When I decided to head to Peru, I had every intention of visiting Machu Picchu. As much as I love off the beaten track attractions, everyone had told me this is one tourist favourite that is really worth the hype.
However, despite this, I wasn’t always intent on trekking to Machu Picchu. However, after hearing so many good reports from other travellers and missing my hiking boots, I proposed the idea to Tim. He agreed and we were then faced with the hard decision of choosing an agency to hike with.
As a seasoned tour-goer, I knew exactly what I needed to do to find a good trip operator. However, I didn’t know how to whittle down my choices from there! It seemed like there were just too many good options!
In the end, we decided on the tour company Salkantay Trekking. They specialise in the Salkantay trek (as the name would suggest) and also focused heavily on responsible tourism.
If you too are feeling overwhelmed by the sheer number of providers and don’t know how to pick a company for your Machu Picchu hike, this is why I chose Salkantay Trekking and why you should too!
Why I chose Salkantay Trekking…
They are a responsible company
This is a hugely important factor for me as a customer. Whenever I can, I always try to choose companies who make the world a little bit better. Salkantay Trekking impressed me on a number of their policies but namely:
- Supplying fabric snack bags over plastic.
- Boiling water for drinking to reduce single-use plastic.
- Use of mules to carry bags instead of porters.
- Paying their staff well.
- Eco-friendly campsites, for example, their glass sky domes are covered all day to prevent the sun’s rays from reflecting off them and hitting the Salkantay and Humantay glaciers.
- Use of horseman and chefs from local communities.
- Annual cleaning campaign of the Salkantay Mountainside and surrounding areas.
There are no tents!
Okay, I know I sound like a snob. To my credit though, I did hike the Salkantay Trek in the rainy season and I didn’t want my stuff to get wet. I packed very lightly after all! Check out my packing list here!
One soggy night in a tent and I know I would’ve been miserable for the rest of the trek. Therefore, the glamping side of things really appealed. The accommodation provided to us by Salkantay Trekking were: Sky Camp, Andean huts, Jungle Domes and finally a hostel on the final night.
As well as being incredibly pretty to look at, staying in glamping accommodation also meant that neither me or my bags got wet, even when it stormed all night. A dry trek is a happy trek after all and I was very satisfied!
Nearly everything was included in the price
Although Tim and I checked out several other providers, none included so much in the price that Salkantay Trekking did.
All bar two meals over the course of the five days were provided, as were our entrance tickets to Machu Picchu, the tourist train for the return journey, all of our accommodation and drinking water.
Although they were one of the most expensive companies we looked at, many of the cheaper alternatives actually had a lot more hidden extras. By the time we had factored in the cost of transport, meals and snacks not included, the price worked out around the same so I felt no guilt in opting for the fancy glamping huts.
As somebody who does everything with a fearful mindset and is convinced that any new experience will be the death of me, safety is something never far from my brain.
Luckily, this is also the case with the guys at Salkantay Trekking. Our guide Kenny (along with all of the other guides at Salkantay Trekking) was qualified in first aid and rescue training.
As well as this, the crew also carried a first-aid kit at all times. Another hugely important thing to me was the availability of an oxygen tank. At it’s highest, the Salkantay Trek passes 4638 m above sea level! Luckily, Tim and I had spent over a month acclimatising for the Salkantay trek but I still liked the idea of having an oxygen tank on hand just in case.
Luckily, no-one in our group needed it but knowing they it was there was still very reassuring for a nervous Nelly like me!
Small group sizes
Although I wouldn’t call myself a competent hiker, it is probably fair to call me a person with hiking experience. After completing 500 miles of the French Way of the Camino de Santiago across Spain last year, I am not a complete novice.
If my Camino experience taught me anything (apart from what a bonding experience cutting dead flesh from your partner’s feet is), it is that treks are better when you’re hiking in a small group.
During the Camino, I enjoyed the hike much less after hoards of people joined the trail at Sarria. This experience taught me, the smaller and more intimate the group, the better.
Salkantay Trekking runs all of their tours with a maximum of 12 people in a group which I loved.
When I first heard that Salkantay Trekking was running three groups with the same departure dates as us, I was initially concerned.
However, I didn’t need to be. The treks were also really well organised so that all of the groups were staggered and it felt like our small group were the only people on the trail.
They also divided us into groups by common language which was a great way to encourage a bond between the hikers.
The benefits of this were huge. Not only did the trek feel much less claustrophobic but it also allowed us all to really get to know our fellow hikers and make friends.
Okay, so you know why I chose Salkantay Trekking. I guess this is the part where I have to explain whether they lived up to my expectations!
Without a doubt, the Salkantay Trek was my ultimate highlight from spending three and a half months in Peru. The scenery was breathtaking and it felt so rewarding to make the hike up to one of the world’s most famous landmarks.
We were blessed with a great group of hikers and surprisingly, everybody got along well. The atmosphere on the trail was great and our guide Kenny never missed an opportunity to join in the fun.
The glamping huts were incredible and all things considered, a lot less expensive than you would pay for the same standard of accommodation elsewhere in the world.
The trek with Salkantay Trekking was definitely a splurge but I don’t regret spending the money at all. The food, company, efficiency and organisation was second to none and truly enhanced my Machu Picchu experience.
You know what they say though, it isn’t about the destination, it’s the journey that counts.
Are you thinking about doing the Salkantay trek? Feel free to ask me questions in the comments!
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