Salkantay Lodge to Lodge Trek to Machu Picchu

About the Experience

The Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu is an intimate opportunity to feel the heartbeat of ancient history in the land of the Incas. To walk above cloud forests up into the high mountains is an unforgettable experience. Colourful orchids and llamas bring easy smiles along the way. It’s a bittersweet beginning–we’ll learn how to make Peruvian chocolate utilizing beans foraged from the nearby jungle.

This itinerary is a balance of adventure and self-care (and chocolate!). Uplift your weary spirit with a challenging hike to Humantay Peak and then recharge with a soak in the jacuzzi under a billion neon stars. In Sacred Valley (or “Vilcamayo” as the Incas refer to it), we’ll take in the spectacle of the Pisac ruins. We’ll also visit a women’s weaving cooperative where vibrant vegetable-dyed materials reflect the unique culture, talent and energy of the Peruvian people.

Each day on our Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu journey seems to outdo the previous one–from the scenery-rush of the dramatic Rio Blanco valley to making an offering to Pachamama, to experiencing a comforting traditional meal cooked from the hot stones of the earth. 

Peru’s diversity of bamboo forests, coffee plantations, fruit orchards and lush verdant hills that roll and unroll into the distance, create a magnetic pull along the hiking trail. What next?

When a train chugs you to the bottom of storied Machu Picchu and the sun filters over the iconic Sun Gate overlooking the ancient ruins, you will know the secret. Standing on the eastern slopes of the Andes at 2,430m (7,972ft) above sea-level, in the mighty midst of the mysterious religious, ceremonial, agricultural, astronomical powerhouse crisscrossed by stone terraces, you’ll feel the transformation. 

 

 

 

 

 

Did you know we’re a global leader in women’s adventure travel? Check out our destinations around the world!

 

Click here to see the full itinerary!
Salkantay Lodge to Lodge Trek to Machu Picchu

About the Experience

The Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu is an intimate opportunity to feel the heartbeat of ancient history in the land of the Incas. To walk above cloud forests up into the high mountains is an unforgettable experience. Colourful orchids and llamas bring easy smiles along the way. It’s a bittersweet beginning–we’ll learn how to make Peruvian chocolate utilizing beans foraged from the nearby jungle.

This itinerary is a balance of adventure and self-care (and chocolate!). Uplift your weary spirit with a challenging hike to Humantay Peak and then recharge with a soak in the jacuzzi under a billion neon stars. In Sacred Valley (or “Vilcamayo” as the Incas refer to it), we’ll take in the spectacle of the Pisac ruins. We’ll also visit a women’s weaving cooperative where vibrant vegetable-dyed materials reflect the unique culture, talent and energy of the Peruvian people.

Each day on our Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu journey seems to outdo the previous one–from the scenery-rush of the dramatic Rio Blanco valley to making an offering to Pachamama, to experiencing a comforting traditional meal cooked from the hot stones of the earth. 

Peru’s diversity of bamboo forests, coffee plantations, fruit orchards and lush verdant hills that roll and unroll into the distance, create a magnetic pull along the hiking trail. What next?

When a train chugs you to the bottom of storied Machu Picchu and the sun filters over the iconic Sun Gate overlooking the ancient ruins, you will know the secret. Standing on the eastern slopes of the Andes at 2,430m (7,972ft) above sea-level, in the mighty midst of the mysterious religious, ceremonial, agricultural, astronomical powerhouse crisscrossed by stone terraces, you’ll feel the transformation. 

 

 

 

 

 

Did you know we’re a global leader in women’s adventure travel? Check out our destinations around the world!

 

DAY ONE: ARRIVAL

Upon arrival in Cusco, your Wild Women Expeditions guide will meet you in the hotel lobby at 2:30 PM for a trip orientation. We’ll start things off right with a sweet fix! We’ll participate in a bean-to-bar chocolate workshop and learn to make Peruvian chocolate under expert direction. During the  workshop, we will be introduced to the entire scratch chocolate-making process from cacao harvest to the familiar “OMG!”

After the workshop, we’ll gather for a welcome dinner at a local restaurant. Yes, you read that correctly. You get to have dessert before dinner!

Disclaimer: Dreams come true on this trip.

 

DAY TWO: SACRED VALLEY

We’ll immediately immerse ourselves in the fold of contemporary culture and ancient life as we visit the Inca sites of the Sacred Valley of the Incas. We will leave Cusco early in the morning to explore the Pisac ruins which are some of the largest and most impressive in the entire valley. Great mystery surrounds the site–theories suggest that it was part city, part ceremonial centre and/or a military complex. Or, maybe it was the posh royal estate of the Inca emperor, Pachacútec?

We can return on the road or if time permits and the group is game, we can hike down to the village on a well-traversed trail that snakes through extensive and distinct terraces to Modern Pisac. The terraces are indicative of Incan agriculture and dominate the Andean ruralscape. Modern Pisac is a typical Andean village known for its lively market (the most famous in the Sacred Valley) and enormous Pisonary tree that shades the central square of Plaza de Armas.

In the afternoon, we will drive up through the winding roads of the valley to visit the remote village of Accha Alta. At the weaving cooperative, we’ll meet the women who carry on the legacy of weaving on backstrap looms using locally-sourced vegetable dyes. The patterns run deeper than the ink and communicate the cultural tradition and identity of the community. The intricate geometric and floral patterns designed with alpaca and sheep wool are inspiring. Young girls are taught to spin and weave as soon as they are old enough to care for the animals in the fields. This skill is an integral part of life for the women of Accha Altaa–one that will make you wonder what happened after Grandma taught you how to “knit one, purl two”!

 

DAY THREE: SACRED VALLEY TO SORAYPAMPA

After an early nourishing breakfast, our guide and driver will pick us up at our hotel in Cusco and we’ll make our way to the archaeological site of  Quillarumiyoc. Several years ago, much of this sacred area was buried by an avalanche. There are numerous terraces and mystical rocks with engraved symbols. An ancient temple dedicated to the moon (the female divinity), was one of the most important deities to the Incas.

Later, we’ll visit the mountain village of Mollepata where independent trekkers begin their journey. We’ll have a typical lunch at  El Pedregal, a lovely  farmhouse where we’ll learn about local agriculture and livestock while enjoying the local bounty. After lunch, we’ll follow the serpentine mountain road to a site called Challacancha. 

Here we will begin our 3-hour hike to Soraypampa along the “Camino Real” (Royal Path). This hike is a good opportunity to acclimate to the higher altitude–be sure to stop and smell the flowers! Look for elderberry trees,  hot pink and fuschia orchids like the Wiñay Wayna which means “Forever Young”. As we round the final turn to the Camino Real, the sanctuary Salkantay Lodge will come into view. Be prepared to be pampered!

Note: If you don’t wish to participate in the hike, you can travel by vehicle to the lodge.

 

DAY FOUR: HIKE TO HUMANTAY LAKE

Day four offers another opportunity to recalibrate and acclimate to the altitude with a half-day (4 hour) hike to the surreal jade-coloured Lake Humantay. After breakfast, we will begin an ascent up the steep slopes that border the plateau behind the Salkantay Lodge. An hour and a half later, after conquering the final hill, we will be rewarded with the stunning  turquoise view of Humantay and the glacier that looms behind it. We’ll stop for a snack and stretch. Meditate in the pure tranquillity of this magical spot and be part of a symbolic traditional offering to “Pachamama” (Mother Earth).

After our descent back to the lodge, staff will be waiting with a hot lunch. This afternoon is all yours to embrace–you can opt to soak in the jacuzzi, indulge in the luxury of a massage or grab a catnap. 

  • Optional activities: 

*These will be at an additional cost.  Payment can be made directly at Salkantay Lodge by cash or credit card.)

  • Chakana Excursion

This 5–6 hour horseback/trekking combo to a nearby high viewpoint to see a huge Inca cross (chakana). Please note: 1-2 hours will be spent riding on a steep hillside and previous experience is advised. This excursion would be in lieu of the hike to Humantay Lake. $95.00 USD per person

  • Soraypampa Excursion: 

This shorter 2 hour ride around Soraypampa can be done in the afternoon after hiking to Humantay Lake which means you get the best of both worlds!

$85.00 USD per person

Note: While the morning hike to Lake Humantay is optional, we strongly recommend your participation in preparation for the strenuous hike (crossing the Salkantay Pass) on Day five.

 

 

DAY FIVE: CROSSING THE SALKANTAY PASS  

After an early start, we will hike (6–8 hours, including a lunch break) up the Rio Blanco valley, circling Humantay Peak. As we gradually make our way up these sometimes punishing (but always rewarding) mountain trails, we will encounter expansive plateaus dotted with erratic boulders. They are the remnants of a valley that was once bisected by a fast-flowing river. The final and most challenging part of our ascent is the zigzaggy mountain switchbacks that will take us to the Salkantay Pass, the highest point on the trek (4,636m/15,213ft). What follows is a dramatic descent through fields of giant boulders, often mystically shrouded in fog.

After a much-anticipated hot picnic lunch, we will continue down through bucolic rolling hills and marsh-like plateaus to the warm hug of Wayra Lodge at Wayraccmachay. Don’t worry, you won’t have to say “Wayraccmachay” out loud, or spell it!

 

DAY SIX: INTO THE CLOUD FOREST

After a leisurely breakfast and a lazy second cup of coffee or tea at the Wayra Lodge, we will continue our descent (3–4 hours) along the banks of the mighty Salkantay River through the velvet green surrounds. We’ll feel the warm air begin to rise from the edge of the humid jungle and see the colourful butterflies and striking orchids that inhabit it. Today we will walk past the rustic homes and makeshift fences of the locals as the trail unfolds. 

At lunch, we’ll arrive at the luxe Colpa Lodge and its unmatched bird’s eye view. The promontory is located at the confluence of three rivers. We will be 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. In the afternoon we can unwind in the sun or outdoor jacuzzi while absorbing the panoramic views of the mountains that surround us.

 

DAY SEVEN: SANTA TERESA RIVER VALLEY

Today’s hike (5-6 hours including lunch) through the Santa Teresa River valley will be a mix of terrain. We’ll hop over small, silver streams fed by waterfalls descending from the glaciers and split through fruit orchards. We’ll stretch out with a hot picnic lunch by the river and then hike for another hour where we’ll meet our vehicle. It will be a short drive to the beginning of the “Llactapata Inca Trail” that leads us to the serene Lucma Lodge. 

On the way, we’ll stop for coffee in the best possible spot! An organic coffee plantation! It’s one of many in that area that produces some of the most coveted organic coffee in the world. We will also begin to notice a palpable shift in the climate. Here in Lucmabamba, the increased humidity is a surreptitious sign that we are even closer to the edge of the Amazon rainforest.

 

DAY EIGHT: EXPLORING LLACTAPATA PASS

During our 2-3 hour climb up a path of original Inca steps, we will get a sense of what hiking through the raw jungle would be like. The green canopies overhead and constant rush of water suggests that the river is still nearby, running like a vein. Our first milestone today will be found at the top of the peak, the last one we will summit before the Aobamaba River valley that connects us to Machu Picchu. Today’s trekking time is 4-6 hours, depending on the group’s pace.

When we arrive at the ruins of Llactapata at the Llactapata Pass (2,736m/8,974ft), we will have a surprise southeast view–it’s the “back” of the Machu Picchu ruins! Only those who hike this pass are privy to the behind-the-curtain view. At this point, we’ll have five to explore Llactapata, and then have a refuelling lunch a bit farther down the trail in a meadow with panoramic views.

The final descent toward the roaring Aobamba River will take us through stands of bamboo forests, fruit orchards and coffee plantations. The hike will end at the Hidroelectrica train station. We’ll kick back and enjoy the trundles of the hour-long scenic train ride to the town of Aguas Calientes at the base of Machu Picchu.

 

DAY NINE: MACHU PICCHU THE SANCTUARY

In the transcendent light of dawn, we will begin our journey to Machu Picchu with a short and rollicking uphill bus ride. As we enter the “Sanctuary” (as locals refer to it), the buttery morning sun rises ceremoniously over the iconic Sun Gate and bathes the 15th century Incan Citadel and terraces with resplendent light. 

Prepare to be silenced by the imposing architecture of the Watchtower, the Temple of the Sun and the royal Inca residences. Take an unhurried moment to reflect on this sacred spot and time in your life. 

Contemplating the origins, mysticism and resilience of Machu Picchu under the rising sun is life affirming. There may be an option to hike to Huayna Picchu as well, depending on ticket availability.  

This towering mountain sits directly behind Machu Picchu and the views of the Citadel, temple remnants and magnitude of the site are even more impressive from here. 

 

DAY TEN: CUSCO

All aboard the morning train from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo and onward to Cusco (3-4 hours). A boxed lunch will be provided before we spend the afternoon exploring the city. Our final dinner together will be at the elegant Hotel El Mercado. We’ll have lots to talk about–

 

DAY ELEVEN: DEPARTURE DAY

You can book your flights home at  any time today. Breakfast and the airport transfer is included.

 

Click here to see upcoming trip dates to book your spot!

AMAZON RAINFOREST LODGE EXTENSION (4 DAYS)

Want to stay on for a few extra days of adventure to explore the Amazon? Stay in Peru for 4 more days based at an eco-lodge by Tambopata National Reserve! Cost is $1,195 USD per person (subject to availability), optional single upgrade $295 USD.

 

Our Amazon lodge is located four hours by motorized canoe from the Puerto Maldonado airport. The Refugio Amazonas lodge is located in a 200-hectare private reserve within the buffer zone of the Tambopata National Reserve. Please note that flights are not included in the Amazon extension price. You will have to purchase a morning flight from Cusco to Puerto Maldonado on the last day of your Inca Trail trip. On the fourth day of your Amazon extension, you will have to book an afternoon flight from Puerto Maldonado-Cusco. Your extension will be a “choose your own adventure” trip. There will be an À la Carte menu of different activities each day.

 

 

DAY ONE: JOURNEY TO TAMBOPATA

Upon arrival in Puerto Maldonado, you will be greeted by one or more of the guides from Rainforest Expeditions and then taken to a waiting vehicle.

After taking care of luggage, we take a 40-minute drive (with our boxed lunch) to the Infierno Community Port where we board long, sturdy canoes equipped with outboard motors and head upstream to Refugio Amazonas.

The three-hour boat ride is pleasant and often includes our first sightings of macaws, heron, caiman and capybara. Once the boat arrives at the lodge dock, you will have officially arrived into the wild rainforests of Tambopata!

Settle into your room and relax before dinner.

  • Overnight: Twin Superior Room

 

 

 

DAY TWO-THREE: AMAZON RAINFOREST

Immerse yourself in the Amazon Rainforest! Choose daily from the options below:

  • Clay Licks – Take a boat trip to the Chuncho Clay Lick inside the Tambopata National Reserve to see macaws descend to eat clay lick on clear mornings.

 

  • Discover a New Species  – Join the lodge resident and help him collect insects that will be genetically sequenced. Every month, a lucky guest discovers a new tiger-moth, scorpion-wasp, caddisfly or treehopper species that are new to science!

 

  • Canopy Tower – The 30-meter scaffolding canopy tower gives you spectacular views of the vast expanses of standing forest. You will have good chances of spotting toucans, parrots, macaws or mixed species canopy flocks.

 

  • Camera Trapping at a Mammal Clay Lick – Configure camera traps at a nearby mammal clay lick and download wildlife photos from the past few days to help scientists find out what is present at The Big Grid, our 288-kilometre trail system experiment.

 

  • Life in the Rainforest – Visit a working jungle farm and a real Brazil nut concession to learn about the way of life in the rainforest. You will taste exotic tropical fruits and discover medicinal plants from the neighbouring local families that we are helping integrate into the ecotourism industry.

 

  • Ox Bow Lake – We will paddle around the Lake Condenado on a catamaran, looking for wildlife such a hoatzin, caiman or horned screamers.

 

  • Natural Construction Rooms – Bedrooms open out onto the surrounding rainforest, allowing you to enjoy this diverse ecosystem even during downtime, with wild animals, including monkeys, often visible from the lodge. The dining room is a huge open building with a loft on the second story for an eye-level view of the surrounding rainforest canopy.

 

  • Mountain Biking- If you like action, this is a great way to explore and experience the beauty and excitement of the rainforest along ten kilometres of trails. We provide a GT mountain bike, helmet and cycling gear, water bottle, and your very own mountain bike guide.

 

  • Wired Amazon Science Lab – You will be able to hang out with resident biologists as they peer through a stereoscope to properly identify insect specimens before mounting them and sending them off to the University of Guelph for genetic sequencing.

 

  • Wellness Centre – Enjoy massages and aromatherapy at the wellness centre.

 

  • Overnight: Twin Superior Room

 

 

 

DAY FOUR: DEPARTURE

Catch either the 7:00 am or 8:00 am departure from the Lodge to Puerto Maldonado. Load up the canoe and motor back to civilization. You will be driven to the airport where you will retrieve your luggage and catch your departing flight to Lima or Cusco.

  • Overnight: Not included

 

Contact kyra@wildwomenexpeditions.com to book the Amazon extension. Spots are confirmed based on availability.