Salkantay trek on your own: Unguided to Salkantay

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If you want to explore the beauty of Salkantay trek then this blog is for you. In this blog, we will guide you, how to enjoy Salkantay trek alone without any touring operator and agency. The Salkantay trekking trail is one of the best alternatives to the classic Inca trail to reach the majestic remains of Machu Picchu. The best thing about Salkantay trek is the freedom of having unguided tour. There is no compulsion for guided trip for Salkantay trek. In this blog, we will present a complete guide about trekking alone along the Salkantay trail.

mount salkantay from salkantay pass
Breathtaking view of Mount Salkantay during Salkantay trek

Distance, Elevation & Trek Duration of Salkantay Trail

Salkantay trek distance is 45.9 miles, 74 kilometers that require a 5-day trek. It starts from Mollepata and ends at the Citadel of Machu Picchu. The average trek elevation is 3500 meters, 11480 feet from sea level. The lowest point of the trek trail is a hydroelectric plant that sits at 1800 meters, 5904 feet from sea level and the highest altitude point of trail settles at 4630 meters, 15190 feet from sea level. The elevation of Salkantay pass is 4600 meters, 15090 feet from above sea level. Salkantay peak has an elevation of 6271 meters, 20574 feet from sea level.

Salkantay trek starts from Mollepata, from this point the trail is called Mollepata trail. The average duration required to complete the hike is around 5 days but it mainly depends upon the skill, physical endurance, and experience to cover more in less during unguided tours, in case of guided tours they have defined milestones per day.

Difficulty Level

Due to the long trekking Salkantay solo trek poses an even greater challenge than classic Inca trail. Salkantay trail trek is long but moderate to endure. Trekking at high altitudes makes things difficult as it demands a great level of physical fitness and mental toughness. Trekking at higher altitude is difficult because of thin air and less air pressure. The breathing issue further leads to exhaustion. The toughest feature of all is the challenging weather at high altitudes that changes quickly and gusty blows of wind create a lot of difficulty at high altitudes. While heading for adventures at high altitude one must be well prepared.

Salkantay mountain view from soraypampa checkpoint
Soraypampa checkpoint hosting breathtaking view of Salkantay mountain

Itinerary

Before drafting the Salkantay trail itinerary it will be more convenient to have a thorough review of the complete map of the Salkantay trek trail. It will be so assisting to bring along the chargeable GPS devices with portable power-banks, paper maps, and compass. We can divide Salkantay trek into five chunks for our ease.

Day 1: Mollepata to Soraypampa (12.4 miles)

Mollepata is a 3-hour minibus ride from Cusco city. Salkantay trail’s trailhead is located in Mollepata from where you’ll be on foot towards Soraypampa via a dirt road. Soraypampa is the first campsite.

Day 2: Soraypampa to Collpapampa via Salkantay Pass (13.7 miles)

It should take three hours to hike from Soraypampa to the Salkantay Pass, the highest point of the entire trail. This pass offers jaw-dropping views of majestic snow-capped Mount Salkantay. From Salkantay pass, you’ll observe descent to Collpapampa which will be your second night campsite.

Day 3: Collpapampa to La Playa (9.9 miles)

La Playa, the friendly village where you can have camp set up for the night. You can enjoy local cuisine and restock your supplies from this village.

Day 4: La Playa to Aguas Calientes via Llactapata (and Hydroelectric Plant) (15.5 miles) 

There will be an ascent towards the archeological site of Llactapata before heading downhill to meet Hydroelectric Plant. Following the railway track, you’ll reach Aguas Calientes, a settlement near the majestic Machu Picchu.

Day 5: Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu (5.6 miles)

A steep stair cased ascent of about 45-90 minutes will take you up to Machu Picchu from the Aguas Calientes. After the exploration of one of the famous most cultural sites, you can return to Aguas Calientes to take a train ride leading back to Cusco which should take around four hours.

When Should You Hike the Salkantay Trek?

It is evident that at higher altitude the winters will be so cold and chilling but as per our experience, we would recommend you to endure solo trek attempt to Salkantay Trek trail in winters as winters are dry. Although the temperature experiences a sudden drop at night still winter is better than the slippery and wet rainy season. There is a huge possibility of land sliding and slippery trail during wet or rainy season.

Useful Supplies

You can purchase your initial supplies from the Cusco city but you can replenish your supplies, your snacks as you will be able to find various general stores and bakeries so you’ll be able to restock your supplies at Soraypampa, Collpapampa and La Playa. You will find a lot of natural water resources but it is better to avoid untreated natural resource water as it might not be good for your stomach. Water should never be consumed untreated due to the presence of native tribes and wildlife in the surrounding area.

Salkantay trek is less-frequently visited and quite remote than the other tourist sites, so the locals aren’t well exposed to other than local Quechua language which could be a bit problematic to get social to them. Our Company Camina Los Andes is providing exciting trip packages having small personalized groups to enhance the guided tour experience. Camina Los Andes’s services are highly recommended because we provide great value for a very reasonable price.

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