The mountain range of Vilcabamba, where the massif of Salcantay is located, is a beautiful and lonely area. Dominated by Mount Salcantay, this area has many snowcapped mountains of great height, such as Tucarhuay (5,910 meters above sea level), Verónica (5,682 meters above sea level) and Huacayhuilca (5,361 meters above sea level), among others. All of them can be seen from the region surrounding Puyupatamarca on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. The terrain is rough and difficult on the outskirts of this attractive mountain range. Mount Salcantay is surrounded by deep valleys and gullies, making this journey interesting, while somewhat exhausting.
There are two possibilities of skirting the massif. The first track leaves from Kilometer 88 of the railroad track leading to Machu Picchu and constitutes the starting point of the Inca Trail. After walking for around four hours from the Urubamba river, a branch of the trail is taken at a hamlet called Guayllabamba. The second branch trail leaves from Mollepata and both meet in the valley between the snowcapped Salcantay and Humantay mountains. As from there, there is only one way, passing Colcapampa and reaching Santa Teresa, close by the archaeological remains of Machu Picchu.
As Mollepata is 2,803 meters above sea level, it enables one to climb gradually towards Salcantay. During the journey, flocks of auquénidos may be seen. After going up a high pass, it is possible to see an amazing "pyramidal" view of Salcantay, one of the most beautiful mountains in Cusco. From Mollepata you need two days to go down toward Huayllabamba and start the second day of the Inca Trail.
How to go
The buses from Cusco to Mollepata leave very early in the morning and go past Limatambo. We suggest visiting a former Inca fortress called Tarahuasi. From the road, you can see the Apurímac river and part of its impressive canyon. Bear in mind that this is a cold region, approaching an altitude of nearly 5,000 meters above sea level. It is inevitably necessary to use the services of a travel agency. If you wish to take this journey, you should plan it six days ahead of time.
ADVENTURE TRAVEL PARAGLIDING
If you are an enthusiast of this sport, Machu
Picchu offers you, together with the Canyon of Cotahuasi,
the best "thermals" in Peru. They are ideal because of the speed
and strength of the winds.
An expert in this discipline who wishes to face an unforgettable
challenge must not miss the experience of flying over Machu
Picchu. Only experts, however, can take up this challenge.
Your flight over Machu Picchu will fully justify the long trip involved.
If you have any questions about this sport, just contact us. There are four-day tours available only for those passengers who have their own equipment. They include transportation, breakfast, lunch and a guide.
For the adventurer who visits Cusco for the first time, canoeing is almost a must. There are different options, and the following are those most frequently adopted, according to their duration:
You can spend a whole day in the Sacred Valley and while away two or three hours on the river. This alternative is combined with a visit to some archeological points in the surroundings. It is ideal for the tourist who has little time and meager experience with the sport.
Although the routes are really varied, the most recommended trip is along the Urubamba or Vilcanota rivers in the Sacred Valley. This excursion is divided into three one-day stages, which can be taken either individually or together, making it a three-day excursion.
The stages are as follows:
Huambutio - Pisaq
It is considered the most popular and easiest stretch. Previous experience and specially fit physical condition are not required. Neither is special equipment, as long as the excursion is made from May to September. The rapids are short and not technically difficult, but they still have the unique attraction of this discipline.
Urubamba - The "Frog's Mouth"
This stretch offers more adventures as there are more rapids than in the first section. In general, the trip is more varied and the water flows more rapidly. These features make it more challenging, while not significantly increasing risk.
Rapids of Huarán
This is the most exciting section along the Urubamba river. It is one hour away from the Imperial City. The trip gets your adrenalin pumping because of the rushing torrents. Previous experience is needed, but there is no significant risk. However, it is only possible during the dry season, from June to September.
Although this section does not present a high difficulty level, it does however require advanced technique due to the number of maneuvers that the canoeist is obliged to perform.
In this section you can opt for a kayak that -even if it is similar to the raft and forms part of the discipline of canoeing- is a totally different mode. This is a very small vessel seating only one person. Because of its size and weight, it enables one to go through more difficult rapids and maneuver in a way that would be impossible in an ordinary raft.
This excursion takes eight hours.