If you’re looking for an adventurous trek to Machu Picchu, look no further than the epic Peru Inca Jungle Trek! It’s four days of adventure filled with biking, white water rafting, hiking, hot springs, and zip-lining your way to Machu Picchu. The Peru Inca Jungle Trek allows you to complete one of the most exciting treks to one of the most amazing sites on Earth, all at a low price while making tons of new friends. If the jungle trek is not on your Peru bucket list, it should be.
Most trekking companies offer the Inca Jungle Trek with multiple different itineraries. The 4D/3N route is the most common (and what we did); however, it is possible to complete the trek on a 3D/2N plan. However, it might be a bit rushed.
Day 1: Cusco- Abra Malaga- Santa Maria: Biking and Rafting
Your epic Inca Jungle trek begins with a pick-up of participants from their hotel around 7:30 AM. The first stop was in the town of Ollantaytambo (Sacred Valley), where the bus fills up on fuel allowing for a snack and bathroom break before continuing the 2-3 hour drive to Abra Malaga Pass. The journey to the pass is breathtaking with incredible views along the way. As a matter of fact, Abra Malaga Pass is the highest point of the route, with an elevation of 14,206 ft above sea level.
The Abra Malaga Pass is the starting point for what will be the most exhilarating downhill bicycle ride of your life. And, if you’re lucky like us, it will be pouring down rain to make the adrenaline pump even more. Make sure the tour company provides top-notch mountain bikes and protective gear.
The biking route is incredibly scenic, predominantly downhill, for 40 miles. The ride is not strenuous, and you will gain some serious speed requiring a lot more use of the brakes than the pedals. Once again, when we went, it was pouring rain, which provided a unique element as the road was quite slick. Just ask my buddy Seth, who took a gentle little tumble. Luckily, his protective gear did its job. Stay alert; many blind corners and occasional crazy drivers are coming in the other direction. After we finished the 40-mile ride, you load back up into the van and head to lunch en route to Santa Maria.
White Water Rafting
As if the day couldn’t get any better, Santa Maria is the launching point for the next adventure: white water rafting. The rafting trip is sometimes an optional extra. Trust me. It’s worth the money! The 2.5-hour rafting adventure down class III and IV rapids located on the scenic Urubamba River, surrounded by snow-capped mountains, is a blast. If you need even more of a thrill, we had the opportunity to cliff dive into the swift river below. Additionally, when you think the rafting couldn’t get better, you’ll get to watch the sunset over the peaks of the Peruvian Andes.
After rafting, we went back to Santa Maria to take a cold shower that the humble hostel provided. If you are looking to stay at 4-5 star accommodations, then this probably is not the trek for you. But, we were comfortable and enjoyed the small hostel vibe.
Day 2: Santa Maria- Santa Teresa: Inca Trail Hiking and Hot Springs
Inca Trail Hiking and Snake Liquor
Day two of this epic Inca jungle trek starts early at around 6:30 AM. Crush a delicious breakfast before beginning the 15-mile hike along the Inca Trail. Hiking through the jungle is hot and humid but incredibly beautiful. The vegetation is lush and tropical; this is where the Jungle Trek certainly gets its name. Walk past small plantations growing coca leaves, avocados, oranges, lemons, bananas, pineapples, coffee beans, and much more. There will be plenty of opportunities to buy locally grown fresh fruit and snacks throughout the hike on your way to the top of the mountain.
A stop at a small farm on top of the mountain will be much needed. Here, you will have the opportunity to hold parrots, see adorable pups, eat fresh fruit and chocolate, put on some Inca war paint, and have the most unique shot of your life, Inca Trail Snake Liquor. The Peruvian’s believe that snake liquor has healing abilities, and the snake represents wisdom and the underworld in Inca Culture. Yes, the snake is venomous. Luckily, the venom is denatured by the alcohol.
After doing some shots, logically, while tipsy, you will continue the hike to the top of the mountains where you will have the vantage point to view of the whole valley of Urubamba. The scenery will blow your mind. I think they have you do shots before this part of the trek as it is the steepest. But, absolutely worth it.
Santa Teresa Hot Springs
Enjoy lunch then you will continue the trek down the mountains, fording streams, and crossing rivers along the way. After the long trek, your reward is the hot springs of Santa Teresa, and your sore legs will thank you. Relax with old and new friends as you sip a cold Peruvian beer.
From the hot springs, you walk back to your hostel in Santa Teresa, where dinner and a rather loud party await you. Let’s just say; I never thought we would be taking a shot of tequila out of a clay male sexual appendage. We will save the photos of that for another time. But, the welcome party is a blast.
Day 3: Santa Teresa – Hydroelectric trek – Aguas Calientes
Luckily, day three of the epic Peru Inca jungle trek starts a little later at approximately 8:00 AM, and that extra sleep is much needed. Today, you have the option to go zip-lining. Some tour companies charge an additional fee for this activity; however, it was included for us. The extra cost is well worth it. You will begin the adventure by climbing to the top of the mountain where the zip lines are. The feeling of flying 500 feet above the Peruvian Jungle is epic.
Hike to Aguas Calientes
After zip-lining, you will continue trekking for 2-3 hours to the hydroelectric station and then continue the trek along the train tracks. You will enjoy this easy 12.3-mile hike along the river to the unique town of Aguas Calientes. Otherwise known as the town of Machu Picchu.
Aguas Calientes is beautiful. There are no cars located in this tranquil city and was a beautiful place to prepare for the grand finale, the trek to Machu Picchu. Make sure you get to bed early because the next day starts soon!
Day 4: Machu Picchu
The last day of the epic Inca jungle trek is the day you have been waiting for; Macchu Picchu. After an early wake up early at 4:00 AM, lace-up your hiking shoes and get moving so that you can complete the journey to the top of Machu Picchu by sunrise. The hike is moderately challenging and takes approximately 1.5 hours. You climb about 1,500 stone steps leading up to the 15th-century Inca Citadel and one of the seven wonders of the modern world. Sunrise over Machu Picchu is the highlight of the whole trip and, honestly, one of the highlights of my life. After observing the sunrise, you will have approximately 2 hours guided tour of the nearly 200 structures that make up the most significant artistic, architectural, and land use achievements anywhere. Interestingly, Machu Picchu was not known to the outside world until 1911.
Alternative Machu Picchu Adventures
After the tour, you will have time to explore Machu Picchu. Furthermore, this is your time to climb one of the additional mountains: Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain if you have a ticket. Otherwise, consider a hike to The Sun Gate to get an incredible view of the entire complex. Unfortunately, when we climbed to the Sun Gate, it was foggy and rainy, and we were unable to see this breathtaking view.
After, you will return via car or train to the city of Cusco. The van ride from Machu Picchu to Cusco was by far the most terrifying experience we had in Peru. Drivers in Peru are maniacs, and we were confident our van was going to careen off the mountain to our inevitable death. Luckily, this was not the case, and after a few more hours of white-knuckling, we arrived safely to Cusco indicating completion of the epic Peru Inca jungle trek which was four of the best days of our lives.
Numerous trekking companies offer the epic Peru Inca jungle trek. Honestly, trying to find the right one may be overwhelming. Get Your Guide is a good place to look for tours and we recommend that you start looking there. If you don’t want to make the trek, they have a ton of different tours.
If you want to do the trek, prices vary significantly from US $150-700 pp. They offer essentially the same experiences. However, they differ in what is included (rafting and zip line) and accommodations. The best advice I can give you is to reach out to the companies directly and ask for a discount. Especially if you can book ahead before your trip. We did a lot of research and found that Peru Andean Hop was a reputable and affordable company offering the 4D/3N jungle trek that we wanted. Lisbeth and Ivan were excellent hosts, and we cannot recommend them enough. We emailed them and asked for a discount if we booked ahead of time for three people, and we paid US$170 for all accommodations, including rafting and zip-lining. It is possible that prices have increased some since we did it, but the Peruvian’s are all about bargaining and haggling, so give it a shot.
-Entrance to Machu Picchu
-English Speaking Guide
-Mountain Bike and Safety Gear
-3 Breakfasts, Lunches, and Dinners
-Lodging in a hostel for 3 nights
-Transportation to and from Cusco
-Entrance to hot spring: US $3
-Cable car over river: US $3
-Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain permits
If you are interested in other incredible hiking adventures, you need to check out the following posts: The Ultimate 9 Day Trip in the Canadian Rockies, Lassen Volcanic National Park: California’s Forgotten National Park, and You Don’t Want to Miss These Spots in Joshua Tree National Park.