Mount Salkantay (6180 m) is one of the Cusco region’s most crucial Apus, or gods. Its majestic snow-capped peaks dominate the landscape northwest of Cusco and are a relatively quiet area for hiking.
The main route connects the Machu Picchu railway line and the Urubamba Valley to the less-visited village of Mollepata on the Apurimac River watershed. Long-distance treks usually take five to seven days. It offers more significant contact with local populations, complete niche traversal, and higher trails than the Inca Trail.
Therefore, this trail is recommended for more adventurous hikers who are already acclimated. Most start on the Urubamba side at Km 82, where the Inca Trail begins. You can follow the Inca Trail up the Cusichaca Valley and continue straight up the hill from the small village of Huaylla-Bamba, ignoring the main Inca Trail that turns west, right here, until the Passage of the Dead Woman—La Abra de Huarmihuañusca.
The scenery and view along the way are similar to the Inca Trail. However, this route will get you closer to the glacier’s edge. The trail is steep and challenging up to a high pass at 5000 meters, taking you around the southern rim of the Salkantay Glacier before descending directly south to the village of Mollepata.
Trekking is increasingly done in reverse, employing guides and mules on Mollepata, where there is less competition than on the Huayllabamba side.
The route ends in the Urubamba Valley, between Machu Picchu and Ollantaytambo. Colectivos connects Mollepata to Cusco daily, with trips between 02.12 and 03.00. You can take a truck from Mollepata to Soray Pampa, saving the first 8 hours of the usual trek.