Lodge-to-Lodge Salkantay Trek 7d

The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu has long been considered one of the best hikes in the world – and as a result, thousands of people are joining up on one of the camping tours that follow the footsteps of the ancient Incas on one of their trade routes to the sacred citadel of Machu Picchu. And therein lies the dilemma – too many people on the trail spoil the experience, not to mention the environment.

Thus a new route was developed, which approaches Machu Picchu via another ancient Inca route, the Salkantay Trail, which is just as awesome, with Salcantay, the second most sacred peak of the Incas always in majestic view. Until recently this route was considered an alternative camping route to Machu Picchu, in case no more permits were available for ‘the real thing’. But now a whole new dimension has been added to this route which makes it by far the most superior approach to Machu Picchu for those who want to enjoy the hiking experience without the physical torment of having to sleep in tents after a hard day’s hike: a lodge based Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, along the Salkantay route.

But this alternative offers much more than just ‘creature comforts’. It provides the opportunity to slow down and take it all in – of BEING THERE, rather than just ‘getting there, as quickly as possible’. Apart from being much gentler on the body, it also gives the senses the opportunity to immerse fully in the experience, the sights, the sounds, the smells, the amazing night sky, the flowers along the way – give yourself time to soak up the Andean ambiance in its full, amazing glory.

This 7-day lodge to lodge trekking experience will take you on a historic section of Inca trail through 15 different eco-systems, while you traverse a mountain pass over 15,000 feet, explore villages where locals still maintain age-old traditions and re-discover the mystical beauty of Machu Picchu, the crown jewel of the Inca Empire. Each day’s trek ends with a hot shower in a cozy lodge, complemented by a massage or a dip in an outdoor jacuzzi, followed by a gourmet meal with select wines and all provided with highly personalized service by local staff. The Salkantay experience goes beyond deluxe lodges and a great trek. It is a unique opportunity to experience ancient history in the Land of the Incas, as well as the most interesting and exotic variety of flora and fauna, all in the company of new friends and like-minded souls.

 

Itinerary:

Day 1

Cusco – Soraypampa

After an early breakfast, your Mountain Lodges of Peru tour guide and driver will pick you up at your hotel in Cusco. The first stop will be a visit to the Inca ruins of Tarawasi. Next, you will stop in the mountain village of Mollepata. There you will visit El Pedregal, a beautiful farmhouse where you can learn about local agriculture and livestock.

Then, the transfer will take you through a winding mountain road to a site called Challacancha. Here you will begin your hike to Soraypampa along a picturesque path called the “Camino Real” (Royal Path), which is also a good opportunity to acclimate to the higher altitude. As you round the final turn of the Camino Real, the Salkantay Lodge will come into view.

Overnight: Salkantay Lodge (3,869 m/12,690 ft)
Trekking Time: Approximately 6 hours (including picnic lunch en route)
Hiking Level: Moderate

Day 2

Hike to Lake Humantay

Day two presents another opportunity to gauge your altitude-acclimatization with a half-day hike to Lake Humantay. After breakfast, you begin an ascent up the slopes that border the plateau behind the Salkantay Lodge. An hour and a half later, you will be stunned to see the turquoise water of the lake.

Here you will have a chance to relax, enjoy a snack, meditate in the tranquility of this magical spot and be part of a traditional offering to “Pachamama” (Mother Earth). After your descent back to the lodge, the staff will be waiting with a hot lunch. The second half of your day is spent at leisure. You may opt to soak in our outdoor jacuzzi, indulge in a relaxing massage or even take a long nap.

Overnight: Salkantay Lodge (3,869 m/12,690 ft)
Trekking Time: Approximately 4 hours
Hiking Level: Moderate to Challenging
Optional Activities: Horseback Riding (at additional cost).

Day 3

Crossing the Salkantay Pass

After an early start, you hike up the Rio Blanco valley, circling Humantay Peak. As you gradually make your way up these mountain trails, you will encounter expansive plateaus dotted with boulders of varying sizes, the remnants of a valley that was once bisected by a fast-flowing river. The final and most challenging part of your ascent is conquering the mountain switchbacks that take you to the Salkantay Pass, the highest point on the trek (4,636 m/15,213 ft).

What follows is a dramatic descent through fields of giant boulders, often shrouded in fog. After a very welcome hot picnic lunch, you will continue down through bucolic rolling hills and marsh-like plateaus as you take your final steps to the Wayra Lodge at Wayraccmachay.

Overnight: Wayra Lodge (3,906 m/12,812 ft)
Trekking Time: 6–8 hours (including lunch)
Hiking Level: Challenging, crossing a 4,640m/15,200 ft mountain pass

Day 4

Descending into the Cloud Forest

After a leisurely breakfast at the Wayra Lodge, you continue the descent along the banks of the Salkantay River through the increasingly verdant scenery. Today you will see more of the local people as the trail takes you past their simple homes and makeshift fences.

At lunchtime, you will arrive at Colpa Lodge, located on a high promontory at the confluence of three rivers. You are greeted by the staff with a Pachamanca lunch, a traditional Peruvian meal cooked in the earth by hot stones that create a natural underground oven. After lunch, spend the afternoon lounging in the sun or relaxing in the outdoor jacuzzi while you take in the panoramic views of the lush green mountains that surround you.

Overnight: Colpa Lodge (2,870 m/9,414 ft)
Trekking Time: 3–4 hours
Hiking Level: Easy to Moderate
Optional Activity: Afternoon bike from Manchaywaycco to collpapampa. After Lunch /Duration: 3hrs approximately/  Level:  easy. This activity has an additional cost.

Day 5

Following the Santa Teresa River

Today you will hike in the Santa Teresa River valley where you will hop over small streams fed by waterfalls descending from the glaciers and cross through fruit orchards. After breaking for a hot picnic lunch by the river, you will walk for one hour before we meet an MLP vehicle for a short drive to the beginning of the “Llactapata Inca Trail” that leads us to Lucma Lodge.

On the way, you will visit an organic coffee plantation, one of many in that area that produces some of the best organic coffee in the world. In Lucmabamba, the hot air and increased humidity signal that you are even closer to the edge of the Amazon Jungle.

Overnight: Lucma Lodge (2,135 m/7,003 ft)
Trekking Time: 5–6 hours (including lunch)
Hiking Level: Moderate to Challenging (because of distance, not terrain)
Optional Activities:
Zip Line in Santa Teresa: This is a full day activity which replaces the trek. Operated by Cola de Mono. It has an additional cost.
Biking:
Option a) Yanama pass – Hornopampa – Lluskamayo. Duration: 5 hrs. approximately. Level:  Easy to moderate. It has an additional cost.
Option b) Descent from Hornopampa to Lluskamayo. Duration: 3.5 hrs. approximately. Level: Easy. It has an additional cost.

Day 6

Exploring Llactapata Pass

During a 2-3 hour climb up a path mostly comprised of original Inca steps, you will get a sense of what hiking through the rainforest would be like. Your first milestone today will be the top of the peak, the last one before you reach the Aobamaba River valley that connects you to Machu Picchu. When you arrive at the ruins of Llactapata at the Llactapata Pass (2,736 m/8,974 ft), you will be delighted to see a southeast view of the “back” of the Machu Picchu ruins.

Enjoy your lunch a bit farther down the trail in a meadow with panoramic views. The final descent takes you through lush bamboo forests until you end the day’s hike at the Hidroelectrica train station. A one-hour scenic train ride delivers you to your final stop, the town of Aguas Calientes at the base of Machu Picchu.

Overnight: Aguas Calientes (1,900 m/6,232 ft)
Trekking Time: 4–6 hours
Hiking Level: Moderate to Challenging

Day 7

Machu Picchu – the Sanctuary

At dawn, you begin your journey to Machu Picchu with a short and rollicking uphill bus ride. Prepare to be awed by the imposing and skillful architecture of the Watchtower, the Temple of the Sun, and the royal Inca residences, among many others. Your imagination will soar as you contemplate the history of Machu Picchu and its mysterious origins.

Some may even choose a hike to Huayna Picchu, the iconic towering mountain often seen in photographs. After the visit, you will have lunch in Aguas Calientes before your train/ transfer back to Cusco. As night falls and you arrive at your hotel amidst and hustle and bustle of Cusco, you will be touched by a feeling of peace and rejuvenation which will linger even as you journey back home.

Return to Cusco (3,360 m/11,021 ft)

Huayna Picchu Mountain tickets are subject to availability*

Rates in 2018

Based on double occupancy. For single or triple rates, please inquire.

There are four airline carriers that fly roundtrip between Lima and Cusco: LATAM Airlines, AVIANCA Airlines, Star Peru and Peruvian Airlines. All of them offer similar schedules and in-flight service, but we usually recommend either LATAM airlines or AVIANCA as they tend to be the most helpful when unexpected flight cancellations or delays occur. MLP staff is available to assist you in selecting the best flight options for your trip.
  • All services from pick up in Cusco on Day 1 to drop off in Cusco on Day 7.
  • Transportation from the hotel in Cusco to Soraypampa on Day 1 and from Ollantaytambo back to the hotel on Day 7.
  • 6 nights lodging (5 nights in our lodges and 1 night in Aguas Calientes in a 4-Star hotel).
  • All meals except breakfast on Day 1 and dinner on Day 7.
  • Service of a bilingual guide (Spanish/English) from Day 1 to Day 7. Tours are led in English.
  • Transportation of personal belongings on the trek by pack horses/mules and/or porters.
  • Guided visit to Machu Picchu Sanctuary (including entrance and transportation to the site).
  • Transportation (Train to Aguas Calientes, and Ollantaytambo).
  • At the lodges, we provide filtered and sparkling water, tea and coffee, juice and soft drinks free of charge. Alcohol, sports drinks and natural bottled water are not included.
  • Air tickets.
  • Personal expenses such as beverages, telephone calls, tips, massages or spa services, laundry service etc
  • Extras not mentioned in the itinerary
  • Optional Activities: Chakana Inca Cross Excursion (for the Trekking Program only), Canopy Zipline, Horseback Riding (For the Trekking program only, subject to change).
  • Alcoholic beverages. Bottled water and sports drinks are not included. In an effort to reduce plastic waste on the trail and at the lodges we encourage guests to use refillable water bottles. For this purpose, we provide and supply quality filtered water, of the highest quality, available at multiple water stations at the lodges.
  • Local taxes (18% IGV) on meals and lodging applicable to Peruvians, foreign residents in Peru and tourists traveling in Peru for 60+ days

Weather:

The weather of Cusco is defined by two seasons: rainy and dry. The rainy season typically runs November through March with average temperatures around 56°F (13.3°C). Occasional showers are expected throughout this period, with the heaviest rains often occurring in January and February. The dry season is normally April through October, during which time we expect to see mostly sunny days followed by cooler nights and the possibility of morning frost. Average daytime temperature around this time is 49.5°F (9.7°C), while July is regularly recorded as the coldest month of the year. In some locations, night temps can drop down as low as 32°F (0°C).

Note: It is important to keep in mind that Cusco is located in a high mountain environment where variable weather conditions are the norm. Rain can occur in the middle of July just as the sun may appear in January, so it is always important to be prepared for mixed conditions.

Healthcare:

Altitude sickness is most common at elevations above 6562 feet and results from the body adjusting to a decreased amount of oxygen. To combat this, we recommend spending two nights in Cusco prior to the start of your program. This amount of time seems to work well for most people. In addition, it is always important to remember to drink plenty of water. Each of our lodges has purified water and guides will carry extra water throughout each route. Oxygen is also carried on the trail and available at the lodges. In cases of high altitude sickness, a hyperbaric chamber is available at the lodges.

It is important to note that everyone’s tolerance to altitude differs, and the best preparation will always be good physical training including a healthy diet and physical fitness routine (with hikes!) as part of one’s pre-trip training regimen. We also recommend you spend your first day in Cusco resting, eating light, drinking plenty of water, and avoiding alcohol, tobacco or any substances that might interfere with the proper delivery of oxygen to the body or cause dehydration. You may also want to try our delicious coca leaf tea, a Peruvian beverage, which is known to help with altitude sickness.

Emergency Procedures

All our guides have completed a Wilderness First Aid certification and carry a full first aid kit, portable oxygen, a portable hyperbaric chamber and radio with them on the trail at all times. Our company doctor in Cusco is always available by telephone for medical assistance and additional basic medical equipment is stored at each lodge.

Your pre-trip information pack will include an emergency contact number in the event family or friends at home need to reach you in an emergency.

RESERVATIONS

At the time of reservations, we will need the following information: Departure Date, Full Name, Passport Number, Nationality and Date of Birth of all participants.

A reservation is usually granted a 48 hours hold until a deposit is paid and confirmed.

If a deposit is not made during this time frame, we may release the space to serve another request. However, existing reservations on hold will be contacted before being released. Full guest information is needed 90 days prior to departure date.

Guided visit of Machu Picchu Sanctuary (includes entrance, transportation to and from the site and Huayna Picchu permits).

DEPOSITS & FULL PAYMENT

A non-refundable deposit of US$ 500.00 per person is required to confirm a reservation. Full payment is due 60 days prior to arrival.

CANCELLATIONS

In the event of a guest’s cancellation, we require notification of cancellations in writing, by email or fax.

The following cancellation fees apply:

Up to 60 days prior to trip start date: US$ 500.00 per person is not refundable.
59 – 30 days prior to trip start date: 50% of the total trip cost.
29 – 0 days prior to trip start date: 100% of the total trip cost.

TRANSFER FEE: TRANSFERRING FROM ONE DEPARTURE TO ANOTHER

60+ days prior to trip start date: US$ 250.00 per person
59 to 30 days prior to trip start date: 25% of the total trip cost
29 days or less prior to trip start date: 50% of the total trip cost

ADDITIONAL NOTES ON TRANSFERS

When requesting a transfer to another departure, guests do not have to decide immediately, which future departure date they would like to join. The transfer fee is due when confirming the future departure date. Transfer requests can only be honored until the end of the following year, depending on availability (for example: if a guest cancels in 2018, the guest must travel on a departure date by December 2019). If there is an increase in the rates from one year to the next, the guest is responsible for assuming the difference, in addition to the transfer fee.

We will send you complete information regarding packing and baggage upon booking. We recommend packing your belongings in a mid-sized soft duffle bag for the duration of the program. We offer duffel bags on loan (by request at the pre-trip orientation in Cusco) to any guest who might wish to use one. The train to Machu Picchu imposes a baggage weight limit of 8kg/18lbs per person. To ensure your bag does not exceed this amount, we highly recommend taking advantage of our duffel and storing your extra luggage at your hotel in Cusco. You will only need a day-pack for each day’s hike and your duffel will meet you upon arrival at each evening’s lodge.

Drone use is prohibited on these programs.

We are Peruvians who are passionate about our mountains and the people who live there. For more than 10 years, we have had the privilege of hosting guests at our mountain lodges, designed specifically to afford our visitors a seamless experience while they explore our remarkable country. Not only are we committed to sharing the celebrated treasures of Peru, we are also devoted to exceeding our guests’ expectations by offering an integrated cultural component that brings these treasures to life. We take great pride in our indigenous people…and as part of our vision for their development in an ever-evolving country, we are dedicated to including them in our day-to-day operations. At the lodges, local villagers simultaneously share their customs and learn how to be industry professionals. Our local teams, comprised of this rich blend of traditions and cultures, are trained to provide outstanding service and will go above and beyond to give each guest an unforgettable experience.

We sponsored the creation of Yanapana Peru, a not-for-profit Civil Association dedicated to social and environmental responsibility. Yanapana is committed to improving the quality of life through sustainable community development, in an effort to reduce extreme poverty in the Andean Highlands. Main activities of the association include donations for the enhancement of nutrition and infrastructure at a local public school, funding and training for local entrepreneurs, which include jam and honey, handmade textiles and organic coffee production. Other supportive efforts are directed towards child sponsorship programs, as well as medical prevention, detection, and treatment programs.

In our own journey through sustainability, we realized that it was necessary to take steps beyond what was traditionally being done in social inclusion, which is why in 2012, a joint-venture was born between the community of Huacahuasi and Mountain Lodges of Peru, naming it Kuska Purispa: Walking Together.

We are convinced that sustainable tourism in the region should be built around a model that empowers local communities, making them active investors in local development projects for the long-term benefit of all. Huacahuasi Lodge opened by the end of 2014, built upon land owned by the local community and staffed by highly-trained residents from the village. Now a full year into the operation, we are very happy to report the relationship has proven a tremendous success for all!

After this successful case, we are committed to work under this innovative business model and keep empowering and generating added value to local communities in Peru.