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Salkantay-Inca Trail Combo – The Best Of Both Worlds

Alison Macallister

If you can't decide between two of Peru's most popular treks - the Salkantay trek or the Inca Trail, then why not do both? The Salkantay-Inca Trail combo hike (also called the 7-Day Inca Trail) lets you experience highlights from both trails.

This challenging hike to Machu Picchu will leave you breathless. Cross remote landscapes and pass by isolated villages. Look out for unique fauna and flora and get the chance to discover fascinating Inca Ruins.

This article is a complete day-by-day guide on what to expect on the Salkantay-Inca trail.

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Salkantay-Inca Trail Combo - The Best of Both Worlds

7 Day Inca Trail: FAQs

Before we get into the crux of the article, I thought it would be helpful to first answer some of the most popular questions surrounding the Salkantay-Inca Trail tour. 

How much does the Salkantay-Inca Trail combo cost?

The combined 7-Day Salkantay-Inca Trail is priced from $900- $3000. Cost varies significantly by operator, group size, hiking style and add-ons. See more on Inca trail costs, Inca Trail travel insurance, and the best Inca trail trek companies.

How long is the 7-Day Inca Trail-Salkantay Inca Trail Combo?

The Salkantay-Inca Trail combo trek is a total of 47 miles / 75km, spanning over 7 days and 6 nights.

Are there Porters on the 7-day combined Salkantay-Inca Trail?

Yes, there are porters available at certain points in the 7-day combined Salkantay-Inca Trail trek. From days 1-2, there are horses and mules allowed on the Salkantay section of the trail. When the trails join on day 3, local porters will take over with carrying luggage.

See more in our guide on how much to tip Inca Trail guides

What is the accommodation like on the Salkantay-Inca Trail like?

Accommodation on the Salkantay-Inca Trail is relatively basic. You will be staying at campsites on all 6 nights of the combined Salkantay-Inca Trail.


7-Day Inca Trail / Salkantay Combo

The 7D/6N Salkantay / Inca Trail Combo is a brilliant trek for those looking for a proper challenge. In total, you will be covering almost 47 miles / 75km across a variety of terrain.

The trek starts just north of Mollepata. It follows the same first-day trail used on the Classic Salkantay trek. However, after day 1, the trail veers east. It winds around the awe-inspiring Apu Salkantay (Apu means ‘Sacred’) and heads over a tough 4,900m / 16,076 ft Pass.

From here, the trail continues north for 2 days, up towards Wayllambamba. This is where you join trekkers on the Classic Inca Trail.

What You Need to Know Before Booking the Salkantay-Inca Trail

This is a long and challenging trail. You should only consider this trek if you are fit and have experience with multi-day treks.

It is a less common expedition than other Inca Trail alternatives. Because of this, you will usually need to contact the tour operator directly (i.e. there is not always an option to join on existing dates).

Because there are few tours, prices will depend on your group size. Expect to pay around $1500-$2500 per person for two people to $900-$1300 if a larger group (10-12people) is booked.

Hiking the Salkantay unguided is always available, but you will need to check Inca Trail availability for when the trail joins up on Day 3. Permits are limited, so you should book well in advance.

Some tour operators have the option of a 6-day Salkantay Inca Trail. The 6-day Inca Trail skips the first day's itinerary (see below) and begins at Soraypampa instead.

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Typical Itinerary for the Salkantay Inca Trail

Day 1: Cusco-Marccoccasa-Soraypampa

The trail usually begins at Marccoccasa, but some tour companies start at Challancancha instead. At this point, you will meet up with the horses and handlers who will be taking your luggage between camps. A hearty breakfast will help get your energy levels up before hitting the trail.

On the first part of the trek, you will have almost constant views of the Salkantay Mountains and green Andean valleys. Pass through indigenous forests of Queuña trees.

This is a moderate day of hiking. You will gradually be gaining altitude until your lunch stop.

After lunch, walking gets easier as you slowly move down the slopes. Temperatures drop quickly as you get closer to the snowy mountains. Be sure to pack extra clothing layers in your daypack. See more in our guide on Inca Trail clothing

Day 1 is approximately 4-6 hours of walking to reach Soraypampa campsite (3800m / 12,648 ft).

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Day 2: Soraypampa-Salkantaypampa-Ichupata

Wake up to stunning views of the area's highest glacier peaks, Apus Salkantay (‘Apus’ meaning ‘God’). Your first part of the day will be a slight detour to visit the icy blue Humantay Lake. The trek from the camp to the lake is a 2-hour uphill climb.

After visiting the lake, you continue on to rejoin the main trail towards Salkantaypampa. Along the way, you will be able to see the impressive Salkantay Mountain which is 6125m / 20,095 ft above sea level.

You should arrive at Salkantaypampa in time for lunch. Some trek options camp at Salkantay pampa where hikers can enjoy a light lunch before continuing their trek.

After lunch, you will walk another 2 hours up-slope to Ichupata campsite (4200m / 13,780 ft), which is the highest campsite on the trail. Temperatures can drop to zero degrees Celsius here, so it’s a good idea to dress in warm layers.

On a clear night, this campsite is an ideal place for stargazing. You may even hear avalanches on the nearby Salkantay mountain. But don’t worry, Ichupata camp is safe.

On Day 2, the total distance you will cover is 8 miles / 13km.

Please Note: Some tour operators visit Humantay Lake on day one. These versions of the 7-day trail often press on an extra few kilometres to camp at Pampa Japonesa. This makes day 2 a total of 13.6 miles / 22 kilometres.

Day 3: Ichupata-Inca Chiriaska Pass-Sisaypampa

Day 3 is the most difficult section of the 7-day Salkantay-Inca Trail. You will be hiking 8.6 miles / 14 kilometres and crossing the Inca Chiriaska Pass (sometimes called the Salkantay pass).

Right after leaving camp, you will start the steady climb up this 5000m / 16,404 ft pass. The view from the top is worth the effort. Hikers can sip coca tea from a flask and look out for soaring condors flying overhead.

From here, coming down the pass is much easier. You may take a 30-minute detour to see a glacier before heading towards your lunch spot in the valley.

After lunch, the trail is fairly straightforward. You will walk through green valleys alongside clear mountain streams. You will set up camp on Day 3 at Sisaypampa (4100m / 13,451 ft). This flat area has great views of the surrounding valleys.

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Please Note: You may camp further on at the Pampacahuarina village next to the Incan canal. Camp allocation depends on availability and permits.

Day 4: Sisaypampa-Huayllabamba-Ayapata

On day 4 of your trek, you will be walking around 4-5 hours down into a tranquil, agricultural valley. You will likely pass local farmers working their land.

It won’t be long before you reach the first significant Incan Ruins - the Inkaracay fortress. Your guide will tell you more about these archeological structures.

After the ruins, the vegetation changes as the trail goes into the jungle microclimate. This is a warmer, more humid part of the hike. Following the path through the cloud forest, you will soon reach Huayllabamba. This is the connection point with the 4-day Inca Trail, which is also the usual lunch spot.

From this point, mules and horses may not pass. Local porters will carry your luggage for the remainder of the trail.

When you are done with lunch, it is all uphill from there. Take it slowly on the 9km (5.6 mi) hike up Dead Woman’s Pass. You will stop part of the way up at Ayapata (also called Yuncachimpa) campsite, which is 3300m (10,827 ft) above sea level.

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Day 5: Ayapata-Runkuraqay Pass-Chaquicocha

Day 5 is a total of 10 miles / 16 kilometres. Start early to continue the final 2 hours up Dead Woman’s Pass, peaking at 4200m (13,780 ft). After some time spent appreciating the view from up there, you will head down the stone stairs into the Pacasmayo valley. This downslope section is particularly beautiful as you will see lots of orchids and hummingbirds.

Near the bottom, you will stop for lunch. After eating, you will once again trek upwards for about 1 hour to the Runca Ruccay Ruins. These oval-shaped ruins are relieved to have once been a watchtower over the valley.

From the ruins, it is another hour of hiking to reach the top of the second pass (4000m / 13,123 ft). Then you will descend to Yanacocha Lake.

From here, you will pass through a pristine cloud forest and another ruin site called Sayacmarca. The traditional Incan houses, fountains, and water channels here are worth taking a proper look at.

After the ruins, it is a short 30-minute walk through jungle vegetation to the Chaquicocha campsite.


Day 6: Chaquicocha- Phuyupatamarca-Wiñay Wayna

Day six of the Salkantay-Inca Trail is relatively easy. The 7km / 4.3 mi hike should take you no more than 5 hours and you will be stopping to look at 3 Inca ruin sites during this time. On this day, you will have a good view of the Urubamba River and the Sacred Valley

Hikers can enjoy breakfast at camp with views of the Pumassillo Mountain before a two-hour hike to the Phuyupatamarca ruins. The name ‘Phuyupatamarca’ means ‘cloud-level town’ as it is located on top of the Phuyupatamarca pass. The platform and structures here were set up specifically to study astronomy. There is another set of ruins on the hillside. This is thought to have been a place for agricultural experiments with different crops.

The final 2-3 hours to Wiñay Wayna Campsite are not challenging. You should arrive in time for lunch and a shower. If you arrive early enough, your guide may even take you on a short walk to see the Wiñay Wayna ruins. This is only 5 minutes away and well worth the effort (even if you feel exhausted).

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Day 7: Wiñay Wayna-Machu Picchu-Cusco

On your final day, you will wake up before dawn to trek the last two hours to the Sun Gate. The sight of Machu Picchu as you arrive at first light is something that cannot be described. There is an overwhelming sense of pride in accomplishing this epic journey.

You will then proceed to Machu Picchu itself for a 2-hour tour. Usually, you have some free time after this to explore the ruins on your own.

From here, you can take a bus to Aguas Calientes. The final step of your adventure is the train ride to return to Cusco for some much-needed rest and recuperation.

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Alison Macallister

With a degree in Nature Conservation and experience working with wildlife including the Big 5, Alison works as a guide for a 5-star reserve. She enjoys sharing her passion for all things nature-related. She enjoys hiking, horseriding, 4x4 driving and kayaking.

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