We have just completed the Salkantay trek and it was truly incredible ! Exhausting but incredible. Our guide Juan Carlos was fantastic - hugely patient when the going got tough, hugely informative about the trail and the Incas and great fun to be around. Huge thanks to Marco, the chefs and our horseman too - a fantastic team ! The trek itself is pretty hard not least because I was the only girl in a group of 11 guys so keeping pace was a tough but fun challenge.
The route is stunning - the afternoon of day 1 being my main highlight - the glacial lake is truly breathtaking. Day 2 is uphill and tough in terms of altitude but well worth the effort, and is followed by a much needed and beautifully flat jungle walk on day 3. The accommodation was great on nights 1 & 2 - a sheltered tent beneath a stunning glacier on night 1 (pack thermals !), and camping on a local family's land at their well equipped and super characterful home on the second (hot showers were bliss after such a tough days walk).
The 3rd nights accommodation is not nice and requires a bit of a sense of humor but there is a bonfire and beer, and it's close to the stunning hot springs ! On the 4th night you pick your own hostel in Aguas Calientes - we went for Santuario which cost a little more than other hostel options but you won't regret spending the extra by the end of the 4 day hike as others in our group went for cheaper options and missed out on a hot shower which was pretty grim.
Machu Picchu on day 5 is everything you imagine it to be - amazing ! But make sure you take the guides advice and get there early as it's well worth it to miss the crowds. I had the time of my life on this trek - it was more difficult than anything I've conquered before, but that's half the fun of it. Juan Carlos is an incredible guide and in my opinion you won't go wrong with Inca Trail Reservations - Salkantay.org ! Some of the other groups we saw on the way had pretty shoddy guides and service. Worth the money ! Do it !!