Hi travelers! Welcome to my review of the Salkantay Trek – a hike which I completed in March this year. My name is Linnea-Vicktoria (Nea). I’m a Swedish girl who comes from a town called Norrkoping. For as long as I can remember I have always wanted to travel. My parents traveled when they were younger and I enjoyed listening to their stories. For me traveling is a way to get new perspectives, meet new people and see new places. I love it!
I have always dreamed about Machu Picchu and this Incan citadel was the main reason why I wanted to visit Peru. After first seeing pictures of Machu Picchu, I got interested about the history and story behind it. At the start I didn’t think I would do the Salkantay Trek but when I was traveling I met many people who had done the trek and then I knew that I wanted to go.
On my first day in Cusco I met two amazing girls, Leah and Abby, at the bus station. We ended up staying in the same hostel. The next day we decided to head to Machu Picchu Reservations to learn more about the Salkantay Trek. The trek was five days and we thought it sounded cool, so we booked it. We had the best crew for the hike. Our guide, Juan, was so nice. Everyone was so kind and I’m glad that I had such a great trekking group.
Opting for the 5-Day Salkantay Trek
Me and the girls chose the five day trek but there were others who did four days. The first four days consisted of hiking for several hours per day and on the fifth day we went to Machu Picchu. The trek was 84 kms with some of the most beautiful views I have ever seen. Everyday was different. The first day, although it was the shortest, was the hardest. Each day after that entailed six hours of walking per day – sometimes more, sometimes less.
There were beautiful mountains around us for the entire hike and the terrain was a mix of uphill, downhill and flat. The highlight for me was on the first day when we got to see Humantay Lake. The combination of the blue water in the lake with the mountains blanketed in white snow was just extraordinary! Sights like these were common throughout the walk.
On the first two days we stayed in small shelters. The best thing about the shelters was the glass walls. This made it possible to wake up in the morning to spectacular views. On the third night we slept in tents. After sleeping in shelters and tents (in sleeping bags), we finally got to stay in a hostel on the fourth day. I have never been so appreciative of a bed before! Staying in shelters and tents was a nice experience but I prefer a cozy bed.
How Difficult is the Salkantay Trek?
I found the Salkantay Trek to be quite challenging, mainly because of the thin air at the high altitudes. The biggest struggle for me was feeling tired so fast – the altitude wears you down quicker and makes it harder to breathe. Some people in our group got sick due to the elevation gains, so I recommend waiting in Cusco for a couple of days to acclimate yourself.
The walk itself is not that difficult, but I did feel my legs were getting sore after four days of walking uphill and downhill. There were moments where I had to push myself, and during those times I just put my headphones on and turned on some good music. This helped to motivate me. I did the trek in sneakers and do think it would be easier with hiking boots. Definitely buy a pair of hiking boots if you are planning on doing the five day trek!
A Dream Come True at Machu Picchu
When we reached Machu Picchu I was so proud of myself. I finally reached my goal and fulfilled something I had dreamed about for years. The sun was shining as we walked around the Lost City and since we got there early there weren’t many tourists around. It was a dream come true, and I was so happy that I got to do this with an amazing group and our wonderful guide Juan. He showed us around for three hours. It was incredible.
Machu Picchu was the cherry on top of an unbelievable journey. The feeling I had when I first saw the citadel was phenomenal. I pushed myself for days and getting there was pure ecstasy. Visiting this place was one of my goals while traveling solo for seven months and it felt so good. I recommend the Salkantay Trek, not only for Machu Picchu but also for the views you get to see. The landscape and the joy of meeting new people is wonderful.
Cusco, The Gateway to Machu Picchu
Cusco is a beautiful city with a lot of charm. It’s the perfect base for the Salkantay Trek or just for Machu Picchu. While you are in Cusco, there are many ways to spend your time. We enjoyed walking around the city, eating typical Peruvian food, shopping at the small boutiques and exploring the various markets. I will definitely go back to Cusco on my next trip to Peru.
Tips for your Salkantay Trek
I recommend bringing a decent pair of hiking shoes with you for the trek, not only to stay comfortable but also for helping you navigate the terrain. Since I didn’t have a pair with me, I walked the whole trek in my sneakers and of course it worked – however my ankles were feeling horrible afterwards. I didn’t have much ankle support with my sneakers.
Plastic bags are also something I suggest packing. When you are hiking in the rain and in streams, it’s easy to get wet shoes and the importance of dry feet cannot be understated. A few times my feet got wet and so I put plastic bags over my socks to keep my feet dry. You should pack for all types of weather on the Salkantay Trek – rain, cold and heat. This is extra critical for your sleeping arrangements at night in the shelters and tents.
Pack extra socks, jumpers and pants to keep yourself warm during the three or four nights that you go for. Taking a powerbank is another good idea since there is no electricity or Internet before arriving at Aguas Calientes. I booked my trek with Machu Picchu Reservations and I was delighted with the experience they provided. It’s a fantastic company that is well priced considering the guides and range of services you receive.
Things like food, shelter and the entrance to Machu Picchu are all included with the price as well as carrying your luggage for you at every stop. I’m so grateful and happy that I completed the Salkantay Trek. It was a once in a lifetime experience full of beautiful views and great people. If I can do it then so can you! All the best for your adventure on the epic Salkantay Trek.