Trekking to Machu Picchu via the Inca Jungle Trail

Photo of a rough stone trail through the mountains of Peru

Backpacking the Inca Jungle Trail to Machu Picchu. Photo © ForTheRock, licensed Creative Commons Attribution.

The latest route to Machu Picchu is locally known as the Inca Jungle Trail. This is a four-day trip that includes biking, hiking, and trains. The advantage of this route is the comparatively lower altitude. It is a completely different experience, with the emphasis on cloud forest scenery, plus a welcome dip in thermal baths. Unlike on the other trails, archaeology is scarcely visible before arriving at Machu Picchu.

Day One

After 10 years, a decent road to Quillabamba has finally been made. A bus ride of about three hours passes Urubamba and Ollantaytambo to the new road, which leads to the Abra Málaga (4,300 meters). Most tours bike 80 kilometers down this road to the town of Santa María, which is a vertical drop of 3,000 meters. Be very careful since this road is very busy with speeding minibuses and trucks.

The Abra Málaga is one of Peru’s spectacular mountain-to-jungle descents.×

Day Two

This day is a six- to seven-hour trek through cloud forest. An old Inca trail has been discovered here and is currently being restored. The walk itself takes you through coffee plantations, coca fields, and fruit farms. This walk is a hiker’s favorite as it leads directly to the Cocalmayo hot springs in Santa Teresa. The floods in January 2010 washed the baths out completely, but they have been restored, although they are more modest now.

Day Three

This is another day of trekking; the geography is very similar to that of the previous day. After a morning of trekking, you will finally arrive at the hydroelectric plant, where a train takes you to Aguas Calientes. The following day is the normal day tour of Machu Picchu.

Map of Aguas Calientes, Peru

Aguas Calientes


Excerpted from the Second Edition of Moon Machu Picchu.


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