The name Salkantay means “salqa” in Quechua, which translates to wild, savage, or invincible. The name itself should give you an idea of what to expect. The mountain pass takes you through snow-capped mountain peaks, low jungles, and a slow but exhilarating buildup to an elevation of over 4600m before plunging 1000m.
The trek is an excellent alternative to the Inca trail for 4 days; for those who miss it since the tickets sell out faster. You can have a four-day or five-day itinerary depending on your schedule. Although the 4-day trek is usually reserved for seasoned hikers and those used to the mountains’ climate. The 5-day hike is traditionally preferred as it gives you enough time to recover and enjoy the environment while on the way.
It’s not easy neither is it impossible. The long hours of trekking during the day, steep and daring descents, and the rapid altitude changes certainly make the Salkantay trek a challenge you should definitely try.
How Difficult is The Salkantay Trek?
Salkantay is much more difficult than the Inca trail but even more rewarding. You will have to get through 6 to 9 hours of trekking daily for four days across treacherous mountain trails.
On the first day, you will get to move through Mollepata to Soraypampa and visit lake Humantay. The day’s activities aren’t strenuous, and it’s a moderate uphill climb. The descent is much steeper and will need you to be extremely cautious. Your tour company usually decides where to start from, either Mollepata or Soraypampa.
Day 2: and four will be significantly more challenging. On day 2, you will have reached the Salkantay pass at 4650m, and the altitude sickness will be settling in. The pass is also 400m higher than the highest point on the Inca trail-Dead Woman’s Pass.
Day 3: you will be in the jungle. And you have the day to explore the famous semi-tropical Andean jungle and learn about its coffee in Lucmabamba before getting ready for the next difficult day.
Day 4: you’ll be moving to Aguas Calientes from Lucmabamba, and even though it is flat. It takes much longer at nearly 8-9 hours. You will also get to Llactapata, where you can see Machu Picchu from a distance, glistening its ancient perspective and breathtaking surroundings.
Since the trail to Machu Picchu on day five is through muddy and steep terrain while descending 1000m. You might need trekking poles-you will, however, have to leave this out of Machu Picchu. Finally, you will get to Machu Picchu, and your 5-day Salkantay challenge trek will have paid off.
For the most part. You will be trekking and feeling the effects of higher altitudes. So it’s probably much easier when you are in your best state health and fitness-wise. The Salkantay trail has mules to do all the porting, so you don’t have to worry about carrying all the stuff. If you are a seasoning trekker accustomed to the altitude, you should hire mules and a muleteer to help you through the trek.
IS The Salkantay Trek Dangerous?
The trail snakes its way through high altitude regions and high mountain landscapes dotted with Andean jungles and alpine scenery. Unless you are adequately acclimatized, the change in altitude could cause altitude sickness. Even for expert trekkers, getting acclimatized will make the hike easier. It is recommendable you spend time at Cusco as it is a high-altitude area and will give your body the required environment to adjust to before you begin the trail.
Independent trekkers will need to hire a mule for the heavy lifting and a muleteer for security. Despite being punishing and a little on the difficult side, the sight of Machu Picchu gives a refreshing sense of accomplishment.
Is The Salkantay Trek Worth It?
The mountain landscapes and luscious lowland vegetations along the way are spellbinding. The Salkantay trek is perfect for those who want to have a laid back and less hectic route to the Inca ruins of Machu Picchu. Salkantay is voted top 25 best treks in the world.
You will get to see prestigious passes and the elegant Mollepata valley and Salkantay peak above 15000 ft. From the delightful local communities, you’ll meet along the way to the majestic scenery and the fabled Andean experience, the Salkantay trek is a journey through mountains, jungle, and Humantay Lake.
How Do I Train For The Salkantay Trek?
Acclimatize before the hike. Visit the city and explore the surrounding area. You have a lot of opportunities to see archeology sites, like the impressive Sacsayhuaman. The activities you should be keen on include walking, running, biking while you are in Cusco to familiarize your body and system with the rapid change in altitude as you ascend and descend the trek.
Before beginning your trek, join a training program before your departure date. Depending on your fitness level, you can train for at least six weeks and up to 4 months if you aren’t sure you are up for it.
Your training should feature aerobic exercise to improve cardiovascular endurance. Strength conditioning to withstand the hike’s strain. Flexibility conditioning for tight muscles, and hike-specific activities like carrying a backpack for climbing conditioning. While training, watch your speed, heart rate, pack weight, duration to get a view of your-hiking conditioning.
The training regime should consist of shorter hikes regularly from 1-hour hikes as you ease into much longer ones like 10 km. Before choosing to start any fitness program, consult your doctor. It is recommended to eat healthy hydrate. Coca tea and herbs usually work best.