The Salkantay Trek is a 5-day hike through the mountains, which takes you from Cusco to Machu Picchu and back again. We chose this one as an alternative to the more popular Inca Trail mainly because it had the lure of being close to nature and usually had fewer people. We were rewarded with some of the best views we have ever seen.
When we chose to do the Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu, we didn’t really know what we were getting ourselves into. Most people warned of the incredible second day of hiking – a 9-hour hike up to 4600 meters at the pass of Salkantay. The reward was an incredible view of the 7000-meter tall mountain.
The hike is fairly challenging and visits several different climates – sometimes on the same day – ranging from jungle to high alpine. Last week I wrote about our 5-day The Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu but after going through all our photos from The Salkantay Trek, I realized it deserved its own dedicated photo post. We have broken it down to our favourite pictures from each day.
Day One: Cusco – Mollepata – Humantay Lagoon – Soraypampa
We woke up in Cusco and meet our guide outside of the hotel at 4am. The trek essentially starts immediately; we started walking in a group through the city streets, stopping at hostels to pick people up along the way. We eventually got to a bus and drove 2 hours towards the mountains, stopping in Mollepata for breakfast. Another hour in the van and we arrived at a spot on the side of the road where we meet our trail. The first 45 minutes was straight up a steep path and was followed by 3-hours of “Inca flat” to Soraypampa.
We settled into camp and the clouds cleared around us, revealing the amazing setting we were in. From here we walked up the big hill to the lagoon of Humantay, adding another 3 hours to our day of walking. This was one of the most beautiful locations of the 5 days and was the best “optional” hike we have ever taken.
For more pictures of these great mountains, have a look here – Two Mountains in the Andes: Salkantay and Humantay.
Looking back towards our base camp. 2017.
The view from our first base camp. 2017.
Just outside of Soraypampa. 2017.
Humantay Lagoon. 2017.
A close up look of Humantay. 2017.
The view from our camp in the morning before we left. 2017.
Humantay Creek. 2017.
Day Two: Soraypampa – Salkantay Summit – Chalway
This is without a doubt the most difficult day of the trek. We woke up early and it was very cold. Our guides wake us up with coca tea, and we have breakfast and set out on our journey. It is straight up a long path for 3 hours to the summit; we reached a high point of 4600 meters. From here we walked back down the other side of the mountain, into the jungle for 3 hours, and had lunch. It rained for about an hour. When the clouds broke, we then walked another 3 hours to our campsite for the night in Chalway. We walked a total of 9 hours during this grueling day.
Salkantay Mountain. 2017.
Norma and Rob on the home stretch to the summit. 2017.
Almost at the top of Salkantay. 2017.
4600 meters. 2017.
The view behind us on the walk up to Salkantay was pretty good too. 2017.
Our group of hikers at the Salkantay Summit. 2017.
The Jungle. 2017.
Hiking down the mountain into to the Jungle. 2017.
The last corner before our second night of base camp. 2017.
Day Three: Chalway – Santa Teresa
We walked through the jungle from our hostel and along the edge of the river which is growing with the addition of more streams. We walk along the road for a bit, and cross the river to the other side and are back on a path. The route is mostly “Inca flat”. We pass through the tropical jungle (“Ceja d Selva”), and along the way see many different flowers, plants, fruits (wild banana, strawberries, and avocado) and see many different types of birds and bugs. After lunch, we drive in a bus for just under an hour and arrive in Santa Terresa, where we enjoy the nearby hot springs.
Two rivers meet. 2017.
Two rivers meet. 2017.
The jungles of Peru. 2017.
Norma hiking through the jungle. 2017.
Our view from the hot springs in Santa Teresa. 2017.
Day Four: Santa Teresa – Hydroelectrica – Aguas Calientes
We left Santa Teresa in the morning and walked along the side of the road to Hydroelectrica. Today’s hike is split into two 3-hour parts. Some of our trek mates skip the first 3 hours and go Zip-lining over the jungle. We chose to walk. Along the way is where we first got a look at the ruins from below, first spotting Machu Picchu Mountain and after lunch, we can see the ruins high above us. We walk along the train tracks to Aguas Calientes and spend the night there. This was our first hot shower and real bed in 4 days. It was glorious.
River valley below Machu Pichu. 2017.
Huyana Picchu. 2017.
Looking up at Machu Picchu. 2017.
Underneath Machu Picchu. 2017.
Railroad Tracks. 2017.
Day Five: Aguas Calientes – Machu Picchu – Cusco
The final day of the trek. We woke up early (just before 4am) and walked to the lower gates of the ruins, 20 minutes outside of town. The gate opens at 5am and everyone walks up the staircase (which takes about an hour) to the main entrance of Machu Picchu. The rest of the day is spent walking around the ruins, and in the afternoon we head back down the hill to Aguas Calientes. From here we took a train to Ollyatambo and then a bus back to Cusco.
For more pictures of this great location, have a look here – Machu Picchu: City in the Clouds.
Posing for our photo above the ruins. 2017.
Machu Picchu. 2017.
Top of the world. 2017.
Machu Picchu. 2017.