9. From Cusco: Classic Salkantay Trek with Return by Train
Make the most of your time in Peru with a 4 or 5-day hike along the famous Salkantay Trek. Take in panoramic views of Humantay Mountain, enjoy an optional visit to the Cocalmayo Hot Springs, and watch the sunrise at Macchu Picchu. Campsite accommodation and transfers are included.
Day 1: Cusco - Mollepata - Challacancha - Laguna Humantay - Soraypampa
After getting picked up from your accommodation in Cusco, drive through the towns of Izcuchaca and Limatambo before arriving at Mollepata, where you can buy a light breakfast and water.
Continue to Challacancha, where the 3-hour walk to Soraypampa begins. Stop for lunch and then walk around 1-2 hours to the Humantay Lagoon. Return to Soraypampa and overnight at camp with tent and dinner.
Day 2: Soraypampa - Soyrococha - Salkantay - Huayracmachay - Chaullay
Wake up with the first light of the day at 5:30 AM and have a quick breakfast. Start your walk to the highest point of the trail: the Salkantay Pass (4650 meters/15255 feet), where you can appreciate the imposing snowy peaks of the Salkantay, Humantay, Tucarhuay, and Pumasillo mountains.
The downward hike is snake-shaped, leading to the Huayracmachay camp, where you will stop for lunch. At the end of this exceptional hike, arrive at Chaullay Village (2900 meters/9514 feet) for a break from a long day of hiking. Enjoy dinner at the camp before heading to your tent for the night.
Day 3: Chaullay - Playa Sahuayaco - Lucmabamba - Santa Teresa (optional Cocalmayo)
After breakfast, hike to the small town of La Playa through the Santa Teresa Valley where you will stop for lunch.
After lunch, board a bus to the camp in Santa Teresa, where you can enjoy an optional visit to the Cocalmayo Hot Springs, which have medicinal and therapeutic waters. Enjoy dinner at the camp before heading to your tent for the night.
If you choose the 4-day option, you will be taken by bus to Hydroelectric right after your lunch. From there, start a walk on the train tracks through the native jungle to Aguas Calientes, about a 3-hour trek. Upon arrival in Aguas Calientes, enjoy free time before dinner to rest or walk through the town.
Day 4 for 5-day option: Santa Teresa - Hydroelectric - Aguas Calientes
After breakfast, start the 3-hour walk to the Hydroelectric through the valley floor. Upon arrival, recharge with lunch. You can add on a zip line adventure after breakfast; in this case, after the activity, you will be taken to the beginning of the trail to Aguas Calientes at Hydroelectric.
From Hydroelectric, hike on the train tracks through the jungle to Aguas Calientes, about a 3-hour trek. Upon arrival in Aguas Calientes, you will have free time before dinner to rest or walk through the town.
Day 4 for 4-day option / Day 5 for 5-day option: Aguas Calientes - Machu Picchu - Cusco
Get up early to start the trek to Machu Picchu, the Lost City of the Incas. After a steep 1.5-hour walk, be rewarded with views of the sunrise from the Inca citadel before the crowds arrive (you can replace the hike with a bus ride for an additional cost if required).
Enjoy a 2-hour guided tour of Machu Picchu and the surrounding sites. Enjoy free time to take photos and look around the citadel. If you choose one of the add-on hikes to the mountains, you will split ways with the group to go by yourself to Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu mountain.
Leave Machu Picchu and return to Aguas Calientes (walking or by bus, depending on what you choose). Once in Aguas Calientes, board your train to Ollantaytambo, and take a minivan from there to Cusco.
Arrive back in Cusco around 9:30 - 10:00 PM. The drop-off will be in Plaza San Francisco in the historic center, near the Plaza de Armas.