Even before I started out on my backpacking trip through Latin America, Trekking to Machu Pichu was always at the top of my bucket list.
Unfortunately when I arrived in Peru it was February so doing the Inka Trail was not an option as it is closed for maintenance during that time. I was left with 3 other options the highland mountain trek of Salkantay, Getting the train straight there (Feels a bit like cheating doesnt it?) or doing the more adventurous option of the Inka Jungle Machu Pichu trek. As it was wet season trying to find a group for Salktantay was proving almost impossible as many tour operaters had stopped doing the trek due to frequent land slides.
So I decided to go with the Inka Jungle Trek.
So what is the Inka Jungle Machu Pichu Trek?
If trekking through the deep jungle to machu pichu didn’t sound extreme enough to you then this 4 day adrenalin pumping tour is bound to get you going, fusing a variety of extreme sports along with jungle trekking. It includes downhill mountain biking, Zip lining, White water rafting (When weather permits). You get to trek and sleep in the deep jungle, bath in hot springs and finally ascend up to the stunning ruins of Machu Pichu.
Where to book it?
There are countless travel operators selling a jungle trek to machu pichu in Cusco. I did a bit of hunting around and while the cost wasn’t the cheapest I ended up booking it through Loki Hostel, where I was staying and partying way to much. The price including the return ticket on the train and Huayna Picchu and was $220 USD.
If you wanted to save a bit more money I’m sure you could hunt around and save $30 or so however apparently the tour offered through Loki is different to a lot of other’s as on the first night you get to spend it in the cloud forest jungle instead of the town of Santa Maria. However I am not 100% sure on this.
What was included:
- Transport from Cusco to Abra Malaga (Where you start your bike ride)
- Food from lunch day 1 to breakfast day 4
- Professional billingual guide
- Bike with front suspension, gloves and helmet
- 3 nights accommodation in basic hostels
- Entrance fee to Machu Picchu
They also let me store my bags in the storage room of the hostel for the 4 days I was gone which was a bonus.
Things to bring
With the tour booked I was given a list of things to take on the trek. You are also expected to bring your own snacks and water, However don’t stress about picking these up before you go as there are numerous stops every few hours where you can stock up on these as you go. The only catch is that it costs a little bit more compared to buying them yourself in a local cusco supermarket.
The list of what to bring is as follows:
- Hiking boots/shoes
- Backpack (30 to 40 liters)
- Comfortable clothing for trekking
- Rain gear or poncho (rainy season)
- Sandals for evenings
- Clothing for warm weather
- Warm sweater / jacket for 1st morning
- Flashlight + extra batteries
- Hat for the sun
- Sun block
- Water bottle
- Personal medical kit
- Insect repellent
- Toilet paper
- Spending money (soles)
- Original passport
The night before the tour starts
The night before the tour starts we had a pre-trip meeting where I met the guide and the people who would be going on the trek. In our group we had 1 guy from USA, 2 guys from UK, 2 girls from Norway and 1 girl from Finland plus myself representing Australia. After giving us a basic run down of what our itinerary would be over the next four days, as well as getting us to sign some waiver documentation, we all headed off to bed ready for our bright and early your pickup at 6:30am.
Day 1 – Bus, Biking, Jungle Trekking
My alarm went off at 6 and I stumbled out of bed as half of my dorm room where just settling in for the night after a heavy night of partying. I went to the hostel reception at 6:30 where I was met once again by our guide and other tour members. We all squeezed into a small mini van with our mountain bikes on a trailer behind us and we were off to our first destination, Abra Malaga mountain located 4,200m altitude, But not before a quick pitstop to grab some breakfast and more food supplies from a nearby cafe.
Once at the chilly top of the mountain we were all given our protective biking gear and bikes and started our 2 hour descent down winding mountain roads, through river crossings. It was a really fun ride and you didn’t have to be super fit to do it, It would have been better if it didn’t start pouring with rain the moment we started riding. but hey you cant have everything. By the time we made it to Alfamayo for our lunch stop most of us were drenched.
After a simple meal,Some juice and some time to relax and dry out in the sun, We all jumped back into the van for a short ride to our drop off point where we all put on our pack’s and began a 30 minute jungle trek up into the mountains to our accomodation for the first night, A small jungle lodge.
At the jungle lodge we got to buy some local chocolate and homemade juice that was delicious. We then all had a bit of fun and got dressed up in local clothes and performed a local dance for goodluck. I have a video of the whole thing however I’m pretty sure I would be hunted down by every other member of the tour if I posted it online. So this picture of me wearing a poncho will have to suffice 😀
After a bit of dinner we all headed off to bed for some much needed rest.
Day 2 – Jungle Trekking to Santa Teresa and hot spring’s,
On the second day we woke up at 7am had some breakfast and said goodbye to the resident hostel bird and mongoose and began our 16km trek to the town of Santa Teresa.
The first part of our trek was along an authentic inka trail narrowly winding through the cliffs. Definately not good for people who are scared of heights. However it sure was an astonishing view.
While trekking through this ancient mountain pass our guide gave us a history lesson about the inca’s and what little is known about this amazing culture. I found it to be really interesting and informative especially since our guide enthusiastic and passionate about his culture and heritage.
The trail descended down to the tiny town of Quellomayo, where our group got to have a 1 hour break for some lunch and relax in hammocks. Before continuing through the jungle towards the hot springs in Santa Theresa.
We then trekked for another few hours through a combination of dirt roads and jungle. We made a very interesting pit stop at a local’s house where they had a pet monkey and a kitchen full of guinea pigs which was a little bit biazare, But I guess it makes sense seeing as Guinea pig is eaten in Peru/Ecuador. I had even eaten some myself in Ecuador.
After another few hours trekking we finally made it to hot springs of Santa Teresa for a much deserved soak. The cost of the hot springs is not included in the tour and it’s optional however as it only costs a few dollars it is more than worth it, especially after a long day trekking.
After relaxing in the hot springs we had the option to either trek the 45 minutes into the town of Santa Teresa or pay a couple of dollars to get a minibus. As it was starting to rain everyone opted for the minibus. Once in Santa Teresa we all settled into our hostel had a bit of dinner and then retired for the evenning.
Day 3 Santa Teresa To Aquas Calientes – Trekking and Ziplining.
On the third day of the trek you are presented with a choice, You can either go on a 3 hour trek or choose to do some ziplining at over 150m high above jungle. There was a third option where people who didn’t want to trek or zipline could choose to wait around and play fooseball until the ziplining was complete, However people who chose this option had to pay a small fee for the bus.I had never done zip lining so took this opportunity to give ti a go and tick it off my bucket list.
After a short safety demonstration we were put into our ziplining gear and went on a 15 minute trek through the jungle up to our first of the five ziplines.
After having done the banos bridge jump in Ecuador ziplining felt like a bit of a cake walk. However I still had a lot of fun and really enjoyed the scenary.
The highlight of the ziplining was definatelydoing a zipline in the superman position,It was a little terrifying but definately a must. What’s the superman position? well check out my awesome video below where I believe I can fly!
After the ziplining was done we took a short shuttle bus to the Hidrolectrica station where we had some lunch before embarking on our final 3 hour trek for the day, along the train line to the town at the base of Machu Pichu Aquas Calientes.
the three hour walk along the train tracks to Aquas Caliente’s would have to be my favorite part of the trek. We were surrounded by lush jungle on either side, the walking was relatively flat, and the train rushed by every 30 minutes which kept us on our toes.
Upon arriving in Aquas Calientes we were shown to our hostel and given some time to look around the town and buy some food to eat while up at machu pichu the following day. I would highly reccomend doing this as only breakfast is included on the final day as part of the tour, and the prices are heavilly inflated on Machu Pichu itself.
After sharing our last dinner as a group together, everyone headed off to bed bright and early so we could get up at 4:30am to make the final climb to the highlight of the tour Machu Pichu.
To be continued…..
Stay tuned for part 2 where I talk about my final climb to Machu Pichu and explore the ruins.
I am in no way associated with Loki Hostel or Loki Tours, I just happened to book through them.