The Hidden Valleys of Salkantay Trek with Inca Trail Express

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This exclusive trek is one we have put together in order to capture the beauty, remoteness, and solitude of the Andes. It is a different, unique, and pristine version of the Classic Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu. Discover the southern face of this spectacular Apu Salkantay, “Wild Mountain Spirit”, which is the highest peak in the Vilcabamba Mountain Range. Andean mountain dwellers hold a strong belief that mountains are powerful deities, which guard and protect the communities that live on and near them. The magic and power of the Andes mountains will soak into your bones as you traverse these little-known mountain paths.

This is truly the “road less travelled”. You will absorb the remoteness and solitude of the area, striding across Andean valleys and encountering Inca stone ruins, seemingly a part of the natural landscape. We’ll hike near remote communities and run into the women and children who live their lives in this isolated region, as they watch over their herds. We’ll challenge our endurance by hiking over a spectacular pass to face snow-capped Mt. Salkantay, and finally descend along the edge of the Machu Picchu Sanctuary towards the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Marvel at the remains of ancient homes, walls, and Inca stairs at the little-known ruins of Huayna Q´ente and Machu Q´ente, apparently one with their natural surroundings. Both sites have been recently restored and get very few visitors. On Day 5, we’ll board the train from Ollantaytambo to Km 104, where we´ll walk on the ancient Inca Trail until the magnificent citadel of Machu Picchu.




6 days / 5 nights 


6 days / 5 nights 

Group Departures

Every Tuesday and Sunday


2 passengers 

Private Departures

On request 




Day 1Cusco – Limatambo – Tinko

From Cusco, we drive toward Limatambo, past the Tika Tika Pass where we will attain our first views of majestic Mount Salkantay and Humantay on the horizon, before crossing the Anta plateau. Driving past breathtaking panoramas of this vibrant agricultural region with views of rugged snowcapped peaks in the background, we will arrive at the ruins of Tarawasi. After a visit to this important Inca ceremonial center, with its long asymmetrical stone walls, we will continue our drive toward the trailhead at the village of Tomacaya, where we’ll begin our trek.
This day’s hiking is all uphill. As we are approaching the heights, we’ll observe how the ecosystem changes with the altitude, starting in a relatively warm, sheltered valley where crops of fruits and vegetables thrive, then onto higher plateaus where native potatoes are grown. Finally, as we reach our campsite, we’ll observe herds of sheep and camelids grazing the high meadows.
Sleep surrounded by a stream and side valleys in our campsite at Tinko (4154 masl / 13,628 fasl).
(L / D)

Driving distance: 77.2 km (48 mi) – Time: 2 hours
Trekking distance: 11.1 km (6.9 mi) – Time: 6-7 hours

Day 2Tinko – Tocto Pass – Pampacahuana – Mirador de Pampacahuana

Leaving Tinko, we will head up the valley and take the leftward trail to begin a long uphill climb toward the pass. As the day warms up during our climb, we may see some Andean bird species, including endangered Andean Condors, as they soar majestically above the mountains. After 3-4 hours of steady climbing, we’ll arrive at the Tocto Pass (4900 masl / 16,072 fasl) where we’ll marvel at the incredible and dramatic views of the south face of Mt. Salkantay, while enjoying the special feeling of solitude that comes with knowing there are few other humans in the vicinity. We begin our descent along the Pampacahuana Valley toward our campsite at Mirador Pampacahuana at 3902 masl (12,801 fasl) all the while accompanied by amazing mountain views. On a clear day, we can see both the eastern face of Mt. Salkantay up the valley to our left, and Mt. Veronica down the valley to our right.
Sleep surrounded by mountains and stars in our Pampacahuana campsite (3902 masl / 12,801 fasl).
(B / L / D)

Trekking distance: 15 km (9.3 mi) – Time: 6-7 hours

Day 3Mirador de Pampacahuana – Paucarcancha – Llactapata – Chamana

We’ll take our leave of imposing Mt. Salkantay and continue our hike downhill along an ancient Inca canal flowing down the center of the Pampacahuana Valley, passing through a landscape dotted with small farm settlements. At the end of the valley, we’ll once more begin to observe a greater variety of vegetation as we descend past the tree line before arriving in Paucarcancha, a remote Inca site at the confluence of the Pampacahuana and Q´esca valleys, where we’ll optionally stop for lunch. (We may, instead, have lunch on reaching Chamana, which is a couple of hours down the road.) The choice depends on the pace of the group and whether everyone is hungry yet – today´s itinerary is flexible!
After a short visit to explore the Inca stone walls and remnants of ancient houses at the site, we’ll continue our journey downhill and join the first stretch of the famed Inca Trail, descending toward Chamana.
Chamana is located just outside the Llactapata ruins, and we will have a chance to explore these ruins after enjoying a hearty lunch (if we were not yet hungry in Paucarcancha). These ruins were once an important rest stop for the Inca on the way to Machu Picchu, and this site will also be our private “rest stop” for the evening. We are the only company that uses this campsite, and we have equipped it with a hot shower for you to cleanse and refresh after the strenuous activity of the previous few days.
Campsite at Chamana (2585 masl / 8480 fasl).
(B / L / D)

Trekking distance: 16.8 km (10.4 mi) – Time: 6 hours

Day 4Chamana – Huayna Q’ente – Piscacucho – Ollantaytambo

At this point, we will be on the edge of the Machu Picchu Historic Sanctuary. After visiting the ruins of Huayna Q’ente, with its amazing Inca terraces and impressive landscaping, we will leave the National Sanctuary through the town of Qoriwairachina and head towards Piscacucho, where the main entrance to the Inca Trail is located. The trail will take us alongside the Vilcanota River and through several more ancient archaeological sites. In fact, this is the same path that Hiram Bingham used when he was first led to Machu Picchu by local people living here in 1911. From here, we’ll travel by car to Ollantaytambo, and then take the afternoon train to Machu Picchu Village, where we’ll spend the night before visiting the magical citadel of Machu Picchu on Day 5. Dinner on your own.
(B / L)

Trekking distance: 15.1 km (10.4 mi) – Time: 7 hours
Driving distance: 15.6 km (9.7 mi) – Time: 30 min

Day 5 Ollantaytambo – Km 104 – Machu Picchu

After breakfast, our guide will pick us up at the hotel and we´ll head to the train station. The train will chug alongside the Urubamba River in the Sacred Valley; we’ll see a noticeable change in our surroundings as we enter the verdant and misty cloud forest of the Machu Picchu Sanctuary. We’ll disembark and cross a hanging bridge that spans the mighty river, and visit the ruins of Chachabamba, which is believed to have been a spiritual center dedicated to water deities.
Now it’s a 3-hour ascent to a second important spiritual center, Wiñay Wayna. These ruins are built into a steep slope on the way up to the Sun Gate. After we explore for a bit, we’ll cut across the ridge above Machu Picchu to reach Inti Punku, Gate of the Sun. This is a dramatic moment, as we look down on the magnificent Machu Picchu ruins spread out far below, gaining a glimpse into a mystical, forgotten world. We’ll spend the night in a hotel in the village of Machu Picchu. Dinner on your own.
(B / BL)

Train ride: 37 km (23 mi) – Time: 1:10 hours
Trekking distance: 11.7 (7.3 mi) – Time: 3 hours
Bus ride to Machu Picchu: 6.2 km (3.9 mi) – Time: 30 min

Day 6Machu Picchu – Ollantaytambo – Cusco

After an early breakfast, a quick, half-hour bus ride brings us up the road to the gates of Machu Picchu where we’ll enjoy a guided three-hour tour of this ancient hilltop citadel. Exploring the various sectors and entering some of the houses and temples will bring these iconic ruins to life for us. As we immerse in this mystical place, we’ll feel that we’ve entered a dream of ancient times. Wandering among these ancient manmade structures blended seamlessly into natural surroundings, will leave us with a sense of wonder and reverence, and gift us with memories to savor for years to come.
In the afternoon, we’ll return to the village where a train will take us back to Ollantaytambo. On-board entertainment, snacks, and hot and cold refreshments are available. Arrival in the Ollantaytambo train station, where we will be picked up and driven back to the city of Cusco.
(B / L)

Trekking distance: visit Machu Picchu – Time: 3 hours
Bus ride to Machu Picchu (RT): 12.4 km (7.7 mi) – Time: 1 hour
Train ride: 43 km (27 mi) – Time: 1:45 hours
Driving distance Ollantaytambo to Cusco: 79 km (49 mi) – Time: 2 hours

End of services
B- Breakfast / BL- Box Lunch / L- Lunch / D- Dinner

Not included
What to take:

– Transportation
– Professional bilingual guide
– Bus ticket Machu Picchu – Machu Picchu Village (round trip)
– Hotel in Ollantaytambo
– Hotel in Machu Picchu Village
– Train tickets
– Double occupancy tents with Thermarest sleeping pads
– Guided tour in Machu Picchu
– Lunch in Machu Picchu Village on day 6
– All meals during trek
– Non-alcoholic drinks
– Kitchen and dining tents
– Cook and field staff
– Horses and drivers
– Entrance tickets
– Solar energy lamps
– Eco toilets
– Adequate garbage disposal
– First aid kit and oxygen tank

– Personal travel insurance
– Dinner in Ollantaytambo on day 4
– Dinner in Machu Picchu Village on Day 5
– Laundry service
– Airline tickets
– Sleeping bags (rent available)
– Personal gear
– Alcoholic beverages
– Additional services
– Tips
– Extras

– Regular and long wicking first layer for cold weather, like polyester, nylon, or merino wool
– Short-sleeved shirts or t-shirts, breathable fabrics, like nylon and polyester
– Light-colored long-sleeved shirts or t-shirts
– QuickDry Pants, trekking pants, and shorts
– Insulated long-sleeve jacket (fleece, synthetic, down, merino wool)
– Liner gloves
– Light cap and beany
– Rain jacket (in the rainy season, bring rain pants)
– Breathable sports socks or hiking socks
– Warm socks for nights
– Swimsuit
– Multifunctional headwear (e.g. Buff)
– Waterproof and breathable hiking boots
– Comfortable and lightweight shoes for campsite
– Sleeping Bag (0°/32° to -15°/ 5°) (rent available)
– Day Pack (preferably with rain cover)
– Trekking Poles (available to rent)
– Waterproof duffle bag
– Sunglasses
– Headlamp
– Microfiber towel
– Sunblock, lip balm, and insect repellent
– Reusable water bottle or vacuum bottle
– Portable Power Bank (to charge lamps, etc)
– Personal First Aid Kit (recommended)

On each trip we carry a medical kit, but we suggest you bring a small personal First-Aid Kit for bruises and blisters. Knee and ankle braces are sometimes useful especially if you suffer from weak knees or ankles. Include any special medication your doctor might suggest for you.

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