Oh the Salkantay Trail. You were all I wanted for 5 days and more.
When most people think of trekking to Machu Picchu, they’ll usually conjure up thoughts about walking the Inca Trail, stumbling upon ruins each day, and sharing each day and night with a guide and fellow travelers. That’s definitely not our experience on the Salkantay.
The Salkantay Trail is a 60.5km (37.5 miles), 5-day endeavor leading to Machu Picchu. (Compare that to the 4-day 45km/26 mile Inca Trail). To be clear, one of the biggest differences with the Salkantay (and one of the things I worried about before we left for Peru) is that, instead of coming through the infamous Sun Gate on that final morning, you’ll walk directly from the over-touristy Aguas Calientes. But, honestly, if you’re looking to go at it solo, are willing to give up some ruin-hopping along the way (there are plenty of ruins to see in the Sacred Valley before or after your trek), and are ready for some pretty incredible views, the Salkantay may be for you.
While we (a friend and I) went ahead and did the trek solo – after a lot of deliberation up to the last minute – there are plenty of companies that offer guided treks. I’d recommend waiting until you’re in Cusco to book anything, as the entire area around Plaza de Armas is filled with tour booking offices and you’ll be able to pick the best fit, and usually get a better deal than if you booked online before arriving. The cheapest tour we found ran around $180/person, up to about $550/person and higher.