This trek perfectly combines cultural and natural beauty; we will enjoy the challenge of the ecosystem and the magnificent view of the snow-capped Salkantay (6264m/20551f), considered as the most representative mountain of the mountain range of Vilcabamba. The trek takes us back to the time of the Incas and makes us aware of the spirits of mountains such as the Tucarhuay or the Humantay which peak higher than 5000 meters (16404 feet).
Day to Day:
1st Day: Cusco - Mollepata (Marcoccasa) – Salkantay Pampa
We will leave Cusco at 5:00 am and head forwards Marcoccasa (3400m/11154f), passing the village Mollepata (3000m/9843f). In Marcoccasa we will meet the horsemen and the rest of the group and start our trek. From Marcoccasa we start hiking into a magnificent valley surrounded by impressive snow-capped mountains, such as the Humantay (5217m/17116f) and the Salkantay snow-covered (6264m/20551f). Our campsite will be at Salkantay pampa (3900m/12795f).
Climate: moderate and cold during the night
Hiking time: 6 to 7 hours
2nd Day: Salkantay Pampa – Salkantay Pass – Collpapampa – Lucmabamba
After breakfast, we will set off towards the Salkantay pass (4600m/15092f) which offers an exceptional view of the snow-capped Salkantay (6264m). Thereafter, we will descend again and will have time to enjoy the increasing vegetation of the ecosystem. Later on, we take a vehicle (A Lorry or any local vehicle) from Collpapampa (3000m/9842ft) to Lucmabamba (2000m/6561ft) where we set up our camping site, amidst the tropical forest with warm climate and mosquitoes.
Hiking time: 7 hours
Transport time: 1hour 30
Optional: The hot springs nearby Collpapampa community is optional and it can be arranged with an extra cost.
3rd Day: Lucmabamba – Llactapata Inca Site - Hydroelectric Station – Aguas Calientes town
Early in the morning after you see the presentation about coffee cultivation and processing, we will hike up on the Inca trail to the archaeological site of Llactapata at 2650m/8694f (Beautiful scenery for discovering flora and evidence of Inca culture). From here we will have an outstanding view over Machu Picchu Mountain and Vilcanota Canyon). Afterwards we will continue down to Hydroelectric train station (1950m/6398f), where you are able to take the train to Aguas Calientes town (2050m/6726f). Overnight in Hotel of Aguas Calientes town.
This afternoon you stay in contact with a local rural family from the forest in which you will have the opportunity to witness the cultivation and processing of coffee.
Depending on the variety, it takes approximately 3 to 4 years for newly planted coffee trees to begin to bear fruit. The fruit, called the coffee cherry, turns a bright, deep red when it is ripe and ready to be harvested. Due to the botanical characteristics of the coffee tree and the fact that coffee is often grown in mountainous areas, widespread use of mechanical harvesters is not possible and the ripe coffee cherries are usually picked by hand, a labour-intensive and difficult process. We will show and explain to you the complete process from the tree to the cup of coffee. You will also have the opportunity to ask the locals your own questions about the process of cultivation.
Climate: warm during the day with mosquitoes
Hiking time: 6 hours
4th Day: Aguas Calientes – Machu Picchu – Cusco
We will leave our hotel after breakfast at 5:30 am and head for Machu Picchu (2400m/7874f) by tourist bus. We will arrive at the citadel around 6:00 am. After a guided tour around the archeological site, including information about life and culture of the Incas, you will have enough time to enjoy Machu Picchu and Wayna Picchu (2750m/9022f) on your own. We will leave Aguas Calientes by train either at 2:55 pm or at 6:10 pm. Until then, you will have time to have lunch in one of the nice restaurants. Moreover, you can visit the hot springs in Aguas Calientes to relax a bit.
Hiking time: 02 hours