Salkantay Treking, Information and tips

Salkantay o Salcantay, es el gigantesco e imponente nevado que parece estar más cerca del cielo que de la tierra


Salkantay or Salcantay, the gigantic and imposing snow-capped mountain that seems to be closer to the sky than to the earth, was considered since ancient times in the Andean world as a "sacred icon". For the Andean cosmovision, reverence to the Apus or sacred mountains, did not go unnoticed in time.

For the inhabitants of the Andes, reverence to the Apus, sacred mountains, turned into local protectors, did not go unnoticed over time, mountains like the imposing snow-capped Salkantay assume an important role in the Andean cosmovision. This is because before, during and after the Inca period, the mountains were considered sacred places.

The most powerful were usually the highest mountains in a region. Being popular belief that all mountains have their own superior spirits considered protectors of men and people, so they are known under the term of Apus protectors.

Currently the Salkantay, retains and persists in its religious symbolic importance among nearby populations, considered one of the most important mountains in the invocations of the ceremonies of thanksgiving to the Apus.


Etymologically, its name in Quechua could be translated as "wild mountain" which comes from the words: Salqa which means sullen or wild and Antay which refers to the action of producing avalanches or avalanches.


In Inca times, the snow-capped Salkantay was venerated and offerings were given in special ceremonies. This system was based on the possibility of achieving a safe and abundant production linked to a continuous and complex ritual dedicated to the land, water and the mountain itself; having the liquid element made the Incas and their ancestors practice sacrifices, offerings or significant rituals, constituting the "sacred water" which thaws from the sacred snow-capped mountains emerging and feeding lagoons, puquiales and rivers, in that route irrigates natural pasture fields and agricultural spaces for the consumption of animals.


In the popular Andean religious imaginary, the apu Salkantay is catalogued as "lord protector" who protects the towns of Limatambo, Mollepata, Machu Picchu and Choquequirao located in the Vilcabamba mountain range. The Salkantay remains "majestic and lordly", unlike the apu Ausangate which is considered "the powerful".

Within the traditional symbology of the dual Andean thought or yanantin, the snow-capped Waqay Willke also called Veronica, is considered the complement of the Salkantay. In the local Andean thought Salkantay is considered one of the most powerful and active deities, he is the father of all mountains.


Nowadays, different offerings continue to be made to the Apu Salkantay for different reasons, against the natural phenomenon of hail and crop diseases, in order to increase production and multiplication of herds, as well as protection in general.

The Apus do not speak to humans, it is humans, through invocations, offerings, rituals and prayers, who speak to the Apus asking for protection. Their role, as well as that of humans and the major gods, is to ensure abundance and cosmic balance.


For the Incas, the Salkantay would also be involved in the vital cycles of the Urubamba River or Willca Mayuc, since the waters of its thaws feed this sacred river. According to a beautiful legend, "the waters that fertilized mother earth (Pachamama) came through the Urubamba River, which the Incas saw disappearing in the Amazon jungle, without seeing it reach the ocean; so they believed that its waters returned at night to their sacred snow-capped mountains from the jungle in the form of a celestial river, which were the stars of the Milky Way.


Towards the Apu Salkantay there are three pre-Hispanic roads of Qhapaq Ñan, the Inca roads of Choquechurco, Choquequirao and the colonial road of Mollepata.