Also known as The Tropical Inca Trail
Day 1: Cusco - Huayopata/ Santa Maria
You will be collected early from your hotel in Cusco in private transport, and transported to the Abra de Malaga (or a point below, depending on the group). (approx 3 hrs drive) Here we will start an interesting and sometimes slightly hair-raising downhill ride on our mountain bikes. (depending on previous experience) This is suitable for people of moderate fitness, who like a bit of a challenge. Approx cycling time is about 4-5 hours but you will be accompanied by a support car at all times, so if you want to retire, you can get into the car. For the hardy, we will cycle all the way to the small high jungle village of Santa Maria. Other groups prefer to end earlier. We will have lunch en route and visit some Inca ruins. This road can be compared to the "Worlds Most Dangerous Road" heading to Coroico in Bolivia.
Tonight, you will be staying in new homestay in Huayopata. This is a small village approximately 15 minutes before Santa Maria. Your host is working with the new cooperative COCLA tours. She has a basic room, but no shower facilities as yet. She will prepare you a meal and can also take you to visit the tea processing factory which is nearby. Tea is found at this altitude, between Inka tambo and Huayopata. Huyro is the tea centre of the region.
Day 2: Santa Maria to Huacayupana
Leaving our host family in Huayopata, we will hike for a short period along the road before taking a trail through coffee and coca plantations and also pass through farms which grow tropical fruits like oranges. After climbing for a while we connect with a "tropical Inca trail" - that is, an Inca trail from the time of the Inca empire. This is also known as the alternative Inca Trail or the Jungle Inca Trail. There are great views along this section and we descend via impressive Inca Stairs while admiring the canyon of the Vilcanota River. (please note, this is VERY challenging for those with vertigo or a fear of heights!)
After several hours hike, we arrive at our host´s home, in the small village of Huacayupana. We will then be the fortunate participants in a new but well thought out community tourism project. The family is part of the coffee cooperative Huadquiña and COCLA TOURS cooperative and have received mircro-finance assistance to construct two basic rooms, and a hot shower bathroom. (it should be noted that capacity is currently only 4 people, and if the group is larger than 4, the remainder of the group will be camping, on a first come-first served basis)
In the afternoon you will learn a little about the family´s life, helping them on their farm collect coffee, or perhaps drying coffee or running the coffee through the basic mill. *please note – your daily activities will be governed by the season and the actual activities of the family when you arrive. Therefore it can´t be guaranteed what you will actually be doing – but as you are participating in the family´s daily activities its sure to be an interesting insight. Your meals will be with the family, who have been trained in hygiene and food preparation. By 9pm, everyone will be sound asleep after a hard, yet satisfying day!
Day 3: Huacayupana to Aguas Calientes
After breakfast with the family, we will start our morning´s hike to Aguas Calientes. There are a number of alternatives – a short half hour walk, an hour and a half´s climb and a 3 hour hike into Santa Theresa. Your choices depend on how much you would like to hike, the advice of your guide and how long you would like to stay visiting with your host family.
At some stage we will take local transport to the Hydroelectric plant, where we will have a late lunch in a local restaurant. Here, time permitting; we will visit an unrestored small Inca ruin. We will take the local train that departs at 6.30pm and takes approximately 1 hour to arrive at the village of Aguas Calientes. We will stay the night in Aguas Calientes, in a basic hostal and enjoy a celebratory dinner in a local restaurant.
NOTE: An alternative for Day 3 is as follows:
Early in the morning a taxi will take us to the Cola de Mono zipline. For those who do not want to take on the challenge of the zip line you have the option of taking a forest walk at Cola de Mono. After lunch in Santa Theresa, we will drive to the Hydroelectric Station. Here you have the chance to see a small but interesting Inca ruin while waiting for the train. The train departs at 6.30pm and takes about one hour to arrive at Aguas Calientes. En route you can look up and see Machu Picchu above you.
We will stay the night in Aguas Calientes, in a basic hostal and enjoy a celebratory dinner in a local restaurant.
NOTE: As Cola de Mono is an optional activity, the price is ADDITIONAL to the price of the itinerary.
Day 4: Aguas Calientes - Machu Picchu - Cusco
Early in the morning (before dawn) we will take a bus up to the ruins of Machu Picchu . (Bus included in price) so that you can appreciate sunrise from the Watchman's Hut (or Inti Punku if you get up very early). You will then have a three hour guided tour of Machu Picchu with your guide. After your tour you can further explore the ruins by yourself or climb Huayna Picchu for that classic photo of Machu Picchu . Please note that you need to start climbing Huayna Picchu by 12 noon. Also try to fit in a visit to the Temple of the Moon or the fabulous Inca Bridge . We highly recommend walking down from Machu Picchu to get a feeling for the vegetation and also the audacity of its builders. Its a 1-2 hour walk back to the village of Machu Picchu or, you can take the bus which is included in your ticket. We return to Cusco in the afternoon by the backpacker train (leaves either at 2.30pm or 6pm) and are met by a driver at Ollantaytambo who will transfer you directly back to your hotel. You will arrive in Cusco approximately 4 hours after your train's departure from Aguas Calientes..
Included / Not Included
INCLUDED IN THE TREK
- The times cited in this itinerary are approximate. Walking times depend on the group and the guide can change lunch spots and campsites, depending on the progress of the group. Each guide has their own preferred route and it might not correspond exactly to the route described here.
- This is an adventurous trip. You should be sure to bring an open mind, flexibility and a sense of humor. Most of all you should be prepared to go with the flow
- Your daily activities will be governed by the season and the actual activities of the family when you arrive. Therefore it can´t be guaranteed what you will actually be doing – but as you are participating in the family´s daily activities its sure to be an interesting insight.
- You will be guests of a Peruvian family. Please respect their cultural norms and behave in a sensitive manner. (ie we don´t encourage drinking while staying with the families)
- Considering an extra night in Aguas Calientes? (Please check out linked page) We can change the date of your train ticket to the following day. Hotels costs and costs associated with returning to Machu Picchu the following day are additional to trek costs. Please also note that your entry ticket to Machu Picchu is valid for one day only, if you wish to visit the ruins on a second consecutive day you will need to purchase the ticket again.
Aguas Calientes upgrade package (optional)
This is an upgrade package for treks that already include a nights stay in a hotel in Aguas Calientes, but you would like to upgrade the standard of hotel, meals and train service. This price doesn’t change depending on the number of people in the group.
Prices - Standard Aguas Calientes Upgrade - $140
Comfort Plus Aguas Calientes Upgrade - $180
** The difference between the Standard option, and the Comfort Plus option, is the standard of the hotel.
- Standard Option includes - a night 3 star hotel, like La Cabaña (standard), Inti Inn (standard), Gringo Bills (Jnr Suite), Rupa Wasi (Suite). These are a nice hotels, with a little more character tha the average Aguas Calientes Hotel - well decorated, and clean.
- Comfort Plus Option includes - a night in higher price range 3 star hotel, like El Mapi or Taypikala. Both are new hotels with careful attention to detail.
Both packages include the same meals and trains.
- Dinner at one of Aguas Calientes “best” restaurants, like Indio Feliz or Tree House restaurant.
- Buffet lunch at Tinkuy Restaurant, located in the Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge.
- With limited eating choices at Machu Picchu hunger tends to send clients to Aguas Calientes; by including the buffet lunch we find that clients can visit Machu Picchu early, then go to the buffet to try lots of different Peruvian (and Western) dishes, and then rest and go back for a second look at Machu Picchu.
- Return in Vistadome train rather than Expedition train, which gives you the opportunity for a more varied timetable and to return in a nicer train, with big windows in the roof.
For complete facts about many aspects of Apus Peru tours, check out our FAQs page!
- Pre trek briefing
- Collection from your hotel in the morning of trek departure.
- Transport from Cusco to the trailhead at the beginning of the trek in private car
- Good quality mountain bike, and helmet for the first day of biking.
- Entry fee to Machu Picchu (If you wish to climb Huayna Picchu its $15 extra, please advise at booking)
- English/Quechua/Spanish speaking professional guide (you will have an assistant guide for groups over 6 people).
- Meals as indicated in the itinerary (optional vegetarian food). Our professional cooks prepare meals that incorporate elements of the western diet and also traditional Peruvian delicacies. (Please communicate with your guide/cook during the trek if you have a preference for certain types of dishes). Salads, if served, are washed in boiled water.
- Porters. We provide duffel bags at your briefing for your personal items (up to 7 kg/15lbs per person).
- First aid kit
- Bus up and down from Aguas Calientes - Machu Picchu
- Train or equivalent luggage from Hydroelectric station to Aguas Calientes
- Train ticket (Expedition service) from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo
- Private transport from Ollantaytambo to Cusco.
- Celebratory dinner in Aguas Calientes
- Lunch on the last day is included in this itinerary.
- 2 nights in homestays, as described in the itinerary.
- 1 night accommodation in Aguas Calientes in a basic hotel. This will be a nice, clean and safe hostel with breakfast included and private bathroom. If you wish to upgrade from this hotel, please check out the options listed on our Aguas Calientes accommodation page.
What is not included?
- Breakfast on the first morning.
- Dinner on the last night.
- Entrance to the thermal springs
- Huayna Picchu Entry $15 Extra. Please advise at time of booking as spaces are limited.
- Sleeping bags - If you haven't got a sleeping bag or you don't want the hassle of bringing one all the way to Peru with you, then we have sleeping bags for hire.
- Tips for the guide, cook and porters
- Additional horses for passengers luggage.
- Extra activities (ie Cola de Mono zipline)
Gallery of Photos