The Inka Jungle Trek to Machu Picchu. 4 days, 3 nights, downhill mountain biking, whitewater rafting, trekking, a zipline, hot springs and one of the 7 wonders of the world. All for less than $200 with Peru Coca Travel. ‘Nuff said, but okay I’ll tell you more.
After a few hours of walking around Cusco, Peru asking different travel agencies what their Inka Jungle Trek included and for what price, we arrived at the decision to go with Peru Coca Travel. They offered the cheapest price and included everything. We paid $180 for everything. Other agencies were offering the same price, but then slipping in that the rafting or ziplining was not included, or sometimes both. We met lots of people along the trek doing virtually the exact same trip as us, but some were paying up to $300.
So what’s the catch? There’s one small detail that is different. The transportation.
On our trek, we hiked all the way to Machu Picchu Pueblo (AKA Aguas Calientes) on the way there. But on the way back, you either take the train or a van back. If you take the van back, you have a 2-3 hour hike along the railroad tracks before you arrive at the last point accessible by car the MP. You have to do this if you do not take the train. Unless you are in very bad shape, I highly recommend you take this option. The train will cost you at the very least $50 for your one-way ticket back. The train is also privately owned by overseas company, so by buying a train ticket you are supporting some serious exploitation
And that was literally the only difference. We stayed in the same hostels, ate the same food, had the same quality of bikes, and rafted and ziplined with the same companies!
Our first day was an adrenaline-packed 2 and a half hours of nonstop downhill mountain biking, with options for beginner to experienced riders. I have done a lot of cycling in my life, and this was by far the most gorgeous ride I’ve ever been on! Whipping around corners down mountain roads, past waterfalls and descending into rich jungle, I could not have asked for more in one ride!
Next came whitewater rafting on the Urubaba River in the afternoon. The rapids were class II and III, nothing to write home about if you’ve rafted more intense rivers, but nonetheless a lot of fun. A much-needed meal and sleep follows.
The next day is easily the hardest day of the trek, a 30 km (almost 20 miles) trek that includes a small section of the Inka trail. We started the day off walking along a jungle trail, where our guide taught us all about the various plants and all of their uses. As we walked we picked fresh citrus and avocados to eat along the way. There are two different stops where you can play with monkeys that have been captured and tied up. It is fun and I do think the monkeys enjoyed our presence, but I can’t say I left without playing through various scenarios where I could help the monkeys escape their unjustly confined lives. Next time!
After a long and painful climb to an amazing viewpoint over the river, jungle and neighboring mountains, we began our descent to lunch and then had a long but relatively flat hike to the hot springs for some well-earned relaxation.
After the hot springs, you can choose to end your day at 23 km and take a taxi to the hostel for around $2, or walk the remaining 7 km to town and proudly say you walked 30 km in a day. I chose the latter!
Day 3 started off easy with some nice ziplines across the river valley and ended (after 2-3 hours of pretty but tough hiking along railroad tracks) in Machu Picchu Pueblo where we had a big dinner and then early bed to wake up the next morning at 4 am and begin hiking up to Machu Picchu. The hike uphill to Machu Picchu is extremely difficult, but the only other option is taking a $12 one-way bus up. That is a total ripoff! After finally reaching the top, we entered the park and began a useless tour. Sure, I learned a little bit, but I would have much rather spent all that time exploring the park on my own.
Machu Picchu is beyond words. It is the most incredible, mystical place I’ve been to in my whole life. My first visit in 2013 truly changed me. It is awe-inspiring and humbling. Both visits, I took a seat at a far-off viewpoint and just stared at the marvel. I highly recommend finding a spot away from the crowds where you can admire the ancient temple from afar. The amount of intuition you can gain from inhaling the fresh mountain breeze and admiring the unbelievable site is incomparable to anything else I’ve ever experienced. I have never thought so clearly in my whole life. It really reminds you what to be grateful for and also what you need to change to better yourself and your life. It helped me to gain some ground on finding some much needed peace in my life, although I know that that will be a long-fought battle.
The amazing day ended with a hike down the mountain and back along the train tracks that we did in record time on account of the pain we had in our feet due to insane mosquito bites and some serious mileage. After an uncomfortable but money-saving 5 hour van ride back to Cusco, the Inka Jungle Trek was over.
Or so I thought! I left my wallet in the van and had to chase it down and with the help of a travel agent was able to convince the driver to give it back without taking any money! That story will come soon!
The only complaint that I have about the trek, which you will get with every tour company, was that at times, there just was not enough food for all of the activity that we did. I could have eaten double what I was given at times. Not being able to eat gluten, there were also a couple of instances where my meal was even smaller than everybody else’s. One day I couldn’t eat the soup and every morning I had eggs whereas everybody else had eggs and bread. But overall, Peru Coca Travel did a great job and for the price it was unbeatable.