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.
After 10 years, a decent road to Quillabamba has finally been constructed. A bus ride of about three hours passes Urubamba and Ollantaytambo to the new road, which leads to the Abra Málaga (4,300 meters), a high pass into the jungle. 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.
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 because it leads directly to the Cocalmayo hot springs in Santa Teresa. Floods in January 2010 washed the baths out completely; they have since 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.
Early in the morning, you head by bus to Machu Picchu to do the normal day tour.
Excerpted from the Third Edition of Moon Machu Picchu.