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Peru: Salkantay Machu Picchu 2024

9th Nov 2024 - 18th Nov 2024

9th Nov 2024 - 18th Nov 2024
7th Oct 2023 - 16th Oct 2023

10 days/Peru /Challenging


Voted one of the top 25 treks in the world, this challenging expedition will take us beneath spectacular Andean peaks, through epic Peruvian landscapes and misty cloud forest.

After an overnight stay at a hotel in Lima, we begin our adventure by taking a domestic flight to the colonial town of Cusco then spend a day exploring the sights of the Sacred Valley while acclimatising to the high altitude of the region.

The next day we will begin our hike along the Salkantay trail. The route follows an ancient and remote Inca footpath, where snow-capped mountains collide with lush tropical rain forests. The paths are filled with wild strawberries, colourful butterflies and other exotic flora and fauna. Off the beaten path, this trek is one of the most interesting and challenging ways to experience the land of the ancient Incas.

One of the highlights will be catching our first glimpse of Machu Picchu across the valley. We will spend our last night of the trek at the spa town of Aguas Calientes and in the morning we will take a short transfer to the ancient site where we enjoy a guided tour, unlocking the mysteries of this glorious ancient city. After returning to Cusco we will have our final celebratory meal in this stunning UNESCO World Heritage Site, before returning home via Lima the following day.

You don’t have to fundraise to join an open challenge but you can support a charity of your choice if you wish. See the costs tab for more details.

This is a challenging trip as you will be trekking over varying terrain, exposed to high altitudes (up to 4,630m) and sleeping in campsites with basic facilities. You should be prepared for all weather conditions and variable temperatures. Each day’s trek is between 5-8 hours and there are some big hills to climb! This is an endurance challenge so you are strongly advised to build up a good level of fitness – the fitter you are the more you will enjoy the challenge.

You will be accompanied throughout the trek by English-speaking local guides who have an excellent knowledge of the local culture and hiking in the region. The guides are first aid trained and will support you throughout your journey. You will also be supported by a team of professional cooks and muleteers from local communities and a Different Travel UK tour manager. You will be in very safe hands!

The steep terrain and high altitude will make the going tough at times, but anyone with good fitness and the right attitude will love it. The first day is generally flat with a gradual incline as you gain altitude, there may also be some small streams to cross. The second day will be tough with a steep zigzagging ascent on rocky ground to the high pass, followed by an undulating descent through the rainforest where the terrain may be muddy and slippery.

The next two days of trekking are undulating and will be a mixture of jungle and alpine trails, which can be muddy underfoot. There are a number of hills to climb, including a steep climb through the coffee plantations on the final day. You must ensure your training includes plenty of hills!

In the Andes, there are two main seasons – wet and dry. The wet season runs from November to April and the dry season from May to October. The end of October is often argued one of the best times to visit Machu Picchu as it is dry, warm but the tourist season is coming to a close. You are likely to experience average day time temperatures of around 21°C and night time average lows during the trek around -10°C.

The weather each day is very changeable so you should be prepared for rain, blazing sun, clouds, fog and even snow.

Chefs will be on-hand to make hearty meals during the trek. Breakfast is eaten as a group in the mess tent (hot drinks, bread, butter and jam, pancakes, scrambled eggs or oatmeal etc.) and the cooks will prepare delicious traditional Andean food for lunch and dinner. This will include dishes such as soup, chicken, beef or lamb, fish with potatoes, quinoa, rice or pasta. Snacks include fruit, chocolate, sandwiches, hot drinks and popcorn.

You will eat at local restaurants and/or your hotel while in the Cusco and Sacred Valley area before and after the trek. Please let us know if you have any dietary restrictions.

You will spend the first three nights in hotels in Lima (1 night) and Cusco (2 nights), on a twin-share basis. During the trek you will spend three nights camping in three-man tents (two people per tent) and on the last night of the trek, you’ll stay one night at a guesthouse in Aguas Calientes for a good night’s sleep before heading up to Machu Picchu the following day. After the trek you will spend one further night at the hotel in Cusco.

Tents are provided for camping but you should bring your own sleeping bag and mat.

The minimum age is 18 (or 16-17 if accompanied by a parent/guardian). There is no upper age limit.

An ideal candidate is someone who is open minded, positive, flexible and enjoys the challenges of the great outdoors. Adventure travel involves elements of the unexpected so do not expect the standards to be the same as you are used to at home. Remote areas are sometimes unpredictable (be it because of group pace, weather conditions etc.) and itineraries may be altered to allow for this. You must also be willing to train hard for this challenge!

The hotels and the guesthouse have en-suite facilities with flushing toilets and showers. During the trek you will be provided with a bowl of hot water and soap each morning to freshen up for the day ahead so you are recommended to bring a small pack of baby wipes and hand sanitiser for your general hygiene.

There may be the opportunity to visit some hot springs during the trek and at Aguas Calientes, so bring a non-cotton trek towel e.g. large travel towel and some basic bio-degradable toiletries should you wish to take this opportunity.

Toilet facilities at camp will either be a hole dug into the ground within a privacy tent, or a basic pit latrine toilet block. Toilet paper is not provided so you will need to bring your own. If you use the toilet during the day whilst on the trail, you must carry out any toilet paper you use in a sanitary/nappy sack, to dispose of properly at camp. You must NEVER leave toilet paper, fruit peel, nut shells or other litter on the trail.

If you do not already regularly exercise you should aim to start training (including plenty of hills) as early as possible. The best training is hill walking, which will prepare you for the type of terrain you will experience trekking to Machu Picchu. Other activities which can complement hill walking include running, cycling, gym workouts, boot camps etc.

Building up your core and leg muscle strength is important so exercises such as squats, lunges, push-ups, planks and crunches will really enhance your training. These exercises can be done at home – no gym needed. You can download a number of free apps, which will help you train and track your progress, e.g. MapMyWalk, C25K (couch to 5k run), MyFitnessPal (for a variety of sports).

You must take your training seriously and arrive as fit as you can be, so you get the most out of this challenge.

This trek is graded ‘challenging’ as you will be trekking over varying terrain, exposed to high altitudes (up to 4,630m) and sleeping in campsites with basic facilities. You should be prepared for all weather conditions and variable temperatures. Each day’s trek is between 5-8 hours and there are some big hills to climb!

This is an endurance challenge so you are strongly advised to build up a good level of fitness – the fitter you are the more you will enjoy the challenge.

The maximum altitude on this trek is 4,630m (Abra Salkantay high pass); however your exposure to high altitude will start from your arrival in Cusco (3,400m), and continue on your sightseeing day in the Sacred Valley. Altitudes of approximately 3,000m and above are considered high altitude.

Upon arriving in Cusco, it quickly becomes evident to un-acclimatised people that they are at a higher altitude than they are used to, as simple activities such as walking upstairs feels more laboured than expected.

The first three days in Peru while in Cusco and at the community project are partly intended as acclimatisation days to give your body a chance to adjust to the altitude before commencing the trek.

The Inca Trail has all the fame, but we have chosen the Salkantay trek as it’s a more scenic and less crowded trek. It passes through more breath-taking and varied landscapes, past Inca Ruins and still ends at Machu Picchu and you’ll have more time and energy to explore Machu Picchu itself.

Filled with challenging passes and high altitudes, it’s not for the faint-hearted. However, if you’re up for the challenge, we promise you’ll be really glad you did the Salkantay Trek, over the busy and over-crowded Inca Trail.

I loved every minute of the trip. The uphill trekking at low temps and altitude were physically demanding but very rewarding. My favourite moments were following the hardest climbs, reaching the lake and the 4,600 metre summit at Albra Salkantay. I experienced relief and emotion at the same time.Previous Participant


Day 1 (Saturday 9 November 2024):

London – Lima
Fly from London to Peru’s capital city, Lima. On arrival in Lima transfer to a hotel for an overnight stay and our first meal together.
Meals: Dinner

Day 2 (Sunday 10 November 2024):

Lima – Cusco
It’s an early start this morning for our short flight to Cusco (3,400m). After arriving we transfer to our colonial hotel and have lunch. The rest of the day is free to relax and enjoy the city at our own pace while acclimatising to the altitude. Perhaps take in some of the local sights such Cusco Cathedral, the markets, or just enjoy people-watching over a coffee in Plaza de Armas before gathering together for dinner this evening.
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 3 (Monday 11 November 2024):

Cusco – Tambo Machay – Cusco
After breakfast, trek from Cusco up to the ancient ruin of Tambo Machay for acclimatisation. This gradual ascent offers 300m elevation gain which will help you acclimatise for the trek to come. You will continue to pass some amazing Inca sites as you walk downhill to Sacsayhuaman. This afternoon we return to Cusco for our overnight stay.
Trekking: Approx. 8km. 300m altitude gain
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 4 (Tuesday 12 November 2024):

Cusco – Challacancha – Humantay Lake – Soraypampa
Today the trek to Machu Picchu begins! We transfer from Cusco early this morning and take a scenic drive to Challacancha (3867m), stopping for a brief visit to Tarawasi Archaeological site enroute. We continue along the winding mountain road to Mollepata (2900m), enjoying panoramic views en-route. On arrival at Challacancha, we will enjoy lunch whilst the pack horses are loaded then we commence our climb to Humantay Lake (3,869m).

After enjoying the views of this stunning blue lake, we continue to Soraypampa (3,850m) where we set up camp with the magnificent Salkantay Mountain (6,271m) as our backdrop – the second most sacred peak in Inca mythology.
Trekking: Approx. 22km/7hrs. 469m altitude gain
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 5 (Wednesday 13 November 2024):

Soraypampa – Andenes
Today the landscape changes drastically from dry and arid, to snowy peaks, before descending into the tropical zone. After breakfast we leave our camp and start the toughest section of the trek. The mountain switchbacks lead us up to the pass and our highest point, Abra Salkantay (4,630m).

We celebrate our achievements and admire the spectacular views of the mountains and imposing snowy peaks of Mt. Salkantay. After lunch we descend through the grassy highlands and into the cloud rainforest to reach our camp in Andenes (2920m).
Trekking: Approx. 21km/8hrs. 750m altitude gain / 1620m altitude loss
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 6 (Thursday 14 November 2024):

Andenes – Lucmabamba
Today we hike through lush rainforest along the Santa Teresa river valley to Lucmabamba campsite (2064m). We’ll pass bamboo groves, waterfalls, thermal hot springs, coffee plantations and banana, granadilla and avocado orchards, and observe a wide array of tropical flowers and birdlife, such as hummingbirds. A hot picnic lunch is served along the way, after which we trek for approximately 4 more hours to reach the start of the “Llactapata Inca Trail” and our last campsite at Lucmabamba. This evening we will have a local coffee tasting and demonstration!
Trekking: Approx. 19km/7hrs. 856m altitude loss
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 7 (Friday 15 November 2024):

Lucmabamba – Llactapata – Aguas Calientes
After an early breakfast, we hike for around three hours to reach the archaeological site Llactapata (2,700m) from where we catch our first glimpse of Machu Picchu from across the valley! On the way we pass coffee plantations, beautiful landscapes and diverse flora and fauna. We descend through bamboo forest to Hidroelectrica train station and stop for lunch, before continuing by train to Aguas Calientes (2,040m) where we can enjoy a hot shower!
Trekking: Approx. 15km/6hrs. 636m altitude gain, 660m altitude loss.
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 8 (Saturday 16 November 2024):

Aguas Calientes – Machu Picchu – Cusco
At dawn, we begin our journey to Machu Picchu! We start with a short bus ride – prepare to be awed by this incredible ancient citadel. We start the day with a guided tour before free time to explore the site on our own. If you have the energy, you can continue up to the Sun Gate for the picture postcard classic view of Machu Picchu. This afternoon we take the train to Poroy, followed by a short transfer back to Cusco where we check into our hotel before a final celebratory dinner.
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 9 (Sunday 17 November 2024)

Enjoy a final free day in Cusco. Gather for a celebratory farewell dinner this evening.
Meals: Breakfast, dinner

Days 10-11 (Monday 18 – Tuesday 19 November 2024):

Cusco – Lima – London
Today we fly from Cusco to Lima before taking an indirect overnight flight back to London, landing the following day, Tuesday 19 October 2024.
Meals: Breakfast

NB: The day-to-day program is subject to flight schedules, weather, general conditions and the progress of the group. While we do not anticipate any changes to the itinerary, we cannot be held responsible for changes made due to unexpected circumstances. Ultimately, the safety and health of the group takes priority in all circumstances.

Costs & How to pay

Registration fee: £495 and then either…

Self-funded: £2885


Sponsorship: £5770


Flexi: £2885 trip costs and £2885 sponsorship for a charity* of your choice


This option is for those who choose to pay the trip costs (accommodation, food, guides etc.) themselves. There is no sponsorship required although if you wish to raise sponsorship for a charity you are welcome to do so.

  • A registration fee is payable at the time of booking.
  • Trip cost balance is payable to Different Travel 10 weeks prior to departure.
  • You are welcome to fundraise separately for any charity of your choice but this is not mandatory. Any fundraising undertaken cannot be used for your trip costs.


This option is for those who wish to raise sponsorship to cover both the costs of the trip (accommodation, food, guides etc.) and a donation to their chosen charity. There is a minimum sponsorship amount for each trip that you are required to raise in order to participate.

  • A registration fee is payable at the time of booking.
  • The minimum sponsorship must be paid to the charity 12 weeks prior to departure.
  • The amount the charity receives is at least 50% of the minimum sponsorship total.


This option is for those who choose to pay the trip costs (accommodation, food, guides etc.) themselves while still raising some funds for the charity.

  • A registration fee is payable at the time of booking.
  • Trip cost balance is payable to Different Travel and your fundraising is payable to the charity 10 weeks prior to departure.
  • Any fundraising undertaken cannot be used for your trip costs.

*If your chosen charity is not on this list, please seek permission to fundraise for them by taking part in this challenge before making your booking.

What's included

  • Return flights from London
  • Domestic flights from Lima to Cusco
  • Airport taxes and charges
  • All transfers and transport in Peru
  • Accommodation in 3* hotels (5 nights), high quality tents on the trek (3 nights) and guesthouse in Aguas Calientes (1 night)
  • All meals as specified
  • Local English-speaking guides, porters and full support crew on the trek
  • Trekking permits
  • Entrance fees to Machu Picchu
  • UK Different Travel tour manager

What's not included

  • Personal expenses (e.g. drinks, souvenirs, etc.)
  • Vaccinations
  • Travel insurance
  • Tips for local guides and support crew (approx. £55-£65)
  • Trek kit and equipment
  • Peru visa (not currently required for British citizens)

Got a Question?

If you’ve a question about this challenge that you can’t find the answer to within the given information then complete this quick form and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.