This challenging Salkantay trek passes through various ecological zones, alpine meadows, spectacular 20,000ft (6.1 km) glaciated peaks, down through subtropical forest onto the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.
It is ideal for travellers wishing to get off the beaten track, but still enjoy the original Inca Trail. It is a wonderful trek, taking you right from the watershed of the Apurimac to the Urubamba. We traverse through beautiful green valleys and camp next to turquoise glacial lakes. We also come across many Inca archaeological sites and enjoy a wide variety of flora and fauna.
This is a very unique version of the Classic Salkantay Trek. The first two days follow one of the common Salkantay trails, but on the 3rd day we depart the Salkantay trails to enjoy a less trodden path that connects with the Classic Inca Trail. You even get the opportunity to walk a portion of the Classic Inca Trail on the 1 rst day.
Not only will you get to explore ancient Inca sites and discover beautiful mountain landscapes, but you will also have the opportunity to hone your photography skills in these environments, with the help of your expert guide, Flavio. Our special blend of photography master class and challenging trek will give you the experience of a lifetime, enabling you to learn new techniques, explore new viewpoints and share your skills with others. The trek will give you opportunities like no others in terms of night, light painting and Milky Way photography, and you will leave Cusco wishing only that you’d had more time here! Then
A shorter version of the Inca Trail leaves from KM 104, 2100 m (104 kilometers along the railway from Cusco to Aguas Calientes) and involves a four hour walk uphill to the Wiñay-Wayna Complex at 2700 m followed by a couple of hours further to Machu Picchu, to experience this last part of the Classic Inca Trail. This 2-Day Tour covers a 16-km Inca Trail in the first day, joining the Classic 4-day trail at the impressive archaeological site of Wiñay-Wayna. (Only Inca Trail hikers get to enjoy these ruins!!!) The name means “Forever Young” in Quechua, the indigenous language, and is taken from that of the pink and purple orchid that grows here. Farming terraces, “Andenes”, surrounding the whole side of a mountain decorate this ancient Inca castle that includes temples, buildings and water channels. The stonework is high in quality with fine masonry and includes a magnificent sequence of fifteen ritual fountain baths. It was a religious centre, probably associated with the ritual worship of water. Chachabamba is another very fascinating Inca complex that you will visit, from where you will also have views of Inti-pata and Choquesuysuy, other ruins hiding in the middle of the beautiful mountains and the lower part of the subtropical valley.
1 – 8 Guests
Experience | Difficulty
- Beginner, amateur, enthusiast and semi-pro photographers
- DSLR, mirrorless, compact or iPhone cameras
- Moderate schedule
- Travel by car or minibus
- Moderate elevation changes and lots of walking and hiking (none of our adventures have difficult hikes)
- (non-photographers also welcome)
Weather | Sun
May – Temps 70/40 F 20/2 C Sunrise 5:24 | Sunset 7:23 (19:23)
September – Temps 75/42 F 24/5 C Sunrise 6:10 | Sunset 6:35 (18:35)
- 6 Days
- Travel, landscape, nature, wildlife and people photography
- Professional photographer | guide
- Photo walks & discussions
- Small group size (1-8 guests)
- All Meals
- National Park Permits
- Local transportation
Arrival Airport: Cusco– Transfer time to hotel 30min
Departure Airport: Cusco– Transfer time to hotel 30min
Our adventure begins in the morning on the first day and ends at end of the last day.
Travel Visa: Not required .
Quillarumiyoc – “the place of the moon stone” in Quechua – was an Inca ceremonial site dedicated to the worship of water and, more importantly, to the moon goddess “Quilla”.
Quillarumiyoc itself is a fascinating site about 1 km off the highway along a dirt track accessible by road. The complex comprises a series of water channels following the course of a narrow gulley which descends from the sombre mountain overlooking the site to the valley below. These water channels flow past sacred rocks, including the great stone, carved with a geometric representation of the moon herself, which has given the site its name. The entire valley occupied by Quillarumiyoc and cut by the stream which feeds its water channels is littered with limestone outcrops – “huacas” or sacred stones – which when one looks at them as the ancients did appear to have landed there not so much from another geological region, but from another time. They stand there, enormous and imposing, some with their bases carved into simple altars and others left entirely in their natural state – for they needed no alteration from the hand of man to denote the mysterious nature one senses today and which for the Incas imbued them with religious significance.
These sacred stones litter the valley, grey and immutable like an abandoned village, all the way up to the steep slopes of the local apu, or sacred mountain, which imposes itself on the visitor wherever he might be standing and seems to insinuate itself into all the photographs one takes of the site Tarawasi.-Limatambo, 80km west of Cuzco, is named after the Inca site of Rimactambo, also popularly known as Tarawasi, which is situated beside the road, about 2km west of town. The site was used as a ceremonial center, as well as a resting place for the Inca chasquis (Inca runners who delivered messages over long distances). The exceptional polygonal retaining wall, noteworthy for its 28 human-sized niches, is in itself worth the trip from Cuzco. On the wall below it, look for flower shapes and a nine-sided heart amid the patchwork of perfectly interlocking stones. Mollepata where we’ll begin our trek. Following a different path to most groups we will see a variety of native plants, flowers and birds along the way and have fantastic views of the valley spread out before us.
Our campsite for the night is at Marcocasa (3500m / 11482ft) from where we will have fantastic views of the snow-capped peak Rayuska (5350m / 17552 ft.). Hardly anyone camps here so we will be able to enjoy this beautiful spot in complete peace and tranquility.
Leaving Soraypampa we’ll carry on along the trail heading for Salkantaypampa where we will join the main Salkantay trekking route. Once again, today is fairly easy going without too much distance to cover. The views today are fantastic, and we will see several high peaks looming above us. By the time we get to Soraypampa the 3 main peaks of the region, Humantay (5917m / 19412 ft.), Tucurway (5910m / 19389 ft.) and Salkantay (6217m / 20573ft.) will all be in view. From Soraypampa it’s about another hour’s walk to Salkantaypampa (4100m / 13451 ft.) where we will camp for the night. Due to the high altitude it can get cold at night here, so you are recommended to put on your hat and gloves before going to sleep.
Alter a cold night, we continue our hike to start the 3-4-hour steep climb towards the Incachiriasca pass (4850m/15908ft), the highest of the entire route, offering impressive views of the Salkantay snow peak. After a celebratory rest on the pass we will then descend towards our lunch spot at Sisaypampa, a flat area from which one can observe the Salkantay’s neighboring valleys (it is possible that you will see condors in this area). After lunch we continue towards the Pampacahuana community, located next to an original Inca canal, where we set our second camp and spend the night.
Today we change pace as we join the Classic Inca Trail. We begin by hiking downill for 2 hours from Pampacahuana to Paucarcancha (3133 m / 10,276 ft)). We will visit the Inca site of the same name.After the tour we will hike downhill for 5 hours until we reach Km 82, which is the start of the classic Inca trail. Along the way we will be able to see the Inca site of Llactapata. This is the first site on the Classic Inca Trail. Our chef will make us a delicious lunch at Kilometer 82.After lunch we will be picked up by our private van at Km 82 and transported to Ollantaytambo (2,792 m/9,158 ft) overnight here.
We’ll pick you up from your Hotel at 06:00am to transfer you to the train station for a 4 hour journey, or in high season this may be with private transport, to Ollantaytambo, then we’ll board a Tourist Backpacker Train with reserved seats for 1 hour and 45 minutes to kilometer 104 – the start of the hike. As soon as we arrive at this point we will cross a bridge to the check out point and show your passports, then we will start with an easy walk. On the other side of the Vilcanota river the trail heads off to the right towards the ruins of Chachabamba. After a visit in Chachabamba, we’ll continue along the trail heading south, climbing the mountain, before entering the cloud forest. Then the trail leaves the forest and goes west while continuing the uphill hike in open grassland. After hiking in the sun for about three hours, the trail descends into a shaded forest. This is where trekkers can enjoy a beautiful waterfall. After leaving the waterfall and forest, we will arrive at the lower part of the incredible ruins of Wiñay-Wayna. It is recommended that you start the trek with at least 2 litres of water.
After lunch in Wiñay-Wayna we continue through a cloud forest full of bromelias, orchids and fern trees. You will walk the last part of the original trail with amazing features including stone steps and tambos “resting places”. To arrive at Intipunku (Sun Gate) we will climb 60 Inca steps. From this point you will be able to contemplate and observe this marvelous place, where you can feel an amazing inner peace. We will have a break for photos before heading down to Aguas Calientes. A visit to the hot springs is optional or you can enjoy free time to chill out at this small village
You will have breakfast at your hotel before we take a very early bus (5:30am) along the winding road to Machu Picchu to see the magnificent sunrise. Once there you will be given a 2 hour walking tour of the site.You will begin your hike of Huayna Picchu mountain at 10 AM. If you are not climbing the mountain, or after you hike the mountain, you will have free time to explore Machu Picchu before you return to Aguas Calientes by bus. When you arrive in Aguas Calientes you will board the expedition train to Ollantaytambo. From Ollantaytambo you will travel by private van to Cusco and we will drop you off at your hotel. Arrival time in Cusco depends on the time of your train ticket.