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Salkantay Santa Teresa

5 days

Salkantay Santa Teresa

This spectacular trekking route takes walkers through picturesque high Andean scenery and cloud forest ecosystems. After passing through a range of ecological niches, the reward on the final day is a guided visit to Machu Picchu, the greatest surviving legacy of the empire of the Incas. The trail is dominated by the presence of soaring Mount Salkantay (6247 meters / 20,600 feet), which dominates the skyline as hikers skirt highland lakes, cross high passes and descend into fauna-rich cloud forest habitat and plantations where tropical crops are grown.

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Day 1: Cusco / Soraypampa / Wayracpunku

You will be picked up from your hotel in Cusco for the drive to the trailhead in the Apurimac Valley. We will drive as far as Soraypampa (3800 meters), arriving at around 8:00 am, where there will be time for breakfast before setting off on the first section of the hike. It is here that we will meet our wranglers, who will be responsible for the mules and horses that will carry most of our gear. From Soraypampa we will begin with a hike up a gentle slope with fine views of the southern face of the Salkantay massif (6247 meters / 20,600 feet), dominating the skyline directly in front of us. After about an hour the ascent will become steeper, as the trail takes us up rapidly to the pass, from where it is an easy stroll to the spot where we will stop for lunch, knowing the hardest part of that day’s walking has been completed as we eat and enjoy the spectacular surrounding scenery from our lakeshore vantage point at Soroycocha. After lunch we will head up towards the next pass at the base of Salkantay, where we will be met by even more dramatic views as we stop to rest and take photos.  From the pass we will head down to our campsite at Wayracpunku. 

 

Driving travel time: Cusco – Soraypampa: 4-5 hours

Trek length: 15 km/ 9 mi;

Main altitudes: Soraypampa: 3908 m/ 12822 ft.; Soyrococha: 4200 m/ 13779ft; Wayracpunku: 3800 m/ 12477 ft.

Meals: Lunch, dinner


Day 2: Wayracpunku / La Playa

This day’s hiking will take us down from the high Andes into a cloud forest environment. Less than an hour after leaving camp in the morning we will find ourselves amid tropical vegetation, with temperatures much higher than those experienced on the first day. These forests are the habitat of many species of orchids and a number of endemic bird species, including hummingbirds. We will stop for lunch at Colpapampa, before continuing through areas of fruit and coffee plantations as far as La Playa, further down the valley, where we will make our next camp.
 

Trek length: 18 km/ 11 mi;

Main altitudes: Colpapampa: 2900 m/ 9514 ft; La Playa: 2400 m/ 7874 ft

Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner


Day 3: La Playa / Llactapata

We will set off early today in order to ensure we arrive at Llactapata with plenty of time to enjoy the outstanding views from our next campsite. Today we will hike along the route taken by the Incas who built the complex network of highways that linked every part of their great empire. It is a demanding ascent to Llactapata, but we will be well compensated by the extraordinary scenery that surrounds us during this section of our trek. As we complete this ascent we will pass through a forested area that is home to abundant birdlife, including hummingbirds, toucans and Peru’s national bird, the fascinating cock-of-the-rock. It is from Llactapata that you will have your first view of Machu Picchu, seen from an angle that very few visitors to Peru’s most emblematic archaeological site ever experience. Your guide will escort the group on a tour of the extensive Llactapata archaeological site, explaining its relevance as one of the series of settlements built by the Incas in this part of their territory.

 

Trek length: 12 km/ 7.5 mi;

Main altitudes: Llactapata: 2610 m/ 8562 ft

Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner


Day 4: Llactapata / Hydroelectric Station / Aguas Calientes

Today’s hike is much less demanding physically, while the scenery that surrounds us is some of the most rewarding of the entire trip. We will descend further into the valley, venturing deeper into the cloud forest environment that is home to abundant wildlife, and passing through the plantations and smallholdings of local farmers. After passing the hydroelectric station, we will have the option of continuing on foot along the bank of the river as far as the town of Aguas Calientes (around two and a half hours), located below the ruins of Machu Picchu, or catching the train to cover that final section of our route. After checking in at our hotel in Aguas Calientes, there will be plenty of time to relax by enjoying the local hot springs that gave the town its name. 

 

Trek length: 15 km/ 9 mi;

Main altitudes: Hydroelectric: 1870 m/ 6135 ft.; Aguas Calientes: 2070 m/ 6791 ft

Meals: Breakfast, lunch


Day 5: Aguas Calientes / Machu Picchu / Cusco

Today we will get up early in order to spend as much time as possible visiting this lost city, which was only rediscovered in 1911. Standing at the top of a steep, forested hill overlooking the Urubamba River, Machu Picchu was hidden by dense vegetation for centuries until the American historian Hiram Bingham began to clear the site. Our guided tour includes the temples, plazas, palaces, watercourses and residential areas of the city. After the tour, you will also have plenty of time to explore the ruins independently. 

In the afternoon we will return to Aguas Calientes for the train to Cusco, where upon arrival you will be transferred to your hotel.


Included

  • All the necessary land transport (Private bus)
  • English speaking tour guide
  • Camp cook, pack animals and mule drivers, camp assistant(s). Mules carry up to 8 kg of the items of our passengers.
  • Camping equipment: Two-person tents, kitchen and/or dining tent, and toilet tent
  • Inflatable mattress
  • Food: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner as described above
  • Snacks in the morning that includes fruits, chocolates, candies, and others
  • Hot drinks in the afternoon (tea or coffee)
  • Duffle bags
  • First-aid kit
  • Round trip bus ticket to Machu Picchu
  • Train ticket Hydroelectric - Aguas Calientes 
  • Train ticket Aguas Calientes – Cusco. (Train Expedition. We can upgrade to Vistadome under request)
  • Transfer from the train station in Cusco to the hotel

Not included

  • Hotel in Aguas Calientes
  • Sleeping bag (we can rent it)
  • Travel insurance
  • Meals not included in the program
  • Tips

What to bring

  • Passport. 
  • A daypack.
  • Warm clothes (for the Andean section of the trek).
  • Rain jacket
  • Long sleeved shirts (cotton). 
  • Shorts for walking (optional).
  • Hiking boots.
  • Cap and sunglasses.
  • Walking poles (optional).
  • Insect repellent.
  • Sun block.
  • Water bottle for the first day. (We will refill your bottle with boiled water).
  • Binoculars for bird watching enthusiasts.
  • Flashlight.
  • Digital camera.

Please note: Participants must be in good physical condition for this adventure (try to train by walking every day for at least two weeks before departure).

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