Salkantay or Santa Cruz Trek

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Salkantay or Santa Cruz Trek

Post by knb705 »

We only have time for one; although, if we choose Santa Cruz, I’m tempted to hit Cusco and Machu Picchu for a few days still. Has anyone done both? Is 1 day enough to acclimate if we’re coming from Colorado? Does the rain outweigh the crowds if we choose mid-April?
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Re: Salkantay or Santa Cruz Trek

Post by yrastorza »

A few years ago, I took my son on the Salkantay, lodge to lodge that was awesome. I think it was a 6 day. At that time, I booked through REI, but BackRoads had the same trip itinerary. We ended up in Machu Picchu. I wondered if the hype about Machu Picchu would outweigh reality, but it was incredible. Very highly recommend. Feel free to message me with for any details.
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Re: Salkantay or Santa Cruz Trek

Post by dan0rama »

I have done Santa Cruz in mid-march few years ago. There was some rain late afternoon everyday. But the trade-off was having the trail all to myself for 3 days. You don't need a guide to do it, navigation is pretty easy. I'd say the Salkantay trek is more of a cultural activity. If you are looking for adventure and isolation, then the treks in Cordillera Blanca are the best for you. I acclimatized for 2 days in Huaraz, it was enough.
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Re: Salkantay or Santa Cruz Trek

Post by Danger_D »

I haven't done the Santa Cruz Trek but I can give a few insights on Salkantay and Cusco/Machu Picchu in general. Salkantay was a really nice experience, though if you go with a group its far pure adventure. I booked through some rando local tour group and it was a blast with a good mix of both High Andes hiking, jungle days, and ending in Machu Picchu itself. I think 1 day is enough to acclimate, and they are used to handling real gumbies who don't know what they are doing in case people are affected. Salkantay is waaay less crowded than the Inca Trail, but I hear its growing busier each year so don't expect to be alone.

If you decide to do Santa Cruz I would still check out Cusco and MP. Cuzco is a fun town to spend a day or two, and Maccu Picchu is one of the destinations that lived up to the hype for me. I've been to Cusco in late April and the weather was great both in town and at MP. I did Salkantay in August so I can't speak to how the that would be in April.
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Re: Salkantay or Santa Cruz Trek

Post by WanderingJim »

I did a Salkantay to Machu Picchu trek way back in 2017. Enjoyed myself and made it all the way on my own two feet without having to use the horse I paid for as a backup.

Be aware that there are usually two Salkantay to Machu Pichu treks advertised by the various guide services:

The one I took started from Mollepata and went counterclockwise around Nevada Salkantay over Incachiriaska Pass (16,289 feet) before continuing onto the normal 4 day Inca Trail trek and ending at Machu Picchu.

There is another Salkantay trek that I found when planning my trek. It goes clockwise around Nevada Salkantay. It seems to follow a railway route part of the way and there are some 'lodge to lodge' treks for this route. From what I recall, these just go up to Machu Picchu at the end from Aguas Calientes or further down to do a 2 day Inca Trek before hitting Machu Picchu.

I felt the first route that joins the traditional 4 day Inca Trail was the better of the two.

The final day was mostly spent in Machu Picchu. I did pay for a 2nd day to climb Wayna Picchu. I didn't think trying to see Machu Picchu and climbing Wayan Picchu all in the same day was a good idea. If I spend 7 days hiking to get somewhere, I want to enjoy it as much as possible. Of course, I did take a bus down and back up from Aguas Calientes and stay at a hotel between the days... I'm not that dedicated to roughing it. :)

I do have some descriptions of my planning and my days in PEru in my Flicker albums. ... 662512466/
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Re: Salkantay or Santa Cruz Trek

Post by seano »

+1 on the Cordillera Blanca for adventure. Also note that the Santa Cruz trek is just one of a number of similarly-spectacular valleys coming out of the Cordillera. The others offer more solitude if you're willing to explore.
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Re: Salkantay or Santa Cruz Trek

Post by pmreyn2010 »

I did the Salkantay Trek in the summer of 2019. It was an awesome experience; every day brought some unique scenery and cultural experiences. I agree with yrastorza as well that Machu Picchu lived up to & exceeded the hype for me - I loved it.

Having said that, I absolutely want to get back down to Peru soon to explore the Cordillera Blanca. There's a lot to see and do in Peru, and you can't really go wrong wherever you choose to go!
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Re: Salkantay or Santa Cruz Trek

Post by Scott P »

How much time do you have? Huaraz to Cusco takes about 30 hours or longer by bus. I guess you could try the flights as well, connecting in Lima; I'm not sure what the schedule is.

If you are short on time and want to do the trek and visit Machu Picchu, do the Salkante Trek. If you have time enough for a 30+ hour bus ride and want to visit more than one area of Peru, Santa Cruz would work.

Of note, I found the Huayhuash to be even more spectacular than the Blanca, so that that would be a possibility too.
There's a lot to see and do in Peru, and you can't really go wrong wherever you choose to go!
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