9. From Cusco: Classic Salkantay Trek with Return by Train
DAY 1: Cusco - Mollepata - Challacancha - Laguna Humantay - Soraypampa
Pickup from your accommodation in Cusco. Pass through the towns of Izcuchaca and Limatambo arriving at Mollepata, where you can buy a light breakfast and water. Continue until you reach Challacancha, from where the 3-hour walk begins to Soraypampa. Stop for lunch and then walk around 1-2 hours to the Humantay Lagoon. Return to Soraypampa and overnight at camp with tent and dinner.
DAY 2: Soraypampa - Soyrococha - Salkantay - Huayracmachay - Chaullay
Wake up with the first light of the day at 5:30 AM and have a quick but energizing breakfast. Start a walk to the highest point of the trail: the Salkantay Pass (4650 meters - 15255 feet), where you will appreciate the imposing snowy peaks of the Salkantay, Humantay, Tucarhuay and Pumasillo mountains. The hike down is snake-shaped, leading to the Huayracmachay camp, where you will have a stop for lunch. At the end of this exceptional hike, arrive at Chaullay Village (2900 meters - 9514 feet) for a break from a long day of hiking. Overnight at camp with tent and dinner.
DAY 3: Chaullay - Playa Sahuayaco - Lucmabamba - Santa Teresa (optional Cocalmayo)
After breakfast, continue the walk to the small town of La Playa through the Santa Teresa valley. Stop for lunch. Board a bus to the camp in Santa Teresa. Arriving at the camp you can choose to enjoy the hot springs of Cocalmayo in Santa Teresa, which have medicinal and therapeutic waters. Overnight at camp with tent and dinner.
If you choose the 4-day option, you will be taken by bus to Hydroelectric right after your lunch in La Playa; from there, start a walk on the train tracks through the native jungle to Aguas Calientes, about a 3-hour trek. Upon arrival in Aguas Calientes, you will have free time before dinner to rest or walk through the town.
DAY 4 for 5-day option: Santa Teresa - Hydroelectric - Aguas Calientes
After a typical breakfast, you will start the walk to the Hydroelectric through the valley floor for about 3 hours. Upon arrival, recharge with lunch. You can choose to add on a zip line adventure after your breakfast; in this case, after the activity, you will be taken by transport to the beginning of the trail to Aguas Calientes at Hydroelectric.
From Hydroelectric, start a walk on the train tracks through the jungle to Aguas Calientes, about a 3 hour trek. Upon arrival in Aguas Calientes, you will have free time before dinner to rest or walk through the town.
DAY 4 for 4-day option / DAY 5 for 5-day option: Aguas Calientes - Machu Picchu - Cusco
Get up early to start the trek to Machu Picchu, the Lost City of the Incas. The steep walk will last approximately 1.5 hours, and the objective is to appreciate the sunrise
from the Incan citadel and be the first to arrive. The walk up to Machu Picchu requires a fair physical condition, but you can choose to add on a bus to Machu Picchu at the checkout, if you don't want to do the walk.
Enjoy a 2-hour guided tour of Machu Picchu and the surrounding sites. Enjoy free time to take photos and look around the citadel. If you choose one of the extra hikes to one of the mountains, you will split ways with the group to go by yourself to Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu mountain.
Leave Machu Picchu and return to Aguas Calientes (walking or by bus, depending on what you choose). Once in Aguas Calientes, board your train to Ollantaytambo, and take a minivan from there to Cusco. Be back in Cusco around 9:30 - 10:00 PM. The drop-off will be in San Francisco square in the historic center, near the Plaza de Armas.