"The Salkantay - Ahobamba Trek is for travelers who want the absolute best route to Machu Picchu. No other people and no fluff; this is for real trekkers."
The normal Salkantay "trek" has become saturated in the last few years, hundreds of people go on this trail every day. Not to mention it is way too short and easy, being only one day of actual hiking (22km), before you get to the road.
The Salkantay - Ahobamba Trek is a very different experience. We go around Mount Salkantay the other way, to a secluded valley, where we stay with the few Andean people who live there. 77km in four full days of hiking, two high passes and a rugged trail descending toward Machu Picchu through the cloud forest canyon. The views of waterfalls and steep mountain walls are spectacular. The cliffs and cable bridges high over the rivers, exhilarating. The unexcavated Inca ruins and the cloud forests, mysterious. There are so many reasons why this place is on another level. No other guides operate this route, where we have brought people since 2012.
Day 1: Cusco - Soray Pampa
The first day of the trip is relaxing. We go from Cusco (3,300m) to Soray Pampa (3,900m) in 3.5 hours by private transportation. After lunch we can relax and enjoy the views of Salkantay, Humantay and other high mountain peaks from the balcony or dining room at the lodge.
Day 2: Soray Pampa - Palqaycasa
This is the biggest day of the trek. The first pass Inkachillaska (4,950m) lies right next to Mount Salkantay to get up close and personal. A couple green lagoons below the pass and views stretching to distant mountain ranges give you the feeling of being among the condors and seeing the world from above. After going down the other side, we have lunch in the spacious pasture Sisaypampa (4,200m). The next pass Palqay (4,700m) is a 500 meter climb of switchbacks to a rocky mountain ridge between Mount Salkantay and Mount Palqay. Going through this doorway brings you over the divide and into another world. An hour below the pass we arrive to Doña Lucillas house (4,200m) where we will spend the night.
Day 3: Palqaycasa - Ahobamba House
As we hike deeper into the Ahobamba valley the mountain walls tower around us, blocking us from the outside world. We have a relaxing day that is only 7km downhill, which gives us time to appreciate this wonderful place with many waterfalls, descending from the high peaks; among them is the highest in Cusco which is over 160m tall. We will visit the ruins of an ancient Inca town across the river from our Ahobamba House (3,500m). We will have a free afternoon to enjoy this spectacular place.
Day 4: Ahobamba House - Cloud Forest House
On this day we descend into the cloud forest. The trail becomes more rugged as it traverses the sides of the valley high above the river. Hanging forests and bamboo thickets provide a beautiful canopy to walk through, and we can still see Salkantay towering over the Ahobamba valley high above us. For several hours we walk in complete seclusion with nature, before we get to the Cloud Forest House of Mr. Fortunato at 2,100m. Here his family lives on a self sufficient farm where they grow a wide variety of products: Coffee, Bananas, Pineapples, Limes, Oranges, Passion Fruit, Avocadoes, Potatoes, Yucca, etc. Here we will enjoy the warm climate and sounds of the many species of birds in the evening.
Day 5: Cloud Forest House - Aguas Calientes
This is the day we arrive back to civilization! An hour below the cloud forest house, is the Hydroelectric train station where many routes to Machu Picchu come through. From the Hydroelectric to Aguas Calientes it's an easy 2.5 hour walk along railroad tracks to the tourist town. Here we will check in to our hotel and relax for the rest of the day.
Day 6: Machu Picchu - Return to Cusco
There are 2 options to visit the Citadel of Machu Picchu, either in the morning or in the afternoon. It is up to you which turn you choose, the guided tour takes about 2 hours and then you will have some free time to walk through again if you wish. We will take the train back to Cusco after your tour, about 4 hours of travel.