Analysis of the difficulty of the Salkantay treks

how hard is salkantay trek to machu picchu

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Are you thinking of choosing the Salkantay route to get to Machu Picchu?

If you finally do, you’ll be able to enjoy one of the best trekking routes in Peru, ending in one of the 7 Wonders of the Modern World. What more could you ask for?

But if you are hesitating to do this trek in case it is too demanding, in this post, we analyze how hard is the Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu.

Different routes on the Salkantay Trek

To analyze how hard is the Salkantay Trek, you must first know that there are a 4-day trek and a 5-day trek.

Basically, the difference between these two routes is that on day 3 of the Salkantay trek of 4 days, you will take a longer route to reach Aguas Calientes.

On the other hand, in the 5-day trek, this day will be divided into two days, which will also include a visit to one more site than in the 4-day trek.

How hard is the Salkantay Trek in 4 days

Routes Average difficulty Distance Cumulative elevation gain
Day 1 Moderate 11 km 880 masl
Day 2 Difficult 19 km 715 masl
Day 3 Difficult 22 km – 800 masl
Day 4 Moderate 6 km 400 masl

This is the most popular route through the Salkantay. 4 days is enough time to be amazed by the nature of this area of Peru.

Of the 4 days of trekking, two of them are of high difficulty. They are days of long distances, so the trek can become hard. The day with most distance covered will be day 3, on which you will go from Colpapampa to Aguas Calientes, to reach Machu Picchu the following day.

person with a mule along the salkantay trek

In spite of this, we don’t think that this is a route that you need a lot of experience, but you do need some fitness to be able to do it.

In addition, the most annoying thing here, in general, will be the altitude. If you are not used to the altitude, spending a few days in Cusco will be one of the best options to adapt to these heights.

Difficulty of the Salkantay Trek in 5 days

Routes Average difficulty Distance Cumulative elevation gain
Day 1 Moderate 11 km 880 masl
Day 2 Difficult 19 km 715 masl
Day 3 Moderate 12 km – 1240 masl
Day 4 Moderate 12 km 440 masl
Day 5 Moderate 6 km 400 masl

As you will see in the table, the first two days of the Salkantay Trek in 5 days are the same as in the 4 days. It is the same route and the same distances. From the third day onwards, the changes come.

In the case of day 3, it will be a predominantly downhill route. With a moderate difficulty, this trek will take you from Colpapampa to the hot springs of Cocalmayo. Can you think of a better end of the route?

people swimming in cocalmayo hot springs in peru

For the penultimate day, the route will go from Santa Teresa to Aguas Calientes, Machu Picchu’s commuter town.

As you can see, these two days is the result of splitting the trip from Colpapampa to Aguas Calientes, and instead of doing it in one go, doing it in two days.

Premium Salkantay Trek

If you don’t have enough with the two previous treks and want more exclusivity, the Salkantay trek has the possibility to do a premium tour, with more comfort for the rest.

As in the normal tour, there is the possibility of doing it on two different routes, one in 4 days and the other in 5 days.

How hard is the Salkantay Trek Premium in 4 days

Routes Average difficulty Distance Cumulative elevation gain
Day 1 Moderate 12 km 1.250 masl
Day 2 High 22 km 815 masl
Day 3 Easy 26 km – 1.150 masl
Day 4 Moderate 6 km 400 masl

Although very similar to the normal treks, the Salkantay trek premium, has its own route. The comfort of arriving at camp does not take away from the demands of doing this tour.

person sleeping in igloo in salkantay trek

There are 4 days in which you will have to do long treks, being the third day the longest one with 26 kilometers, from Chaullay to Aguas Calientes.

Despite this, this day has no major complications, as it is a downhill route ending in the town closest to Machu Picchu. It will be the perfect opportunity to see the sunrise from Machu Picchu.

As mentioned above, the biggest difficulty will come if you suffer from altitude sickness. But anything that a good acclimatisation can’t solve.

Difficulty of the Salkantay Trek in 5 days

Routes Average difficulty Distance Cumulative elevation gain
Day 1 Moderate 12 km 1.250 masl
Day 2 High 22 km 815 masl
Day 3 Easy 18 km – 350 masl
Day 4 Moderate/high 18 km – 450 masl
Day 5 Moderate 6 km 400 masl

Finally, there is the Salkantay trek premium in 5 days.

This trek differs mainly from the previous one from the third day, starting from Chaullay. In this case, instead of going directly to Aguas Calientes, you will spend the night in Lucmabamba. Although shorter, the distance is also demanding, as it is 18 kilometers.

On the fourth day, the trek will go from Lucmabamba to Aguas Calientes. It is another 18 kilometers of demanding trails, but with a descent in altitude.

It will be the perfect ending to climb Machu Picchu and enjoy this marvel that the Incas left for posterity.

how hard is the salkantay trek to arrive to machu picchu

As you can see, there are different options. The difficulty of the Salkantay trek is not too high.

You don’t need to be an expert in the world of trekking to be able to do it, and besides, you can always choose the one that best suits the days you have or the difficulty you want.

Have you decided to start the adventure? We hope that the difficulty of the Salkantay trek is not an impediment for you to do it, because we are sure that you can do it.

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