Salkantay: 10 interesting facts about Machu Picchu trek you can not miss.

Reading : 5 min July 24 2022

Salkantay Trek is a unique adventure. Are you looking for excitement, new surprising  destinations and beautiful breathtaking landscapes ?. Salkantay trek has all you are looking for and perhaps a little more. In this adventure you will test your physical endurance on a hike to the sacred Citadel of Machu Picchu, discovering new routes, history and all the magic of the andean soil.

But before you start walking, we want to share with you valuable information about this beautiful destination. You must be physically prepared for this great challenge that's gonna make you feel proud of yourself.

About Salkantay

Salcantay or Salkantay is a snow-capped mountain, Apu in quechua, located on the Vilcabamba Mountain Range, in Santa Teresa district, in La Convención, Cusco department, Perú. It 's about 80 miles (130k) from the Imperial city, approximately 3 hours and 45 minutes by car. The mountain is imposing and reaches 20574 feet high (6271 masl).

Salkantay snow-capped mountain has been visited by climbers from all over the world who have tried to conquer its summit. Some were luckier than others because the mountain decides if you are welcome or not.

The route to Salkantay is  also a trekking route that can take you to Machu Picchu, an alternative path to the famous Inca Trail. According to the records, the Apu Salkantay were climbed in 1952 for the first time by a group of alpinists from France and The United States, but of course it wouldn't be any surprise if the mountain were conquered a long time ago by the ancient peruvian people.

What does Salkantay mean?

The name of the mountain comes from the quechua words Slaca, which means wild, and Antay, which according to the experts opinion could be something like “a cloud, snow and avalanche maker”. This powerful name is one of the many reasons why local people consider Salkantay a sacred mountain.

What exactly is Salkantay Trek?


It is a 5 day 4 nights trek in which you will see an impressive landscape with a great deal of local flora and fauna. This trekking takes you to the Citadel of Machu Picchu in a journey of almost 43 miles (70 k)  distance, with a maximum altitude 15091 feet (4600 masl) in the Salkantay pass. This trek will be very demanding physically speaking, for you or anyone who ventures to live the Salkantay Trek experience.

Salkantay legend

Both Salcantay and Ausangate snow-capped mountains share a legend about how they were created. The story tells that Salkantay and Ausangate were two brothers who used to live in Cusco. There was a terrible drought and the brothers leave their homes looking for food and water for their people.

Ausangate went south, where he found provisions to feed his people, while Salkantay walked north where he found love.

Today it just remains the stories that pass from generation to generation, telling and explaining the origin of the people who protect the magic of the andean world. The Apus, Salkantay and Ausangate along with the other impressive mountains around the Inca land, stand today as the only keepers of the secrets of a land full of stories about how this magical world was built, and the travelers from all around the world can witness by visiting Cusco.

Can I do the trek by myself?

Of course, but due to the characteristics of this adventure, we strongly  recommend that you travel with a group and book a touristic package to keep you safe. This package will provide you with a trained and certified guide, adequate transportation, tents and tools that go according to cold weather such as the peruvian highlands and everything you need at the time of travel.

Enter our Sun Trail and Salkantay package and leave everything in our hands. This service includes English / Spanish guide service, tickets, train, shared transportation to the starting point of the trek, return transportation to Cusco, hotel in Machu Picchu Pueblo and meals. Also a pick up service from the hotel in Cusco city center, but if your accommodations are far away from the Plaza de Armas, you will be picked up from the Inca Rail office.

What to expect  of Salkantay Trek

The tour starts in the city of Cusco, from where you will be transferred to Moyepata. Once there you will begin the ascent and walk for about 7 hours towards Soraypampa, the starting point for the hike to the Humantay Lake. Here you will camp and have something to eat while you rest and review the photos you took along the way.

On this first day of hiking you will have walked about 10 miles.

Second day of hiking. You will start the trek after having a good breakfast to regane your strength and prepare yourself for the great effort your body is going to make. In this part of the trek, you will advance a total of 13.7 miles (22 k). In the first part you will climb for 3 hours to the highest point of the trek at the Abra Salkantay at 15091 feet of altitude (4600 masl). Then you will start the descent to Chaullay for about 5 hours or so, while you see how the landscape changes and becomes green, full of orchids and other beautiful flowers.

This is the most gentle day hike. You will start descending to Playa Sahuayaco and then to Santa Teresa.  After walking 10 miles (16 k) you can relax at the Cocalmayo Hot Springs and enjoy the magnificent view, while getting the rest you deserve.

On this fourth day of trekking, you will reach Machu Picchu Town also known as Aguas Calientes , visit the hydroelectric plant and then walk along the Vilcanota River. This hike also has an extension of 10 miles (16 k).

On the last day of the trip you will climb up to the Citadel of Machu Picchu to enjoy a landscape of breathtaking beauty. You will be filled with the energy and magic of the land of the Incas and then return to  Cusco by train and bus.

About the weather

As you probably already know, Cusco is a very cold destination where the temperature can go really low, but at the same time during the day, it can go up high  because the sky is clean and clear and lets the sun shine as much as it wants. If you do this trekking you should remember that you will be pretty cold therefore you need to take with you the appropriate. type of clothing. Don't forget to take with you some shorts and a light jacket for the hot moments of the day. Keep in mind that when you arrive at Machu Picchu Town, the weather becomes more tropical so you should be prepared for extreme weather changes.

When is the best time to do the Salkantay Trek?


This is an extreme type of hike, so it is important to be well prepared and choose the right time to do it. We recommend you to plan your adventure during the dry season, between April and October.

What do you need to take with you?

  • Camera with a big memory card and an extra battery
  • Sleeping bag
  • Rain jacket
  • Outdoor extreme weather clothing
  • Hat
  • Ppropper shoes
  • A good backpack
  • Rain poncho
  • Reusable bottle water
  • Water purifying tablets
  • Sunscreen lotion
  • Sunglasses
  • Energy snacks such as nuts or cocoa bars
  • Coca or lemon candy
  • Personal hygiene products
  • Some cash

Interesting facts:

The peak of Salkantay is bicephalous, meaning that it has two summits, the East and the West summit. Until some time ago, the West one was slightly higher, as it had  a serac (a large block of ice fragmented by crevasses in a glacier), which collapsed in 2019. With the collapse, both summits today have similar heights. 

There are some contradictions regarding who were the first hikers to reach the summit of Salkantay, as some say it was the Franco-American expedition, while others claim it was a group of Swiss mountaineers. But both expeditions are dated 1952 so it is difficult to know for sure..

On June 17th 2013, Nathan Heald, Thomas Ryan (from the U.S.) and Luis Crispin (from Peru) reached the summit at 10:30 a.m. after 9 hours of climbing. This ascent makes Crispin the first Peruvian to reach the summit since these activities have been recorded.

Travel to Cusco and visit every corner of it, the city, its people, their customs and traditions, its amazing food and typical dishes and all the magic the city of the Incas holds inside. Salkantay Trek, just go for it and live the most unbelievable experience of your life, with us. We will take care of everything for you.

To see more touristic packages visit our website and choose the experience that suits you the best.

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