Salkantay Horse Ride to Machu Picchu

From Cusco to Cusco
  • Peru
  • Walking and Active
  • Custom
  • Wildlife and Nature
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Tour Description

Experience this unique ascent to Machu Picchu that only a handful of travellers experience. On this 7 day guided trek on both horseback and by foot, you can plant your feet firmly in the footsteps of the ancient Inca's. Wind your way into the towering Andes mountains and through the Salkantay Pass. During the trek, you will visit incredible historical sites of cultural significance to the ancient Incan traditions as well as witness beautiful natural vistas of turquoise lakes, verdant valleys and snowy peaks. The final stretch of the trek is by foot to Aguas Calientes where you are offered views of Machu Picchu that few other travellers get to experience. Your adventure culminates in a guided tour of Machu Picchu. The UNESCO World Heritage Site provides a fitting apex to an incredible journey.

Accommodation throughout the tour is in luxury guest lodges. Here you will be able to immerse yourself in Andean culture through traditional feasts and learning the ways of the equestrian team and their relationship with their horses. Enjoy an active adventure with a difference through beautiful Peru.

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Hike to the turquoise waters of Lake Humantay, fed by glaciers and surrounded by magnificent mountains

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Tour Itinerary

Day 1
Cusco Salkantay Lodge

After an early breakfast, your MLP guide and driver will pick you up at your hotel in Cusco.
The first stop is a visit to the Quillarumiyoc archaeological site en route to the mountain
village of Mollepata. Enjoy lunch at El Pedregal, a beautiful farmhouse in the village, where you will also have the opportunity to learn about local agriculture and livestock.
After lunch, you will take a scenic ride to Coronilla Ranch to meet and get to know your
horse. Along with the MLP equestrian team, you will then begin your ride to Soraypampa, a great opportunity for everyone to acclimate to the altitude while enjoying a beautiful 3-4 hour ride to the Salkantay Lodge that takes its name from the majestic peak at the head of the valley. [Mt. Salkantay is the second most sacred peak in Inca mythology and, at 6,270m (20,600 ft), is the highest in the region.] Upon arrival, our friendly staff will welcome you and show you to your room, where you can freshen up before tea time
and a fireside trip briefing with your guide. In the evening, enjoy aperitifs and dinner before settling in to rest for the next day’s ride.

Day 2
Lake Humantay The Chakana

Today’s excursion takes us first to Humantay Lake, fed by glaciers far above on the slopes of the impressive Mt. Humantay. Our 1-hour ride there is followed by a short 20-minute walk, which is necessary in order to reach the lake, but the view is well worth it and those brave enough can go for a swim! After a short snack break we hike back down to where we left the horses, and from where we begin a 30-minute ride to our next dismount
spot: the gateway to the “Chakana” (the mystical Cross of the Incas, located on a view point high above Soraypampa). From here, we begin a one-hour excursion on foot to our destination, the actual “Chakana”. This excursion allows guests to enjoy the best views of the Soraypampa Valley, Mt. Salkantay and Mt. Humantay, and is truly one of the high points of our journey…which should not be missed! A mystical offering to Mother Earth (or
“Pachamama”) at the Chakana, performed by a local Shaman, in full view of the awe-inspiring Mt. Salkantay, tops off this unique experience. We return to the lodge for lunch with your afternoon at leisure, after which you may choose to trade the glacial swim for a relaxing soak in our outdoor jacuzzi. Additionally, there is the option of riding out again for a couple of hours in the surrounding area. In the evening, the guide briefs us on gear
and the itinerary for the following day. All meals are served at the Lodge.

Day 3
Crossing the Salkantay Pass

Today we continue our journey towards Machu Picchu, riding up the Rio Blanco valley and circling Humantay Peak across from Salkantay Peak. The highest point of the ride is the Salkantay Pass at 4,638 meters (15,213 ft). At the pass, we stop to take in views of snow-capped peaks of the Vilcabamba Range in every direction, with the glaciated south
face of Salkantay towering above us. We will keep our eyes out for Andean condors,
often visible in this area. From the pass we descend towards the Wayra Lodge, (“Wayra”: wind; from the name of the location “Wayracmachay”: ‘the cave where the wind lives’) our destination for the evening. A hot lunch is taken en route; dinner and overnight at the Lodge.

Day 4
Descending into the cloud forest

On this day we enjoy a leisurely breakfast at Wayra Lodge, and then we continue downhill above the Salkantay River, descending into the cloud forest, through increasingly verdant scenery. We can feel the warm air rising from the jungle, accompanied by colourful butterflies and striking orchids. Upon arrival at Colpa Lodge, we are greeted with a
Pachamanca, a traditional festive Peruvian meal cooked by layering meat and vegetables with hot stones. Everything is then covered with hot stones, plantain leaves, high Andean grass and local herbs and the contents are baked in this underground oven. Colpa Lodge is located on an open plateau at the confluence of three rivers. The outdoor jacuzzi
has panoramic views of lush green mountains. We spend the afternoon relaxing or exploring the nearby orchid trail. Dinner and overnight at the lodge.

Day 5
Santa Teresa River Valley

Today we ride along the Santa Teresa river valley, through more populated rural areas. We pass through banana, passion fruit, avocado orchards and coffee plantations. The coffee grown here is said to be one of the best organic coffees in the world. Our ride takes us to the beginning of the “Llactapata Inca Trail”, which is where we say goodbye to our horses and equestrian staff. A short 30-minute walk through an avocado orchard brings us to Lucma Lodge. Dinner and overnight at the lodge.

Day 6
Llactapata Pass

After a hearty breakfast, we tackle the last day of our trek. At this point, we will say goodbye to our beautiful horses and get ready for a 3 hour-hike towards Llactapata Pass (2,736 m/8,974ft), where we come upon a distant but spectacular view of Machu Picchu Sanctuary from the southeast, a view few travelers ever get a chance to admire. We take a short break to explore the Llactapata Ruins, which have recently been restored. Lunch is
served at a scenic viewpoint, looking out to Machu Picchu. After which we begin our final descent to the Aobamba River through lush bamboo forests, orchards and coffee plantations. We then board a train for a scenic ride (approx. 1 hour) to Aguas Calientes, the town of Machu Picchu.

Day 7
Machu Picchu

After a very early buffet breakfast at the hotel, you will make your way to the bus station for the ride up to Machu Picchu Sanctuary (approximately 30 minutes). Your trip leader will give an introductory 2 hour guided tour of the ruins, after which you will have the option to explore freely through the site for approximately 2 hours. Afterwards, you will meet up with your guide again to return by bus to Aguas Calientes for a late lunch and an afternoon train ride back towards Cusco. The ride from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo takes about 1½ hours, from where a private vehicle will then take over for the drive back to Cusco (an additional 1½ hour). Upon arrival in Cusco (approximately 7 or 8 p.m.), you will be dropped off at the hotel of your choice.

What’s Included

  • Included Copy 20 All acommodation
  • Included Copy 20 All meals (except breakfast on the first day and dinner on the last day)
Fees & Services
  • Included Copy 20 Transfer services
  • Included Copy 20 Guided tours during the whole trip
  • Included Copy 20 Entrance fees and permits to touristic and archeological sites
  • Included Copy 20 Tips for staff at the Lodges and staff in the field are included, except Guide tips, it is suggested


  • Included Visit to Machu Picchu sanctuary
  • Included Explore Llactapata Pass
  • Included Follow the Santa Teresa River Valley
  • Included Descend into the cloud forest
  • Included Cross the Salkantay Pass
  • Included Ride to lake Humantay and the Chakana
  • Included Scenic ride to Coronilla Ranch
Click here for dates & prices

7 days

Price from

$3,125 USD

Per person, twin share

Departs several times per week from March 1st through December 31st.