The Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu is a beautiful journey through breathtaking Andean landscapes and it’s increasingly popular among travellers. Being a key part of your trip, there are a few things you might want to know before you depart.
The trek itself lasts for 4 days (but you can do it in 3) with the Inca Citadel being the highlight of the last day, day 5. There are daily departures all year round so this is a great option for those booking at short notice.
There are a variety of different climates and landscapes you will be going through. You will cover long distances, out in remote Andes. For these reasons packing well is an essential requirement to enjoy the trek and avoid bad surprises.
We always send a detailed list of what to take to our customers when they book. There are a few things that you should know before booking as well though. Here you find 5 essential items to take on your Salkantay Trek.
1. Good Trekking Footwear
This sounds obvious and redundant, but many people don’t seem to give it the right importance. Trekking shoes are a fundamental item on such a long trek. And we mean good shoes, preferably waterproof. If your shoes are ripped or seem they are going to break soon, please make sure you get them checked before departing. You don’t want them to break while on the trek! It’s basically impossible to find a replacement on the way – or if you find, it will be a pair of Inca shoes.
2. Trekking Poles
The second and third day of the trek are as follows. The morning on the second day you leave Soraypampa campsite and start hiking uphill for about 3 hours until you reach Salkantay Pass at 4650 m asl. This is a constant uphill, getting steeper as you go along. Once you reach the top, the rest of the hike is downhill, from snowcapped peaks down into the high jungle. For both parts, it is highly recommended to have a pair of hiking sticks with you, as they will help you deal with the harshness of the terrain and carry on when energies are low. A good pair of poles will distribute your weight in a more balanced way and your legs will be relieved.
Do you remember what you learned in school? Water is life. Getting hydrated is so important in our daily llives, even more during physical activity. At such high altitude as that of the Andes, our bodies require more water than at sea level. Make sure you bring a couple of liters of water when you leave on the first day and that you purchase water along the way. You can also ask our cook to boil some water to take with you.
Alternatively, you can bring purifying tablets to use with water that you take from natural streams. These can be bought in any pharmacies in Cusco. Drinking is important even if you don’t feel thirsty.
4. Thermal Shirt
Especially if travelling in winter, the first night in Soraypampa will be freezing. We provide quality name-brand camping equipment, and tents will be set up under little thatched roofs to protect from the cold. We provide -10 °C rated sleeping bags or even warmer. But still, you need to bring appropriate clothing to be able to sleep this first night. A good long-sleeved thermal shirt is therefore essential for a more comfortable experience.
There are no ATMs from the beginning of the hike until Aguas Calientes. This means you need to take cash with you that have to be enough for 4 days. Obviously we include most of the services in our packages but there will always be little extras you should consider. These include: water, first breakfast, entrance fee to the Salkantay area, optional activites such as hot springs and zipline. Plus, tipping the cook and horseman, and obviously the guide, is kind of a usual thing to do. Travellers witness first hand the hard work and effort they put during the trek and normally give them a group tip before they leave. Lunch and snacks on last day are also not included.
It’s best to carry cash in soles than dollars. Make sure you have some pocket money in small amounts as locals often do not have change.
A Final Note on Salkantay
Salkantay is a stunning trek and we are sure you are going to have an amazing time. Best to spend a couple of days in Cusco at 3000+ m altitude in order to acclimatize well. You will not be disappointed if you prepare for it correctly. To make you feel comfortable we always arrange a meeting with the guide the day before departure. During the briefing everything will be explained to your in further details and you can ask as many questions as you want, so don’t worry, everything will be alright 😉