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.
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.
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.
Excerpted from the Second Edition of Moon Machu Picchu.