Deep in the Peruvian Andes you will find the Vilcabamba Mountain range. There lies Salkantay, the highest peak located about 60 kilometers west of the city of Cusco, which was once the religious and administrative center of the Inca Empire. What makes this mountain unique is that it is perfectly in line with Machu Picchu. Hiking from Salkantay to Machu Picchu is one of the greatest activities you can partake in while visiting Peru.
Directly to the north of Salkantay is where you will find Machu Picchu. The ancient town is at the end of a ridge that extends down from the mountain. This area is known for the breathtaking sights across the land as well as across the sky. In fact, the Southern Cross constellation appears right above Salkantay’s summit when it’s at its highest point in the sky. The relationship between the stars, Salkantay, and Machu Picchu is so special that the Incas believed this alignment to be associated with powers pertaining rain and fertility. They also considered Salkantay to be one of the main deities controlling the weather and the fertility in the western region of Cuzco. Ironically enough, the name Salkantay derives from a Quechua word meaning wild, uncivilized, savage, or invincible. Salkantay is also known as “Savage Mountain”.
There are various ways of reaching Machu Picchu. You have probably heard of the most popular and overrun, Inca Trail. This leads us to a second factor that makes Salkantay special; it offers a different, lesser-known alternative to reaching Machu Picchu. Due to its high altitude and strenuosity, this trail gets less travellers making the experience more enjoyable and intimate. You’ll get to take in the beautiful sites from up top Savage Mountain as well as witness a multitude of ecosystems along the way.
Salkantay is also bordering the dramatic Apurimac Cañon, renowned for its Andean condors and less visited than the world famous Colca Cañon and is also home to the hidden secret, the breathtaking Humantay Glacial Lake, for which we know a special trail to access away from most travelers.
Get ready, we’re taking the scenic route!