- 7 Days / 6 Nights
Aracari offers private luxury treks on a private basis only, not as a group tour. We offer guided hikes only as part of a tailormade trip, including all guided excursions and hotels, not as a standalone service.
This exciting Lodge to Lodge Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu takes guests on an ancient trail called the “Salkantay Route”, going from lodge-to-lodge between four mountain lodges in the spectacular Cordillera Vilcabamba range. The route traverses through the magnificent Salkantay Valley, passing many glorious peaks and through lush tropical vegetation en route to the legendary ruins at Machu Picchu.
As well as being luxurious and well-appointed, these four premier mountain lodges are located excellently with panoramic views of the Andes mountains. They intertwine luxury and adventure very tastefully to create a comfortable trekking experience and a welcome rest after each day of hiking.
All four lodges have been designed and built incorporating traditional building techniques, Inca architectural concepts (and their interaction with the landscape) and respect for the environment.
The Base Lodge
The base lodge is called the Salkantay Lodge & Adventure Resort, located in the high Andean valley of Soraypampa at 3,800 metres (12,467 feet) above sea level. This is named after the peak of Salkantay, which at 6,271 metres (20,574 feet) is the highest in the region.
In addition to high-quality “Andean Energetic Cuisine”, which features guest-friendly regional organic cuisine, the Lodge offers an outdoor Jacuzzi, cosy reading rooms, a bar/lounge (with Pisco Sour classes and all) and 12 well-appointed double (or twin) rooms with private bathrooms and hot showers.
The Three Trekker’s Lodges
Trekkers spend one night each at three trekker’s lodges located at strategic points along the route: Huayraccmachay, Collpapampa and Lucmabamba. The lodges are named after these points respectively:
Wayra Lodge at Huayraccmachay (3,850m/12,631 ft)
Colpa Lodge at Collpapampa (2,800m/9,186 ft)
Lucmabamba (2,135 m/7,004 ft)
Although these three lodges are smaller in size (only six guest rooms per lodge), they offer largely the same amenities as the base lodge. Every lodge guarantees an ample supply of hot water for showers; there are no bathtubs in any of the lodges. Room heating ensures the temperature remains a comfortable 23° C (68° F). Wayra Lodge and Colpa Lodge also have an outdoor Jacuzzi. Each lodge has satellite telephones, which work with phone cards that can be purchased onsite. Internet is also available at all lodges.
This exciting expedition takes trekkers on an ancient trail called the Salkantay Route. Traverse the uneven, rocky terrain in the Cordillera Vilcamba range, crossing the magnificent Salkantay Valley pass and walking though lush tropical vegetation en route to the legendary Machu Picchu ruins. Prior hiking experience recommended. Unique to this trek are the luxurious, well-appointed mountain lodges along the way, which provide a welcoming resting place after a day in the beautiful outdoors. Each of the lodges is designed to help integrate you into the natural Andean landscapes and make conscious efforts to minimize their impact on the surrounding ecosystems.
*Optional Chakana Ride* | 5-6 hour guided horseback ride and trek combination | This 5-6 hour guided horseback/trekking combination is the ultimate adventure when in Soraypampa. It allows you to enjoy the best views of the Soraypampa Valley, Salkantay Mountain and Huantay and Humantay glacial lake, among others. A mystical offering to Pachamama, or Mother Earth, at the Chakana or Inca Cross, is performed by a local Shaman, in view of the awe-inspiring Apu Salkantay and tops off this unique experience.
*Optional Horseback Ride* | 2-3 hour guided horseback ride | In the afternoon, you may choose to partake in a 2 to 3 hour guided horseback ride around the valley. Itineraries may vary depending on riding experience.
*Optional Horseback Ride* | You may choose to trade the hike to Salkantay pass for a horseback ride (entirely or partly).
*Optional Canopy Zip Line Tour* | Looking for more adventure? Join the exclusive half-day excursion on an exciting and scenic canopy zip line tour. This optional activity includes vehicle transfer, a 2½ hour guided canopy zip-line tour, all necessary safety equipment, training and lunch. Please let your consultant know if you would like to book this activity in advance (limited spaces available). If you are unsure at the time, you can book the excursion anytime until the afternoon on Day 4 of the itinerary (just let your trip leader know). This optional activity will run with a minimum of 2 guests.
Cusco to Salkantay Lodge
After an early breakfast, you will be collected from your hotel by your guide and vehicle and head towards the start of your trek. En route, you’ll take a short break to visit the Inca Ruins of Tarawasi near the town of Limatambo (approx. 1.5 hours from Cusco). After leaving Limatambo, you pass through the mountain village of Mollepata before ascending a winding mountain road to a place called Marcoccasa (30 minutes from Mollepata by vehicle). When you arrive at Marcoccasa, you will begin the trek to Soraypampa, on an old route called the Camino Real, or Royal Path. This is a good opportunity for everyone to acclimate while enjoying a beautiful six-hour, moderate trek. You will finish your trek at the Salkantay Lodge (3,869m/12,693ft), which takes its name from the majestic peak at the head of the valley. It is the second most sacred peak in Inca mythology, and at 6,271m (20,574ft), it is the highest in the region. Upon arrival to the lodge, spend the rest of your day relaxing at your leisure. Today your hike will last approximately six hours. Guests who do not wish to trek today may be transported directly to the lodge by vehicle.
Overnight Salkantay Lodge
Hike to Humantay Lake
Today you will take an acclimatisation hike on the slopes above the lodge to Lake Humantay, fed by the hanging glaciers of Mount Humantay. The hike is optional, but the views are amazing, and those brave enough can even go for a dip. You will return to the lodge for lunch and can spend your afternoon at leisure. You may choose to trade the glacial swim for a relaxing soak in the outdoor Jacuzzi, or you can choose from one of the optional activities offered by the lodge such as horseback riding. You’ll spend the night at the Salkantay Lodge with gourmet food and warm, comfortable beds. Today your hike will last approximately four hours.
Overnight Salkantay Lodge
Crossing the Salkantay Pass
This is the big day! After an early start, you’ll hike up the Rio Blanco Valley, circling Humantay Peak across from Salkantay Peak. The highest point on the trek is the Salkantay Pass (4,638m/15,216ft). At the pass, take in incredible views of the Vilcabamba Range with its snow-capped peaks and the glaciated south face of Salkantay towering above you. Keep your eyes out for Andean condors, often visible in this area. From the pass, you will descend towards the Wayra Lodge (3,850m/ 12,631ft). Wayra means wind in Quechua, and the lodge derives its name from the location, ¨Wayramachay¨, the cave where the wind lives. A hot lunch is served along the way, and dinner will be served at the lodge. Today your hike will last approximately six to eight hours.
Overnight Wayra Lodge
Descending into the Cloud Forest
On this day, you’ll enjoy a leisurely breakfast at the lodge before continuing your descent along the left bank of the Salkantay River, through increasingly verdant scenery. You’ll feel the warm air rising from the jungle accompanied by colorful butterflies and striking orchids. Upon arrival at Colpa Lodge, you will be greeted with a Pachamanca, a traditional Peruvian meal cooked by layering meat and vegetables with hot stones. Everything is then covered with plantain leaves, high Andean grass and local herbs, and the contents are baked in this underground oven. Colpa Lodge (2,870m/9,416ft) is located on an open plateau at the confluence of three rivers. The outdoor Jacuzzi has panoramic views of lush green mountains. Spend the afternoon relaxing or exploring the nearby orchid trail. Today your hike will last approximately three to four hours.
Overnight Colpa Lodge
Following the Santa Teresa River Valley
Today you’ll hike along the Santa Teresa river valley, through more populated rural areas, passing through banana, passion fruit and avocado orchards as well as coffee plantations. A hot picnic lunch is served by the river. After lunch you’ll hike another hour before a private vehicle will pick you up for a short drive to the beginning of the “Llactapata Inca Trail” (aprox. 30 minutes). From the head of the newly restored Inca trail you easily arrive at the Lucma Lodge (2,135m/7,003ft), set in an avocado orchard. On the way you will visit an organic coffee plantation for a short tour of the farm from the owner to learn how coffee is grown, harvested, dried and processed. Dinner and overnight at the lodge. Today your hike will last approximately five to six hours.
Overnight Lucma Lodge
First Views of Machu Picchu from Llactapata Pass
Fill up with a hearty breakfast to get the energy you need to tackle this last day of the trek. You’ll ascend for 2 – 3 hours towards Llactapata Pass (2,736m/ 8,976ft), where you come upon a distant but spectacular view of Machu Picchu Sanctuary from the southeast, a view few travelers ever get a chance to admire. Here you’ll take a short break to explore the Llactapata Ruins, which have recently been restored. Lunch is served at a scenic viewpoint, looking out to Machu Picchu. After lunch, you begin your final descent to the Aobamba River, passing through lush bamboo forests, orchards and coffee plantations. You’ll then board a train for a scenic ride (approx. 1 hour) to Aguas Calientes, the town of Machu Picchu. Upon arrival, you’ll check into your hotel for a celebration dinner with your guide. Today your hike will last approximately five to six hours.
Overnight at your hotel of choice in Aguas Calientes
Machu Picchu Sanctuary
After a very early buffet breakfast at the hotel, you’ll board a bus for the 30-minute ride up to Machu Picchu Sanctuary. Your trip leader will give an introductory two-hour guided tour of the ruins, after which you have the option of climbing Huayna Picchu Mountain, a steep and vertically challenging hike that takes about two hours and provides great views of Machu Picchu. Afterwards, you will meet up with your guide again and return by bus to Aguas Calientes for a late lunch. Then, board your train from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo (1.5 hours), after which a private vehicle will drive you back to your Cusco hotel (1.5 hours).
Please keep in mind that distances, altitudes and chosen campsites are subject to minor variations as the route undertaken may vary slightly. In addition, trekking time can vary for each hiker and any times detailed in the description below are averages.