Salkantay – Machu Picchu Trek including Rainbow Mountain Hike, Peru

The Salkantay to Machu Picchu Trek follows a beautifully remote and ancient footpath in the same region as the classic Inca Trail. What makes this adventure so exceptional is the less frequented trekking route is spread over extended days to relish a myriad of diverse and spectacular views so you can truly enjoy the natural beauty of the Andes away from jam-packed trekking crowds.

This breathtaking journey is an excellent option for adventure travellers who wish to challenge themselves in remote higher altitudes, or for trekkers who are simply looking for an alternative to the traditional Inca Trail.

The distinctiveness of this incredible trek enables you to see the change in different ecological floors, from subtropical areas and stunning peaks and glaciers, to finally reach the acclaimed “Lost City of the Incas, Machu Picchu.”

The first steps of this exciting journey begin in Mollepata, west of Cusco, a different place from the rest of the Machu Picchu-bound Inca trails.  After a few exciting and challenging days at altitudes above 4,000m, the trek will see us descend to join the traditional Inca Trail beyond Paucarcancha at Huayllabamba. This unique itinerary of superb walking with fewer trekkers allows you to fully appreciate and relish in breathtaking Peruvian nature and Andean peaks.

You will experience raw, dramatic scenery not seen on the Classic Inca Trail. We will explore the beautiful Rio Blanco Valley before crossing an exceptionally steep and snowy high pass at an altitude of 4,600m – the Salkantay Pass. Trekking under the grand, snow-girt mass of the thrilling Sacred Inca mountain, Salkantay (6,264m) will totally astound as the south face of this revered peak towers high above us. Mesmerising panoramic views across the sprawling Valcabamba Range will captivate the senses and make every step of your trekking adventure exceptionally memorable.

To conclude this incredible trek we will hike to the summit of “Rainbow Mountain” that is hidden deep in the Andes. This one-day hiking journey will see us pass through a vibrant green valley with the impressive Peruvian (Ausangate) mountains towering in the distance. The undiscovered land of wild desert landscapes, snow-capped peaks, herds of alpaca, and finally the arrival at the ultimate destination, the top of Rainbow Mountain standing at 5,200m. This spectacular mineral coloured landscape will provide a 360-degree view of this sacred land, an experience that will vividly be painted in your memories forever.

If you desire a trek with an unparalleled and exclusive difference the Salkantay – Machu Picchu adventure is for you. With fewer distractions and disturbances than you encounter on the Inca Trail, this is the number one alternative. You will experience a remarkable blend of awe-inspiring scenery, high snow-capped mountains, lowland jungle, challenging trekking, culture and natural beauty that is truly unique to the Andes.

Escape the congested Machu Picchu bound Inca Trail to explore the magnificent Salkantay – Machu Picchu trek with me at Cherie Horne Adventure Trekking.

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Day 1: 
Arrival to Jorge Chaves International Airport, Lima (1,550m) – Transfer to Hotel in Miraflores, Lima

Drive time: 20 mins from airport to hotel

Day 2:
Lima (1,550m) – Connecting Flight  to Cusco (3,400m) – Transfer to Hotel, Cusco, Peru

Flight time (Cusco): 1 hour
Meal Plan: Breakfast

Day 3:
Acclimatisation day in Cusco (3,400m) – Hotel

Tour of Sacred Valley – history and culture of the Incas and Peruvian lifestyle. Exploration of Cusco.
Salkantay – Machu Picchu Trek orientation with Cherie and her Peruvian guides. Clothing & equipment check.
Meal Plan: Breakfast
Drive time: Tour bus around Cusco for the day

Day 4: 
Cusco (3,400m) – Mollepata (2,900m) – Soraypampa (3,850m) – Hike up to Humantay Lake (4,200m) – Soraypampa (3,850m) – Salkantaypampa Tent Campsite (4,000m)

Meal Plan: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
Drive time: 2-3 hours driving from Cusco
Walking time: 6-7 hours

Day 5: 
Salkantaypampa Tent Campsite (4,000m) – Salkantay Pass (4,600m) – Huayracmachay – Qollpapampa (3,100m) – Colpapampa Camp (2,850m) – Tent Camping
Meal Plan: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
Walking time: 7-8 hours

Day 6: 
Colpapampa Camp (2,850m) – La Playa (2,400m) – Lucmabamba (2,150m) – Tent Camping
Meal Plan: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
Walking time: 5-6 hours

Day 7
Lucmabamba (2,150m) – Llactapata (2,650m) – Hydro-electrica (1,800m) – Train to Aguas Calientes (2,040m) – Hotel
Meal Plan: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner 
Walking time: 5-6 hours
Train time: 30min

Day 8: 
Aguas Calientes (2,040m) – Machu Picchu (2,450m) – Cusco (3,400m) – Hotel
Meal Plan: Breakfast
Walking time: 3-4 hours exploring Machu Picchu
Drive time: Aguas Calientes – Machu Picchu (60min return)
Train time: Aguas Calientes – Ollantaytambo – 2 hours
Drive time: Ollantaytambo – Cusco –2 hours

Day 9: 
Cusco (3,400m) – Rest Day in Cusco  –  Hotel
An extended tour of Sacred Valley & Exploration of Cusco (optional)

Meal Plan: Breakfast
Drive time: 1 hour

Day 10:
Cusco – Day Hike to Rainbow Mountain (5,200m) – Cusco (3,400m) –  Hotel
Meal Plan: Breakfast/Lunch
Walking time: 4-5 hours

Drive time: Cusco – Rainbow Mountain – Cusco – 8 hours total

Day 11: 
Cusco (3,400m) – Rest Day and/or sightseeing in Cusco  –  Hotel

Meal Plan: Breakfast

Day 12: 
Cusco – (3,400m) Transfer to airport for onward flights to Lima or alternative travel plans
Meal Plan: Breakfast
Drive time: 1 hour

* Itinerary subject to change  
* Single room/tent supplement available at an additional cost of $600.00 USD. This needs to be requested at the time of booking.
* All registered Trekkers will receive a comprehensive “Salkantay Machu Picchu Information Pack” including detailed itinerary; clothing & equipment list; medical & dietary information; weather facts; training requirements; accommodation etc. upon expedition registration.


Map Peru


Trek Inclusions:

  • Arrival/Departure transfers on both domestic and international flights
  • Transfer from hotel in Cusco to Mollepata or Soraypampa
  • Acclimatisation Day in Cusco
  • Sacred Valley Tour
  • Quality Hotel accommodation in Lima, Cusco and Aguas Calientes (twin-share – including breakfast)
  • Hotel in Lima (1 night)
  • Hotel in Cusco (6 nights)
  • Hotel in Aguas Calientes (1 night)
  • Train ticket from Hydroelectrica to Machu Picchu town
  • Train ticket from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo 
  • Bus drive from the final train station back to Cusco hotel
  • Bus drive from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu and back to Aguas Calientes
  • Private transportation for the sightseeing tours in Cusco, Salkantay Trek, and Rainbow Mountain day hike
  • Local guide service for all different activities (sightseeing tour in Cusco, Salkantay trek, Machu Picchu and Rainbow Mountain)
  • Professional Peruvian Mountain Guide – English speaking (Cherie’s co-guide)
  • Experienced Salkantay trek specialists assistants
  • Boiled water during the trek
  • Complete meal plan during Salkantay trek – Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Camping equipment/high-quality 4 season performance tents
  • Experienced camping chef and cooking equipment
  • Catering equipment – Dining tent with tables and chairs, kitchen tent, toilet tent 
  • Free use of quality trekking gear – sleeping bag & sleeping mattress (these items are to be returned after trip completion)
  • Transportation for personal belongings on the trek by pack horses/mules and or/porters
  • Horses to carry tents, food, and cooking equipment
  • Muleteers to manage horses
  • Trip briefing
  • Emergency horse if needed during the 3 day Salkantay trek
  • All Park fees and permits
  • Rescue fee on the trek
  • 1.5L bottled water on the first day of the trek and 4-5L boiled water each day during the trek
  • Transfer to and from Lima and Cusco International Airport
  • Expedition Kit-Bag
  • Professional and experienced Peruvian mountain co-guides and assistants well-trained in Wilderness First Aid
  • Comprehensive First-Aid Kit
  • Pulse Oximeter
  • Supplementary oxygen

Trek Exclusions:

  • International flights to and from Lima, Peru
  • International flights from Lima – Cusco – Lima
  • International airport departure taxes
  • Tips to Peruvian guides and assistants
  • Alcoholic beverages and bottled drinks (other than boiled water during trek)
  • Lunch on Day 1,2,3,8,9,11 
  • Dinner on Day 1,2,3,9,10,11
  • Single room/tent supplement
  • Travel Insurance
  • Visa (if applicable)
  • Vaccinations
  • Any add-on tours or activities not mentioned in the program
  • Personal gear (see clothing and equipment list)
  • Sleeping bag
  • Flat sleeping mattress
  • Expenses of personal nature (laundry, phone calls)
  • Excess baggage charges and airport taxes
  • All expenses occurred in the event of early departure (evacuation fees, transport, extra hotel nights, etc.)
  • Charges incurred as a result of delays beyond Cherie Horne Adventure Trekking’s control

Would you like to experience other tours and activities in South America?
I can arrange a wide variety of other South American tours and activities at your request. Please inform me if you would like to arrange extended travel plans.

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