Machu Picchu has a legendary status for backpackers around the world. Its historical significance and natural beauty make it an incredible destination like nowhere else. The Salkantay Trek, while not as famous as the classic Inca Trail, is just as stunning and the hike is finally getting the recognition it deserves.
Named in the 25 best hikes in the world by Nat Geo, the Salkantay Trek is more popular than ever. Nevertheless, you can still hike the trail without a guide unlike the Inca Trail. Its diversity spans from glacial mountains to lush jungle highlands. Once you gaze upon Machu Picchu’s majesty, the hike itself will seem as memorable as seeing a wonder of the world.
Similar to the Inca Trail, the most popular months to hike the Salkantay Trek are from June to August. While these months are ideal in terms of weather, it’ll also be more crowded on the trail. You’ll also need to plan carefully when getting your entry tickets to Machu Picchu, as there’s a cap on how many people are allowed to visit the site daily. With that in mind, the best months to go are generally May followed by September which is usually slightly more rainy.
Unlike the Inca Trail which closes every February due to heavy rain, the Salkantay Trek is open year round. While it’s possible to hike the trail outside the dry season, the trail will be more prone to landslides and many of the views up to the glacial peaks and down to the jungles below will be obscured by mist and clouds.
From Cusco you will see countless tour operators and transportation options to the various attractions and sites in the area. After flying into Lima's international airport, take a domestic flight to Custco (1 hr 30 min). Most people start walking the Salkantay Trek at Mollepata, but there are transportation options that go as far as Soraypampa if you want to cut down on hiking time on the first day.