Why You Should NOT Book the Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu in Advance

Kira Michelle at Machu Picchu, Salkantay Trek

Machu Picchu is one of those things on most people’s bucket lists. If it’s on yours, I am going to let you in on a little secret. Why you should NOT book the Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu in advance.

Long story short, you will waste your money! The ONLY thing you should book in advance when it comes to Machu Picchu, is the Inca Trail.

If your heart is set on doing the Inca Trail, then yes you have to book it months in advance and pay over the moon for it. Of course, it is a beautiful trek and I’m sure worth the money, but there are a lot of other beautiful ways to see Machu Picchu. One very affordable option is the second most popular trail, the Salkantay Trek.

Salkantay Trek

My Experience

I did the Salkantay Trek just under a week ago and it was one of the most epic experiences I could imagine. We booked the 5-day, 4-night trek and were with 2 others who had booked a 4-day, 3-night trek. So, the timing is flexible, it just depends what you are looking for.

1st Day’s Lake

We spent the first day hiking only an hour or two to adjust to the altitude, saw this beautiful lake and then got to camp in a little village on the mountainside. Over the next few days we climbed Salkantay Mountain, trekked through the jungle, got fed AMAZING food from our personal cook that came with us, and overall had a blast getting to know our group and taking time away from the city’s hustle and bustle.

Salkantay Mountain, Kira Michelle at Machu Picchu, Salkantay Trek
Salkantay Mountain
Salkantay Trek
Climbing Down Into the Jungle
Why You Should NOT Book the Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu in Advance

The Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu (along with others, such as the Jungle Trek) CAN be booked online, but please DO NOT do this! Even if you have a tight timeline, I promise you there are so many tour companies available that you can fly into Cusco and book it from there for at least one third of the price.

Booking Salkantay Trek, Cusco Main Square
Cusco Main Square with 100’s of Tour Options
The Price Difference

On average, when booking directly in Cusco for a similar 5-day, 4-night trek, you can expect to pay roughly $180 USD. This price also often comes with a lot of things included, such as zip lining.

If you buy online (like I did), you can expect to pay roughly 3-4x that amount. The more people I talked to the more the prices varied. My friend and I paid roughly $600 CAD each, and the highest amount I heard someone pay was $750 USD.


Salkantay Trek, Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu

This is the biggest piece of advice I could give any future traveller. It applies to ALL things, not just Machu Picchu. Any tours that are quite popular are way more expensive online, but when you get into the city that runs them you will be hounded by hundreds of companies begging you to come with them. There is more than enough to go around!

If you or someone you know wants to do Machu Picchu and is stressing about having it booked right away, please share this with them! Spend the extra money you save on things that will enrich your travels even further.

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6 thoughts on “Why You Should NOT Book the Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu in Advance”

  • Hi! This is so helpful! Thank you!

    Just wondering – does this also apply to busy season? I heard the trek is popular May – September (most popular in July/August). I will be there in May and some of my friends are worried about booking in advance. Just wondering what your thoughts are. Thanks so much!!!

    • Yes absolutely it does apply to busy season! We did it in June, which is said to be the busiest time and there were still a TON of companies offering spots. I would 100% NOT book it in advance! Sorry for the late reply but hope this helps 🙂

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