Salkantay Trek Birding to Machu Picchu
Salkantay Trek 5 Days
Salkantay Trek 5 days–Enjoy a spectacular Andean trek & camping to Machu Picchu at stunning and unique camp sites! Following ancient Inca trails in the Cordillera Vilcabamba, the precipitous mountain range that cradles Machu Picchu, you’ll hike through an exquisite setting of gleaming glacial lakes, cloud forests full of orchids and waterfalls, and the dazzling peaks and glaciers of Salkantay (20,533 feet), and you will walk in the shadows of this great mountain and Tukarway Mountain (19,239 feet), hike through coffee plantations, banana trees and avocado orchards until we reach the famed Inca city. At the end of each exhilarating day, you’ll be welcomed at unique camps sites with spacious four-season tents and your ultimate reward is an exploration of ethereal Machu Picchu, the crown jewel of the Inca world– Salkantay Trek 5 days.
Duration: With birding tour: 6 Days / Only Salkantay Trek with Machu Picchu: 5 days
Physical Rating: 4 – Moderate, Strenuous – Some high altitude hikes – depending on your fitness level. Full-day hikes (6-8 hours), mountainous, steep terrain (hiking up or down as much as 3,500 feet) on many hikes. Trips with hiking at average altitudes of 10,000 to 15,600 feet are in this category
Service Level: Upgraded – Comfort
Group Size: Small Private Group. Small group experience, Min 02 – Max 8, Avg 04.
Overnight In Machu Picchu Town? YES.
Limited Trekking Permits: NO. Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu is not regulated yet by the Peruvian government; however, the entrance fee for the Salkantay mountain is charged in Mollepata town (the entrance fee is included), which is the main gate to get on the trail; thus you can book your trek one month in advance to organize the tour, whether you would like to hike up Wayna Picchu mountain, please let us know at the moment you are booking the tour ( tickets for Wayna Picchu is limited to 400 tickets a day).
Please Note. Passport information must be submitted to Crocotrail Travel at the moment you book prior to departure. This information is necessary to issue, Machu Picchu entrance fee, Waynapicchu, train tickets, bus tickets.
Day 01. Cusco – Soyrucocha
We gather early this morning and begin our drive towards the Salkantay trek’s starting point, the picturesque starting point of our Andean trek. En route we visit the Inca ruins of Tarawasi near the town of Limatambo and stop for a coffee break in the small village of Mollepata. We then keep driving for about one more hour to Soraypampa, where we get ready to start our trek to the first camp site called Soyrucocha (14,551 feet). We hike through the Andean valley, circling Tukarway Peak across from Salkantay. By late afternoon, we reach our destination the highest campsite on this trek, located in the spectacular spot, crowned by majestic Salkantay (20,533 feet), a sacred peak in Inca mythology and the highest in this region of the Andes. After organizing our personal items in our roomy tents, we’ll have the remainder of the day to relax and enjoy the fabulous views around. All meals included.
Hiking Distance: 3.7 miles.
Hiking Time: 4 hours.
Day 02. Soyrucocha – Birding – Andenes
A nutritious breakfast prepares us for today’s highest point on the whole trail along the steep section Salkantay pass. We’ll set out early in the cool mountain air carrying only our day packs and cameras. We’ll reach the highest point of our trip today (15,147 feet) as we hike up a series of switchbacks over a pass that offers outstanding views of the snow-capped peaks of the Vilcabamba Range in every direction. With the south face of Salkantay towering above us, we’ll keep our eyes out for Andean condors, often visible in this area. From the pass, we continue our descent toward the Wayra Valley (Wayra translates to “The place where the wind lives”), and the cloud forest from where we’ll start with our activity of birdwatching as this section of trail offers a variety of birdlife and beautiful orchids. Late-afternoon we’ll get our destination or the next campsite located right on the ancient Incan terraces, and in the middle of the cloud forest. This afternoon can be still used to spotting birds around the campsite or feel free to rest in our tents. All meals included.
Hiking Distance: 6.2 miles.
Hiking Time: 8 hours.
Day 03. Andenes – Birding – Wiñaypoqo
Enjoy a stunning backdrop of glaciers and icefalls as you keep walking through the cloud forest, and always keeping an eye out for birds, until the lunch spot located on a promontory above the confluence of three fast-flowing rivers. We then continue walking observing birds through delicate cloud forest vegetation on our way to next camp site called Hatun Poco (8,666 feet). This section of the trail is very lush with orchid-draped forest and among the waterfalls and bromeliads of the Sahuayacu Valley, where locals have avocado, and passion fruit orchards. Our camp site is located very close to these orchards, so it’ll be a good chance to plunge into the avocado trees to pick some fruits up for dinner. All meals included.
Hiking Distance: 5.6 miles.
Hiking Time: 6 hours.
Day 04. Hatun Poco – Lucmabamba
Today’s trek through the rural Santa Teresa River Valley takes us downhill past vast coffee plantations (said to produce one of the best organic coffees in the world), banana trees and orchards. On the way we’ll walk across La Playa village with its friendly inhabitants. One more hour later from this village the trail brings us to Lucmabamba (6,867 feet) camp site, where we’ll be treated to a special pachamanca here, a traditional festive Peruvian meal. This camp site is perfect to spot hummingbirds so we’ll spend the afternoon whilst watching them, or we may have an opportunity to explore the coffee crops, and other tropical fruits. All meals included.
Hiking Distance: 4.9 miles.
Hiking Time: 4 hours.
Day 05. Lucmabamba – Llaqtapata – Machu Picchu Town
A hearty breakfast fuels us up for the last day of our trek and the initial 3-hour climb towards Llactapata pass (8,974 feet). Shortly after cresting the pass and beginning our 3,165 feet descent, we’ll be treated to our first distant glimpse of Machu Picchu. As few tourists approach the ruins from this direction, our particular view is a unique treat. The final descent along the trail leading to the Urubamba River passes through more orchards and lush bamboo forests. Our hike today is timed to reach the river with ample time to spare before the train arrives that will transport us to the village of Machu Picchu (Aguas Calientes), located a short distance from the ruins. We’ll spend this last night at the delightful Gringo Bill’s Boutique Hotel, a perfect base from which to explore the wonders of this magnificent site the next day. All meals included, except the last dinner.
Hiking Distance: 6.8 miles.
Hiking Time: 6 hours.
Day 06. Guided Tour at Machu Picchu – Free Time to Explore or Hike to Huayna Picchu Mountain – Back to Cusco
A full day at Machu Picchu affords us the luxury of exploring at a leisurely pace while learning more about the Inca culture and the latest theories behind the construction of this marvelous complex. We have an early breakfast and head up to the ruins by shuttle bus before the morning tourist train arrives in order to fully enjoy the peace and solitude of this mystical place. Our knowledgeable Leader leads us on a fascinating tour, recapping Machu Picchu’s rediscovery by Hiram Bingham in 1911 and explaining the significance of the various structures that cover the grounds. We then have the chance to indulge ourselves with a hike to the dramatic viewpoint of Intipunku (the Sun’s Gateway), or a variety of other intriguing possibilities including an easy walk to an ancient Inca drawbridge or more vigorous hike to Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain based on permit availability both peaks loom above the ruins. Of course, we can also choose to independently continue our exploration of the main site and daydream about what life must have been like here centuries ago. We catch the afternoon train to Ollantaytambo and from there take the bus back to Cusco, arriving at approximately 7:00 p.m. The day concludes with our Leader joining us for a final celebration dinner at a traditional local restaurant. Only breakfast included, the rest of meals don’t include.
Hiking Optional Huayna Picchu. Hike may be unguided and is steep with some exposure. Permits are limited to 400 spaces a day. An alternative optional hike may be available if Huayna Picchu permits cannot be obtained.
– Transportation from your hotel to the start of the trail.
– Entrance fee to Machu Picchu.
– One night hotel in Machupicchu town.
– Bus tickets up and down in Machupicchu town, the day of guided tour.
– Train ticket back to Cusco at the end of our journey.
– Camping Equipment Black Diamond 4 season tent (04 people tent for 02 people).
– Other camping equipment, a dining tent with table and chairs, and a kitchen tent, manned by a professional cooking staff.
– Private bus from the train station to hotel in Cusco.
– Tour Leader.
– First-Aid Kits, Oxygen tank.
– Meals: Breakfast (5), lunch (5), dinner (4), and snacks, with an option for vegetarians, gluten free, lactose-free.
– A professional Quechua chef who grew up in the countryside.
– Horses and muleteers to carry your personal gears. Where you’ll pack as max amount 18 pounds.
– Sleeping pad (Therma-Rest mattresses) and pillow.
– Duffle bag.
– Outdoor toilet tents with chemical toilets at our campsites.
– Train ticket from Hidroelectrica station to Machu Picchu town.
– Emergency horse, that will be staying with us during the hike to upload our personal day gears or ride.
What’s Not Included
– Sleeping bags, you might get them rented from us US$ 5 per day.
– Hiking poles, you might get them rented from us US$5 per day a pair of poles, Black Diamond or Leki brand.
– Last dinner on the 5th day.
– Last lunch on 6th day.
– Extra expenditure during the trek, such as soda, alcoholic drinks, extra snacks, tickets for the hot springs in Machu Picchu town (Aguas Calientes).
– Travel Insurance.
– Travel and health insurance (bring copies with you please), we highly recommend to get an insurance of trip cancellation, interruption; an insurance to protect your travel investment, Included with your pre-departure package, bring your travel insurance to cover trip cancellation, interruption, baggage loss and delay, emergency medical evacuation insurance and emergency medical expense insurance. Any unexpected situations occurred during the journey and which are beyond our control, including changes in scheduling trains or flights, delays, strikes, cancellations, missed connections, etc. it should be covered by the passenger as a whole. Also, if you for physical reasons of health cannot continue the trek or walk, and will need emergency evacuation then all charges incurred such as transportation, hotel, ambulance, doctors, medication, hospitalization, etc. will be at passenger’s expense.
– International or internal airfare, transfers for independent arrival or departure, any meals not specified after each itinerary day in the Detailed Itinerary, airport departure taxes, optional tipping or gratuities to leaders or staff, additional hotel nights that may be necessitated by airline schedule changes or other factors, expenses such as medical immunizations (if any), travel insurance, or passports and visas, and other expenses of a personal nature (alcoholic beverages, laundry, etc.).
Lodging & Camping Amenities
Salkantay Trek Camps.
We make hiking and camping in the Andes as comfortable as it can get! On the trail, you are accompanied by our experienced team of Trek Leaders, and all your gear is carried for you, leaving you free to hike with just a light daypack to hold your camera, water bottle, jacket, etc. Our camp amenities include a dining tent with a dining table, chairs with backs, camp meals prepared by our highly trained staff, toilet tents with chemical toilets. Our camp crew takes care of all camp chores, including bringing tea or coffee to your tent each morning and providing beautiful picnic lunches each day at a scenic spot along the trail. Accommodations are in sturdy mountain-four season tents, mountain-four season sleeping pads, pillows. Our camps are operated to the highest environmental standards. Most trip members bring their own sleeping bag, but we can arrange for you to rent them in Cusco at our office if you prefer.
Tents: Black Diamond tents. Our tents are 4 season and roomy, high-quality 4-person mountain tents (used for only two people) and 2-person tents (used for singles).
Sleeping Pads. Therma-rest 4 season. Our Sleeping pads are comfortable and high-quality mountain type.
Hotel in Machu Picchu Town. On the fourth night of the trek, after your final day of hiking, you’ll overnight at charming Gringo Bill’s boutique hotel, in the town of Machu Picchu (Aguas Calientes).
From USD 950.00 per person, in Salkantay with birding tour.
From USD 750.00 per person, in classic Salkantay 5 days.
Prices are quoted in US Dollars and all payments must be made in US Dollars.
To offer the lowest possible cost, our trips are tier priced according to the number of full-paying participants on the trip. All costs are per person, based on double occupancy. If you wish to have a single room, you must pay the single supplement fee. If you are willing to share accommodations, we will match you with a roommate if one is available. If we cannot match you with a roommate, the “forced single supplement” is listed if applicable.
Trip Payment Schedule.
– At the time of reservation: 30% of total balance.
– 90 days prior to departure: Balance should be paid fully, or once upon your arrival in Cusco the other 50% of final balance must be paid fully.
Cancellation and Transfer Fee Schedule.
– Minimum fee (Salkantay Trek permit fee): $120 per person
– 61-90 days prior to departure: 30% of trip cost
– 46-60 days prior to departure: 50% of trip cost
– 45 days or less: 100% of trip cost.
Preparing For Your Trek
Whichever trail people choose, it’s important that they make the right preparations. The hike into the Andes is difficult for most, if for no other reason than the high altitude. No matter what, hikers should give themselves at least two days to adjust to the high altitudes in Cusco before beginning their journey. Once setting out, it’s important to be prepared with all of the essentials. Vendors will sell bottled water and snacks on the way, so it’s a good idea for travelers to carry currency just in case. Also, the trail gets cold at night, so it’s important to have proper sleeping bags and warm clothes even when hiking in Peru’s summer months.
The Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu is mostly bridle path and it goes up and down across green mountains while crossing one high-altitude pass. For the most part, you can hike at your own speed because we always have a staff member hiking in the lead as well as one behind with the slowest hiker in our group if there are 7 participants in the group. Any fit, experienced hiker will enjoy this hike, but we recommend you make an extra effort to prepare by engaging in regular exercise well beyond your normal routine. To accelerate your conditioning, try walking faster than 1.5 miles per hour, walking on steeper inclines, using your gym’s stair-climbing machines, or going on long hikes (also a good way to break in your boots). Please be aware that there are a few sections of long, steep stone staircases, so we do suggest hiking poles protect your knees. The trek takes place at altitudes between 6,540 feet and 15,147 feet.
What To Pack.Your 18 pounds will be carried by horses to the camp sites. Thus, you do need to pack light for the trek, but you will find it is not that challenging since all you really need are the following: comfortable hiking clothes, with additional warm layers, good hiking boots, and personal toiletries (we provide a detailed clothing list). You can bring your own, or rent a Crocotrail Travel sleeping bag, and hiking sticks. Your non-hiking luggage will be safely stored for you at your Cusco hotel. One of our Area Managers will be your point person from your first inquiry throughout your preparation for the trip, and they will be happy to answer any questions you have about preparing and packing for this incredible journey.
A professional Crocotrail Travel Tour Leader with a deep knowledge of the destination and a focus on customer service makes all the difference. Our leaders are experts in Inca history, nature, birding, gastronomy, local language, etc, with a profound connection to Peru’s fascinating traditional culture. They take care of all the details so that you can savor the experiences of the trip. And just as important, they have a remarkable gift for sharing their extensive knowledge and favorite places. Our Tour Leaders have the warmth, endless energy, and that special “it” factor that transforms a trip into an unforgettable journey.
Make the most of Peru’s natural beauty with outdoor picnics on each adventure tour, and Discover the delights of Peruvian cuisine in each tour destinations and outdoor tours. So food is awesome!
Our chefs are to Food what Leonardo da Vinci is to Art, so we rely on really experienced Quechua chefs who were trained and chosen to make this food in the mountains, and they are our stars.
You’ll be surprised and delighted at the variety and quality of our on-the-trail cuisine, a blend of freshly made Peruvian & Fusion dishes with vegetarian options. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served in our enclosed dining tent, complete with table and chairs. Each morning, you’ll wake up to hot coffee, cocoa, and a choice of teas brought right to your tent. This is followed by a freshly prepared breakfast of eggs, pancakes, fruit salad, quinua porridge, fresh juice, French toast, or oatmeal. As you start the day’s hike, we provide tasty trail snacks including fresh fruit and chocolate.
Lunches consist of a wide variety of dishes, depending on the day, including delicious roast guinea pig (a local delicacy dish), beef, chicken, fish, pasta salads, soup, casseroles, and other offerings, or surprises with appetizers and delicious desserts. They are served at a comfortable and scenic spot along the trail where our staff has set up tables and chairs, and quite often an open tent for shade. At each lunch stop, we set up our own private toilet tent and chemical toilet for minimal impact on the environment.
This trip is Level 4, Moderate to Strenuous. Most hiking is between 8,000 and 12,000 feet. The maximum elevation we reach is 15,147 feet, and the highest place we camp is 14,552 feet. The total mileage hiked is about 27.2. Trails can be rugged, not the well-maintained trails you may be accustomed to in your country. For the most part, you can hike at your own speed. Our group will spread out along the trail during about six to eight hours of hiking each day (shorter on some days). On the trail, you will just carry your own daypack for the items that you want with you on the trail, such as a water bottle and a jacket. Our horses and muleteers carry all your other gear from camp to camp.
A Typical Trekking Day. Hiking distances on trek are normally measured in hours, not miles since maps aren’t really accurate enough to assess how far we walk up and down on winding mountain trails. With rest stops and photo stops, few people walk faster than one mile an hour in a mountainous region. Some hiking days are shorter than others, and some days are more difficult than others due to altitude gain and loss.
– Original passport and Student ISIC card (if applicable), and some copies.
– Travel insurance (and some copies).
– Sleeping bag (or you can rent one from us).
– Backpack to carry your things.
– Phone, power bank battery, camera charger and adapter.
– Bathing suit (if you would like to enjoy the hot springs in Machu Picchu town).
– Torch or headlamps.
– Deet or mosquito repellent ( recommendable 30% DEET).
– Hiking poles ( or you can rent one pair from us).
– Rain gear (especially if traveling in the wet season, from October to March).
– Comfortable hiking clothes, including warm clothes for the nighttime.
– Good hiking boots with protector ankle or similar, and one pair of flip-flops or light sandals.
– Sunblock and sunglasses.
– Hiking long sleeve T-shirts.
– Hiking trousers.
– Ear Plugs.
– Thermal underwear.
– Hiking socks.
– Water bottle or canteen.
– American dollars and Peruvian soles in cash.
– Sun hat, cap, and warm hat and gloves for the nighttime.
– Toilet paper, and face tissue paper.
– Crédit or debit card.
– Luggage Tags and Locks.
– Anti-inflammatory tablets (e.g. Ibuprofen).
– Personal first-aid kit (should contain lip salve, Aspirin, Band Aids, anti-histamine, Imodium or similar tablets for mild cases of diarrhea, re-hydration powder, extra prescription drugs you may take).
– For more info, you can visit Gear Lexicon https://www.alpineascents.com/pdf/gear-lexicon.pdf
When to Go
The Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu can be hiked all year around except in late January and February, the rainiest months when the trail is blocked and damaged sometimes by the rainfall. The trail reopens in March and April when the rains lighten up and the mountains are still green. High season begins in May and extends through September, as these are the driest months. October through December are considered shoulder season when occasional rain is possible, but keep in mind that the highlands of Peru are a temperate desert and it is not uncommon for it not to rain for weeks at a time even in the height of the rainy season. This is also the time with the fewest hikers on the trail, more flowers in bloom, and fewer tourists at Machu Picchu as well as in Cusco. Temperatures in the Cusco-Machu Picchu region range from the high 60s in the daytime to the low 40s at night, with some variation depending on the time of year you go.
Route & Acclimatization
Whichever trail people choose, it’s important that they make the right preparations. The hike into the Andes is difficult for most, if for no other reason than the high altitude. No matter what, hikers should give themselves at least two days to adjust to the high altitudes in Cusco before beginning their journey. Once setting out, it’s important to be prepared with all of the essentials.
The trail gets cold at night, so it’s important to have sleeping bags and warm clothes even when hiking in Peru’s summer months.
Our trek has six hiking days (most companies push it with just five days on the trail—and some even four). The Crocotrail Travel way allows you to acclimatize gradually to the altitude, have reasonable wake-up times (no hiking in the dark, as with other companies), and enjoy well-paced hiking days that give you time to explore the extraordinary archaeological sites and the birds along the route. We want you to experience the wonder of the Trail, not race through it.
With us, you can have the Salkantay Trek 5 days to Machu Picchu largely to yourself!. We have perfected the timing of our daily hiking schedule so that the majority of other hikers will be either far ahead or far behind you each day. This delivers a much better experience of this World Heritage Site, and our travelers often comment on the magic of having the Salkantay Trek 5 days to themselves!.