The mountains of the Cordillera Vilcabamba rise to form a ragged chain between the regions’ two great rivers; the Urubamba and the Apurimac. Along the Cordillera’s northern side, massive snow peaks collide with lush tropical rain forests. Located northwest of Cusco, Nevado de Salkantay, the Cordillera’s tallest peak, is at the eastern end of the chain and rises to 6,271 meters above sea level. The name Salkantay means ‘Savage Mountain’ which may refer to the swirling clouds that rise up from the jungle lowlands and engulf the peak.
The Salkantay to Machu Picchu trek normally takes seven days and has become popular with trekkers wanting to combine a quieter less trodden route with a visit to Machu Picchu. For the first three days you will be surrounded with magnificent scenery and rarely see other groups of trekkers. We’ll climb the steep-sided Llulluchayoq Valley past a rushing stream and through enchanted native polylepis woodland. Crossing the rim of a small plateau, we abruptly find ourselves in the puna, the treeless grasslands of the high Andes. You’ll be able to look back at the sweeping snowpeaks and valleys of Huayanay. On the fourth day you join up with the famous Inca Trail at Wayllabamba town and continue to Machu Picchu arriving on afternoon of day six. Upon arriving at Machu Picchu at dusk, we’ll hopefully enjoy a magnificent sunset, and after head down to Aguas Calientes to relax in the natural hot springs. Early on our final day, we’ll take the first bus to Machu Picchu for our guided tour. The trek is only a little more difficult than the Classic Inca Trail, horses are used for the first four days to transport food and equipment then we will swap over to using traditional porters for the final section.
The 7 Day Inca Trail offers hikers the chance to enjoy a mix of both the Salkantay Trek and the Inca Trail. Starting on the Salkantay Trek the route diverges just before Salkantay Pass and instead goes over the Incachiriaska Pass (Frozen Inca Pass) which leads you down to the village of Wayllabamba where you join the Inca Trail and continue on to Machu Picchu via the Sun Gate.
Inca Trail Availability
We offer daily departures on the Inca Trail (excluding February when the trail is closed).
It is strongly recommended to book your Inca Trail at least 4 months in advance as permits can quickly sell out.
- Starting Altitude – 2900m / 9515ft.
- Highest Altitude – 5028m / 16,495ft.
- Coldest Night – Day 2 around 0º celsius
- Overall Difficulty – V. Difficult
Day 1: Cusco – Mollepata – Cruzpata -Soraypampa – Salkantaypampa.
At 6:00am, we’ll pick you up from your hotel in our private transport and travel from Cusco to Mollepata (2800 m), an approxmately three hour drive. On the way to Mollepata we’ll briefly stop off at the ruins of Tarawasi, an Incan temple with one of the finest examples of Incan polygonal masonry. From Mollepata (2800 m) we will continue forty minutes more by car until the village of Cruzpata, (3200 m) where we’ll meet our “arrieros” – horsemen and trekking staff. As we commence our trek, we’ll see an spectacular views of the snow capped mountains of Vilcabamba and the lush Apurimac River valley. A gentle climb of 250m for 3-4 hours to Soraypampa (3800 m) where we’ll rest and have lunch. After lunch we’ll continue climbing gradually for 2-3 hours through the more unspoilt Andean valleys to Salkantaypampa, (3980 m) our campsite for our first night, at the base of the majestic mountains Salkantay (6264m) and Humantay (5217m).
Includes: Lunch, Dinner
Day 2: Salkantaypampa, Paso Salkantay and Sisaypampa Camp.
At 6:30am, after a hot breakfast, we’ll start climbing to Pampa-Japonesa (a Japanese Climbers base-camp from 3 decades ago) hiking through the pass of Salkantay. After 4-5 hours we reach the Incachiriaska Pass located at 5200 meters. This pass is a wonderful spot for sightseeing because it is surrounded by magnificent snow-peaks such as Humantay (5217m), Tucarhuay (5450m) and Soray Mt (5428m). After the pass, we’ll begin hiking until Ichupata (Andean grasslands) where we’ll have stop for lunch. Afterward, we will descend until Sisay Pampa Camp (3790m), where we will be able to fully appreciate and take in the imposing Andean topography. It’s also a great place to see llamas, alpacas and with luck, a condor! This night, we’ll camp near the local school.
Estimated Walking Time: 7-8 hours
Day 3: Sisaypampa – Paucarcancha
After breakfast, we’ll start our descent into a beautiful valley with native flowers. It’s around three hours to Pampacahuana community, located near the Incan canals repaired few years ago by Kendall Proyect to help local farmers and shepherds. We’ll relax with a long lunch before continuing three more hours to Paucarcancha, some Incan ruins where we will stop for some explanations and pictures. This is where we will set a camp for our third night.
Day 4: Paucarcancha -Wayllabamba – Llulluchapampa Camp.
Today we’ll enter the Inca Sanctuary, connecting our trek to the famous Inca trail. After breakfast, we’ll walk one hour down to Wayllabamba (3000m) This is where our muleteers return home with their mules and porters will welcome us to continue the trek carrying our gear, equipment and food. We’ll start a gradual climb for 3-4 hours to Ayapata and Carralpunku. We’ll climb the steep-sided Llulluchayoq Valley past a rushing stream and through enchanted native polylepis woodland. Crossing the rim of a small plateau, we abruptly find ourselves in the puna, the treeless grasslands of the high Andes. You’ll be able to look back at the sweeping snowpeaks and valleys of Huayanay. We’ll make camp at Llulluchapampa, a spectacular campsite. We might be the only campers at this amazing spot! You’ll have plenty of time this evening for pictures and relaxing; we will arrive 2 hours before dark.
Day 5: Llulluchapampa – The Womans’ Pass – Pacaymayo- Runkuracay – Sayaqmarca Phuyupatamarca.
After breakfast, we’ll climb for less than two hours to reach the pass known as Dead Womans’ Pass (4200m). At this point we’ll take our time so you won’t have difficulties with the altitude. The trail traverses an open slope as we ascend to the first and highest pass, Warmiwañusca (4,200m/13,776ft). Here we encounter spectacular views of the trail to the second pass, Apacheta. Here we will take part in a traditional ceremony. After we’ll begin a slow and easy descent for two hours into the Pacaymayo Valley.
Here we’ll begin to walk along a well-preserved Incan stairway and ascend the small Incan site of Runkuracay. As we reach the second pass at 3860 meters, the landscape opens into spectacular views of the snowpeaks of the Pumasillo range. We descend into the ruins of Sayacmarca 3,650 meters (Inaccessible Town). An intricate labyrinth of houses, plazas and water channels, perched precariously on a rocky spur overlooking the Aobamba valley. The Inca trail, a massive buttressed structure of granite paving stones, continues along the steep upper fringes of the cloud forest through a colorful riot of orchids, bromeliads, mosses and ferns. At the third pass, topped with Inca Trail viewing platforms, one can overlook the archaeological complex of Phuyupatamarca (Cloud-level Town).
This camp is described as the most beautiful of all campsites. With great views of the two valleys and hundreds of Inca steps connecting enigmatic edification used as temples at the Inca times.
Day 6: Phuyupatamarca – Wiñaywayna – Gate of The Sun – Machupicchu – Aguas Calientes.
After 3 hours walk downhill we will reach the impressive complex of Wiñaywayna. Various forms of vegetation- bamboos, flowers, etc, can be seen in the cloud forest terrain. We’ll pause to explore Incan stone towers, fountains and stairways that spill down the mountainside. We’ll begin a long descent through ever-changing layers of the cloud forest. An Incan stairway partly cut from living granite leads us finally to the ruins of Wiñay Wayna (Forever Young), the largest and most exquisite of the Inca Trail. Here we will have a guided tour with extra time after for personal exploration.
After a shower at a hostel, we’ll have lunch and then continue on our last leg of the Inca Trail trail for two more hours until we reach the famous lookout point named Inti Punku (the Sun Gate). From Inti Punku we get our first glimpse of Machu Picchu, though we’ll still need to descend for another hour to get there. There’ll be an opportunity to enjoy the tranquility in the late afternoon when most of the tourist groups have left to take the return train to Cusco. We will have at least 2 hours for full enjoyment of Machu Picchu during sunset. Then we will board a bus to Aguas Calientes for dinner and hotel check-in. There will be an opportunity to go to the hot springs to cure our sore muscles. If your prefer to continue camping another night on the Inca Trail, please just let us know.
Day 7: Aguas Calientes – Machupicchu guided tour & Exploration – Cusco.
After an early breakfast at the hotel, we will board the first bus to Machu Picchu for our official visit. We will learn about the importance – religiously and historically – of this marvelous and magical sanctuary, and we will appreciate the fine architecture of the Incas. After our three hour guided tour, you can climb to the top of Wayna Picchu mountain (if booked in advance) from where one has a good view of the full site of Machu Picchu.
Another possibility is to visit the beautiful temple of the moon. Packed lunch is provided.
In the afternoon, after our time in Machu Picchu, we’ll descend again to Aguas Calientes to take the train back to Cusco, leaving at 16:30 pm and arriving to Cusco by 9.00 pm.
What is Included:
- Ceremony with your tour guide and locals
- Pre-departure briefing, presented by your tour guides
- Private bus to Mollepata -Cruzpata (trek starting point)
- Permit to the Inca Trail Trek National Park
- Entrance fee for Machupicchu Archaeological Sanctuary
- Excellent highly recommended top leaders guides
- Oxygen assistance and first aid kit en route
- 2 person per tent (new spacious Eureka tents)
- Thick, comfortable sleeping mattress, (Pillows by request)
- Dining tent with camping tables, stools and gas lamps, Kitchen tentNutritious, delicious buffet meals with fresh, high-quality ingredients, high in energy and prepared
- carefully by our excellent cooks. (Vegetarian food and specialized diets by request.) Combination of International and Peruvian Cuisine.
- Boiled purified water after breakfast to refill your bottles
- Fairly treated staff carry the equipment, tents, food, cooking gear and dining tents
- Health Insurance for our porters, cooks, assistants, field crew
- Accommodation, food, transport, permits and entrance fees for our porters and cooks
- A gentle start to the day with a wake-up coca tea, kindly brought to your tent!
- Happy hour with macho-tea and hot drinks every afternoon
- Plenty of time to explore Machupicchu and a guided tour
- Visit and guided tours in the 6 Inca archaeological sites en route
- Bus from Machu Picchu to Aguas Calientes
- Round Trip Bus Tickets
- Buffet lunch in Aguas Calientes after Machu Picchu
- Free storage for your backpack while you go to the hot springs or shop around the village
- Tourist train return on Day 7 to Ollantaytambo then a bus to Cusco
- 7 Breakfasts, 6 Lunches, 6 Dinners
What is not Included:
- Hot Springs in Aguas Calientes (10 soles)
- Snacks are reccommended: energy bars, chocolate bars, dried fruits, nuts, etc
- Extra drinks
- Tips for the trekking crew, guides, cooks,and porters. It`s a tradition to give US$20-25 tip to the staff as a gesture of gratitude.
- Last lunch in Aguas Calientes
We recommend that you bring
- Original passport and ISIC student card (if applicable)
- A Backpack (for personal porters we provide a duffle bag)
- Warm sleeping bag Minus 8ºC
- Lighter style trekking boots with good ankle support
- Trekking poles: metal tips are not allowed on the trail
- Warm clothes: layers for variable temperature, especially at night
- Thermal underwear: can be worn in the sleeping bag or in cold conditions
- Gloves or mittens, scarf , wool socks, woolen hat for cold nights
- T-shirts and trekking pants that zipoff to short pants for comfort
- Flash light, head torch and extra batteries
- Camera and extra batteries
- A hat with a broad visor to keep the sun off your face
- Sunscreen and sunglasses
- Personal medical kit, insect repellent
- Rain Gear: a good rain jacket, rain poncho
- Toiletries, toilet paper, small towel
- 2 litre water bottle, disposable plastic bottles are forbidden in Machupicchu site
- Water purifying tablets optional, since we provide boiled water
- Bathing clothes for the hot springs
- Extra money for drinks & tips, souvenirs etc in soles
- Emergency money (at least 200-300 extra soles)
At Puma Path, your comfort and safety are of our utmost concern. Therefore, we provide all necessary camping equipment for your trek. Included in prices are: sleeping tent, rollmat and pillow for your comfort. Please feel free to bring your own sleeping bag if you prefer.
Private Service Prices
- 2 people : US$1350 per person
- 3 people : US$1250 per person
- 4 people + : US$980 per person
- Student Discount: US$39 (Requires ISIC Card to qualify)
- Under 18’s Discount: US$40
- Sleeping Bag US$45
- Walking Pole US$30
- Inflatable Mattress US$30
- Single Tent Supplement US$75
- Personal Porter to carry extra 7kg of personal items US$120
*****IMPORTANT NOTES *****
NEED A PERMIT: In order to book your Inca Trail treks, the Peruvian authorities cap the number of Inca Trail trekking permits to 500 per day. Everyone entering the trail needs a permit including the trekker, guide, porters and other support staff. Permits often sell out several months in advance and you must book well ahead to secure your place.
When you fill in our booking form you must fill in alternative start dates that are possible for you to begin the trek and these have to be validated. If your preferred date is sold out we will use one of these alternative dates for your permit. Once we purchase your permit from the National Park office, you are 100% confirmed to start this day; this date cannot be changed. Permits are completely non-refundable or transferable, so please make sure the date you booked is a good date to start this adventure.
Your permit is linked to your name and passport number. If you change your passport after booking your Inca Trail trek permit or you plan to travel with a different passport, you MUST also bring the passport you used to book your permit, or you will not be able to trek the Inca Trail trek.
STUDENTS: If you booked your trek with your International Student Identity Card (ISIC) you must have this card and it must be valid for you to enter the trail. If you purchased a permit with the student discount and you do not bring your ISIC card or it is not valid at the time of your trek start they will not allow you to enter the trail. These are National Park rules.
HUAYNA PICCHU: Only 400 people can climb this mountain per day, so this ticket also needs to be booked in advanced. The price is $65 per person (read our Huaynapicchu sidebar about this cost). It is recommended to climb Huayna Picchu in the 10-11am time slot as otherwise you miss your guided tour. It is recommended to have this booked about 2 months in advance to secure your permit.
EXTRA NIGHT: If you want to stay longer at Machu Picchu then you can book an extra night at Aguas Calientes village. Just let us know that you plan to stay an extra night so we can organize your return train for the next day. You can either organize your accommodation by yourself or we can assist with making bookings. If you were thinking of going back to Machu Picchu the next day then you will have to buy a new entrance fee to Machu Picchu and the bus tickets for about $70.
RETURN TRAIN TO CUSCO: The return train is the Expedition train which departs either at 2:55, 4:20, 4:42 or 6:40 pm. The train that is booked depends on availability and is confirmed at your briefing. There is an option to upgrade your train to the Vistadome train, which is an extra $65 per person. Please let us know your preference at the time of booking. None of the trains go straight to Cusco, they run either to Ollantaytambo or Poroy but in either case we will transfer you back by bus to your hotel.
FOOD ON THE TREK: Definitely one of the highlights of the tour is the food. It is always fresh and most of it is organic. There is always a lot to eat and lots of options including vegetables, meat, chicken, fish and other types of protein and carbohydrates. Everyone sits down to eat together and we go out of our way to accommodate all dietary requirements including vegetarian options and any food allergies. We do not provide any alcoholic drinks on the trek but if you would like you can bring your own.
OUR EQUIPMENT: We provide 4 person tents for every 2 people, sleeping bags and foam mattresses for everyone. Our dining equipment includes a spacious dining tent, tables and chairs, plates and utensils. We do NOT supply walking sticks, but they can be rented from PumaPath. We bring an extra blanket for all our hikers for those especially cold nights. Just ask and your guide will provide you with this.
OUR GUIDES, COOK AND PORTERS: All of them are amazing, helpful, caring and great people to be around. Our guides speak excellent English and are patient and very informative. Our cooks provide amazing family-style food for you and our porters and you will be impressed with what they can whip up in the middle of the mountains! Your porters will carry everything for you which makes your trek as easy and comfortable as possible. Thanks to them you will finish your trek and have a great time. Our porters are called ´WE ARE PUMAS…´ on the Inca Trail.
We make sure that all our team are well looked after and we provide all the equipment that they need so that they can do the trek in as much comfort as possible.
FITNESS: The Inca Trail is certainly not easy but you do not need to be an athlete or a trekking expert to complete it. Fitness is naturally important but the Inca Trail is the kind of trek that anyone with a positive attitude and determination can do. Obviously the more fit you are the more you will enjoy the trail and the more chance you will have to take in the scenery and appreciate the Inca ruins dotted along the way. If you do not exercise regularly, it is advisable to do some extra walking or some kind of aerobic activity in the months leading up to your trip.
Many people worry whether or not they will be able to cope physically, but complete failure is rare and would usually only result from severe altitude sickness or a person lacking even a basic level of fitness. People of all ages (from teenagers to pensioners) complete the trek, and age itself is no barrier if you are positive minded and live an active lifestyle. Before departing for your tour, we recommend visiting your doctor who will be able to provide you with more information.
STORAGE DURING YOUR TREK: During the Inca Trail trek your main luggage will be stored in Cuzco and you will receive a small duffle bag at your Inca Trail briefing (briefings are normally set for the evening before you start the trek) to pack your clothes in for 3-4 days. Your team of porters will carry these bags together with the food and equipment for the trail. Please note that you will not have access to these items until the end of each day as the porters will always be ahead of the group. You should therefore bring a day pack in which you can carry personal belongings such as your camera, water and sun screen etc. By Peruvian law the duffle bag carried by the porters must not weigh more than 7kg (14pounds). You can either store the rest of your luggage at your hotel or you can leave it with us.