The Inca Jungle Trek To Machu Picchu: Looking for an adrenaline rush experience on your way to Machu Picchu? Then the Inca Jungle Trek is just for you!
The Inca Jungle Trek is by far the most action-packed way to get to Machu Picchu. It includes downhill mountain biking, jungle trekking, zip-lining, river rafting and of course the breathtaking Machu Picchu. Unlike other famous great treks such as Salkantay trek and Classic Inca Trail, the Inca Jungle Trek is cheaper, no camping is required and you do not need to book in advance. Do not miss out on the fun and keep on reading to find out why this trek is becoming increasingly popular and see a day by day itinerary.
The journey begins in Cusco, the former Inca capital. It is highly advisable to arrive in Cusco by bus rather than by plane to avoid altitude sickness. The gradual increase in altitude will allow your body to acclimatize better to the new conditions. A bus ride can take longer, but it doesn’t mean that it has to be boring. You can explore the hidden locations of Peru in a fun and relaxed way as you travel from Lima to Cusco with Peru Hop buses. Their unique hop-on hop-off system allows you to explore Peru like a pro and without a fixed itinerary.
From Cusco, your Inca Jungle trek will take you on a 4 day and 3-night journey to the magnificent Inca citadel of Machu Picchu. Sleeping accommodation is provided in hostels or with host families depending on the tour company you choose. In any case, entrance ticket to Machu Picchu is included. So, without further ado, let us walk through the Inca Jungle adventure!
Map showing towns that the Inca Jungle trek goes through
The first day starts early at around 5:30am when your tour guide picks you up to take you on a 3-hour ride to the town of Ollantaytambo where you will have time for breakfast. Later, your bus will take you to Abra Malaga which is the highest point of the trek at 4,300 meters above sea level. From here, it is a speedy downhill mountain bike ride of 50 kilometers on a smooth paved road. As you go down the winding road, you will have time to stop and take in the magnificent changing landscape that leads you towards the Amazon jungle.
ENTERTAINMENT TIP: If looking for fun at night, or to watch sports during the day, or even a taste of home, visit the Wild Rover Hostel Cusco for great food, sports and beer! Entrance to their bar is free even for non-guests
Around mid-late afternoon, a lunch stop will let you rest a bit and enjoy some tasty food. Then, your group will arrive to Santa Maria and depending on the season, usually between October and April, you can choose to go river rafting. River rafting is optional and it has a separate small charge. Depending on the tour company you choose, the rest of the group will go on a guided hike to your night accommodation while having the chance to pick coca leaves, coffee beans and maybe some other fruits or vegetables on the way. Once the rafting group finishes, they will be taken back to Santa Maria so that they can walk from there to join the rest of the group. Some tour companies will drive you to a nearby town, Santa Rosa, to then walk to your accommodation and spend the night.
Whatever tour company you choose, day 2 is all about walking in the footsteps of the Incas and having a close encounter with the tropical flora and fauna. The day begins with an early nutritious breakfast accompanied with organic locally grown coffee. After breakfast, your group will walk along the banks of the river where you will then embark on a 30 min. hike to reach a point where traces of Inca trails can be found. As you continue your walk on a well-preserved section of the Inca trail, the flora and fauna will greet you with their multi-colored patterns of all shapes and sizes. This ecosystem is part of the high forest and it is one of the most biodiverse ecosystems in the world. Moreover, as you gradually ascend, you will have an overview of the Urubamba Valley. Later, your group will walk downhill towards the village Qellomayo to have lunch and maybe rest on hammocks to recharge your batteries. Following the break, you will continue walking for about 3 hours to the hot springs of Santa Teresa where you can take a warm bath and relax. Finally, the group will move on to Santa Teresa where you are certainly more than welcome to visit one of the town’s bars to hang out with your fellow travelers, but make sure to be ready to wake up early the next day.
After an early morning breakfast, your guide will divide your group in two. The ones who signed up for zip-lining and the ones who will continue trekking. The zip-lining group will be taken to a nearby area where they will begin their long-awaited adrenaline packed zip-lining. The other group will set foot on the tracks of the first explorers who discovered Machu Picchu. Later, both groups will rejoin for lunch at Hidroelectrica. From here, everyone will walk following the train tracks that lead to Aguas Calientes. It is expected that everyone will arrive at about 4pm so that you can have time to explore the town and later have a briefing with your guide about the visit to Machu Picchu the following day. Aguas Calientes is the nearest town to Machu Picchu and it is the point where visitors from all corners of the world spend the night to be ready for the big moment the day after.
As will be told by your guide, it is highly recommended to wake up at 4am so that you can be at Machu Picchu’s gate before 6am (the time that gates open). Your guided tour will last 2 hours, then you will have free time to explore the site on your own. Those who purchased their entrance ticket to one of the mountains that overlook Machu Picchu, Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu mountain, can proceed to do their hiking at this time. As you walk around Machu Picchu, the impressive backdrop of steep hills surrounded by the winding Urubamba river will not cease to amaze you. Once finished, you can choose to take a shuttle back to Aguas Calientes or follow the trail back to it. In the evening, a train will take you to Ollantaytambo and then a transfer bus will drive you to Cusco. Your estimated time of arrival will be 12:30am.
There you go! The Inca Jungle trek is a fun yet affordable way to reach Machu Picchu. If choosing to go on this tour, make sure to take lots of pictures to share with your friends and family back home. As the saying goes, sharing is caring. 🙂
Lastly, the itinerary presented here is a general one and it can vary depending on the tour company you go with. Whatever the case might be, you can get the best value for your money by checking out FindLocalTrips.com, a search and comparison website for tours and activities across South America.