The Magic of the Salkantay Trek

 

Our Machu Picchu trek is far more than just a visit to the hidden Inca city itself. Before you arrive at the foot of Machu Picchu and begin the steep ascent to the city, you'll undertake a tough, scenic 5-day trek through the Andean mountains, crossing the mountain passes of the 'husband and wife' mountains, Salkantay and Humantay.

You'll pass by aged mountains, each the subject of a hundred ancient stories and beliefs. You'll get to experience a fascinating whistle-stop tour through an ancient and resilient way of life. 

During your trek, your guides will tell you some of the stories of old, and elaborate on the beliefs, traditions, and practices of the Quechua and the Inca.

The stunning Humantay glacier lake.

The stunning Humantay glacier lake.

Some of these practices are not for the faint of heart - including human and animal sacrifice! And at the stunning Humantay glacier lake, you'll get the chance to dedicate an offering of your own - this time of coca tea leaves, which you will cast into the lake in offering to Pachamama (a Quechua deity similar to Mother Earth) .

Later on in your trek, you'll be able to taste coffee made from the bean right before your eyes, and relax and unwind in the hot springs nestled in the mountains at Santa Teresa. All the while, as you're trekking, the magnificent Nevado Salkantay will peacefully loom above you.

An awesome shot from my recent trip to Machu Picchu, taken August 2017.

An awesome shot from my recent trip to Machu Picchu, taken August 2017.

Of course, during the trek you'll be heading up to Abra Salkantay - the Salkantay mountain pass, at ~4,600m above sea-level. Even this experience is shrouded in a little bit of mystery, as the three signposts at Abra Salkantay all disagree on its exact altitude! It's a long way down from there to Collpapampa, and you'll descend through the clouds, which provide an eerie, moody backdrop for your descent from altitude.

Descent from Abra Salkantay to Collpapampa, on Day 3 of the trek.

Descent from Abra Salkantay to Collpapampa, on Day 3 of the trek.

Next up in your Salkantay trekking adventure will be a steep morning incline through jungle terrain up to Llaqtapata, a modest Inca settlement atop a small mountain which will provide you with your first glimpses of Machu Picchu in the distance. The Incas built their settlements in these locations so they were closer to the gods in heaven.

Llaqtapata is certainly one of the many highlights on this route, and you can explore its ruins while you're up there, before tackling the steep descent down into Aobamba Valley and onwards to Aguas Calientes, and hence, Machu Picchu.

The view over distant Machu Picchu, seen from near the Inca settlement at Llaqtapata.

The view over distant Machu Picchu, seen from near the Inca settlement at Llaqtapata.

Now, we could never cover everything that makes each of the 6 days of our incredible Machu Picchu trek special, all in one blog post (or even a whole series). Nor could we emulate the feeling of connectedness and humility that learning about ancient Andean lifestyles and beliefs can bring you, or the serenity and quiet majesty of old Humantay and Salkantay as they watch over your trekking days. But hopefully this has been a small taste.

If you're already signed up to our Machu Picchu trek, you'll get to experience first-hand some of the boundless magic of Salkantay. If you're not, what are you waiting for?