Perks of Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu:
Early mornings. Long days. Never-ending walks. Uphill. Downhill. Snow. Rain. Hail. Sun. Camping. Dry clothes. Wet clothes. Sore muscles. Blisters. Mosquito bites. Mountains. Rivers. Jungle. Cocoa tea. Bonfire parties. Zip lining. Challenging. Exhausting. Accomplishment. An unforgettable experience!!
These are all the words I’d use to describe the five days enduring the Salkantay Trek.
What I Packed:
- Waterproof jacket/ poncho ** this is very important
- 2 pairs of long leggings
- 2 pairs of short leggings
- Three tanks
- Two long sleeve
- 6 pairs of regular socks
- 3 pairs of hiking socks
- Bathing suit
- Hiking boots
- Flip flops
- Three sports bras
- Action camera
- External battery
- 200 soles for extra snacks and water + hot springs and towel rentals
- Snacks – you can also buy along the way
- 1L water – you can buy more along the way
- Toiletries. In hindsight – I brought too many toiletries. You need a toothbrush, toothpaste, face wipes, deodorant, sunscreen and bug spray – everything else is not needed.
What I rented:
- Cold weather sleeping bag
- Hiking poles – RECOMMENDED!
- Sleeping pad
Day 1: Journey to Laguna Humantay
- 4am wake up
- 430am pick up (leave your big backpack at the hostel)
- Drive to Mollepata for breakfast
- Drive to Challacancha to begin trek
- 5 hour hike to base camp Soraypampa
- Lunch in Soraypampa
- Hike 1 hour uphill to Laguna Humantay
- Hike down and dinner and chill at base camp
Laguna Humantay was one of the main highlights of this whole trek. It’s a beautiful glacier lake where the Incas used to sacrifice virgin women and children. Interesting history and beautiful views.
Our campsite was basic but had what we needed. I slept surprisingly well in my tent with two new French lady friends. Our team decided on a team name – Savages!
Day 2: Salkantay Pass (aka the longest day of hiking ever)
- -5am wake up call with cocoa tea
- -5:30am Breakfast
- -Begin hiking at 6am through the Salkantay Pass to reach 15190ft by 10am
- -Descend down 2 hours to lunch
- -Lunch in Huayrapunka at 12000ft
- -Hike down 6 more hours to Chaullay
There is a reason Salkantay means “savage”. You have to be a savage to get through this never ending day! First, there was snow and hail. Then there was fog. After the fog, there was light rain. Post rain, there was sun. On the final 3 hours of the day, there was a downpour. We share the trail with horses and donkeys so there was lots of poop and mud on the trail. I have never been dirtier or more tired in my life but the views were incredible and worth it! Also, my hiking poles became my best friends!
Day 3: In the Jungle
- -6:00am wake up
- -6:30am breakfast
- -7:00am hike to Sahuayo beach
- -12:30pm lunch in Sahuayo
- -3pm arrive in Santa Teresa
- -Hot springs
- -Bonfire party
This was a really fun day! Not only did we luck out with the weather (sunshine all day), but I haven’t gotten any blisters yet! The trek was beautiful in the jungle and it was mostly downhill beside a beautiful blue river and over 10 waterfalls. Compared to the second day, this day was a breeze.
Once we got to base camp we almost immediately left for the hot springs. I have never been happier to get into a body of water. It was set up well so that you can use the springs to shower so I was clean for the first time in 3 days…win!
That night we had a bonfire party after dinner mostly encouraged by a new Brazilian group member. We all let loose and danced for hours.
Day 4: Flying with Ziplines and treks beside the train to get to Aguas Calientes
- -Wake up at 6:30am
- -Zip lines
- -Bus to lunch
- -Walk for 4 hours to Aguas Calientes
Ziplining is so fun!!! This was an incredible place to zip line with Vertical. There were 5 different lines where you can cross normally, upside down, superman, spinning or however which way you want. With the valley and river as your main landscape, it made for an amazing morning.
My tour guide lied to us and said trekking was done on the third day but a 3 hour hike to me is still a trek. This day was really challenging for me. I had good hiking boots but this flat walk was what gave me a ton of blisters and I was the last one of my group to get to all the checkpoints. But I made it. One step at a time. You can take a train for $30 to get from lunch to Aguas Calientes but everyone walked so I decided to walk too.
Day 5: Machu Pichu
- -3:15am wake up
- -3:45am leave hotel to walk to Machu Pichu bridge
- -5am Machu Pichu bridge opens
- -Hike up 1080 steps to machu pichu entrance by 6am
- -Machu Pichu tour
- -Train + bus to Cusco
The final day and what we all came to see – Machu Pichu! It is definitely more rewarding to hike for 4 days through challenging situations to get to Machu Pichu. My feet were in a bad state this day but I powered through with some mental willpower and blister Band-Aids.
Machu Pichu is incredible. It’s massive and shows you how sophisticated the Inca civilization was. You feel a weird energy there (which I needed because I was low on energy) and can really imagine what it would have been like to be an Incan living there.
This trek is by far the hardest thing I have ever done so I’m really proud of myself for completing it.