Salkantay Trek: all you need to know before making the trip to Machu Picchu
The Salkantay Trek
There are a few ways to get to Machu Picchu. While the Inca Trail is most known one, the Salkantay Trek is also an amazing option for you to consider.
This treks link the mountains, coastline and runs through the jungle rain forests. The Salkantay Trek can also be considered part of the Inca Trails – the network of trails constructed by the Incas in order to maintain the Empire fluid communication, trade and defense.
For the most adventurous travelers looking for a less crowded and more intimate alternative, the Salkantay trek is the number one choice. The permits for the classic Inca Trail sold out very fast and you will need to book it several months in advance. Luckily, so far there is no permit based entry for the Salkantay trail.
The Salkantay trek, nestled into the high lands of the Urubamba valley, is a journey through 5 ecosystems, fantastic mountain sceneries and fully packed with adventure. We cannot deny that every trail leads to a fantastic experience. But if you choose the Salkantay trail, you will choose it well.
The best time for the trek
The ideal time to hike the Salkantay Trek is during the sunny and dry season months (from April to October). Be prepared for cool days and freezing nights.
Expect the unexpected: The Salkantay trek will give you some of the best days of your travel life. No picture will make justice to the natural beauty you will actually going to see. From the town of Molepatta (where the trek begins) to magic Machu Picchu, this trek will stimulate your senses in every way. Snowy peaks, small traditional villages, hot springs, delicious meals and bonfire marshmallows are just some of this journey top highlights.
Guided Trek VS Independent Trek
There are some important aspects you may consider before making the decision of a guided trek or going through it just by yourself. Remember: the classic Salkantay Trek takes up to 5 days, so choose wisely.
When traveling with a guide you’ll most likely be joining a group with fellow trekkers (unless you have enough budget to hire a private guide service). Going with another group can have some disadvantages as you have no control over the altitude and the physical level of your fellow travellers. On a guided itinerary, there is not to much room to improvise: you’ll have to catch up with the rest. The prices can go up the 250$.
On the other hand, a guided tour will provide you: knowledgeable guides, transported gear through each campsite, and you’ll be supporting the local tourism industry.
Going all by yourself? It’s harder, but not impossible. In this situation, you must bring and transport your own gear – tent, clothes, and enough food for all the days. The positive side? You will have much more freedom. But be sure to learn about the route beforehand!
We must say that the final decision will always be up to you. Just consider your trek expertise level and knowledge.
Gear, Food, Clothing and Safety precautions
If you have chosen a guide service for this trek, make sure you check what kind of gear they will really provide. Normally the guide services provide food, water, tents, sleeping bags, and the gear transportation from site to site. The only things you´ll need to bring are the hiking equipment and essentials. Here is a list to help you pack right, always having on the mind to do it as lightly as possible. Caution, be ready to experience all kind of climate changes!
Don’t forget to bring:
– Your own sleeping bag
– Toiletries (keep it small)
– 1 pair of Hiking boots (waterproof if possible)
– 4 pairs of comfortable socks (ideally hiking socks)
– raincoat and something to cover your backpack is a must
– 5 pairs of underwear
– Shorts (just in case if it´s sunny)
– Hiking trousers (preferably waterproof)
– Leggings (for the women)
– 4-5 t-shirts / tops (include some thermal tops)
– Swimming clothing
– Sandals / Flip-flops
The Salkantay Trek is a fairly remote part of the country, between small towns with no hospitals nearby. So, as general safety recommendations, take at least two days to acclimatize to Cusco before attempting the trip. The hiking altitudes range from a lowly 1500m up to a nose-bloodying 4600m, so it is mandatory to be ready and in adecuate physical condition. Pack up the appropiate gear, and make sure you don’t waste space bringing stuff you won’t really need. Bring a lot of water to the trip: stay hydrated. Also, don’t forget to pack a small first aid-kit, just in case you end up needing it.
Up and positive
In this kind of experiences, having a positive minded – attitude is always a plus! Be energetic, confident and optimistic. Mental preparation is a key factor in this adventure. Keep a positive attitude and some coca leaves in your pocket and will nail this trail.