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Salkantay Trail (day by day)

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The Salkantay Trail takes you through a panorama of Peru’s beautiful and diverse countryside. Less well-known and less well-trodden than the Inca trail, the Salkantay Trail is a day longer and a little tougher than the classic trail, but nevertheless offers equally exquisite views as you trek through mountain passes and high altitude jungles on your way to the famous backdoor to
Machu Picchu.

Day 1
Maximum altitude: 4480m
Distance walked: 15km
Approximate walking time: 7.5 hours

The day begins with an early start from Cusco, transferring by bus to the start of the trail at
Challacancha, stopping at the archaeological site of Tarawasi on the way. From Challacancha, the trail climbs up to 4,200 metres and the first campsite, with a magnificent view of the
snow-capped Apu Salkantay mountain.

Day 2
Maximum altitude: 4630m
Distance walked: 21km
Approximate walking time: 7.5 hours

This is the toughest day on the trail. In the morning you ascend to the highest point of the trek at the Salkantay Mountain Pass (4,630 metres), surrounded by glaciers and mountains, and home to condors. During the afternoon descent into a more tropical, cloud forest climate, you pass the remains of an ancient Inca path, before following the Salkantay River to some natural hot springs.

Day 3
Maximum altitude: 2890m
Distance walked: 14km
Approximate walking time: 7 hours

Today, the climate becomes warmer and the scenery more verdant as you descend a narrow path toward the banks of the Cachora River, passing wild fruit plantations and waterfalls. In the afternoon you walk through the tiny Andean village of Sahuayaco, home to less than 20 families.

Day 4
Maximum altitude: 2860m
Distance walked: 15km
Approximate walking time: 7 hours

After a morning ascent, you reach the viewpoint at Abra Q’elloqasa, which offers an exceptional and unique view of the Lost City of the Incas, Machu Picchu in the distance. After a last lunch enjoying stunning mountain vistas, you descend through bamboo forests and coffee plantations to a hydro-electric plant. From there, you take a short train journey to the small town of Aguas Calientes in the valley below Machu Picchu, where you spend the night.

Day 5
Day 5 is walking-free. Instead, after breakfast at your hotel, you take an early bus from Aguas Calientes to the legendary site of Machu Picchu. A guided tour of the ruins is included before you catch an afternoon train and bus back to Cusco, arriving in the evening.