The Salkantay Snowy is located in the district of Cusco, 60 kilometers northwest of the City of Cusco. It has 6,217 meters of altitude, it represents one of the highest peaks of the Vilcabamba mountain range after the Ausangate Snowy that exceeds it by 65 meters.
The name Salkantay or Salcantay means in Quechua Wild Mountain, it is usually called APU Salkantay, Lord or guardian god. In Quechua culture (since Inca times) certain mountains and snow-covered mountains are considered, places where the APU of a specific site inhabits, with that mountain being recognized as sacred.
The Salkantay is considered an Apu, mountain in which lives a superior spirit that protects the men and peoples of the Valley.
To the north of Salkantay is Machu Picchu, precisely at the end of the cliff that descends from the mountain. From Machu Picchu you can see the Southern Cross that is located on the summit of Salkantay. This cross is the highest point that can be seen in the sky during the rainy season.
It is believed that for this reason, the Incas associated this characteristic with fertility and considered Salkantay one of the divinities that controlled the climate and fertility in the western region of Cusco.
The snowy Salkantay has been visited by climbers from all over the world; North Americans, Swiss, New Zealanders, French, Austrians, Poles, Germans, Argentines, Mexicans, Slovenes, Spaniards, Catalans, Brazilians, etc. Some of these have reached the top. Others, for the most part, have had to retire in the middle of the ascent.
Climate in Salkantay Snowy:
During the day it remains sunny and cools quite a bit at night, reaching a temperature below 0 ° C during the months of June to September. Between December to March there are many rains so it is not advisable to make any excursion. The best time to carry them out is between the months of March and September.
The Salkantay Snowy Tour:
The Salkantay Trek involves 5 days of travel from the City of Cusco, while climbing involves 1,800 meters (5,900 ft) of vertical ascent over a rock surface, covered by snow and ice.
Ascent to Salkantay Snowy:
This Trekking reaches a height of 4,600 meters above sea level at its highest point.
The walk through the Salkantay is known as “The New Inca Trail”. Due to the strong demand of the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu Classic and the difficulty in obtaining quotas, the Salkantay – Machu Picchu section has been established as an alternative hike.
SALKANTAY – MACHU PICCHU TREK
This alternative hike usually uses different routes to reach Machu Picchu and in some cases connects with the trail of the Classic Inca Trail.
However, the alternative Salkantay road has an independent route ending its route in Machu Picchu Pueblo (Aguas Calientes), instead of in the Machu Picchu Citadel.
Another difference with the Classic Inca Trail is that in the Salkantay there is not an abundance of Inca ruins (at the moment).
A brief summary of what can be seen on the alternative path Salkantay – Machu Picchu.
First day. Views of the Apu Salkantay and the green valley of the Apurimac River. In some sections of the trail you can see Andean communities such as Cruzpata, Challacancha and Soraypampa.
Second day. It begins with a three-hour ascent towards the Apacheta pass at 4,590 meters. There you can see the mountain Salkantay, Humantay and Huayanay. Then, there will be a descent (approximately five hours) until you reach Rayan Niyoc or Chaullay.
Third day. Uscamayuc, high jungle, the number of orchids in this area is the highest in the world. Also the traveler will appreciate wild animals such as the spectacled bear, a magnificent specimen of this habitat. It ends with the arrival at the town of La Playa 2,350 m.a.s.l.
Fourth day. Start with a trek to the town of Lucmabamba and then to the Inca ruins of Llactapata (2,740 m.s.n.m). In Llactapata, you get the first view of the sacred Inca city of Machu Picchu. There travelers will find a temple of the sun similar to that of the Qorikancha of the city of Cusco. Finally you arrive at Machu Picchu Pueblo (Aguas Calientes), where you can take a bath in the hot springs to relax the body after the long walk or stroll through the center of the town of Machu Picchu.
Fifth day. Visit to the Sacred City Machu Picchu.
Duration Salkantay – Machu Picchu Trek: 5 days – 4 Nights.
Complexity: It requires more physical effort than the Traditional Inca Trail, since it is longer and reaches higher elevations.
Location: North of the city of Cusco, taking the Cusco – Limatambo highway and making a detour past Limatambo until you reach Mollepata. The Inca Salkantay road starts near the village Mollepata at 2,900 meters. It can be accessed by traveling on Buses that depart from the city of Cusco to Mollepata from 4.00hs. / 5.00 hours. in the morning.