Your journey along the Salkantay trail will take you through varied terrain both challenging and awe-inspiring. Up-close views of glacier mountain peaks, mysterious mist surrounding fields of boulders, and cattle drives through the most remote of mountain areas. Such sights will enhance the spectacular topography, lush vegetation, and intriguing archaeological areas that so few have encountered. Meet locals, still proudly connected to their Andean heritage, who will greet you along the way and give you a glimpse into their rarely seen world.
Explore the cathedrals, markets, and ruins of Cusco
Trek through high mountain passes and cloud forest to experience the Andes
Stay in luxury lodges built to match the cultural and physical surroundings
An early morning flight brings you to the Inca capital of Cusco where Quechua speaking descendants of the Incas bustle back and forth in the busy plazas and markets. Colonial churches sit atop bases of smooth stonework laid centuries before the arrival of the Conquistadors. The church walls have fallen many times throughout the years, but the Inca walls remain. The morning explore Cusco's narrow streets and bustling markets on foot with your guide.
This morning, journey into one of the most beautiful areas of Peru. The Sacred Valley often becomes one of the highlights of your trip and you will soon see why! The day is flexible based on your interests, market days, and the weather. You'll test your bargaining skills with the locals while visiting one of the great textile markets in the area. You may also hike to the inspiring ruins of Pisac or take a short walk through the countryside to the seldom-visited town of Maras, where pre-Columbian salt mines still operate today. Visit the Inca agricultural terraces of Moray, thought to have been a nursery to experiment with and modify different varieties of crops. Return to Cusco for the evening.
After an early breakfast, your MLP guide and driver will pick you up at your hotel in Cusco. The first stop is a visit to the Quillarumiyoc archaeological site en route to the mountain village of Mollepata. Enjoy lunch at El Pedregal, a beautiful farmhouse in the village, where you will also have the opportunity to learn about local agriculture and livestock. After lunch comes a scenic ride on the winding mountain road to Challacancha. Here you will begin your hike to our flagship Salkantay Lodge at Soraypampa along a picturesque path called the “Camino Real” (Royal Path).
Trekking Time: Approximately 3 hours (excursion 6 hours in total including picnic lunch en route) Total Distance: 3.7mi | 5.9km Hiking level: Moderate Overnight: Salkantay Lodge (3,869 m/12,690 ft)
After breakfast, head out for another altitude-acclimatization with a half-day hike to Lake Humantay. Begin you ascent up the slopes that border the plateau behind the Salkantay Lodge. An hour and a half later, after making your way over the final hill, you will be stunned to see the turquoise water of the lake, made even more spectacular by the sight of the Humantay glacier looming behind it. Upon arrival, you will have a chance to relax, enjoy a snack, meditate in the tranquility of this magical spot, and participate in a traditional ceremony to honor “Pachamama” (Mother Earth). After your descent back to the lodge, the Salkantay staff will be waiting with a hot lunch. Afternoon at leisure to relax, enjoy a massage, or soak in the outdoor hot tub for a spectacular view of the Salkantay Peak at sunset.
Trekking Time: Approximately 4 hours Total Distance: 3.1mi | 4.9km Hiking level: Moderate
*Optional activity available this day: Horseback riding (at an additional cost)
After an early start, the ascent toward the Salkantay Pass begins. You will circle Humantay Peak, gradually making your way along expansive plateaus connected by enormous boulders, remnants of the Rio Blanco Valley that was once bisected by a fast-flowing river. The last and most challenging part of the ascent is conquering the mountain switchbacks that lead you to the pass, the highest point on the trek (15,213’ / 4,636m). The journey continues with a dramatic descent through fields of large boulders and natural stone formations often shrouded in fog, followed by a very welcome hot picnic lunch. After lunch, you will have some time to rest before the final hike through the area’s bucolic countryside; its rolling hills will eventually lead you through marsh-like plateaus to the Wayra Lodge at Wayraccmachay. The most remote of the lodges, Wayra sits on a promontory that offers a spectacular view of Mt. Humantay, a reminder of how far you have journeyed that day
Trekking Time: 6–8 hours (including lunch) - crossing a 4,640m/15,200 ft mountain pass Total Distance: 7.2mi | 11.6km Hiking level: Challenging Overnight: Wayra Lodge (3,906 m/12,812 ft)
After a leisurely breakfast at the Wayra Lodge, continue your descent along the banks of the Salkantay River through increasingly verdant scenery. The warm air begins to rise from the edge of the jungle, accompanied by colorful butterflies and striking orchids. More local people will join you on the trail as it passes homes and fields. At lunchtime you will arrive at Colpa Lodge by an amazing zip-line, located on a high promontory at the confluence of three rivers. For the less adventurous there is an alternative path to take to the lodge. Once at the lodge, you are greeted with a Pachamanca lunch, a traditional Peruvian meal cooked in the earth by hot stones that create a natural underground oven. After lunch, spend the afternoon lounging in the sun or relaxing in the outdoor Jacuzzi while you take in the panoramic views of the lush green mountains that surround you.
Trekking Time: 3–4 hours Total Distance: 5.2mi | 8.4km Hiking level: Easy to moderate Overnight: Colpa Lodge (2,870 m/9,414 ft)
Today's hike travels along the Santa Teresa river valley where you will hop over small streams fed by waterfalls descending from the glaciers and pass through banana, granadilla, and avocado orchards. After finishing the hike at a passion fruit orchard, you will meet your vehicle for a short drive to the beginning of the "Llactapata Inca Trail" that leads to Lucma Lodge. After a late lunch, visit an organic coffee plantation, one of many in that area that produces some of the best organic coffee in the world. Here in Lucmabamba, the hot air and increased humidity signal that you are even closer to the edge of the Amazon Jungle.
Trekking Time: 4-5 hours Total Distance: 10.0mi | 16.0km Hiking Level: Moderate/Challenging (because of distance, not terrain) Overnight: Lucma Lodge (2,135 m/7,003 ft)
*Optional activities available for an additional cost: Zip Line in Santa Teresa - Full day activity that replaces the trek.
After breakfast, depart from Lucma Lodge and embark on a 2-3 hour climb through the cloud forest up a path mostly comprised of original Inca steps. A lush tree line creates green canopies overhead and the constant sound of rushing water suggests that the river is nearby. Your first milestone today will be the top of the peak, the last one before you descend to the Aobamaba River Valley that connects you to Machu Picchu. Upon arrival at the Llactapata Pass (8,974’ / 2,736m), you will delight in a southeast view of Machu Picchu, a sight few travelers get the chance to admire. After exploring Llactapata, the Inca tambo (fort) that marks the pass, enjoy a picnic lunch at a mountain lookout point with panoramic views. The final descent along a trail that zigzags down to the roaring Aobamba River will take you through lush bamboo forests, varied fruit orchards, and more coffee plantations. Celebrate as you cross the bridge over the river and take your final steps of the trek en route to the Hidroelectrica train station for a scenic one-hour train ride to the town of Aguas Calientes, on the banks of the Urubamba River at the base of Machu Picchu.
Trekking Time: 4–6 hours Total Distance: 6.23mi | 10.02km Hiking level: Moderate to challenging Overnight: Aguas Calientes (1,900 m/6,232 ft)
Your journey to Machu Picchu begins with an early morning rollicking uphill bus ride. As you enter the ‘sanctuary’ (as locals refer to it), prepare to be awed by the imposing, skillful architecture of the Watchtower, the Temple of the Sun, and the royal Inca residences, among others. After a two-hour guided tour, you will have free time to explore on your own. At some point, be sure to take a moment and sit quietly–listen to the wind, meditate, and absorb the mystical energy that envelops you. After the visit you will have lunch in Aguas Calientes before a scenic Vistadome train ride to Ollantaytambo (approximately 1.5 hours) and vehicle transfer to your hotel in Cusco (approximately 1.5 hours). As night falls and you arrive amidst the hustle and bustle of the city, you will be touched by a feeling of peace and rejuvenation that will linger long after your journey home.
Day 11: Fly Lima | Fly home
Enjoy breakfast at your hotel. Transfer to the Cusco airport for you flight to Lima and connect with your international flight home.
I could not be happier with my Adventure Life experience, from beginning to end. I travel a lot, and I think your company and personnel do an outstanding job. I truly appreciate your professionalism, attentiveness, and flexibility. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend your company and would be happy to serve as a reference.