5-Day Salkantay via Palcay to Machu Picchu: A Different Path

Discover a less-traveled route to Machu Picchu via the scenic Palcay area on the Salkantay Trek.

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Cusco, Peru


5 Days




Year Round

Tour type



Set off on an extraordinary 5-Day Salkantay Trek via Palcay, a journey that takes you along a path less frequented but brimming with awe-inspiring landscapes, leading to the legendary Machu Picchu. This unique trek unveils the hidden gems of the Andes, from the vibrant turquoise waters of Humantay Lake to the imposing grandeur of Salkantay Peak, and through the undisturbed beauty of the Palcay Valley. It’s a route that offers a rare glimpse into the diverse ecosystems and the rich cultural tapestry of the Incan empire.

Your adventure starts in the ancient city of Cusco and winds through a variety of landscapes, each day presenting a new facet of the majestic Andes. The journey is as much about discovering the secrets of the Inca as it is about personal exploration, challenging both body and mind. Nights spent camping under the vast, star-filled sky provide moments of reflection and tranquility. This trek is not just a hike; it’s an immersive experience that blends adventure, culture, and history, creating memories that resonate long after the journey ends.

Departure & Return Location Your Hotel in Cusco
Departure Time 4:30 AM - 5:00 AM
Estimated Return Time 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Guide Languages Available Guides fluent in English and Spanish
Key Attractions Humantay Lake, Salkantay Mountain, Inka Chiriaska Pass, Palcay Valley, Inkatambo Archaeological Site, Hidroelectrica, Aguas Calientes, Machu Picchu Citadel
FromUSD 790
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  • Standard Large GroupGroup Size: 2 Min – 16ppl MaxStart Time: 04:30
  • Standard Small GroupGroup Size: 2 Min – 8ppl MaxStart Time: 04:30
  • Private GroupGroup Size: CustomizableStart Time: 04:30
  • Deluxe Private GroupGroup Size: CustomizableStart Time: 04:30
  • Solo TravelerGroup Size: 1 personStart Time: 04:30
  • Deluxe Solo TravelerGroup Size: 1 personStart Time: 04:30

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Tour Itinerary

Explore our expertly designed itinerary below, crafted to showcase breathtaking views and provide unique adventures every step of the way.

Your journey begins with an early morning collection from your hotel at 4:30 am, setting off on a 3-hour and 30-minute drive to Soraypampa. Here, amidst the tranquility of the Andes, a nutritious breakfast awaits, fueling you for the day's trek.

The first leg of your adventure leads you on a 2-hour uphill trek to the stunning Humantay Lake. Its teal, electric waters are a sight to behold, and your guide enriches this experience with fascinating insights into glaciers, Andean topography, and local worldviews.

After capturing the lake's beauty and descending for 45 minutes to Soraypampa, the trail veers left towards Salkantaypampa. This segment, adorned by rugged mountains and the imposing Salkantay snow-capped peak, is a feast for the eyes.

Lunch is a delightful hiking buffet at Salkantaypampa, offering a moment of rest and nourishment. The day's journey culminates with a 3-hour climb to Pampa Japonesa, your campsite for the night. Here, surrounded by the majestic Andean peaks, you'll enjoy a peaceful evening, complete with a bucket of lukewarm water for a refreshing wash, tea time, and a delicious buffet dinner under the stars.

Accommodation: Camping
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Tea, and Dinner
Hiking: Approx. 7-8 hours, 10 km

The second day of your trek is both challenging and exhilarating, starting with an early wake-up call accompanied by a steaming cup of coffee or coca tea. As you step out of your tent, the sunrise over Mt. Salkantay promises a day filled with awe-inspiring views.

Post-breakfast, embark on a 1.5-hour sharp ascent to the Inka Chiriaska pass (4,937 m), the highest point of your hike. The breathtaking views from this vantage point are well worth the effort, providing an unforgettable backdrop for a well-deserved rest.

The descent leads you to Sisaypampa, followed by another 2-hour climb to the Palcay Pass (4,708 m). This steep section rewards you with sweeping views of the valley, framed by the Palcay and Salkantay mountains.

After enjoying the vistas, a downhill walk brings you to a serene lunch spot in the Palcay valley. The day's trek concludes with a 3-hour hike to your campsite near Inkatambo, an archeological site offering a remote and tranquil setting. Here, hot drinks and dinner await, setting the scene for a restful night.

Accommodation: Camping
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Tea, and Dinner
Hiking: Approx. 7-8 hours, 10 km

The day begins early with a hearty breakfast, fueling you for a journey that transitions from the mystical cloud forest to the lush rainforest. Today's hike is predominantly downhill but includes some short climbs, offering a different yet equally captivating perspective of the Andean landscape.

As you trek through the jungle, the path reveals a rich tapestry of flora, including wild orchids and other native plants. Spectacular waterfalls and a series of remarkable bridges mark your path, each offering unique photographic opportunities. Your knowledgeable guide will share insights into the sights and sounds of the trail, enhancing your understanding of this biodiverse region.

Lunch will be served en route, amidst the natural beauty of the rainforest. The day concludes just before nightfall at another beautiful campsite, where you'll be treated to hot drinks and dinner, capping off an exhilarating day of exploration.

Accommodation: Camping
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Tea, and Dinner
Hiking: Approx. 10-12 hours, 19 km

The fourth day of your adventure starts with a unique experience - the chance to witness the "Cock of the Rocks," Peru's national bird, in its natural habitat. After this enchanting encounter, you'll embark on a relatively easy 4-hour hike on flat terrain to Aguas Calientes, the gateway to Machu Picchu.

The trail to Aguas Calientes offers a more relaxed pace, allowing you to absorb the serene environment and reflect on the journey so far. Upon arrival in town, you'll enjoy a leisurely lunch at a local restaurant before checking into your hotel for the night.

Dinner at a local restaurant is included, providing a taste of the local cuisine and a chance to unwind in anticipation of the next day's visit to Machu Picchu.

Accommodation: Hotel in Aguas Calientes
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Hiking: Approx. 5-6 hours, 12 km

Your final day starts with an early breakfast at the hotel, followed by one of the first buses to Machu Picchu. Witnessing the sunrise over this iconic site is an awe-inspiring experience, setting the tone for the day.

A guided tour of approximately 2.5 hours awaits, offering insights into the history and architecture of this ancient wonder. The experience of seeing Machu Picchu firsthand is indescribable, with its stunning location and architectural genius offering a profound sense of wonder and spirituality.

If you've opted to climb Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain, your ascent will begin post-tour. Alternatively, you may choose to explore the site further or simply sit and contemplate the magnificent surroundings.

In the afternoon, you'll return to Aguas Calientes for the train journey to Poroy or Ollantaytambo. From there, a private transport will take you back to your hotel in Cusco, concluding an unforgettable journey through the heart of the Andes.

Accommodation: Return to Cusco
Meals: Breakfast
Hiking: Low intensity, exploration of Machu Picchu

Tour Highlights

  • Humantay Lake: Witness the mesmerizing beauty of Humantay Lake, known for its striking turquoise waters set against the backdrop of the majestic Humantay Mountain.

  • Salkantay Mountain: Marvel at the awe-inspiring Salkantay Mountain, one of the highest and most stunning peaks in the Peruvian Andes.

  • Inka Chiriaska Pass: Conquer the highest point of the trek at the Inka Chiriaska Pass, offering breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding mountain ranges.

  • Palcay Valley: Experience the serenity and untouched beauty of the Palcay Valley, a tranquil escape nestled in the heart of the Andes.

  • Inkatambo Archaeological Site: Explore Inkatambo, an archaeological site that provides a glimpse into the Incan civilization and its historical significance.

  • Journey through Hidroelectrica: Trek through Hidroelectrica, an area rich in lush landscapes, offering a contrast to the high mountain terrains.

  • Aguas Calientes Town: Enjoy the unique charm of Aguas Calientes, the gateway town to Machu Picchu, known for its thermal hot springs and vibrant atmosphere.

  • Machu Picchu Citadel: Discover the ancient wonder of Machu Picchu, a world-renowned archaeological site full of mystery, history, and stunning architecture.

  • Scenic Train Ride Back to Cusco: Conclude your adventure with a scenic train ride, offering picturesque views of the Peruvian countryside as you return to Cusco.


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Payment Terms

Payment Terms & Cancellation Policy

Kindly take a moment to read our Payment Terms & Cancellation Policy before booking. Happy adventuring!

Payment Terms

Beginning Your Adventure - Booking Confirmation and Deposit

Your journey starts with a commitment: a 30% deposit of the total tour cost. This initial investment is pivotal in activating the extensive preparatory process, ensuring every aspect of your tour is curated to perfection.

Final Payment: The Last Step Before Your Journey Begins

The remaining 70% of the tour cost is due no later than 48 hours before the commencement of your tour. This timely payment is critical to finalize all logistical arrangements, guaranteeing a hassle-free start to your adventure.

Expansive Payment Options for Ease and Flexibility

In line with our commitment to your convenience, Huaynas Expeditions accepts a variety of payment methods, including bank transfers, credit cards, and PayPal. Please be aware that additional fees may apply depending on the payment method selected. Detailed payment procedures and potential fees can be found on our dedicated payment page.

Implications of Late Payments - Protecting Your Reservation

Adherence to the payment schedule is crucial. Late payments can unfortunately lead to the cancellation of your reservation, with the deposit being retained as a non-refundable fee. We urge you to maintain timely payments to safeguard your tour plans.

Policy for Last-Minute Adventurers

For those inspired to join this tour on short notice, namely less than 15 days before departure, full payment is required at the time of booking. This ensures that we can expedite all necessary preparations for your inclusion.

Cancellation Policy

Cancellation Terms for Clients

We recognize that life is ever-changing. However, due to the elaborate planning and expenses involved in preparing for this tour, we maintain a strict no-refund policy after booking confirmation. This underscores the importance of obtaining comprehensive travel insurance, which can offer protection against unforeseen cancellations.

Navigating Unpredictable Circumstances - Force Majeure

In extraordinary situations beyond our control, such as natural disasters or political upheavals, Huaynas Expeditions will strive to offer alternative arrangements. This may include rescheduling your trip or issuing a credit for future travel, based on current availability and discretion.

Emphasizing the Need for Comprehensive Travel Insurance

To cover unexpected events, including trip disruptions and medical emergencies, we cannot stress enough the importance of securing comprehensive travel insurance. It’s your safety net, ensuring peace of mind throughout your journey. Please note, Huaynas Expeditions does not bear responsibility for costs arising from incidents not covered by your travel insurance.

Click to review our payment and cancellation policies.

Special Discounts


  • Adult (12+ Years): Standard rates apply for travelers over 12 years old.
  • Student (-25 Years with Student Card): Save USD 20 with a valid Student Card for those younger than 25 years old.
  • Child (3 – 11 Years): Save USD 30 for children between 3 and 11 years old.
  • Infant (0 – 2 Years): Infants younger than 2 years old are free (must ride on the adult’s lap; for a separate seat, add them as a child).
  • Group Discount: Automatically applied during online booking.
    • Save USD 10/person for groups of 5-7 people.
    • Save USD 15/person for groups of 8-10 people.
    • Save USD 20/person for groups of 11+ people.

Please note that the applicable age is considered at the time of completion of the trip.

View age and group-based discount details.

Inclusions & Exclusions

Dive into our in-depth guide on what’s included and not included for all package options on the 5-Day Salkantay Trek via Palcay to Machu Picchu. With these carefully put-together lists, you’ll know exactly what to anticipate when booking the journey of a lifetime.

Standard Inclusions

Our Standard package offers a range of amenities and services for a comfortable and enjoyable trip experience. All package options include the following:

Not Included

The following items are not included in our trek packages. Please consider these additional costs when preparing for your trek. Note that some exclusions may be included in the Deluxe package, as mentioned in the Additional Inclusions section:

Additional Inclusions (Deluxe Package)

Upgrade to our Deluxe package for an enhanced and luxurious trekking experience. The Deluxe package includes these premium amenities and services, which can also be added individually to the Standard package:

What to Pack

When embarking on the 5-Day Salkantay Trek via Palcay to Machu Picchu, it’s crucial to pack the right items for a successful and enjoyable experience.

Packing List

Provided Duffle Bag and Packing Tips

We’ll supply the duffle bag during the pre-trek briefing with your guide, held 1-2 nights prior to the tour’s start. This allows you to familiarize yourself with the bag and pack efficiently.

The briefing covers essential trek details, such as itinerary, safety guidelines, and last-minute updates. It’s an excellent chance to ask questions, meet fellow trekkers, and prepare for your adventure.

Packing Tips:
  • Adhere to the 7 kg weight limit: Keep the weight of your personal items in the duffle bag within the 7 kg limit to maintain a manageable load for the horses.
  • Place non-essential items in the duffle bag: Store items you won’t need during the day, like extra clothes, toiletries, and sleeping bags, in the duffle bag to lighten your day pack.
  • Label your duffle bag: Add a luggage tag or other identification to your duffle bag to prevent mix-ups with other trekkers’ bags.
  • Keep valuables in your day pack: Store passports, cameras, cash, and other valuable items in your day pack for added security and easy access.

By following these packing guidelines, you’ll be well-prepared to make the most of your trekking adventure. We look forward to guiding you on this exciting journey!

Frequently Asked Questions

Got questions? We’ve got answers! Dive into our FAQ section for detailed responses to common queries. If you don’t find what you’re looking for, our team is just a click away to assist you.

What is the difficulty level of the trek?

The Salkantay Trek via Palcay to Machu Picchu is considered challenging, especially due to the high altitude and varied terrain. Trekkers should be in good physical condition and preferably have some prior hiking experience.

Can I store extra luggage somewhere during the trek?

Yes, you can leave any extra luggage at your hotel in Cusco or with us, and it will be safe and waiting for you upon your return.

Is there a weight limit for personal items?

Each trekker is allowed a maximum of 7kg for personal items, which will be carried by our horses. This should include your sleeping bag and air mat.

Is travel insurance required?

While not mandatory, we strongly recommend obtaining comprehensive travel insurance that covers trekking activities, medical emergencies, and trip cancellations.

Do I need a special permit for this trek?

No, one of the advantages of this trek is that it doesn’t require the traditional Inca Trail permits. However, entrance to Machu Picchu and other sites are included in the tour package.

What's the best time of year to do this trek?

The trek can be done year-round. However, the dry season from April to October is the most popular due to clearer skies and less rain. The wettest months are January and February.

What personal gear is provided, and what should I bring?

We provide tents, inflatable mattresses, a duffel bag for your personal gear, and an emergency oxygen bottle. You should bring your own sleeping bag, trekking poles, appropriate clothing, and a backpack. Sleeping bags and trekking poles are available for rent.

What type of guide will be leading the trek?

Our treks are led by experienced, English-speaking guides who are knowledgeable about the region’s history, culture, and flora/fauna. Our guides are certified and trained in wilderness first aid and altitude-related health issues to ensure the safety and well-being of all participants.

Will there be a briefing before the trek begins?

Yes, there will be a pre-trek briefing the day before the trek starts. During the briefing, our experienced guides will provide detailed information about the trek, answer any questions, and ensure that all participants are adequately prepared for the adventure.

Can I rent trekking gear from you?

Yes, we offer rental of trekking gear such as walking poles and sleeping bags. Please contact us directly for more information on our rental options and prices.

Where does the tour start and end?

The tour starts and ends in Cusco. We provide pickups and drop-offs at your hotel in Cusco.

Is there a minimum age requirement for the trek?

There is no official minimum age, but due to the trek’s demanding nature, it’s generally recommended for children over 12 who are accustomed to vigorous outdoor activities.

Can I charge my electronic devices during the trek?

Charging facilities are limited during the trek. It’s advisable to bring additional power banks. Some campsites may offer charging services for a fee.

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  • Frequently Asked Questions

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We understand that every traveler has unique interests and preferences. That's why we work closely with you to create customized itineraries tailored to suit your travel goals and desires.

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