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Salkantay Trail Trek Peru 2023

The Salkantay trek to Machupicchu is the best alternative to the 4-day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.

The Salkantay route was an ancient trade route used by the Incas. Beautifully decorated by the Vilcabamba mountain range in the first part of the route, and by the jungle and rainforest in the second is a 100% recommended trekking.

Did you know that the Salkantay trek has been rated as one of the 25 best treks in the world by National Geographic magazine?
Salkantay trekking with travel agency or on your own

This is a very personal question and we believe it depends a lot on your mountain experience.

Because of the difficulty of the trekking and the added value of having a guide explaining everything about the area, we recommend doing it in a guided group.

You can hire it once you arrive in the city of Cusco, or you can do it beforehand from home.

The Salkantay Trek is designed as an alternative route to the traditional Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, it is a cutting edge experience for travelers looking for trekking, hiking and adventure in their travels.

The difficulty of Salkantay Trail

The Salkantay trek is considered of medium difficulty, especially considering the altitude at which it is located.

The Salkantay trek has a distance of about 75 km (46 miles) and is located at an altitude of 3000 m (10 000 ft), it is considered a difficult trek, compared to the other trekking options in Cusco. The route to the Salkantay trek starts in the city of Cusco, where Hikes in Peru will pick you up from your hotel.

The most interesting day is the second one, where we will ascend to the highest point known as “the Salkantay pass” at 4600 m of altitude, if you acclimatize correctly it will not be difficult.

Salkantay trail to Machu Picchu
Salkantay trail to Machu Picchu

The Salkantay Trek (6,271 masl), the “magic mountain” that dominates Machu Picchu, in the spectacular Vilcanota Mountain Range, is the culminating point of a trekking circuit that combines -with a magnificence rarely equaled- the majesty of natural scenery of great beauty with the attraction of the most famous pre-Hispanic remains in the world: Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail.

The Salkantay Trek begins by following the old Inca trail carved into the rock that leads to the Inca citadel of Machupicchu and crosses a mountain pass between the Salkantay and Humantay snow-capped peaks (5,917 masl), to continue along the Acobamba River gorge to reach the Inca archaeological site.

From the trail it is possible to obtain unique views of most of Cusco’s most beautiful mountains: the Wayna (5,464 masl), the Palay (5,229 masl) and the Wakay Willka or Veronica (5,750 masl), located on the other side of the Urubamba River valley (Sacred Valley).

Some aspects that you should take into account to do the Salkantay trekking

Machu Picchu Salkantay Hike
Machu Picchu Salkantay Hike

To qualify as a student, it is necessary to have a valid card from your university no older than one year scanned and send us a copy in an email to Hikes in Peru at the time of booking. We offer a $20 discount per student

For children under 16 we offer a $20 discount (scan copy of passport and send via email to “Hikes in Peru”).

History of Nevado Salkantay and the cult of Inca ancestors

The history of the Nevado Salkantay etymologically comes from two Quechua voices “Salka” which means wild and Antay means to produce avalanches.

The Salkantay mountain in Inca times was believed to be one of the most revered Apus for its greatness to provide abundant production for the surrounding villages, this by the fact of comprising a large amount of ice and water.

In fact, a very important ritual was delivered with offerings, sacrifices and prayers to continue promoting the irrigation of natural fields, crops, as well as for the consumption of products for people and animals.

Therefore, it is considered as “the father of all mountains” for being one of the active and powerful deities.

Salkantay Hike to Machu picchu
Salkantay Hike to Machu picchu

What to bring for the Salkantay trek?

  • Original passport (and valid student card from your university no older than one year if applying for this option)
  • Sleeping bag (not included, but can be rented at our offices)
  • Hiking shoes for the Salkantay Trek
  • Waterproof jacket / rain poncho
  • Warm wool jacket, hat and gloves for the Salkantay Trek.
  • Trek polo shirts or T-shirts
  • Comfortable pants
  • Sun hat
  • Sunscreen cream (factor 35 recommended)
  • Insect repellent for the Salkantay Trek
  • Hygiene articles
  • Personal medications
  • Camera, batteries and additional memories
  • Flashlight with spare batteries (headlamps are useful)
  • What does the Salkantay Trekking tour include?
  • Transfers in and out.
  • Transportation Cusco-Mollepata (Beginning of Salkantay Trek)
  • Professional tour guide for the Salkantay Trek to Machupicchu.
  • Entrance tickets to Machu Picchu.
  • 3 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 3 snacks, 3 dinners “not including breakfast on day 1 and meals after breakfast on the last day (day 4).”
  • Professional Cook for the Salkantay Trek
  • 1st Aid Kit for the Salkantay Trek
  • Horses (who carry tents, food and cooking utensils)
  • Horses (to load duffel bags)
  • Horsemen for the Salkantay.
  • Waterproof and quadruple tents “02 persons per tent”.
  • 01 sleeping pad per person
  • Tourist bus from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu.
  • 01 night hotel accommodation in Aguas Calientes.
  • Return train tickets in Expeditions Tourism Service (Machu Picchu – Ollantaytambo and bus to Cusco).

Location of Nevado Salkantay

Nevado Salkantay is located 60 km from the city of Cusco, exactly in the province of Convención, in the mountain range of Vilcabamba. In the course of the route you will feel the contact with nature to live every minute, to be able to observe and appreciate the landscape that surrounds it as its fauna and flora of the place.

  • Altitude of the Salkantay snow-capped mountain
  • The Nevado Salkantay is located at 6,271 m.a.s.l/15091 ft.
  • Hiking Distance of the Salkantay Trek route
  • Nevado Salkantay is located at a distance of 126.8 km/ 78.8 miles from the city of Cusco.
  • The most frequent climate of the Salkantay Trek

Salkantay has a varied climate, its temperature ranges from 0 ° C to 8 ° C, 32 ° F to 46 ° F, this with strong winds. Days before the beginning of your adventure you should acclimatize in the city of Cusco so that you do not suffer altitude sickness, which will allow you to enjoy the exquisite hike and love the contact with nature minute by minute of its passing.

Salkantay Hike Tour
Salkantay Hike Tour

Best Time to do SALKANTAY TREK in 2022

The most favorable months for your trip are from May to October, since these dates are more advisable to meet your expectations.

How to get to Salkantay Trail?

“Hikes in Peru offers you the best memories putting your safety first and taking into account the priority of offering our quality service to you.

To reach the Salkantay Snowy we leave from the city of Cusco to the town of Mollepata passing to Soraypampa, to finally reach the Salkantay Snowy.

Another alternative we can obviously take is starting from Cusco passing Soraypampa including the Humantay Lagoon until we reach the Salkantay snow-capped peak.

What to do in the Salkantay Trek 2022?

Make a camp at the foot of the Nevado
Going camping is the greatest contact with nature and what better to escape for a moment from the city, work or study with friends, couples or family will be of great vitality for your memory.

It will also keep our minds busy, helping us to create bonds with our family members. Consequently, it will allow you to rest better, waking up with the sunrise of the Salkantay snowy climate.

Why the name Salkantay?

Quechua is an onomatopoeic and descriptive language, so Salkantay translated into Spanish refers to an “indomitable mountain” because of its shape and the difficulty of climbing it.

Salkantay Trail Hike
Salkantay Trail Hike

Hiking to that mountain was almost impossible because the route is more “wild, untamed”.

The myth about Salkantay mountain

A myth tells us that: The snowy Humantay is possibly a female spirit.

The snowy Wakay Willka (Veronica) was in love with the snowy Humantay, but it was an impossible love since the snowy Humantay and Salkantay loved each other.

Salkantay Hike to Machu picchu
Salkantay Hike to Machu picchu

So, to avoid conflicts, the snowy Wakay Willka moved away and looked for a place where he could cry alone and left them happy and content to the snowy Humantay and Salkantay.

What is the weather like on the Salkantay Trail?

The weather is predominantly cold. But on the hike you will not suffer much, because on the hike your body will warm up.

In the mornings the weather can reach up to 0° mostly in the months of June – October. If you wish to camp you must take certain precautions since the nights are the most frigid.

At the summit, where the snow-capped mountain is located, the climate can reach up to 15°.

At what altitude is the Salkantay Trail?

The highest point reached is 4600. If you are a person who suffers from altitude sickness in Cusco, know that climbing the Salkantay will be a complication.

So take short breaks, drink coca tea, follow the route slowly, and above all do not run because you will be out of breath.

How to get to the Salkantay Trail?

The recommended months to embark on this adventure are from April to November.
During this period, rainfall is scarce.
The month of June is not recommended because the weather is very cold.

What are the details of the Salkantay Trail?

  • Duration: 5 days and 4 nights
  • Frequency: Every day, pre-reservation
  • Group: Maximum 16 people
  • What is included! : Transportation Cusco – Challa cancha, Salkantay entrance, 4 breakfasts, 4 lunches and 4 dinners, 1 night in dome, 2 nights camping, Hotel ** in Aguas Calientes, Bus uphill, Professional Guide, Entrance to Machu Picchu, Tourist Train to Ollantaytambo, Transportation to Cusco.

Inca Trail or Salkantay Trail

Our travelers have many questions about the difficulty of the Inca Trail and the Salkantay Trail, how to reserve a space? Here you can find answers to these frequently asked questions by travelers.

The answers are elaborated based on our experience as operators of the Inca Trail 4 days, Salkantay 5 days to Machu Picchu.

What is the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu?

It is a hiking route, which follows the course of an ancient road that connects with several archaeological sites until reaching the Inca City of Machu Picchu.

The starting point is Kilometer 82 of the railroad, between Cusco and Machu Picchu, to then border and ascend steep mountains until reaching its end at the Puerta del Sol or Intipunku, the main entrance to Machu Picchu.

The Salkantay trail 5 days, is the name of an alternative route of adventure that is done on foot ascending to an altitude of 4600 meters above sea level, this Salkantay trek 5 days is the second alternative for those who could not find quotas of the classic Inca Trail.

How many kilometers does the Inca Trail comprise and how many hours do we walk per day?

  • The Inca Trail is 43 kilometers or 26.12 miles long. There are camping sites assigned by the Ministry of Culture that are between 10 and 13 kilometers away from each other so the daily walking time can vary between 5 to 8 hours per day the first three days and approximately 3 hours on the last day. The hours of walking and the distance covered may vary according to the physical condition of each walker.
  • The Salkantay Trail is 60 kilometers long, extending to Machu Picchu. Between them, the daily trekking time can vary between 7 to 9 hours per day the first 4 days and approximately 2 hours on the last day. The hours of walking and the distance covered may vary according to the physical condition of each hiker, before starting the hike we recommend feeding at altitude 1 or 2 days.

How difficult is the Inca Trail or Salkantay?

The Machu Picchu Inca Trail is considered an intermediate level. It does not include rock climbing or snowshoeing, so no previous experience is required.

The most difficult part comes on the second day, when we ascend a number of stairs and start at 2,000 meters (6,562 feet) until we reach more than 4,000 meters (13,123 feet) walking through a reduced space, then things become easier as the path continues downhill.

Please note that you will be carrying your personal belongings, which may include clothes for three days, camera, water, camping equipment, etc.

The Salkantay Trail is of moderate level, since it climbs up to 4600 meters above sea level, it will be the hardest part for beginners, and for the experienced no difficulty, which entails a great responsibility, we recommend an acclimatization time of 1 to 2 days, thus raising the level of physical endurance.

What do I need to bring for the Salkantay Trail?

We recommend bringing the following items, but don’t worry if you forget or can’t bring any of them, in the offices of “Hikes in Peru” you can rent some of them or buy them directly:

Backpack, sleeping bag, rain jacket, windbreaker, rain poncho, a complete change of clothes, sweater (clothes that keep you warm), water bottle, water sterilization tablets (“Micropore” can be purchased at a local pharmacy in Cusco), flashlights, batteries, hat or visor, sun block, insect repellent, toilet paper, anti-bacterial or disinfectant gel for personal hygiene.

You must always carry your passport or original identity card, in order to enter the Inca Trail or Machu Picchu, it is absolutely necessary that it is the same document you used to book the Inca Trail, otherwise it will not be possible to enter Machu Picchu, photocopies are not accepted.

How can I book the Salkantay Trail?

To reserve your next adventure doing the Salkantay Trail 2023, through the web page, or the following email info@hikesinperu.com you only need to fill out the reservation form and provide us with your personal information, such as: full name, date of birth, Passport or Identity Card number exactly as indicated in your document, exact date of excursion.

If you have any doubt, call us to our phone number or write us to the email info@hikesinperu.com

If you wish to obtain the student discount, it will be necessary to send a scanned copy of your ISIC student card, and if any of the members of your group is under 17 years old, you must send us a scanned copy of your passport in order to apply the corresponding discounts.

What is the best time of the year to do the Salkantay Trail?

Peru has a great variety of climatic conditions; it is possible to say that travelers can come in any season of the year.

In the Peruvian Andes we have two seasons:

the dry season (without rain) goes from April to October and is usually more advisable. At the same time it is the coldest season of the year, due to the frigid winds typical of this region during these months, during the nights the temperatures drop to 4º C – 5º C and some nights it is possible to have temperatures as low as 0º C. June, July and August are the most popular months to visit Cusco due to the different festivities that take place during these months.

The rainy season goes from November to March, which also has a lot to offer, since this time nature and the Salkantay Trail offers us unique spectacles of both beautiful landscapes and splendorous fauna, greener landscapes

Wild flowers and dozens of species of orchids in bloom, With rains that can last for hours but at the same time with warmer temperatures, in the Salkantay Trek it is possible to observe some travelers and hikers who do not mind getting mud on their boots and experience a slightly more extreme and different adventure than the one experienced in the dry season.

How far in advance do I have to book my Salkantay Trek?

For the Inca Trail permits are sold in advance, especially if you plan to travel in high season, and as for the Inca Trail there are several options, such as the Inca Trail 4 Days, the Inca Trail Short 2 days, and other treks that can also take you to Machu Picchu, remember to do in advance if you want to travel in high season (April, May, June, July, August).

*As for the Salkantay rail is much more flexible, it is recommended to reserve at least 4 to 6 months since the quotas are not very restricted, you can always find spaces for the dates you want.

Are there alternative routes to Machu Picchu?

In “Hikes in Peru” we offer you these hikes, even though they are different from the Inca Trail, they have an exquisite level of beauty, you can call us to our phone number and we can talk to you about each one of them +51 901 410 487.

Is it possible to cancel the Salkantay Trail and get my money back?

Deposits for all our tours are non-refundable in full and non-transferable to another person, if you decide to cancel we cannot refund or transfer your permit to another client.

All this is because our government regulations are strict (and somewhat precarious), we are not allowed to change another client’s name and the government does not reimburse or credit us for the cost of the canceled space.

Nor are we allowed to transfer the reservation to another person. The only thing that will happen is that the group will be smaller, which does not reduce any cost for the agency.

Salkantay Hike to Machu picchu
Salkantay Hike to Machu picchu

Is it necessary to have travel insurance to do the Salkantay Trail?

It is 100% advisable to purchase independent travel insurance, in case of any medical emergency or other unforeseen incidents, in order to ensure maximum peace of mind and satisfaction on your trip to Peru.

Is it possible to do the Salkantay Trail without an Agency?

We are not going to lie to you, our agency is 100% honest with our passengers and we are not going to deceive you by saying that you can only do this tour with a travel operator, but you can do it; although everyone will tell you that this is not recommended, if you can assume all the logistics that a trek that goes from 3 days to 7 days needs, you can do it

But we must motivate you that it is not a good idea, since it is a strenuous hike, you may suffer an accident or you may run out of food; keep in mind that along this route there are many travelers who may or may not help you, or your life may be at risk; therefore we recommend you to do the Salkantay Trail with a travel agency.

“Hikes in Peru”, provides you with all the logistics, guides, cooks, food, implements, tents, sleeping bags, additional horses, and porters you need; and of course, we also have PREMIUM options so that you not only make a hike but also have a real connection with nature and be in good health.

Salkantay trek 4 Days / 3 Nights
Salkantay trek 4 Days / 3 Nights

What type of accommodation is used on the Inca Trail or Salkantay Trek?

There are campsites established along the Inca Trail, in which tents or 2-person tents are used to accommodate two travelers of the same sex. However, if you wish you can bring your own tent or rent one, it should be noted that this would involve an additional cost and with “Hikes in Peru” we give you the necessary comfort for your best trip of a lifetime; we are sure you will love our service, just call us and we will make a special plan for you.

Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu
Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu

Are there toilet facilities along the Inca Trail or Salkantay?

There are few places where there are permanent sanitary facilities, which are very basic.

Is the Salkantay Trail open all year round?

The trail is available year-round; there are no space restrictions or limitations.

Are all meals included during the entire Salkantay Trail Tour?

All meals are included, you can see them in detail in each of the Salkantay Trail Tours offered. We also have the vegetarian option is free; however, it is necessary to inform us at the time of booking the tour.

How is the food during the Salkantay Trek? And is it possible to order vegetarian food?

We can prepare your meals according to your dietary preferences. In the case of any dietary restrictions such as lactose, gluten or allergies to certain ingredients or foods can usually be accommodated; please check with us first before making your reservation.

If you simply do not like a certain food” Hikes in Peru”, gives you the comfort you need and we can elaborate your diet for the whole trek, this of course, always in our option of trips in Private service, in our group modality it is not so flexible

But it is usually more economical, anyway, if you want to walk at your own pace, we recommend our option in private service.

Is the Salkantay Trail cold?

Due to the high altitude it can be very cold, especially in frosty season (April to October), we can experience temperatures below 0º C during the night, so we recommend to bring thermal clothing and a good sleeping bag.

Is altitude sickness common? And how high is the Inca Trail?

Although it is difficult to know who will have altitude sickness is advisable to make a day or two of acclimatization in the city of Cusco, anyway these two days you can take advantage of doing other tours that we offer in “Hikes in Peru”, it is also necessary to follow a light diet,

Avoid alcohol and cigarettes, keep in mind that Cusco is located at an altitude of 3400 meters above sea level, also drink plenty of fluids is recommended, in “Hikes in Peru” we care about your health and you will have what you need with us.

What to do if I have altitude sickness?

It is best to sleep, drink plenty of fluids or you can also try coca tea. The porters chew coca leaves wrapped around a black resin called “Llipta”. When you are walking and active (especially on the second day of the trek), this can help, as it dilates the blood vessels and brings oxygen to the parts of the body that need it. See more about recommended foods for the Inca Trail.

Salkantay Hike Tour
Salkantay Hike Tour

What is the maximum group size for the Salkantay Trek?

The maximum size that “Hikes in Peru” can handle is 8 people, for larger groups a second trekking guide is required.
What is the minimum size of a group

The minimum group size should be 2 people, but if you are traveling alone we can also elaborate an experience for you, although the cost will be a little higher; our agency has done treks for people traveling alone, either for professional purposes, discovery and even influences looking for the best shots in the most delicious landscapes of the Andes.

Do I have to be in good health to do the Salkantay Trail?

It is advisable to be in good shape for this type of trek to fully enjoy every moment with the group since it includes 6 to 9 hours of daily trekking, quite steep climbs, and altitudes of up to 4200 meters above sea level. It is possible that even on the first day you may think about giving up, but the slightly prolonged rests will replenish you as you go along.

Having a better-than-average standard of fitness is desirable for the Salkantay Trek. Although it is also important to mention that there are many people who apparently did not meet this average standard, but still managed to complete the Inca Trail successfully.

If you suffer from cardiac, respiratory, arterial or blood pressure disorders, etc., it is important to mention them before booking the Salkantay Trail, in order to evaluate your participation; if possible, consult your family doctor. And he can contact us

Is it dangerous to do the Salkantay Trail?

Not specifically, it is a challenge of 4 or more days walking in a very remote area of the Peruvian Andes, which has places where you can fall and get hurt, just follow the directions of our expert guide and everything will be the most motivating experience I’ve ever had.

If you have any important medical condition that you think we should take into account, consult with your doctor and take the necessary precautions, with this we do not want to scare you, as we also have more gentle walks with a special dose of contact with local people.

Is it possible to rent camping equipment with “Hikes in Peru”?

Yes, in case you do not have the proper equipment to do the Inca Trail then we can offer you a rental service:
Sleeping bags, walking sticks, backpacks, camelabacks, flashlights, rain coats, etc.

Salkantay Mountain
Salkantay Mountain

Do the porters carry our equipment and personal belongings throughout the Salkantay Trail?

Our porters only carry shared luggage, such as: camping equipment (matras, tents), food. It is recommended to carry a maximum of 6 kg per person, remember that this is a hike, take only what is necessary. Although if you travel with “Hikes in Peru” we give you the possibility to make your trip even more comfortable, call us and we will make a special travel plan for you.

Can I hire an extra porter for the Salkantay Trail?

If it is possible to hire 1 extra porter (14 kg) to help you with your personal luggage: USD $ 120.00. The extra porter can be shared by 2 people.

How much should I tip the guides and porters?

In our country, and according to the policies of our company, tips are not mandatory, nor will we add them to your receipt of payment, Tips are according to your discretion and discretion, but are always very appreciated by the guides, assistants and porters, but generally it is suggested to provide between 5 to 10 dollars per day

But it is not really something mandatory is better to say that you can tip according to how you found the service during the tour of Salkantay Trail. And of course, the best reward for our guides, cooks and porters is the friendship they can establish, the good humor, and the experiences are the ones that last a lifetime.

How much money should I take with me for the Salkantay Trail?

It is important to carry extra money. The extra expenses that are usually incurred during the Inca Trail are:

  • Breakfast on the first day and lunch and dinner on the last day.
  • Souvenirs, souvenirs or handicrafts that you decide to buy.
  • Consider tips at your discretion.
  • Slightly considerable amount for emergencies, etc.

Does the Salkantay Trail tour include the visit to Machu Picchu?

Yes, the visit to Machu Picchu is included. The last day of our Inca Trail we will arrive at the Inca City of Machu Picchu, where it will be possible to get a wonderful view like no other, which will make you understand that all the effort made in the last 4 days of the Inca Trail had its reward and you will be able to admire a breathtaking panoramic view of Machu Picchu.

What is Huayna Picchu and how can I visit it on my Salkantay Trek tour?

Huayna Picchu is the mountain that we see in all the postcard photos of Machu Picchu. It is a very popular place for tourists, because it is possible to have access to this mountain and reach its summit by means of stone stairs, whose ascent takes about 1 hour and 40 minutes.

Once at the summit you get a great view of the entire valley surrounding Machu Picchu, at the same time an impressive view of the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu itself.

For those who enjoy adventure, it is possible to descend to the foot of the mountain and reach a small archaeological site known as the Temple of the Moon.

Do I have to pay to climb Huayna Picchu?

The entrance to Huayna Picchu is not included in the Salkantay Trek packages and the entrance to this mountain is purchased separately, and we can do it for you, the same day you book the Inca Trail, for costs and availability please ask our reservations department of “Hikes in Peru”.
If you want to visit Huayna Picchu on the same day you visit Machu Picchu, then you will have to pay the full price of a Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu permit which costs around $75.

If you are spending one night in Aguas Calientes and visiting Machu Picchu for the second time, then it is more economical to climb Huayna Picchu on your second visit.

It is very important to book the entrance to Huayna Picchu a few months in advance, as it is almost impossible to get a ticket just a few days in advance or on the spot.

Where does the Salkantay Trek tour end?

The Salkantay  Trail Tour starts in Cusco and ends in the city of Cusco; our private transportation will drop you off at your hotel or wherever you indicate, other agencies drop you off in San Francisco square, in the middle of the cold and without additional help; “Hikes in Peru” has the policy of total comfort for our passengers, and will take you to wherever you indicate within the city of Cusco or the Sacred Valley.

Can I stay one or more days in Machu Picchu Pueblo?

If it is possible to spend one, two or more nights in Machu Picchu village (the town at the foot of Machu Picchu) since there is a wide variety of hotels, restaurants and other stores in the village, this is at the passenger’s expense if it has not been planned in advance.
It is important that you take into account the departure of your flights and the availability of train tickets which are strict in terms of schedules and penalties.

As return trains you can choose the Expeditions train.

The fastest and most comfortable way to visit Machu Picchu. During the trip, you will be able to enjoy delicious snacks and hot and cold drinks. This tourist service has all the comforts on board and a decoration inspired by the Inca culture: the perfect prelude to your visit to the citadel of Machu Picchu.

Get ready to explore the ancient Inca citadel via the Salkantay Trail.

Once you have decided which route to take, it’s time to get excited about your Machu Picchu adventure.

Ready for the next step? Check out our Machu Picchu travel guide and find out everything you need to know when visiting the lost city of the Incas.

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