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Mount Salcantay & the High Inca Trail

This stunning adventure combines time in the fascinating Incan royal city of Cusco with exhilarating trekking along remote trails towards Mount Salcantay in the Cordillera Vilcabamba, and the classic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. Ample time is spent exploring Cusco and the Sacred Valley of the Incas crucial to our acclimatisation for the trekking ahead and after 3 days exploring, we are ready to begin our 6-day trek into the Andes. The remote trails of the Cordillera Vilcabamba provide a fine introduction to the spectacular Andean wilderness, and from our magnificent campsites our guides identify a striking panorama of 6,000 m peaks including the huge flanks of Salcantay (6,271 m / 20,574 ft). We then join up with the classic Inca Trail, trekking towards the "Sun Gate" where we'll get our first postcard-perfect views of the glorious Incan city of Machu Picchu down below us. Instead of rushing back to Cusco, we spend a night in nearby Aguas Calientes, allowing us to return to Machu Picchu early the following morning before the crowds arrive. From Machu Picchu we return to Cusco to continue exploring its Spanish taverns, cathedrals and colourful Quechua markets.


11 breakfasts, 6 lunches and 5 dinners
airport transfers if arriving/departing on first or last day
entrance to Machu Picchu on two occasions
expert bilingual guide
group medical kit
comfortable and central hotels primarily Casa Andina Classic hotels
private internal transportation
the use of a gear pack including sleeping bag, fibre filled jacket, thermarest and headtorch
group camping equipment & porters to carry personal gear
sightseeing and site entrance fees as listed (including Machu Picchu entrance fee)
Splendid churches, cathedrals and vibrant markets of Cusco, the royal capital of the Inca Empire
Visiting ancient ruins and salt pans in the beautiful Sacred Valley of the Incas
Trekking among lush valleys, alpine lakes and rugged snow-capped peaks on remote trails beneath Mount Salcantay before joining the classic Inca Trail
Exploring the mind-boggling 'lost city' of Machu Picchu on two occasions, and at the best times of day
Supported wilderness camping and 3 hearty meals a day while on trek
Stunning landscapes and cultural encounters providing endless photo opportunities
Tour Provider World Expeditions
Number of Days
Price From
AUD $3,050
Start Location
Cusco, Peru
End Location
Age Range
Avg. 30+
Group Size
8 to 16
Tour Style
Tour Themes
Adventure, Cycling/Trekking
Physical Rating
Easy to Moderate
Tour departure dates
30 Mar 201910 Apr 2019AvailableAUD $3,190
Day 1
From Cusco we head to the Chinchero Plateau, where we have impressive views over the surrounding mountain ranges. From here we walk down through the famous salt pans below Maras, where locals have collected salt since pre-Incan times. We get to sample local produce with a leisurely lunch at a local restaurant (not included), after which the rest of the afternoon will be free to relax at our hotel and enjoy the beauty of this famous valley. Overnight in Sacred Valley.
Day 2
Today we explore this beautiful valley set along the Urubamba River, one of the Amazon River's main tributaries. First we visit the stunning citadels and fortress ruins of the iconic stone terraced city of Ollantaytambo. The architecture in Ollantaytambo village itself is also interesting, showing a mix of Inca and Colonial influences. We then head back up the Sacred Valley towards the lovely village of Pisac, another archaeological site that contains terraces and temple ruins from the Inca Empire. From Pisac we drive back up to Cusco, our home for two nights. This evening we have a pre-trek briefing with our trekking guide and receive our kit bags at our hotel in order to pack and prepare for our trek. Overnight in Cusco.
Day 3
Today we explore fascinating Cusco the stunning royal city of the Inca Empire. Every alleyway we enter or corner we turn brings another surprise as we learn about this UNESCO World Heritage Listed city. Cusco was the royal capital of the extensive Inca Empire until 1533 when Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro stormed the city and established the new capital of Lima. When the Spanish conquered, Cusco was a sophisticated Imperial city with a complex hierarchy of impressive stone walls, royal palaces, religious and administrative buildings and residential dwellings. The Spanish preserved the bulk of the ancient stone city, adding many handsome churches, palaces and mansions over the following centuries, most in a distinctive style blending European Baroque style with local influences. Today we'll also drive to visit the nearby Sacsayhuaman, a walled fortress set high above Cusco. The walls of this impressive site were built by the Incas from dramatic monolithic stone slabs, cut and arranged into staggeringly accurate configurations, like colossal jigsaw puzzle pieces. After taking in the stunning views over the city, we'll have time to head back down to Cusco to explore more of the city and browse colourful Peruvian textiles and handicrafts at the local shops and open air markets. Overnight in Cusco.
Day 4
Today we have an early start as we begin our scenic 5-hour drive north to our trekking trailhead at Mollepata, where we will meet up with our team of muleskinners and their pack animals. After a picnic lunch we start hiking steadily uphill towards our first night's campsite below Soraypampa (3,750 m / 12,300 ft). Today we'll get our first views of Salcantay's sister peak, Humantay (5,950 m / 19,700 ft). Overnight at campsite.
Day 5
This morning we'll be woken early with hot tea brought to our tents, and after breakfast we'll get an early start on our day's hiking. We'll hike for about 3 hours, steadily gaining altitude before stopping for a lunch break at Salcantaypampa (4,150 m / 13,600 ft), set in front of an enormous mass of glacial moraine. After a rest we continue on for another 2-3 hours of steady hiking towards at our next camp of Ichupata (4,400 m / 14,400 ft), set on the flanks of the majestic peak of Salcantay (6,271m / 20,574 ft), which dominates the skyline for most of our trekking days. The camp at Ichupata is cold due to its proximity to the Salcantay massif, but since our crew and pack animals will have set out earlier, we should find the camp already set up and a fresh pot of hot tea awaiting our arrival! Overnight at campsite.
Day 6
After a hearty cooked breakfast we set off to hike across one of Salcantay's ridges and over our first mountain pass, Incachiriasca. At an elevation of 4,870 m (15,970), Incachiriasca is the highest pass of our trek, offering us spectacular views of our dramatic surroundings. After a stop at the pass to rest and take photos, we descend along an ancient trail into the scenic Pampacahuana valley, passing simple shepherd's homes and scattered communities, as we make our way to the extensive Incan ruins of Paucarcancha (3,350 m / 11,000 ft). Overnight at campsite.
Day 7
Today as we continue our trek we will be joining up with the classic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. After an early breakfast at Paucarcancha we set out along the left bank of the Cuscichaca River, which is fed by one of the great glaciers of Salcantay. On this classic trail we pass through the small village of Huayllabamba and then start climbing up a narrow forested valley towards the first pass, Warmihua usca (4,200 m / 13,700 ft). After a rest at the pass and time to take in the spectacular views we descend steeply into the Pacamayo Valley where we spend our second night on the trail. Overnight at campsite. *Important: Please be aware that, because of the Peruvian authorities' rules on the Inca Trail, there may be changes in the actual trek itinerary and the campsites we use.
Day 8
After breakfast at our campsite in the verdant Pacamayo Valley, we start ascending towards the small but impressively located ruins at Runkuraqay, and on to Cochapata set just below the second pass (3,900 m / 12,800 ft). From here we walk a short distance to the pass and then descend past a mysterious green lake to the large ruins of Sayacmarca and on to the last pass (3,800 m / 12,450 ft), which is more like a low ridgeline than a true pass. From here we get a great view down into the forested gorge of the Urubamba River set more than 1,700 m (5,577 ft) below us. A short hike from here takes us to our stunning final campsite set above the impressive ruins of Phuyupatamarca (3,600 m / 11,900 ft), aptly named the 'City in the Clouds'. This stunning campsite perhaps the most beautiful on the entire trail is used by very few trekking groups as the vast majority continue for another 90 minutes to camp at the often extremely crowded campsite site at Wi ay Wayna. Below us lay great forest-covered peaks and deep valleys the setting of our goal, Machu Picchu. Overnight at campsite.
Day 9
Today's trek takes us along an incredibly well preserved section of the Inca Trail, with great white granite slab walls and staircases all impressively set in remote high jungle. We make the most of the extra time built into our itinerary by taking time to explore the recently cleared extensive Inca ruins of Wi ay Wayna (2,700 m / 8,800 ft). We finally reach Inti Punku, the famous "Sun Gate" where we'll have awe-inspiring views of the 'lost city' of Machu Picchu. Your first view of the ruins really ds take your breath away! From here we hike down to this ancient Incan city past colossal walls and stairs made of impossibly large stone blocks. After a brief 'first look' at the ruins, we head down by bus to our hotel in Aguas Calientes for a well-deserved soak in the nearby hot springs (optional). Overnight in Aguas Calientes.
Day 10
This morning we get up early to savour the views and atmosphere of the mystical morning light over Machu Picchu. We will enjoy a guided tour of the sanctuary followed by time to explore this fascinating site at your own pace (with the accompaniment of the guide). In the afternoon or early evening we depart from Machu Picchu for the train ride back to Ollantaytambo where we transfer to our vehicle for the drive back to Cusco. Overnight in Cusco hotel. NB - depending on train schedules, we may arrive into Cusco very late at night. *Important: Peruvian authorities have implemented entry restrictions to protect Machu Picchu from the impact of its immense popularity. As of January 2018 there are two time slots (morning and afternoon) in which patrons can enter Machu Picchu for a limited number of hours and must follow one of three predetermined routes. Additionally, all visitors must be accompanied by a guide at all times. These changes have been made to improve the visitor experience and in an effort to deal with overcrowding. World Expeditions endeavour to ensure you get the most of your Machu Picchu experience regardless of these restrictions.
Day 11
Today we have a free day in Cusco to relax, do our washing and repack after our trek, or to enjoy a spot of souvenir shopping, choosing from a huge variety of beautiful Peruvian craft work including alpaca sweaters and hats, vibrant textiles and weavings, ceramics and traditional Andean instruments. Overnight in Cusco.
Day 12
Our trip concludes after breakfast. If you are flying home today you will be transferred to the airport in time for your departure.