Day 1: Nevado Salkantay
After an early breakfast, your Mountain Lodges of Peru tour guide and driver will pick you up at your hotel in Cusco. The first stop will be a visit to the Quillarumiyoc archaeological site. Next, you will stop in the mountain village of Mollepata. There you will visit El Pedregal, a beautiful farmhouse where you can learn about local agriculture and livestock.
Then, the transfer will take you through a winding mountain road to a site called Challacancha. Here you will begin your hike to Soraypampa along a picturesque path called the “Camino Real” (Royal Path), which is also a good opportunity to acclimate to the higher altitude. As you round the final turn of the Camino Real, the Salkantay Lodge will come into view.
Duration - Approximately 3 hours / Difficulty - easy to moderate
OVERNIGHT Salkantay Lodge at 3,869 m. - 12,690 ft.
Day 2: Nevado Salkantay
Day two presents another opportunity to gauge your altitude-acclimatization with a halfday hike to Lake Humantay. After breakfast, you begin an ascent up the slopes that border the plateau behind the Salkantay Lodge. An hour and a half later, you will be stunned to see the turquoise water of the lake.
Here you will have a chance to relax, enjoy a snack, meditate in the tranquility of this magical spot and be part of a traditional offering to “Pachamama” (Mother Earth). After your descent back to the lodge, the staff will be waiting with a hot lunch. The second half of your day is spent at leisure. You may opt to soak in our outdoor jacuzzi, indulge in a relaxing massage or even take a long nap.
Drration - Approximately 4 hours / Difficulty - moderate
OVERNIGHT Salkantay Lodge at 3,869 m. - 12,690 ft.
Day 3: Nevado Salkantay
After an early start, you hike up the Rio Blanco valley, circling Humantay Peak. As you gradually make your way up these mountain trails, you will encounter expansive plateaus dotted with boulders of varying sizes, the remnants of a valley that was once bisected by a fast-flowing river. The final and most challenging part of your ascent is conquering the mountain switchbacks that take you to the Salkantay Pass, the highest point on the trek (4,636 m/15,213 ft).
What follows is a dramatic descent through fields of giant boulders, often shrouded in fog. After a very welcome hot picnic lunch, you will continue down through bucolic rolling hills and marsh-like plateaus as you take your final steps to the Wayra Lodge at Wayraccmachay.
Duration - Approximately 7 hours / Difficulty - challenging
OVERNIGHT Wayra Lodge (3.906 m. - 12.812 ft.)
Day 4: Nevado Salkantay
After a leisurely breakfast at the Wayra Lodge, you continue the descent along the banks of the Salkantay River through increasingly verdant scenery. Today you will see more of the local people as the trail takes you past their simple homes and makeshift fences.
At lunch time you will arrive at Colpa Lodge, located on a high promontory at the confluence of three rivers. You are greeted by the staff 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.
Duration - Approximately 4 hours / Difficulty - easy to moderate
OVERNIGHT Colpa Lodge (2.870 m. - 9.414 ft.)
Day 5: Nevado Salkantay
Today you will hike in the Santa Teresa River valley where you will hop over small streams fed by waterfalls descending from the glaciers and cross through fruit orchards. After breaking for a hot picnic lunch by the river, you will walk for one hour before we meet an MLP vehicle for a short drive to the beginning of the “Llactapata Inca Trail” that leads us to Lucma Lodge.
On the way you will visit an organic coffee plantation, one of many in that area that produces some of the best organic coffee in the world. In Lucmabamba, the hot air and increased humidity signal that you are even closer to the edge of the Amazon Jungle.
OPTIONAL Zip Line in Santa Teresa: This is a full day activity which replaces the trek. Operated by Cola de Mono. It has an additional cost.
Biking: Option a) Yanama pass – Hornopampa – Lluskamayo. Duration: 5 hrs. approximately. Level: Easy to moderate. It has an additional cost.
Option b) Descent from Hornopampa to Lluskamayo. Duration: 3.5 hrs. approximately. Level: Easy. It has an additional cost.
Duration - Approximately 6 hours / Difficulty - moderate to challenging
OVERNIGHT Overnight: Lucma Lodge (2.135 m. - 7.003 ft.)
Day 6: Machu Picchu Pueblo
During a 2-3 hour climb up a path mostly comprised of original Inca steps, you will get a sense of what hiking through the rainforest would be like. Your first milestone today will be the top of the peak, the last one before you reach the Aobamaba River valley that connects you to Machu Picchu. When you arrive at the ruins of Llactapata at the Llactapata Pass (2,736 m/8,974 ft), you will be delighted to see a southeast view of the “back” of the Machu Picchu ruins.
Enjoy your lunch a bit farther down the trail in a meadow with panoramic views. The final descent takes you through lush bamboo forests, until you end the day’s hike at the Hidroelectrica train station. A one-hour scenic train ride delivers you to your final stop, the town of Aguas Calientes at the base of Machu Picchu.
Duration - Approximately 5 hours / Difficulty - moderate to challenging
OVERNIGHT Aguas Calientes Lodge (1.900 m. - 6.332 ft.)
Day 7: End of Itinerary
At dawn, you begin your journey to Machu Picchu with a short and rollicking uphill bus ride. Prepare to be awed by the imposing and skillful architecture of the Watchtower, the Temple of the Sun, and the royal Inca residences, among many others. Your imagination will soar as you contemplate the history of Machu Picchu and its mysterious origins.
Some may even choose a hike to Huayna Picchu, the iconic towering mountain often seen in photographs. After the visit you will have lunch in Aguas Calientes before your train/ transfer back to Cusco. As night falls and you arrive at your hotel amidst and hustle and bustle of Cusco, you will be touched by a feeling of peace and rejuvenation which will linger even as you journey back home.