Salkantay snow-capped mountain Cusco

13 de April de 2024

The Nevado Salkantay, a colossus of nature in the Cusco region, is not only an imposing mountain, but also a symbol of prevalence in Andean history and culture. From its fascinating history to its diverse flora and fauna, this majestic peak offers an unforgettable experience for adventurers and nature lovers alike.

History of Nevado Salkantay

The Nevado Salkantay has a rich and deep history, closely linked to the Andean cosmovision, this imposing mountain was venerated by the Incas and pre-Inca cultures, who paid homage to it through rituals and offerings, considering it an Apu, or sacred mountain, protector of the region and its inhabitants. The Capacocha, a ceremony involving human sacrifices in honor of the Apus and the Sun, was practiced on its summit and on other sacred mountains of the empire.

What is Nevado Salkantay like?

The Nevado Salkantay rises majestically to a height of approximately 6,271 meters above sea level, dominating the landscape with its imposing presence. It is 60 km from Cusco, its snowy summit and steep slopes offer a challenge for climbers and a breathtaking view for visitors who venture to its slopes such as the Humantay lagoon, thus reflecting both the beauty and the extreme challenge that represents its ascent.

What does "Salkantay" mean?

Salkantay means "Wild Mountain" in Quechua, this means it reflects its imposing and challenging nature. This mountain is a central figure in the Andean cosmovision, symbolizing protection and fertility for the surrounding communities.

Andean Cosmovision of Salkantay

In the Andean cosmovision, the Salkantay is considered an Apu, a protective spirit that controls the climate, protects the land and provides fertility to crops. This Andean cosmovision is a sign of respect and reverence for this majestic mountain, making it a spiritual and cultural center for the inhabitants of the region.

Where is Nevado Salkantay located?

The mountain is at an average altitude of 6,271 meters above sea level, belonging to the Vilcabamba mountain range and is ranked 12th highest mountain in Peru and the second highest in the Cusco region, after Ausangate.

Location of Nevado Salkantay in Cusco

The Salkantay is located in the Cordillera Vilcabamba, is one of the highest mountains in Cusco and plays an important role in the tourist itineraries to Machu Picchu.

Map of Salkantay

How to get to Nevado Salkantay?

The Salkantay trek can be done on your own or through an agency, in both cases the trek starts in Mollepata, Cusco, and is a 4 or 5 day trek that culminates in Machu Picchu. It is essential to bring the proper equipment, including food, sleeping bag, trekking shoes, and adequate clothing for the extreme cold.

First Option: Reach Nevado Salkantay on your own

If you are looking for an independent adventure and wish to explore the Nevado Salkantay at your own pace, then you can start your journey from Cusco and head towards Mollepata, where the hike to the Salkantay begins. You will cross breathtaking landscapes, crystal clear rivers and lush trails as you immerse yourself in the unspoiled nature of the region.

You should keep in mind that it is not as reliable to travel on your own, because you can get lost along the way and have good knowledge of the routes. Keep in mind that this option requires planning and preparation, the freedom to explore your own way makes it worth every step of the way.

Second Option: Reach Nevado Salkantay with an agency

Do you prefer a more organized and uncomplicated experience? Then, this option is ideal for you, because doing this trekking with the company of an agency will lead you to unforgettable trips. From transportation to accommodation and expert guides, everything is carefully planned to offer you a safe and exciting experience. During the trek you will just enjoy the scenery, the trails and the local culture.

Altitude of Nevado Salkantay

It is essential to take into account the altitude of Nevado Salkantay when planning the visit, as it can affect the acclimatization and health of travelers. Since the snow-capped mountain has an altitude of more than 6,000 meters above sea level, it is important to take precautions and take enough time to adapt to the altitude conditions.

Best time of the year to do the Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu

The best season to do the Salkantay Trek is during the dry season, which runs from April to October. During these months, the weather is more stable and there is less chance of rain, which allows you to fully enjoy the natural beauty of the region and minimizes the risks associated with adverse weather conditions.

However, in the transition seasons from April to May or September to November you have the possibility to witness nature in a green color, with colorful flowers accompanied by the sound of the rivers.

Why take the Salkantay Trek tour?

The Salkantay Trek offers a unique experience that combines physical challenge, direct contact with nature, and an immersion in the rich Andean history and culture. Unlike the Inca Trail, the Salkantay Trek offers a wilder and less traveled experience to Machu Picchu.

And the most impressive thing about it is that it gives us unique landscapes, unique experiences and unforgettable moments.

Flora and fauna on the route to Salkantay

The Salkantay trail is rich in biodiversity, with endemic species of flora such as ichu, orchids, and fauna such as the condor, alpaca, and spectacled bear.

The route to Nevado Salkantay is bordered by lush vegetation, which includes a diversity of plant and tree species adapted to the high altitude conditions. In addition, the area is home to a variety of wildlife species, such as condors, llamas and vicuñas, and in the jungle brow we can observe spectacled bears that add an element of biodiversity and beauty to the trekking experience.

Let's not forget about the flora, as there are still endemic species that can be found on these routes, such as the ichu, and the variety of orchids that can be seen along the way.

Realiza trekking al Salkantay

This trek offers the opportunity to explore the majesty of the mountains, glaciers and valleys, as we immerse ourselves in the nature of the trek, ascend to the Salkantay Pass, where we will be rewarded with panoramic views of snow-capped peaks, and descend through lush forests and canyons, each step bringing you closer to the grandeur of this destination.

In addition, trekking to Nevado Salkantay gives us the opportunity to experience the rich local culture, interact with Andean communities and discover the ancestral history of the region, so we must be prepared with every step we take.

Preparation and recommendations

It is essential to be physically and mentally prepared for the challenge of the Salkantay trekking, because the trek is of a high level of difficulty, so you should take into account these recommendations.

  1. Pre-training: The hike to Nevado Salkantay can be challenging, so it is important to be in good physical shape. Do prior training, including long hikes and cardiovascular activities to strengthen your legs and improve your endurance.
  2. Adequate equipment: Be sure to bring clothing and equipment suitable for variable conditions. This includes waterproof clothing, warm layers, sturdy hiking shoes, trekking poles, a comfortable backpack and a sleeping bag suitable for low temperatures.
  3. Sun protection and insect repellent: The sun can be intense in the region, so bring sunscreen and a hat for protection. Also, bring insect repellent to protect you from mosquitoes and other insects.
  4. Hidratación y alimentación: Mantente bien hidratado durante toda la caminata, llevando contigo suficiente agua, tambien lleva alimentos energéticos como frutos secos, barras de granola y frutas deshidratadas para mantener tus niveles de energía.
  5. Altitude and acclimatization: The trek to Nevado Salkantay reaches high altitudes, so it is important to acclimatize gradually. Ideally, spend a few days in Cusco before starting the trek to allow your body to adjust to the altitude.
  6. Travel insurance and medical assistance: Make sure you have travel insurance that covers outdoor activities and altitude trekking. Also, take a first aid kit with you and be aware of the symptoms of altitude sickness.
  7. Respect for the environment and local culture: Respect nature and local culture during your trip. Do not leave trash on the road, respect the rules of natural parks and be considerate of the local communities you meet along the way.

What to bring for the Salkantay Trek?

Some essential items to bring during the Salkantay trek include clothing suitable for varied climates, camping gear, sufficient food and water, as well as first aid items and sun protection.

  1. Durable and comfortable backpack
  2. Trekking shoes
  3. Warm layers, waterproof clothing, thick socks and quick-drying clothes.
  4. Sleeping bag
  5. Personal hygiene items
  6. First aid kit
  7. Headlamp
  8. Sunscreen and insect repellent
  9. Water and energy foods

Inca Trail to the Salkantay snow-capped peak

The Inca Trail to the Nevado de Salkantay is a trekking route that extends through the Peruvian Andes, starting from the famous Inca Trail to Machu Picchu and taking adventurers through breathtaking and varied landscapes. This alternate route is considered more challenging and less traveled than the traditional Inca Trail.

The hike generally begins in the town of Mollepata and crosses a variety of landscapes, from subtropical valleys to high mountain plateaus, culminating at the base of Nevado Salkantay, one of the most imposing peaks in the region.

Along the way, hikers have the opportunity to experience the rich Andean culture, interact with local communities and marvel at the unique flora and fauna of the area. Highlights include panoramic views of the imposing Nevado Salkantay, passing crystal clear lagoons and spectacular waterfalls.

The trek ends at the famous archaeological site of Machu Picchu, where travelers can explore the ancient Inca ruins and marvel at the engineering and architectural beauty of this city lost in the jungle.

Worship and adoration of Apu Salkantay

The Apu Salkantay is a sacred mountain for the indigenous peoples of the Andean region, especially for the descendants of the Incas. In the Andean cosmovision, the Apus are protective spirits that inhabit the mountains and are revered as tutelary deities.

The worship and adoration of the Apu Salkantay is manifested through rituals, offerings and ceremonies that reflect the deep spiritual connection that local communities maintain with the mountain. These practices often include making payments to the earth (ofrenda), ceremonies of thanks and respect (despachos), as well as participation in traditional festivities.

Pilgrimages to Nevado Salkantay are also common among devotees, who seek to connect with the mountain spirit and receive its blessings for health, prosperity and protection. These treks are often accompanied by prayers, chants and traditional dances.

In summary, the cult and worship of the Apu Salkantay represent an important part of Andean spirituality, where reverence for nature and the connection with the mountains are central aspects of the indigenous cosmovision.

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