The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu has long been considered one of the best hikes in the world - and as a result, thousands of people are joining up on one of the camping tours that follow the footsteps of the ancient Incas on one of their trade routes to the sacred citadel of Machu Piccu. And therein lies the dilemma - too many people on the trail spoil the experience, not to mention the environment.
Thus a new route was developed, which approaches Machu Picchu via another ancient Inca route, the Salkantay Trail, which is just as awesome, with Salcantay, the second most sacred peak of the Incas always in majestic view. Until recently this route was considered an alternative camping route to Machu Picchu, in case no more permits were available for 'the real thing'. But now a whole new dimension has been added to this route which makes it by far the most superior approach to Machu Picchu for those who want to enjoy the hiking experience without the physical torment of having to sleep in tents after a hard day's hike: a lodge based Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, along the Salkantay route.
But this alternative offers much more than just 'creature comforts'. It provides the opportunity to slow down and take it all in - of BEING THERE, rather than just 'getting there, as quickly as possible'. Apart from being much gentler on the body, it also gives the senses the opportunity to immerse fully in the experience, the sights, the sounds, the smells, the amazing night sky, the flowers along the way - give yourself time to soak up the Andean ambience in its full, amazing glory.
Since this itinerary is about the experience of 'BEING THERE', there are also several other options you can add to the basic itinerary, such as doing part of the trail on horseback, or enjoying a massage at the lodges.Itinerary
After an early breakfast an MLP guide and vehicle will pick you up at our hotel in Cusco starting at 7:00 am and the adventure begins with a drive towards Salkantay Lodge in Soraypampa starts. En route we take a short break to visit the Inca ruins of Tarawasi near the town of Limatambo (approx. 1.5 hrs from Cusco). After leaving Limatambo, we pass through the mountain village of Mollepata where we stop for a short coffee break before ascending a winding mountain road to a place called Marcoccasa (30 minutes from Mollepata by vehicle).
Here we begin our trek to Soraypampa, on an old route called the 'Camino Real' (Royal Path). This is a good
opportunity to acclimate, while enjoying a beautiful six hour trek. Salkantay Lodge takes its name from
the majestic peak at the head of the valley—Mt. Salkantay, the second most sacred peak in Inca mythology and, at
6,270 m (20,600 ft), the highest in the region. After a warm welcome by our friendly staff, we are shown to our rooms
and have time to wash-up, before tea and cookies. The trip leader will hold a briefing by the fireplace, followed by
aperitifs and dinner.
Elevation: 3,869 m/12,690 ft
Trekking Time: Approximately 6 hours (including picnic lunch en route)
Hiking Level: Moderate
Option: Guests who do not wish to trek may be transported to the lodge by vehicle
Note: On the evening before this day there will be a briefing with your guide in Cusco.
Today we take an acclimatization hike on the slopes above the lodge to Lake
Humantay, fed by the hanging glaciers of Mt. Humantay. The hike is optional, but the
views are amazing, and those brave enough can even go for a dip. We return to the
lodge for lunch, after which you may choose to trade the glacial swim for a relaxing
soak in our outdoor jacuzzi. Afternoon at leisure. We spend the night at the Salkantay
Lodge with gourmet food and warm, comfortable beds. In the evening, the guide briefs
us on gear and the itinerary for the following day. All meals are served at the Lodge.
Elevation: 3,869 m/12,690 ft
Trekking Time: Approximately 4 hours
Hiking Level: Moderate to Challenging
Option: Horseback Riding (see additional information on page 10)
This is the big day! After an early start, we hike up the Rio Blanco valley, circling
Humantay Peak across from Salkantay Peak. The highest point on the trek is the
Salkantay Pass at 4,638 m (15,213 ft). At the pass we stop to take in views of snowcapped
peaks of the Vilcabamba Range in every direction, the glaciated south face
of Salkantay towering above us. We will keep our eyes out for Andean condors, often
visible in this area. From the pass we descend towards Wayra Lodge (“Wayra” means
wind; so ‘the place where the wind lives’) our destination for the evening. A hot lunch is
served en route; dinner and overnight at the Lodge.
Elevation: 3,906m/12,812 ft
Trekking Time: 6–8 hours (including lunch)
Hiking Level: Challenging, crossing a 4,640m (15,200 ft) mountain pass
On this day we enjoy a leisurely breakfast at Wayra Lodge. Then we continue our
descent along the left bank of the Salkantay River, through increasingly verdant
scenery. We can feel the warm air rising from the jungle, accompanied by colorful
butterflies and striking orchids. Upon arrival at Colpa Lodge we are greeted with a
Pachamanca meal, a traditional festive Peruvian meal cooked by layering meat and
vegetables with hot stones, and then covering the whole thing up to bake. Colpa
Lodge is located on an open plateau at the confluence of three rivers. The outdoor
jacuzzi has panoramic views of lush green mountains. We spend the afternoon
relaxing or exploring the nearby orchid trail. Dinner and overnight at the lodge.
Elevation: 2,870m/9,414 ft
Trekking Time: 3–4 hours
Hiking Level: Easy to Moderate
Today we hike along the Santa Teresa river valley, through more populated rural areas.
We pass through banana, granadilla, and avocado orchards and coffee plantations (said
to be one of the best organic coffees in the world). A hot picnic lunch is served by the
river. After lunch, we hike another hour before a private vehicle meets us for a short
drive to the beginning of the 'Llactapata Inca Trail' (30-minute or so). From the head of
the newly restored Inca trail we easily make our way to Lucma Lodge, set in an avocado
orchard. Dinner and overnight at the lodge.
Elevation: (2,135m/7,003 ft)
Trekking Time: 5–6 hours (including lunch)
Hiking Level: Moderate to Challenging (because of distance, not terrain)
After a hearty breakfast, we tackle the last day of our trek. We head uphill for 2-3 hours
towards Llactapata Pass (2,736 m/8,974ft), where we come upon a distant but spectacular
view of Machu Picchu Sanctuary from the southeast, a view few travelers ever
get a chance to admire. We take a short break to explore the Llactapata Ruins, which
have recently been restored. Lunch is served in a scenic viewpoint, looking out to
Machu Picchu. We then begin our final descent to the Aobamba River through lush
bamboo forests, orchards and coffee plantations. Aguas Calientes, the town of Machu
Picchu, is a short, scenic train ride away. Upon arrival, we check into our lovely hotel for
celebration dinner with our guide and one last briefing!
Elevation: (1,900 m/6,232 ft)
Trekking Time: 4–6 hours
Hiking Level: Moderate to Challenging
After a very early buffet breakfast at the hotel, we make our way to the bus station for the ride up to Machu Picchu Sanctuary (30 min). Our trip leader will give the group an introductory two-hour guided tour of the ruins, after which we have the rest of the morning to explore the site on our own—there is a lot to do and see! Afterwards, we return by bus to Aguas Calientes for a late lunch and to meet our train. The ride from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo takes about one and half hour, and then a private vehicle will drive us back to Cusco (an additional hour and half ). Upon arrival in Cusco (approximately 7 or 8 p.m.), we are dropped off at our hotel.
(Mar 1-Mar 31, Nov 1 - Dec 14)
(Mar 1-Apr 15, Nov 1–Dec 15)
At the lodges we provide filtered and sparkling water, tea and coffee, juice and soft drinks free of charge. Alcoholic and sports drinks, and natural bottled water are not included. Only filtered water and tea are available free of charge at the Inkaterra Pueblo Hotel.
For further information and booking inquiries please send us and e-mail.