Salkantay Trek On Your Own: Food preparation
We did the Salkantay Trek by ourselves in December 2016, and have learnt a lot about how to best do food preparation for it. I've written this guide to ensure that you are as well-prepared and well-fed as possible when doing the Salkantay Trek on your own, and packing only what you need!
The priority when you're planning for the Salkantay Trek is light food that is energy dense and easy to prepare. All my food suggestions can be bought within Cuzco: Go to the Cuzco Central Market for dried fruits and nuts, and the PlazaVea Supermarket for packaged food items.
DO NOT OVER-PACK FOOD. Yes, I know you're scared you might suddenly starve, but the extra weight is not worth it on the Salkantay Trek, especially because it's possible to buy cheap food/meals frequently throughout the hike.
Example Hiking menu
This is an example hiking menu for a 5-day Salkantay Trek on your own. I recommend bringing 3 x breakfast, lunch, dinner PLUS trail mix/energy bars. This should supply you for all the meals you need to cook, with some extra (just in case). The meals that you can buy, I've outlined in orange italics below.
The weight suggestions I've put would be more than enough for a small person who is a medium-sized eater. 2.4kg is streamlined and an excellent food weight. Adjust according to how much you know you eat, but don't over-do it.
|Day 1||Breakfast in Mollepata|
|Day 2: Oats||115g oats + 30g powdered milk + 25g toppings||170g|
|Day 3: Oats||115g oats + 30g powdered milk + 25g toppings||170g|
|Day 4: Oats||115g oats + 30g powdered milk + 25g toppings||170g|
|Day 5||Breakfast in Aguas Calientes|
|Day 1||30g energy bar + 70g fruit and nuts||100g|
|Day 2||30g energy bar + 70g fruit and nuts||100g|
|Day 3||30g energy bar + 70g fruit and nuts||100g|
|Day 4||30g energy bar + 70g fruit and nuts||100g|
|Day 5||30g energy bar + 70g fruit and nuts||100g|
|Day 1: Wraps||110g wrap with choice of filling x 2||220g|
|Day 2: Wraps||110g wrap with choice of filling x 2||220g|
|Day 3: Wrap + Bought||110g wrap with choice of filling + Lunch in La Playa||110g|
|Day 4: Wrap + Bought||110g wrap with choice of filling + Lunch in Hidroelectrica||110g|
|Day 5||Lunch brought from Aguas Calientes|
|Day 1: Pasta||100g pasta + 200g pasta sauce + 20g parmesan||320g|
|Day 2: Rice soup stew||100g rice + 40g soup packet||140g|
|Day 3: Instant noodles||85g instant noodle packet x 2||170g|
|Protein||50g salami x 2 (Day 1 and 2 dinners)||100g|
|Day 4||Dinner in Aguas Calientes|
|Day 5||Dinner in Aguas Calientes/Hidroelectrica|
The below photo is an example of how you can pack food for your Salkantay Trek (Note: This was not for the Salkantay Trek, it's a hiking menu I used for the W-Trek in Patagonia and displays 4 x breakfast, lunch and dinner for 2 people. Your preparation should have only 3 x breakfast, lunch, dinner.)
- Fruit and nut mix
Make your own mix at the Central Market in Cuzco, where there are a few stalls specialising in dried fruit and nuts. The cheapest was from a guy who had huge bags displayed around him.
One bar per person as a treat
- Peanut bar
Bought from the PlazaVea supermarket. I really recommend these peanut honey bars, super delicious and full of protein.
TIP: I recommend about 100g of snacks / person / day. Do not underestimate the importance of snacks. They are tasty, energy-dense and require no cooking. If it rains a lot or you're dead tired, snacks become your go-to food.
- Instant oats with powdered milk and toppings
Oats and powdered milk can be purchased from PlazaVea. I suggest pre-preparing your oats in different ziplock bags for each day. In each ziplock bag, measure oats, powdered milk, cinnamon, dried fruits, nuts, seeds, etc. Then, when you need breakfast, empty the pack into your pot, add water, and cook!
If you can't be bothered cooking, we also ate the combo in our shaker bottle, shaking it up with water and "drinking" our oats. Turned out to be a tasty and no-fuss option.
Cereal/granola/muesli; Powdered milk; Energy bars, Trail mix
- Wraps with your choice of filling
Fillings could be peanut butter, cream cheese, cheddar cheese, salami, etc. We pre-made wraps for our 5-day W-Trek in Patagonia and they were still yummy on the 5th day. 2 wraps / day combined with trail mix/bars will keep you fuelled throughout the day.
Bread: What we actually brought on the Salkantay Trek for lunch was Olive Bread (from Green Point restaurant), cheddar and salami. This was a delicious lunch, but the bread doesn't keep well so we switched to wraps in future hikes. Other alternatives could be dense bread or rice crackers.
Cheese: If you want to bring cheese, bring cheddar or cheeses with skins (e.g. camembert, brie) as they keep quite well, even in hot weather. Best brought wrapped in cloth.
NB: The below requires you to bring a stove and gas.
- Your choice of protein (e.g. salami, tuna, vegetables, etc.)
I’d recommend bringing a dried meat on the hike (e.g. salami) as they are energy-dense, keep well and require no cooking. You can pre-cut the dried meat into smaller pieces and seal in a ziploc bag for easier prep during the hike. If you're vegetarian, I have seen hikers also pre-cut vegetables (e.g. broccoli) and bring in a ziploc bag to cook during dinner. Definitely worth a try but try to eat within the first 2 days.
- Pasta with choice of protein
For the pasta sauce, if you can get packet tomato soup this will be a lighter alternative than bringing actual tomato sauce. Just remember to prepare the soup with less water to ensure a thicker consistency. This trick works with almost any suitable soup packet (e.g. we've made pasta with packet Pumpkin Soup, Mushroom Soup, etc.). Unfortunately, the PlazaVea supermarket didn't have packet tomato soup when we were there. However, have a look anyways. If you have to bring the liquid tomato sauce version, it's fine as long as you eat that heavy weight away on Day 1.
- Rice soup stew with choice of protein
For this, you cook rice together with a soup packet to create a stew. For example, for our W-trek in Chile, we purchased Tomato Soup (55g) and a Tomato Basil rice packet (220g), which made for a winning stew with salami (pictures included). The PlazaVea likely won't have the same stuff, BUT be creative. They FO SHO have no shortage of packet chicken soup, which you could combine with any normal rice in a ziploc bag, and eat with some salami. Yum and filling.
- Instant noodles
A hike isn't complete without some instant noodles.
What I do NOT recommend: Instant mashed potato (I'm the biggest fan of potato but man, when we ate this on the Salkantay Trek, it tasted pretty bad when you can't make it properly with butter and all).
Hope that helps, if you've got any ideas to share, let me know! :)