The Classic Inca Trail is one of the most well known and popular treks in the world. The Salkantay Trek has become the number one alternative to that trek in the situation where Inca Trail permits are sold out. However, that “alternative” is pretty incredible itself. So how do you decide? Fortunately, you don´t have to! We offer this combination of the two treks that will give you the best of both worlds!
On this six day trek, you spend the first 3 days on the Salkantay Trails before transitioning to the Inca Trail for the last 3 days. The diversity of flora and fauna, ecosystems and scenery you will see is indescribable.
I hope you will join us for this trek that showcases why these are two of the best treks in the Peruvian Andes.
You will have a thorough briefing with your guide 1 or 2 days before your trek. Your guide will meet you at our office in Cusco and you can take this opportunity to ask questions and make any final preparations.
We will pick you up from your hotel early in the morning and have a beautiful scenic drive of 3 hours duration to Mollepata. At Mollepata we will have breakfast at one of the local houses. During this portion of the drive we will have our first views of the magnificent Salkantay and Humantay Mountains, as well as observe lush vegetation and the fields of local families growing potatoes, quinoa, lima beans, etc.
At this point we will arrive at Soraypampa (3,800 m/12,467 ft), the trailhead for the Salkantay trek, and meet our support staff, who will pack everything for the trek and load the equipment onto horses. The first thing we will do is hike up to the magnificent Umantay Lake. After enjoying the beauty and taking pictures, we will hike back down to Soraypampa and “officially” begin the trek.
The hike today is uphill from Soraypampa to Ichupata (4,300 m / 14,104 ft) in the upper valley. This is a 5 to 6 hour hike. Along the way we will pass Salkantaypampa, which is our lunch spot.
Ichupata is our camp for the night. When we arrive, we will settle in, have happy hour and a hearty dinner.
After a savory breakfast, we will begin the 3 to 4 hour steep climb to towards the Incachiriasca pass (4850m/15908ft), the highest of the entire route. We will have amazing views of Apu Salkantay and glacial moraines during this portion. We will pause at the top of the pass to take pictures and enjoy the magnificent view.
We will then descend towards our lunch spot at Sisaypampa, a flat area from which one can observe the neighboring Salkantay Valleys. This is a place where we might see Andean condors.
After lunch we continue towards the Pampacahuana community (3,700 m / 12,136 ft), located next to an original Inca canal. This is our camp for the night.
Today we change pace as we join the Classic Inca Trail. We begin by hiking downill for 3 hours from Pampacahuana to Paucarcancha (3133 m / 10,276 ft)). We will have lunch there and visit the Inca Site. This is where we will say goodbye to our horsemen and the horses, and meet our porters.
From Paucarcancha we will hike 25 minutes downhill to the last village on the Classic Inca Trail, Huayllabamba (2,866 m / 9,400 ft). This will be followed by a 4 hour uphill hike to Llulluchapampa (3,700 m/12,136 ft). On the way we will hike through many ecosystems, including the cloud forest. Llulluchapampa is our camp for the night. It is located very close to Dead Woman´s Pass.
Your porters will wake you up early with a hot cup of coca tea to get you ready for the day. Today is the longest day of the Inca trail portion of the hike and we will start early. We’ll hike for roughly 2 hours to the highest pass of the Inca trail, Dead Woman’s Pass (4,215 meters/13,829 feet). On reaching the pass we’ll stop for a short break to enjoy the views before setting off again to descend to the next valley (Pacaymayu Valley – Hidden River).
It’s another hour and a half down the side of the valley to our lunch spot and a chance to refill our water bottles. After lunch we begin ascending again to the second pass of the trek. It’s 2 hours to the pass and along the way we’ll stop at a small Inca site (Runcu Raccay) and see two huge waterfalls cascading down the opposite side of the valley. After the second pass, it’s another hour downhill hike to reach the magnificent Inca site, Sayacmarca (an otherwise inaccessible village).
We’ll stop here for a rest and have a tour of the site and then watch the sunset over the Vilcabamba mountain range. It’s then just another 20 minutes until we stop for the night at our campsite Chaquicocha (Dry Lake, 3,600 m/ 11,808 ft). After dinner we can do some stargazing and your guide will point out the fascinating Inca constellations. In the magnificent Southern Hemisphere sky, away from all the artificial lighting, this sky is something to behold!
After another fantastic breakfast we will hike for two hours until we reach Phuyupatamarca (3,680 m/ 12,073 ft). From this location we will have astonishing views of Aguas Calientes, Machu Picchu Mountain, and Huayna Picchu mountain. We will also have a guided tour of the Phuyupatamarca Inca site.
Now it is time to head into the rain forest! We will walk downhill for 2 ½ hours until we reach our camp. During this stretch of the trail we will visit Inti Pata. Many people feel that the most beautiful pictures of the entire Inca trail can be taken from this location! After Inti Pata it is a further 30 minutes to our campsite at Wiñay Wayna (2,680 m /8,792 ft). When we arrive at the camp we will have lunch. After relaxing for a short time we will visit the archeological site that bears the same name as the camp.
Wiñay Wayna is the largest and most beautiful archeological site on the Inca trail and means forever young in Quechua. We are one of the few companies that provide a guided tour of Wiñay Wayna.
We will rise very early to complete the final stretch of the Inca Trail, which brings us to Inti Punku or the Sun Gate, the principal entrance of the crystal city of Machu Picchu. The trail here is fairly easy going and after about an hour we will arrive to Inti Punku (2,400 m/ 7,875 ft), an awesome location to observe the citadel of Machu Picchu and the sunrise in the Andes.
From Inti Punku it is a further 40 minute downhill hike to the citadel of Machu Picchu. We will go to the classic “photo” spot and take pictures once we arrive. Then there will be a short break prior to starting our tour of Machu Picchu. The tour will last two hours. If you elect to climb Huayna Picchu mountain (price for this hike is not included in trek price), your hike will begin after the tour, at 10 AM.
When you are finished exploring the extraordinary city of Machu Picchu you will travel to Aguas Calientes by bus. You will then take the train from Aguas Calientes to Poroy/Ollantaytambo where our private van will be waiting to transport you back to your hotel in Cusco. Arrival time in Cusco will between 7:30 and 9 PM (depending on your particular train ticket.
***If Huayna Picchu is sold out, and you choose to hike Machu Picchu Mountain instead, the permit to hike Machu Picchu Mountain is US $60 per person