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TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY - Exploring the Salkantay Trek

Written by:
Claire Dean

Published: 22-06-2023

Situated in the heart of the Andes Mountains, the Salkantay Trek in Peru is a remarkable journey that captivates trekkers, adventurers, and nature enthusiasts alike. This awe-inspiring route to Machu Picchu presents a perfect opportunity for photographers to capture the breathtaking beauty of the region. From snow-capped peaks to turquoise lakes and lush valleys to ancient ruins, the Salkantay Trek offers an abundance of photographic marvels. In this article, we will delve into the key points of interest and highlight the photography hotspots along this famous trek through the Peruvian Andes.


The Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu is one of the most spectacular treks to the iconic Incan citadel- Machu Picchu. The Salkantay trail offers unparalleled opportunities for photographers to capture the stunning beauty of its Andean landscapes along the way.

Incredible Salkantay with a Llama



The Salkantay trailhead can be found in the charming village of Mollepata. Nestled amidst verdant valleys and surrounded by towering mountains, this town provides an excellent starting point for capturing the rustic beauty of the region. Photographers can explore the vibrant local market, interact with the friendly inhabitants, and document the traditional Andean way of life.


From snow-capped peaks to lush cloud forests, the Salkantay Trek is filled with breathtaking vistas and unique cultural experiences. Whether you’re a seasoned photographer or an enthusiastic amateur, the Salkantay Trek provides many opportunities to capture life in The Andes.

Salkantay in The Distance


Humantay Lake

As the journey unfolds, one of the major highlights is Humantay Lake. With its dazzling turquoise waters and awe-inspiring glacier backdrop, this picturesque gem is a true photographer's paradise. The contrast between the azure hues of the lagoon and the rugged mountainous terrain creates a captivating composition, perfect for stunning landscape photography.


Humantay Lake (Laguna Humantay) is a shimmering turquoise jewel that enchants trekkers and photographers alike. Located at an altitude of about 4,200 meters (13,780 feet), this glacial lake is one of the highlights of the Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu.

Humantay Lake


The Salkantay Pass

Ascending to an elevation of approximately 4,600 meters, the Salkantay Pass offers magnificent panoramic vistas. Capture the majesty of the surrounding snow-capped peaks, the play of light and shadow on the surrounding landscapes, and the rugged beauty of this high-altitude terrain. This dramatic setting provides ample opportunities for breathtaking wide-angle shots and intimate portraits of fellow trekkers.


The dramatic contrast between the snow-capped mountains and the verdant lower slopes creates a striking composition. The pass offers stunning Andean vistas as well as a fantastic opportunity for time-lapse photography. You can capture the moving clouds and the changing light throughout the day.

Salkantay Pass


Cloud Forest

Descending from the lofty heights of The Andes, the Salkantay Trek continues through a mystical cloud forest. Cloaked in a lush emerald canopy, this ethereal environment is home to a rich array of flora and fauna, as well as coffee and mango plantations. Photographers can embrace the magical atmosphere, capturing the interplay of light filtering through the dense foliage, the vibrant hues of exotic orchids, and the fleeting glimpses of elusive wildlife native to the region.


Descending from the high altitudes along The Salkantay Trail to Machu Picchu, you’ll enter the cloud forest. This is a magical environment teeming with life. The dense vegetation, misty atmosphere, and vibrant flora and fauna provide endless photographic opportunities.

Waterfall on the Salkantay Trek


Llactapata Ruins

The Salkantay Trek unveils hidden ancient ruins that add a historical dimension to this famous Andean trek. The Llactapata ruins, perched on a ridge overlooking the Sacred Valley, offer a unique vantage point to capture the grandeur of Machu Picchu from a distance. Photographers can explore the intricate stone structures, experiment with different angles, and frame the iconic citadel against the backdrop of spectacular Andean peaks.


The Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu offers a few archaeological sites. Llactapata is a lesser-known Inca site found along the trail. It is positioned strategically on a ridge and offers panoramic vistas of Machu Picchu and the surrounding valleys. This provides an exceptional opportunity for photography and exploration.

Llactapata Ruins


Machu Picchu

The pinnacle of the Salkantay Trek is, of course, the iconic Machu Picchu. As you head to this sacred Inca citadel to catch your first glimpse of this ancient site, be prepared to photograph one of the world's most iconic archaeological sites and one of the 7 wonders of the world. Photographers can document the intricate stone masonry, the mysterious terraces, and the harmonious blend of human architecture with the surrounding natural splendor. if Machu Picchu is a mind-blowingly spectacular experience, the location where the Inca s chose to build the site is truly remarkable and has to be seen with your own eyes to be believed.


The culmination of the Salkantay Trek is the arrival at Machu Picchu. To capture the iconic sunrise over the ancient city, plan to arrive early. The first rays of sunlight illuminating the stone structures of Machu Picchu with Huayna Picchu in the background is a sight to behold.

Machu Picchu


The Salkantay Trek in Peru beckons trekkers and photographers of all ranges of experience, to embark on a remarkable visual journey through diverse landscapes, ancient ruins, and cultural encounters. From the serene beauty of Humantay Lake to the panoramic grandeur of the Salkantay Pass, and finally, to the awe-inspiring Machu Picchu, every step of this trek reveals remarkable opportunities for capturing breathtaking photographs. Immerse yourself in this unparalleled adventure and let your lens capture the timeless allure of the Andean highlands. Find out more here!


The Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu is not just an adventure; it’s an opportunity to capture the essence of the Andean landscape and culture through your lens. Each step along the Salkantay hike offers a new perspective and a chance to create lasting memories through your photography.

Small House near Salkantay