The Inca Trail is one of the most famous trekking routes in the world. Traditionally, hikers walk the 4-5 day route to the Incan ruins of Machu Picchu whilst camping along the way. Although an exhilarating experience, the weather and camping conditions can be challenging.
Now, it is possible to enjoy this ‘bucket list’ activity in relative luxury – staying at small lodges and hotels en route, perfect for the hiker who enjoys some home comforts after a day in the mountains.
The Salkantay Trek is the most popular alternative to the Inca Trail and thought by many to be more spectacular. The scenery is certainly incredible and with less people trekking the route than on the Classic Inca Trail, it has much to recommend it. This itinerary takes you along the route, either walking as much as possible or using vehicles for an easier journey.
For a full overview of the Inca Trail, please read our BLOG.
DAY 1: CUSCO – SORAYPAMPA
After an early breakfast you will be collected from your hotel in Cusco and driven through the mountains. En route you will stop to explore the Incan ruins of Tarawasi, and have a short break in the village of Mollepata before stopping at Marcoccasa. Here you will begin a hike of 6 hours along the ‘Camino Real’ (Royal Path), during which you will stop for lunch. This trail will lead you all the way to the Salkantay Lodge where you will spend the night.
DAY 2: SORAYPAMPA – LAKE HUMANTAY
Today you can take a half day (4 hour) round trip hike to Lake Humantay. Enjoy viewing the turquoise water of the lake before returning to the lodge for a hot lunch. The afternoon is as leisure to indulge in a massage, go horse riding, use the jacuzzi or simply relax.
DAY 3: SORAYPAMPA – WAYRACCMACHAY
Today is a long a strenuous hike of 6-8 hours, including a high mountain pass with an altitude of 4638m (15213ft). You will walk through the dramatic scenery of the Vilcabamba Range, consisting plateaus, giant boulders and rolling hills stopping for lunch halfway. Finally, decend to Wayra Lodge – your much welcomed bed for the night!
DAY 4: WAYRACCMACHAY – COLLPAPAMPA VALLEY
Today you will trek a further 3-4 hours downhill along the Salkantay River, into increasingly verdant scenery where you can spot butterflies and orchids. Arrival at Colpa Lodge has one surprise – guests can chose to arrive via an exhilerating zip line ride! The afternoon is at leisure.
DAY 5: COLLPAPAMPA – LUCMABAMBA
Today a long hike of 5-6 hours in the Santa Teresa river valley, past an organic coffee plantation and through warmer air, as you are now close to the edge of the Amazon rainforest. If you would rather not hike, you can choose optional activities including mountain biking or ziplining. Overnight at Lucma Lodge.
DAY 6: LUCMABAMBA – AGUAS CALIENTES
The hike today along the Llactapata Pass will take you through lush canopies of plants and past rivers and streams. This 4-6 hour walk also includes many sections of walking on original Inca steps. You will also get a sneak preview of Machu Picchu from the back – a sight few travellers get to admire. Finally, a 1 hour train journey takes you to Aguas Calientes where you will spend the night in a hotel.
DAY 7: MACHU PICCHU
The climatic day of what will have been an unforgettable week. Take a short bus ride up a steep hill before entering the ‘sanctuary’ of Machu Picchu. Take time to explore this mysterious and beautiful Incan ruin and enjoy the impressive views in every direction. Lunch will be provided in Aguas Calientes, before you journey back to Cusco.