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As you may have noted from my Inca Trail facts and figures post, this is not an cheap or easy-to-book route to take to Machu Picchu. Prices are sky-high (or should I say Dead-Woman’s-Pass-altitude-high?), and reservations must be made months in advance. Luckily, there are alternative treks that require much less money and advance planning.

When Anders and Co., hereby referred to as The Scandis for their shared Scandinavian heritage, arrived in Peru their first mission was to get to Machu Picchu via the most boast-worthy route possible. They chose the Salkantay Trek, a spectacular five day hike with a peak altitude of over 15,000 feet. (Note: Because some of the group was pressed for time, they chose to do the four day version instead, which compressed the third and fourth days of the traditional itinerary.)

As opposed to the $600 I spent to hike the Inca Trail with Llama Path, The Scadis payed $210 for the Salktantay trek. There are also optional add-ons for hot springs and ziplines, though the boys skipped those because they did the compressed four day itinerary. (Strangely, it was the same price for the five day.) That price did not include the bus between Aguas Calientes and Machu Picchu, which cuts out an hour each way of hiking but costs $18 round trip. It is important to note there was definitely a difference in the luxury levels between Llama Path and the no-name agency The Scandis booked with, but the boys were very happy what they got for their money.

Another difference: booking time. The Scandis arrived in Cusco on a Wednesday, booked the trip that afternoon, and took off on Friday morning. They trekked in mid-November, when many agencies are shutting down their Salkantay treks for the duration of the rainy season (the route is much muddier than the Inca Trail, and therefore less pleasant to hike towards the end of the calendar year), but lucked out with perfect weather.

But blah blah blah, show you the pictures, right? Basically I wrote this entire post because I wanted to share Anders’ fantastic video with you guys. I mean, yeah, I wanted you to know that you can get to Machu Picchu on your own steam without spending a fortune and planning half a year ahead…. but really, just watch the video, okay?

Hope you’re all having a magical holiday season, whatever it is you’re celebrating.

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42 Comments...
  • Mita
    December 23 2013

    This is why I love seeing a video! It can makes you drool to the bones. *I dont even know what I’m saying*
    Anyway the boys looked so fun with their super weird act, LOL.. I’m impressed.
    Thank you for sharing, Meihoukai.

    • Meihoukai
      December 23 2013

      Glad you enjoyed it, Mita! Thanks for the comment!

  • Krystle
    December 23 2013

    Those boys! How do they have so much energy? 🙂 Looked like they thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Cool video.
    Krystle recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      December 26 2013

      I know! My video was certainly boring in comparison but no way did I have the energy to pull stunts like these!

  • TammyOnTheMove
    December 23 2013

    Ha ha, the video is awesome. You should employ Anders and the guys as your permanent videographers/actors/directors. Merry Christmas Meihoukai!
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    • Meihoukai
      December 26 2013

      Right now Anders is in a pretty permanent position as videographer here. Definitely makes my life easier! 🙂

  • Sarah Somewhere
    December 24 2013

    Awesome video!! Thanks for sharing this Meihoukai and well done Anders on another awesome film. This is probably the trek we will end up doing so thanks for the inspiration!!
    Sarah Somewhere recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      December 26 2013

      This will be a great trek for you guys, Sarah! There is also a Salktantay trek that goes from luxury lodge to luxury lodge… keep your eye out for it if you win the lottery (I know I would! Ha!)

  • Rika | Cubicle Throwdown
    December 24 2013

    I love Anders video! Another hit. Merry Christmas to you and the Scandis, wherever you all are today.
    Rika | Cubicle Throwdown recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      December 26 2013

      It’s down to just Anders and me, as the Swedes have gone home! It didn’t really feel like Christmas here, but you know that feeling!

  • Briana
    December 25 2013

    That video definitely did not help my wanderlust today! They seem like such a fun group of guys, and the views were breath taking!

    • Meihoukai
      December 26 2013

      Good luck curing the wanderlust, Briana…. I think it is a lifelong affliction!

  • Breanna
    December 26 2013

    Wow, what an amazing video! they looked like they had fun. The sights are still pretty nice considering it isn’t the traditional inca trail. Hope you had a good Christmas!!

    • Meihoukai
      December 27 2013

      There are beautiful mountains and vistas all over the Sacred Valley leading to Machu Picchu. I really don’t think you can go wrong!

  • Jade
    December 26 2013

    What a bunch of jokers! Loved this video and have now added the Salktantay trek to my travel wish list!

    • Meihoukai
      December 27 2013

      I kind of want to too after watching it! (Even after doing the Inca Trail!)

  • Ashley of Ashley Abroad
    December 27 2013

    Love the video! When I hike I definitely don’t have that much energy though, haha- I’m just trying to survive! What kind of GoPro did he use for the video? It’s really nice quality. I’ve been wanting one for ages but can’t decide if I reallly need one or not.
    Ashley of Ashley Abroad recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      December 27 2013

      He has the GoPro Hero 3 Black Edition. He loves it! Zoe gave me the GoPro Hero 3+, which just came out and has even better image quality if you can believe it!

  • Natascia Russo
    December 27 2013

    Oh my! This video just makes me want to really go and visit Machu Picchu. The three guys are so funny and cool. Great job guys!

  • Sofie @ Wonderful Wanderings
    December 27 2013

    Machu Picchu is still on the list and it looks like the Salktany trek is a great alternative for the Inca trail:)
    Sofie @ Wonderful Wanderings recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      December 27 2013

      Also check out the Lares trek if you’re looking for alternatives!

  • Phil @ World Travel Fiend
    December 29 2013

    Awesome video, good to see those guys having such a blast. I always meet so many travellers who seem to take the whole thing so seriously, like it’s their job & they don’t allow themselves to have any fun. Yes there are instances that need to be treated seriously, like respecting local customs, when you’re at religious sites etc, but the rest of the time you need to let loose & enjoy the experience!
    Phil @ World Travel Fiend recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      December 30 2013

      So true Phil. Some people seem to have missed the memo that travel is fun rather than a competition!

  • Cat
    December 31 2013

    LOVE the video! Definitely worth a watch like you said. At first, I was like eh she’s just biased and it’s 5 minutes but after starting it I had to finish and I’m still sitting here smiling. Boys will be boys, always fun, never a dull moment. Definitely got a better sense of what the hike was like too – very cool. Now I want to go!
    Cat recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      January 2 2014

      Yes boys will indeed be boys! My video looks so boring in comparison but that’s because I was DYING OF EXERTION and was not able to be creative, ha.

  • Rebecca
    January 4 2014

    Ha ha, what fun!! Would have been lots of laughs trekking with these guys 🙂
    Rebecca recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      January 5 2014

      Yes, if you could keep up! 🙂 I’m kind of glad I stayed behind for that exact reason…

  • Jacklyn
    September 21 2014

    Those guys look so fun! I want to do this trek and I want to do it with fun people like them haha! I just found your blog Meihoukai, and I love it. Can’t wait to read more. I’m only just beginning to explore the idea of the Inca trail. Do you think it’s possible to do in Dec? Or is that way too far into the rainy season? Do you know if you can do it alone, without a guide service?

    • Meihoukai
      September 21 2014

      Hey Jacklyn, thank you so much and I’m so glad you’re enjoying Wanderland! There is no way to do the Inca Trail independently, it must be with a guide and special permits. I’m fairly sure you need a guide for the Salkantay as well. If you want to do an independent trek as well in Peru, I’d recommend Colca Canyon! I’m not too sure what the weather would be like in December. Best of luck!

  • Jenn
    January 21 2015

    Thanks Meihoukai for posting! Do you know what kind of camera (and camera stick?) the guys used? Is it GoPro?

    • Meihoukai
      January 22 2015

      Yup, all was shot with a GoPro. Hope that helps!

  • Sarah
    May 20 2015

    This looks great! I was wondering what agency your friends booked with? I’m on a budget and all of the Salktantay Treks are around $500-600 instead of $210.
    P.S. I just recently stumbled upon your blog since I will be going to Peru this summer. Thanks so much for your many detailed posts!

    • Meihoukai
      May 20 2015

      Hey Sarah! Are you trying to book online? That is always going to jack the prices way way up. I’d wait and book in person, though the time of year and your group size may also have some influence as well! Best of luck 🙂

  • Sarah
    June 12 2015

    Thank you so much Meihoukai! I’ve decided to go with the Salkantay Trek with Llamapath. Your posts about hiking the Inca Trail and this fun video inspired me to choose this ethical company and make the daunting trek (which doesn’t seem to scary anymore 🙂 )

    • Meihoukai
      June 14 2015

      I’m so happy to hear that, Sarah! That’s always my goal — to make things seem a little more manageable when you’re travel planning 🙂 You’re going to have such a great time!

  • Michelle
    December 16 2015

    Hey Meihoukai-

    I have a couple questions since my friend and I will be hiking there this January! Obviously the boys were all in great shape and adventurous – would you still recommend getting guides or paying for the trek? We definitely want to do Salkantay and are both pretty rugged and don’t mind carrying our stuff but would also love to get a guide if it adds something in terms of history and all that!

    We’re also going the first week of January – do you know if there were many local companies still offering treks that time of year?? I know you mentioned rainy season shutting some of them down, so hopefully we don’t have too much mud and slip-sliding! Ha!

    Love the video!

    Michelle

    • Meihoukai
      December 23 2015

      Hey Michelle, do you mean you’re considering doing the trek totally solo, without guides or a group? Honestly I’m not sure if that’s possible — it’s DEFINITELY not possible on the Inca Trail (you must trek with a permitted guide), and regardless I wouldn’t recommend going solo on any of them. The guides do give some historical information but more importantly act as local liaisons, make camp, and cook each night. If you are an extremely experienced hiker and are capable of carrying enough food and cooking equipment for several days, I guess the next step would be looking into how the campsites get assigned each night — and asking if it’s a safe route to trek sans guide (many in Latin America aren’t.) Best of luck!

      • Michelle
        January 29 2016

        Hey Meihoukai (and everyone else),

        Just got back from hiking the Salkantay in Peru, and I can safely say it’s an AMAZING hike. Glaciers, jungle, high dusty mountain passes… We did it without any guides and during rainy season, and didn’t have a problem at all. You see the guided tours each night and there were a couple of other solo backpackers we met at different points. As long as you’re adventurous, I can definitely recommend doing this solo! And the video on this page is definitely great inspiration! 🙂 Machu Picchu looks all the more magical when you’ve been carrying everything and hiking 15,200ft passes to get there! Thanks again Meihoukai for your posts on this and the Inca Trail!

        Michelle

        • Meihoukai
          February 1 2016

          That’s awesome, Michelle! Glad to know it’s a doable proposition for those that want to DIY. I loved the Inca Trail but if I head back someday I may follow in your footsteps! Nice work!

  • Kathy
    March 17 2016

    Hi there! Loved the video as well. I have a quick question and wanted to know your thoughts. We are planning our trip to Peru and are leaning toward the Salktantay trek that goes from lodge to lodge as you referenced above. Would you recommend this trek if you’re in good not great physical condition and are quite a bit older than the young men in the video? I’m 50 & my husband is 60. I’m fairly active as I do pilates 5 days a week, and my husband walks/runs. We plan on going with our kids who range in ages 16-25. The tour group we are working with, Peru for Less, indicated this trek is tougher, quite a bit longer, and much more challenging than the Inca Trail although they did recommend horseback riding for a portion of the trek. Any thoughts?

    • Meihoukai
      March 21 2016

      Hey Kathy! Honestly it’s pretty impossible for judge to say when I haven’t done the trek myself. I have heard great things about the lodge-to-lodge trek though and I know it is a popular option for those looking for a slightly more comfortable option than camping. Sounds like you are in very good shape if you are exercising regularly — maybe just amp it up a bit with some small hikes in anticipation of the trip 🙂 Enjoy!