Peru: Lodge Trek to Machu Picchu

Mountains are the temples of Andean culture, the locus of life, the source of water, food, and spirit. The arduous but rewarding Salkantay Trek carries you via pristine mountain country, over a 15,000-foot pass, and down undisturbed valleys to the foot of Machu Picchu. Set amid the deeply-incised Vilcambamba range, this high-altitude lodge-to-lodge hike is a premier entry into the footloose, uncrowded Peru of old, with breathtaking views of the Inca empire’s heartland. After a total 35 miles of solitary trekking, you arrive, weary and elated, in the Machu Picchu valley.

Trip Highlights

  • Challenging altitude and spectacular scenery in a true lodge-to-lodge trek
  • Sweeping changes of environments from the ice heights of Salantay mountains to the verdant edges of the tropics
  • Approaching the sacred valley on foot, you climb to seldom visited ruins of llactapata where you catch your first glimpse of Machu Picchu

Trip Summary

Activity Level
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Day 1
Arrive Cusco

We will have a group briefing today and get a chance to know your guides and fellow guests, while addressing equipment and other issues.

Day 2

Cusco was “the navel of the world,” the Incas said. Walking a variety of urban archaeology sites and visiting the most important temples and landmarks in and around the city will serve as both historic orientation and acclimatization to altitude.

Day 3
Cusco to Soraypampa

Early start by road to Mollepata and the beginning or your trek, a 3-hour acclimatization hike into Soraypampa valley, with picturesque views of the startlingly-steep 20,500-ft Salkantay mountain, highest in this range. After a section of Camino Real, or Royal Road, you arrive in late afternoon at the Salkantay Lodge. Rated easy-to-moderate, this hike takes 4 hours.

Day 4
Humantay Lake

A high-altitude training day, with an ascent straight from the lodge to Humantay Lake, reached by a half-day hike that continues your acclimatization and fitness conditioning. The reward for this moderate trek is a stunning turquoise lake and the sight of your first tropical glacier. Return to the lodge for lunch, and rest up for the mighty pass tomorrow. Second night in Salkantay Lodge.

Day 5
Salkantay Pass

An early start for a big day. Ascending through unusual plateaus dotted with boulders left behind by an extinguished river, you switchback up to the Salkantay Pass, at 15,213 feet the highest point of the week. (Watch for condors.) Building on your acclimatization hikes, this is a challenging 8-hour excursion, with a hot field lunch after the pass, and finishes through bucolic rolling hills and wetlands at the Wayra Lodge, located at a comparatively comfortable elevation

Day 6
Descending into the Cloud Forest

Following the Salkantay river, continue your descent from high pampas into a verdant green cloud forest where three rivers meet. At 6 miles, this hike finishes at the Colpa Lodge, on a dramatic promontory over the river.

Day 7
Santa Teresa River Valley

The Santa Teresa River valley ushers you from cold glacier streams down to fruit orchards and Amazonian warmth, and in the afternoon a short vehicle transfer extends your trek onto the Llactapata trail and, after a total of 6 hours of hiking, the Lucma lodge (7,003 ft.) for an overnight. Today is challenging for the distance involved.

Day 8
Lucmabamba/Exploring Llactapata Pass

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. A lush treeline creates green canopies overhead and the constant sound of rushing water suggests that the river is still nearby. 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 below the Llactapata Pass you will be delighted to see a southeast view of the “back” of the Machu Picchu ruins, a sight few travelers ever get a chance to admire.

Day 9
Machu Picchu/The Sanctuary

At dawn, you begin your journey to Machu Picchu with a short and rollicking uphill bus ride. Then, it happens: You walk into the life-changing experience of seeing this lost city for the first time. Awe at the expanse of ruins in this mystical, improbable setting, as an expert guide walks you through principal sites and place the whole in context, but also leave time for solo examination. As you enter the “Sanctuary” (as locals refer to it), the morning sun rises over the iconic Sun Gate and washes the structures and terraces with resplendent light. 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.

Day 10

Departure by train & vehicle for Cusco airport for flight to Lima and connection home.

Dates & Pricing


Double Occupancy
  • Oct 3
    Oct 12
    $4370 (Upon request) USD


Double Occupancy
  • Jun 15
    Jun 24
    $4370 USD
  • Jul 1
    Jul 10
    $4370 USD
  • Jul 20
    Jul 29
    $4370 USD
  • Aug 3
    Aug 13
    $4370 USD
  • Sep 1
    Sep 10
    $4370 USD
  • Oct 5
    Oct 15
    $4370 USD

Above Costs Include:

  • All accommodations as noted on daily itinerary
  • All meals as noted on daily itinerary
  • Bilingual local guide and assistant guide Guided city tour of Cusco
  • Full baggage support/transport during the trek
  • All transfers per the itinerary, including airport transfers
  • Inca Rail round trip tickets to/from Aguas Calientes (Inca Train service)
  • Shuttle bus tickets from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu (1 day)
  • Machu Picchu entrance tickets (1 day)
  • Huayna Picchu hiking permit (1 day)
  • Entrance fees to all historic sites and ruins as noted on the daily itinerary
  • Filtered water and soft drinks for all provided activities and meals in the lodges as per itinerary

Cost Does Not Include:

  • International flights to/from Peru
  • Domestic flights to/from Cusco
  • International/domestic airport departure taxes
  • Gratuities for guiding staff
  • Excess baggage charges
  • Supplemental overseas travel/medical insurance
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