Two mountains in the Andes: Salkantay & Humantay

One of the most spectacular – and challenging – places I’ve ever hiked to, the majestic views of Salkantay are worth every bit of the effort.  The mountain rises nearly 7000 meters above sea level.

It marks the continental divide, as water from here flows both into the Amazon Basin and towards the Pacific Ocean. It is a popular trekking route and is an alternative to the Inca Trail for those who want to walk to Machu Pichu. The hike is fairly challenging and visits several different climates – sometimes on the same day – ranging from jungle to high alpine.

Salkantay is about 60 km North-West of Cusco. The first day of the trek takes you to the base of Humantay Mountain, and we were able to take a 3-hour return trip to the lagoon for a better view. This mountain is 5473 meters above Sea Level and is equally impressive to its more famous neighbor. We spent the night camped out at the base of these two mountains. It was the coldest night of our 6-week trip to South America.

The trek to Salkantay summit – 4600 meters – is challenging. Day two of the trek is a long 9-hour hike, with the first 3 hours going straight up to the summit of Salkantay. The terrain is mostly rocks, and it’s quite steep. The weather is nearly guaranteed to rain, and the chances of the mountain being covered by clouds, mist or fog are high. But no matter what, it feels great when you finally make it to the top; the summit is 4600 + meters, and the views when clear, it’s worth it. We were lucky and had some pretty cool views of the mountain during our hike, but when we made it to the top, the weather was changing quickly. We did not get a clear view from the summit.

From here you hike down the other side of the Mountain, and into the valleys that are fed water from the Glacier behind us. We had 3 more days of hiking through the jungle, along the path would eventually lead us to Machu Picchu.

To read more about our experiences of our trek, click here: The Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu. 

Humantay Mountain:

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Humantay Mountain unveiled from the Clouds. 2017.

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The view from our base-camp once the clouds cleared around Humantay. 2017.

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Humantay Lagoon. 2017.

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Looking back towards our base camp. 2017.

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Humantay in the morning, before we began the hike to Salkantay. 2017.

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Humantay Creek. 2017.

Salkantay Mountain:

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Walking towards the Salkantay. 2017.

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Looking back as we hiked up towards Salkantay. 2017.

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Salkantay views. 2017.

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Salkantay… almost at the summit. 2017.

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Salkantay Trail. 2017.

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Salkantay shrouded in clouds. 2017.

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Our Guide. 2017.

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Trekking Crew poses for a photo at the summit. 2018.

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Salkantay Summit. 2017.

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