Hidden Salkantay & Inca Trail Journey - 6 days

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Mountains, forests and Inca ruins on the road to Machu Picchu: This trek is as beautiful with even more variety; from icy glaciers to steaming tropical forest in addition to the vestiges of Inca culture you’ll see life as it is lived in the mountains on farmsteads and in tiny hamlets. The first 2 days of this exhilarating hike are the most challenging, as you hike around the skirts of ice-capped Mount Salcantay (6271m/20568ft), we go over a high pass to continue on a back-country trail, rocky in places until we join the famed Inca Trail.

What you need to know about our trek?

Day by Day Itinerary

* Price based in sharing one tent 2 people

Type Service: Privately Guided
Itinerary: Fixed
Destinations: Cuzco, Machu Picchu
Activities: Trekking and Walking,Cultural and History

Day 1 - Cusco / Cruzpata / Salcantaypampa

Pick up from the Hotel at 5:00am private transport from to Cruzpata 4 hours. We cross the town of Limatambo (2100m/6888ft), then
drive up a beaten track along the right shore of the Apurimac River, to reach Mollepata (2800m/9184ft), from where we continue on to Cruzpata (3100m/10168ft), where we meet our horsemen and horses. From this point we start the ascent on foot towards Soraypampa, following a climbing trail with many level variations and along which we encounter little groups of houses, flora and small wild birds. We
arrive at our campsite in Salkantaypampa (3895m/12776ft). From here we can appreciate the majestic Salkantay (6271m/20569ft).
 
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Total distance: 10 km (6, 21 miles)
Estimated walking time: 5-6 hours
Maximum altitude point: (3850m/12628ft)


Day 2 – Salkantaypampa / Pampacahuana

Breakfast; we continue our hike to start the four-hour steep climb towards the Incachiriasca pass (4850m/15908ft), the highest of the entire route, offering impressive views of the Salkantay snow peak. We then descend towards our lunch spot at Sisaypampa, a flat area from which one can observe the Salkantay´s neighboring valleys (it is possible that you will see condors in this area). After lunch we continue towards the Pampacahuana community, located next to an original Inca canal, where we set our second camp and spend the night.
 
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Total distance: 14 km (8, 70 miles)
Estimated walking time: 6-7 hours
Maximum altitude point: (4850m/15908ft)


Day 3 - Pampacahuana / Llulluchapampa

Breakfast; start a downhill walk along the shores of the Pampacahuana River following its course towards the Wayllabamba (3000m/9840ft). On the way down we visit the Incaracay archaeological complex. After approximately 4 hours, we arrive to Wayllabamba, where we stop for lunch. This is the point in which our trek joins the Inca Trail. Since pack animals are not allowed in the Inca Trail, we say goodbye to our horsemen and instead, are introduced to our group of porters. We leave Wayllabamba to until Llulluchapampa
(3850m/12628ft), where we camp and spend the night. Along the climb, the landscape changes from sierra to puna, having the chance to spot domesticated llamas and alpacas grazing on ichu.
 
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Total distance: 14 km (8, 70 miles)
Estimated walking time: 6-7 hours
Maximum altitude point: (3850m/12628ft)


Day 4 – Llulluchapampa / Chaquiqocha

Breakfast; hike up the highest point in the Inca Trail, reaching the mountain pass of Abra Warmihuañusca (4200m/13776ft) after about 2
hours. Immediately after the pass, we descend into the Pacaymayo valley (3600m/11808ft), from which we then continue to climb to the second pass, the Abra Runkurakay (3970m/13022ft). Halfway up, we stop to visit the archaeological complex with the same name. This site, located at 3800m/12464ft, consists of a small oval structure that is believed to have served the purpose of a watchtower. After going over the pass, we descend towards Yanacocha and enter the cloud forest to finally arrive at Sayacmarca (3624m/11887ft). This is a beautiful complex made up of a semicircular construction, enclosures at different levels, narrow streets, liturgical fountains, patios and irrigation canals. Only 20 minutes away is Chaquicocha, where we will set our camp.
 
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Total distance: 12 km (7, 45 miles)
Estimated walking time: 6-7 hours
Maximum altitude point: (4200m/13776ft)


Day 5 – Chaquiqocha / Wiñay Wayna

Breakfast; continue up an easy climb, to arrive at the third pass, Phuyupatamarca (3700m/12136ft). Along this climb we can appreciate the magnitude of the Incas´ ancient craft, by walking along paths semi-detached from the mountain, and seeing rocks that fill up ravines in perfect order, saving the trail from the multileveled Andean geography. We go through an Inca tunnel to later arrive at the aforementioned pass and down to the complex of the same name. Phyupatamarca means “town over the clouds”. From above, one can observe a
sophisticated sacred complex made up of water fountains with solid foundations, and also impressive views of the Urubamba River valley and the long descending stone steps along which we will continue on to Wiñaywayna (2650m/8692ft) where we spend the night.
 
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Total distance: 14 km (8, 70 miles)
Estimated walking time: 6-7 hours
Maximum altitude point: 3,900 m (12,792 ft)


Day 6 – Wiñay wayna / Machu Picchu

Breakfast very early; we wake up at 4:00am an hour later and climb to the Inti Punku (Sun Gate) from this fabulous spot, we may see the
sunrise over the sacred citadel of Machu Picchu 2,400 m (7,872 ft). From here we descend into Machu Picchu, 40 minutes later we enter the citadel from the highest point through the “House of the Guardians”. We then descend to the control point where we register ourselves and leave our backpacks. We immediately begin a complete guided tour of the Inca citadel that will take approximately two hours. You will then have free time to walk around, climb the Wayna Picchu Mountain, where one can experience spectacular views of all of Machu Picchu, the valleys and mountains that surround it, or visit the Temple of the Moon or the impressive Inca Bridge. In the afternoon, we meet in the town of Aguas Calientes where we take the train back to Poroy Train Station and transfer to your Cusco hotel.
 
Meals Included: Breakfast
Total distance: 4 km (2, 49 miles)
Estimated walking time: 2 hours
Maximum altitude point: 2,700 m (8,829 ft)

Includes

  • Pre-departure briefing
  • Collection from your hotel in the morning of trek departure.
  • Private transport to Cruzpata, head of the Trek
  • Inca Trail and Machu Picchu entrance fee (valid from days 3 to 6 of this
    program)
  • English Speaking Professional Guide (two guides for groups over 8
    persons)
  • 4 Season tents, 2 people in each 3-people-capacity tent
  • Therma-Rest self-inflating mattress
  • Horsemen and horses: Carry tents, cooking equipment and also carry
    backpacks, sleeping bags and mattresses (Max. 9 kilos/ 19 lbs per person) – days 1
    to 3
  • One emergency horse – days 1 to 3
  • Porters to carry personal gear up (Max. 9 kilos/ 19 lbs per person) including
    sleeping bag and sleeping pad – days 3 to 6
  • Chef and cooking equipment
  • Dining tent with tables, chairs and Kitchen tent
  • Meals as indicated in the itinerary (optional vegetarian food)
  • Toilet tent
  • Accommodation for all our staff
  • First aid kit including emergency oxygen bottle.
  • Bus down from Machu Picchu to Aguas Calie
 

Not Included

  •  Sleeping bag (can be hired in our office for US$ 36 for the 6 days trek)
  • Tips for the guide, cook and porters
  • Meals not mentioned in the itinerary
  • Domestic airfare to and from Cusco (+/- US$ 290 per person round trip)
  • Visa fees (if required)
  • Passport & Visa Costs
  • Vaccination Costs
  • Personal Spending Money
  • Drinks
  • International Flights
  • Travel Insurance
  • Airport departure taxes
  • Border taxes or fees
 

Optional Services

  •  Upgrade the train to Vistadome Class: add US$ 25
  • Sleeping bag during the tour ( -10°C): add US$ 36
  • Extra porter to carry your personal equipment: add US$ 140
  • Extra night at Aguas Calientes after the trek: add US$ 30

Peru Travel Facts

All of this combined makes Peru one of the most interesting places to volunteer in Latin America.
 
Here are some of the most interesting facts about Peru.
 
General facts about Peru
 
1) There are three official languages
 
Spanish, Quechua and Aymara are all official languages in Peru.
 
Spanish is the most widely spoken of the three, with over 80% of Peruvians speaking this language.
 
But these languages are only the tip of the linguistic iceberg in this South American country.
 

Once you travel towards the Amazon Jungle, the people local to this region speak an additional 13 languages. Impressive, right?

 
2) The capital city of Peru is Lima
 

Prior to the invasion of Peru by the Spanish, Peru was known as Tahuantinsuyo (or the Inca Empire as it is known today), and the most important city in that empire was Qosqo (or Cusco), which means navel of the world. Tahuantinsuyo was the largest empire in the Americas at that time, hence why the city was given its name.

 
In 1535, Francisco Pizarro – a sixteenth-century Spanish coloniser – established the city of Lima to serve as the seat of power for the Spanish colonists. Lima is still the capital of Peru today.
 
Today, Lima is home to a third of Peru’s population.
 

Most visitors to Peru will skip Lima in their excitement to get to Cusco and Machu Picchu. But, Lima has so much to offer to travellers, including the different architectural styles visible in the city centre.

 
3) The population of Peru is over 33 million
There are more than 33 million people currently living in Peru.
 
This population is made up of groups from different cultures and backgrounds – including the Uros people, many of who live on islands built of reeds in Lake Titicaca,  and the Mashco-Piro tribe, which lives in the Amazon rainforest.
 

These communities have inhabited the land for over five centuries.

 
Machu Picchu facts
 
Erected in the fourteenth century, Machu Picchu – a fortress built by the Incas – lies more than 2,400 metres above sea level in the Sacred Valley.
 
The Inca city was “lost” for over 400 years when Peru was invaded by the Spanish empire. It was rediscovered in 1911 by explorer, professor and archaeologist Hiram Bingham.
 

Today, Machu Picchu is a designated United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) World Heritage Site.

 
1) Machu Picchu is one of the new Seven Wonders of the World
 
Intrepid travellers flock to Peru every year to tackle the Inca Trail – a well-known four-day hiking trail on the Andes mountain range that leads to Machu Picchu.
 
And why is Machu Picchu so popular? It’s  one of the places where you can see a number of great examples of Inca architecture and learn about Peruvian history.
 
In 2007, the site – often referred to as the “Lost City of the Incas” – was voted as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
 
2) Machu Picchu was an astronomical observatory
 
Archaeologists have learned that the fourteenth century Incas had an excellent understanding of the alignment of the stars.
 
The civilisation built each sun temple and the sacred Intihuatana stone to line up with the sun for each solstice.
 
3) No wheels were used to build Machu Picchu
 
Despite the fact that Machu Picchu is made up of many stones weighing over 23 kilograms, no wheels were used to transport these rocks up the mountain. It is believed that hundreds of men pushed rocks up the steep mountainside to build this wonder of the world.
 
Peru natural wonders facts
 
1) Peru has one of the highest sand dunes in the world
 
The Cerro Blanco sand dune is the second-highest in the world, towering over the Sechura Desert at 1,176 metres.
 
The sand dune is located 14 kilometres east of the city of Nazca, so excursions to see the dune are usually organised from there.
 
When you arrive at the dunes, you can hire a dune buggy or sandboard, and spend hours sliding down one of the largest natural wonders in the world.
 

2) Lake Titicaca is the world’s highest navigable lake

 

Located between Bolivia and Peru, Lake Titicaca has an elevation of 3,810 metres above sea level.

 
But that’s not the only thing that makes this natural wonder stand out.
 
In the 1970s Jacques Cousteau, a French conservationist, found ruins of a city beneath the surface of Lake Titicaca.
 
Today, the descendants of the Quechua people who called this lost city home, live on 120 self-made floating islands on the lake.
 
3) One of the deepest canyons in the world is in Peru
 
The Cotahuasi Canyon has a depth of more than 3,500 metres.
 
To put this into perspective, this canyon is twice the depth of the United States’ Grand Canyon.
 

4) Peru is home to the Nazca Lines

 

The Nazca Lines are a display of more than 70 giant human and animal geoglyphs – works of art made by rearranging objects within a landscape.

 
These images are scrawled across the Peruvian terrain near the city of Lima.
 
They were first brought to the public’s attention by a Peruvian archeologist in 1927.
 
Today, these lines in the desert plateau between Nazca and Palpa are considered one of the world’s greatest archaeological mysteries.
 
Some people believe that the Nazca Lines are an ancient alien landing strip, while others think it forms part of a sophisticated astronomical calendar.
 
Interesting facts about Peru’s food
 
Did you know that Peru is considered one of the top foodie destinations in the world?
 
Michelin-star chefs from many different countries fly to Lima and Cusco to learn how to master their trade.
 
Need more proof about Peru’s gastronomic clout?
 

Every year since 2012, the country has been named the World’s Leading Culinary Destination by the World Travel Awards.

 
1) You can eat over 3,500 varieties of potatoes in Peru
 
The potato is a superfood, containing almost every kind of vitamin you need. It’s birthplace? Peru.
 
With more than 3,000 types of potato grown in the country, why not sample as many as possible in between conducting English classes, conservation work or community development volunteer work in Peru?
 
2) Peru is home to one of the best superfoods in the world
 
Ever heard of the camu camu fruit?
 
It grows in the Amazon rainforest and has a higher concentration of vitamin C than any other food in the world.
 
So, if you’re feeling a little jet-lagged after arriving in Peru, stop by the local supermarket, purchase a camu camu and take a bite to give your immune system a much-needed boost!
 
3) Guinea pigs aren’t pets
 
If you’re volunteering in Peru during an important cultural festival, keep a lookout for cuy. Cuy is a traditional dish that’s made from roasted guinea pig.
 
For the adventurous eaters that try this delicacy, it’s worth knowing that guinea pig meat is an even healthier choice than llama meat – and it contains even more protein.
 
4) Pisco sour is Peru’s national drink
 
Pisco sour is a Peruvian brandy that is mixed with lemons, sugar, water, egg whites, ice and bitters.
 
It was invented in the early 1920s by an American bartender. You can also try a version of the drink called chilcano, which is made without the egg whites.
 
Peru wildlife and flora facts
 
1) Peru is home to one of the world’s largest flying birds
 
The Andean condor is native to the Andes mountain range in Peru. It has a wingspan of 3.2 metres, stands at 1.2 metres tall and can weigh up to 15 kilograms. Because of their large size, these birds like to live in windy areas like Peru’s Colca Canyon, where they can use the air current to glide for hours with minimal effort.
 
The bird features on four national shields: Bolivia, Chile, Colombia and Ecuador.
 

The Andean condor is listed as “vulnerable” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. They are under threat due to poisoning, habitat loss, illegal hunting and the wildlife trade, as well as increased competition for food by feral dog populations.

 
2) Peru is one of the most biologically diverse countries in the world
 
One of the most interesting facts about Peru is that it has 90 different microclimates – climates that are restricted to a small area, and different from surrounding climates.
 
So it’s no wonder that the country is home to a wide variety of wildlife and plant species.
 
One of the best places to go to grasp the sheer range of its diversity is the Manu National Park. This park holds a biodiversity record after recording more than 1,000 species of birds, 1,200 species of butterflies, and 287 species of amphibians and reptiles in 2014.
 
Another great place to experience this is in the Yanachaga-Chemillen National Park, home to the Amazon cloud forest. With GVI, you can live and work in the park, which will give you the opportunity to experience the incredible biodiverisity found in this special place. You’ll assist in monitoring the return of certain mammals to the area, including armadillos, agoutis and ocelots. Most recently, we have even captured images of pumas and a spectacled bear in the area – a good indication that more animals are returning to the forest.
 

3) The tallest flowering plant grows in Peru

 

The Puya raimondii can grow to a height of five metres.

 
This plant takes between 80 and 150 years to flower. And, once it does, it can produce over 30,000 white blooms.
 
It’s only found in the high Andes, growing at an elevation of 3,000–4,800 metres above sea level.
 
4) The Amazon rainforest covers almost two thirds of Peru
 
Part of the Amazon rainforest, the Peruvian Amazon covers 60% of the country and is home to around 20% of all bird species in the world. You’ll also find 700 types of ferns and 7,322 different species of flowering plants, as well as roughly 180 species of reptiles, 262 amphibians, 293 mammals, 697 fish, 806 birds and 2,500 butterflies.
 
5) Three-quarters of the world’s alpacas live in Peru
 

Over 3.5 million alpacas call Peru their home. So don’t be surprised if a curious alpaca or two find their way into your picture when you visit this beautiful country.

 

Frequently asked questions!

The best way to prevent altitude sickness in Cusco is to be prepared. During your first 2 days you should take things easy. This means you shouldn’t take part in any strenuous activity. You should rest a lot and drink plenty of water. Alcohol and smoking isn’t a good idea as it can agitate you and make you feel a lot worse.

You can avoid altitude sickness by spending a few days taking it easy in Cusco before you head off on any kind of trek. Trying to do a tough activity too soon could make you very ill. You should also eat lightly and avoid alcohol to feel your best.

There’s no definite answer to this as there are many options. The Inca Trail is the most popular and needs to be booked months in advance as there are only a certain number of spots each day. The best alternative trek is considered to be Salkantay, which offers a real adventure and fantastic scenery. Inca Jungle is great for those seeking a thrill and Lares is a top option if you want a quieter and more rural experience. If you have a lot of time and want to experience two incredible Inca sites, you can opt for the Choquequirao trek.

This depends on the individual who wants to trek. The Inca Trail is extremely popular as it takes you along the real trail where the Incas once walked. However, many say that the scenery on Salkantay is more beautiful. For this reason we would say go for the Inca Trail if you’re a real history lover and like to hike well-known treks, but go for Salkantay if you want to witness stunning landscapes and a variety of different climates.

The trek isn’t dangerous. You’re with fully qualified guides all the way to make sure you always stay on track. They are there to help you if you feel sick at all along the way. The path can be uneven, but if you take it slowly, you’ll have no issues. During wet season, November to April, you’ll have to take more care when you walk to avoid slipping.

The trek is moderately challenging. This means that most people will be able to complete it if they are well-prepared. Most of the trek isn’t too challenging. It’s just the second day where you walk up to the Salkantay pass. You’ll trek for a total of 10 hours that day. What makes this trek difficult is the high altitude at which you hike and the different terrains as well as changing climate.

The Salkantay Pass sits at 4,600 masl.

Along the trail you’ll experience a lot of different climates. You’ll need to pack for the cold on the first two days. The first night will get below zero, so you need to make sure you have warm clothing and an excellent sleeping bag.

 You don’t need a permit for the Salkantay trek. You do need to pay S/10 upon entering, but this doesn’t need to be reserved in advance, meaning that there is always space available.

To prepare for trekking at high altitudes we recommend you start to prepare a few weeks before. You should start a fitness regime that includes daily stretching and exercises, particularly for your legs. We recommend taking hikes at home weekly before you come to do the trail.

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  • star rating  Hernan is an absolute legend! Professional, friendly and well organized. His English is perfect, which was nice as Americans.

    Look no further. He's the best guide... read more

    Andrew G
    October 13, 2022

    star rating  Based on the great reviews here, I contacted Hernan in hopes that he would guide my group of four on a Sacred Valley tour, overnight in Ollantaytambo, and then a... read more

    JourneyWithJason
    September 8, 2022

    star rating  Hernan met us at the Cusco airport and we drove through the Scared Valley the first day. Hernan is a native of the area and has the most wonderful... read more

    melrosetraveler
    August 10, 2022

    star rating  Hernan made our trip to the Sacred Valley so incredible! I reached out to him a few months before we traveled to Peru, and he suggested the itinerary (gave... read more

    T6081FGcatherinew
    July 25, 2022

    star rating  I can't recommend enough. An excellent tour guide who knows all the best places and people. He works hard to make sure your group is safe, well taken care of,... read more

    Christy N
    July 11, 2022

    star rating  Hernan is excellent. I gaurantee this will be the best tour to Quillabamba and choquequirao you can find. He is a great guide, both thorough and knowledgeable. He is one... read more

    Tayter T
    July 10, 2022
  • star rating  What an amazing experience! Hernan exceeded every expectation we could have had. The hike itself was just incredible. Hernan is very well versed in the trail. ... read more

    Storyteller519049
    May 16, 2022

    star rating  We had the best rip with Hernan and Jonathan. Hernan was our tour guide for four days through the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu. Hernan ensured we had a seamless... read more

    kd_moran
    April 18, 2022

    star rating  My favorite part of this whole experience was the relationship we developed with our tour guide, Hernan Hermoza. We are leaving Peru with a forever friend. Hernan... read more

    scollinsmason
    July 9, 2021

    star rating  The Best Private Guide Extraordinaire! We were nervous to go on this trip with Covid, but Hernan assured me it was safe to come, and yes - we felt... read more

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    May 28, 2021

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    May 11, 2020

    star rating  Hernan was an amazing tour guide! My family and I travel all over the world. We have used many different tour guides. However, we have never had a tour guide... read more

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    January 16, 2020