Everything You Need to Know About Mt. Salkantay and its Treks

Were you aware that there’s more than one Machu Picchu trek and more than one Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu? It’s true. When the Inca Trail Trek tickets are sold out and you’re scratching your head as to what to do instead, you have options. In fact, some would go as far as to say you have better options.

The “Savage” Mountain

Mt. Salkantay is the highest peak in the Vilcabamba Mountain range. Its name in Quechua literally translates to “savage mountain” and that it is with steep, glacier-coated terrain, a summit that clocks in at 20,574′ (6,271 m), and a reputation for being one of the hardest mountains to climb in the region. Fortunately, a Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu doesn’t actually mean ascending the savage mountain’s sky-scraping summit. Instead, you get to pass through the scenic, yet still challenging, terrain that falls within its shadows.

Trekking Salkantay: Your Options

1. Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu

Duration: 5 days, 4 nights
Trekking Distance: 31 miles / 50 km.

Of the Salkantay tours, this is the oldest and better known. It’s the original Inca Trail alternative trek, a classic that still very much feels like an off-the-beaten-path experience. The total trek is a five-day, four-night affair that starts in Mollepata and ends at the hydroelectric station where you then hop on a train headed for Machu Picchu Pueblo. The trail takes you into the headwaters of the Santa Teresa watershed, over passes as high as 15,210’ (4,636 m), and through steamy cloud forest and jungle. It’s as challenging as it is scenic, making for a well-earned and enjoyable arrival to Machu Picchu.

2. The Hidden Valleys of Salkantay Trek

Duration: 5 days, 4 nights
Trekking Distance: 33 miles / 53 km.

This new Machu Picchu trek is something we were eager to launch. While the classic Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu takes you along the northern face of Mt. Salkantay, this five-day, four-night trek allows you to discover the mountain’s southern face, including a grueling ascent up Tocto Pass (16,072 ft. / 4,900 m.). The route, which starts in Tomacaya, passes by lesser-known Inca sites, remote Andean communities, and often herds of grazing alpacas and llamas before finishing at Piscacucho (where the official Inca Trail Trek begins). From there, a car takes you to Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley for your afternoon train to Machu Picchu Pueblo.

Is Trekking Machu Picchu on Your Bucket List?

If so, it’s well worth your while to explore and consider doing one of these two Inca Trail Trek alternatives. They each guarantee you an experience away from the trekking crowds and across some of Southern Peru’s most breathtaking Andean landscapes. Reach out to us for more information about either one of these spectacular Salkantay tours.

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