picchu dawn tour

    • You will return to Machu Picchu early for a guided tour, having the site almost to yourself until the trains from Cuzco start arriving around mid-morning. There will be free time to explore the ruins further before boarding the afternoon train to Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley, where you'll stay for the night.

    Day 12-13 - Sacred Valley - Cusco

    • Today you will have time to explore the Sacred Valley of the Incas, visiting the famousInca fortress ruins of Ollantaytambo and Pisac that tower over the villages below them of the same name.
    • You will also have time to look around Pisac Market, famous for its handicrafts, before returning by road to Cuzco.
    • The next day will be free to explore in your own time.

    Day 14 - Cusco

    • Your tour will come to an end after breakfast.
  • What to Know

    What's Included

    • The services of Exodus's expert English-speaking local leader throughout the tour, and local guides at some sites.
    • Sightseeing (including entrance fees where relevant)
    • 3-day trek on the Salkantay Trail.
    • 4-day trek on the ‘Classic’ route to Machu Picchu.
    • 6 nights full service camping, including the services of horsemen/horses (Salkantay), porters (Inca Trail) and a cook.
    • Guided tour of Machu Picchu, including park fees.
    • Free time to explore Lima & Cusco
    • Train from Aguas Calientes to Cusco.
    • Arrival transfer.

    Not Included

    • International flights
    • Airport departure tax
    • Visas where required
    • Meals not included in the itinerary
    • Insurance
    • Laundry
    • Any optional tours or activities during free time
    • Tips
    • Items of a personal nature
  • Map Itinerary

  • Past Travellers' Ratings & Comments

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Trip at a glance

Trip Code PSHT
Group size 4 - 15
Start City: Cusco, Cusco, Peru
End City: Cusco

What to know

This trip is run by our sister company Exodus.

A good level of fitness and pre trip training is essential. You will trek on hilly terrain or mountainous terrain at altitudes of up to 5000 metres, for up to 7 hours per day.

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