We did the Salktantay Trek in August during the dry season and it was absolutely phenomenal. Despite tough uphill treks which will test your endurance and long downhill paths (with gravel and sand) in certain locations, the views and the entire experience was well worth it.
I hope by giving my testimony it will encourage future trekkers to go on this trip as well as to know what to expect as to be prepared in advance.
Our guide was Ramiro, who was an excellent host and well experienced. He was friendly, extremely helpful and professional to say the least.
The first day was pretty relaxing. After a short uphill stint, the rest of the road to the campsite on the first day was extremely scenic with breathtaking views of the Andes mountains. The temperature was comfortable and I made do with a base layer and a sweater. As it was sunny during our trip, sunblock is advised as the UV in Cusco and this part of the world is strong.
After reaching the campsite at about late afternoon, 1-2 pm, we had our lunch prepared by our talented chef Izac which was surprisingly good. I had little expectations of the food although I was pleasantly surprised. Each of the meals during the trip would come with a soup, an appetizer, main and hot tea to finish to off. After lunch recharge, we did an optional trip (recommended) by our guide to an ice glacier lake perched about 400-500 m vertical to our campsite location. This was a tough climb especially at this altitude (3600 m) but it is a must do, weather and time permitting. It was amazing and in light of the hype of the ALS challenge gone viral we had decided to do our own little challenge by taking a dip in the ice glacier lake. Not the smartest thing to do although memorable.
During this first night, it was cold. The sleeping bag provided (probably rated at -4 degrees) was just about sufficient although an extra jacket or warm packs would have helped. This is partly due to the campsite being in a location of approx. 3600 meters which is fairly high up. Be prepared for this as much as possible by bringing warm clothing (i.e. windbreaker is not enough!)
The second day morning as stated on the website was the toughest part of the climb. It was about a 900 m vertical climb over a period of 4-5 hours. Grueling but tip is to take lots of breaks and keep yourself well hydrated! Hire an extra mule if necessary which we will be offered at the 1st night as the mule can take you up this section if needed. I had suffered from altitude sickness I reckon as I had a bad headache although I pushed through to the top. Needless to say the view of Salkantay mountain is amazing.
After reaching the top at about 1 pm, we then had an extra 2 hour hike downhill to the campsite. Followed by a 3 hour hike to the campsite which we reached at about 6 pm.
The 2nd night campsite was more decent in terms of weather as well as facilities. You are at a much lower altitude which is almost more jungle in feel with a woman evening providing hot shower if needed - this was a real treat by the way.
The 3rd day was fairly easy - about 6 hours hiking in total in jungle - rainforest terrain. Mosquitos would be the main issue on this day and insect repellent on top of your sun cream would be strongly advised. Although t-shirt and shorts is possible on this day, I decided to keep my base layer and long pants on which prevented any mosquito bites!
Finally arriving at Aguas Calientes after a bus and train journey at about 5 pm and rest. We stayed at the Hatuchay hotel which was a real treat. Good clean rooms, hot shower, good food, definitely recommended and about a 5 minute walk from the place the train had alighted us.
Machu Picchu the next day was organised by our guide which was amazing although we had encountered a lot of tourists (as expected). If you feel adventurous the extra ticket (which can be bought on the website) to Huayna Picchu which is the opposite mountain is well worth it. The views are amazing and there are less people. The climb however is tough with lots of steps but short, circa 1 hour.
Overall, our experience with this tour operator was great. It was my first time in Peru and trekking in the Andean mountains and it really was an amazing time. If I can offer a few tips to summarize I would say:
1) If permitting, do the optional ice glacier lake hike after reaching day 1 campsite.
2) Warm clothing essential for the 1st night campsite.
3) 2nd day hike in the am is tough as stated on the website. It is however doable, take lots of breaks, keep hydrated and if you think your physical level is not up to par, hire a mule.
4) Mosquito repellent needed for the 3rd day.
5) Huayna Picchu, the mountain facing Machu Picchu is recommended to get better views and less tourists!