The Inca Jungle Trail to Machu Picchu combines all the best aspects of trekking, extreme sports, and adventure. I was staying in a small town outside of Cusco in the Sacred Valley of the Incas, called Pisaq, and got a phone call from a friend of mine in California. He had ten days off from work, and wanted to do as much as possible and especially go on some kind of hike or trek to Machu Picchu. I knew it was impossible to try and book the Classic 4 Days Inca Trail on such short notice so I went to my favorite company PERU PATH, and started looking up alternative treks to Machu Picchu. The Inca Jungle Trail stuck out more than any of the others, especially when thinking about what kind of person my friend is. He loves being active and loves adventure, especially extreme sports. The Inca Jungle Trail to Machu Picchu is an alternative trek and over the course of three days four nights you not only trek through the Andes mountains of Peru, but also mountain bike, white water raft, ride four wheelers, and zip line all the way to Machu Picchu.
PERU PATH came and picked us up the morning we began where I was staying at in Pisaq. We took a car ride through the Sacred Valley towards the town of Ollantaytambo. Here we began to zigzag up a mountain road until we got to the highest point of the mountain called ABRA MALAGA. This pass is 4350 meters or 14,271 feet above sea level, and it was our starting point for the mountain bike ride. After putting on all of our safety gear, helmets, gloves and chest armour, I road my bike towards the starting point of the ride. We were above the clouds with the Santa Veronica mountain glacier right next to us. This was by far the most amazing bike ride Ive had the chance to go on. For the next two and a half hours we descended the mountain on a road and covered about 55 miles. We started above the clouds, and ended in sub tropical weather surrounded by a banana forest and parrots.
After the bike ride, we arrive in a small town in the jungle called Santa Maria. A short walk to the river and we met our guide who was going to be taking us on the rafting part of the Inca Jungle Trail. My friends had both done rapids before and to my surprise I was the only one who had never done white water rafting. After a quick safety talk and briefing on what to expect we began our trip down the class two and three rapids. I had such a good time, I was hysterically laughing for most of the trip down the river and swallowed a very large amount of water because of it. At one point our guide steered us towards a small waterfall rapid and we all jumped to the front of the raft and literally started surfing the rapid with the boat. After about two hours we gave high fives to our guide, said thank you, and headed to our hostel in Santa Maria.
Once we ate, had a quick shower and nap, our guide Freddy asked us if we had enough energy to ride trails on four wheelers. In the dark. Without hesitation we all jumped up picked out our quads and rode mountain trails all around Santa Maria after the sun had gone down. In the first day alone of the Inca Jungle Trail, we had mountain biked 55 miles, white water rafted, and rode four wheelers on jungle trails. We were sore, tired, and felt like giddy little children when it was time to finally sleep.
The next day is when we finally started the hiking part of the Inca Jungle Trail to Machu Picchu. The high jungle is very hot. If you take this alternative trek to Machu Picchu I recommend you bring lots of water. The second day was one of my favorites, as you get to hike original parts of the Inca Trail, visit an amazing Coca, and Coffee plantation that has a few monkeys and other animals wandering around, and after a full day of hiking you finally come to the jungle town of Santa Teresa. After about 6-8 hrs of hiking, you end up at natural hot springs. These thermal baths were the best way to end the day. Soaking for a couple hours in the natural hot springs of Santa Teresa watching the sun go down behind lush green mountains, and sipping on cold refreshments. Life doesn´t get much better I thought, and then came the swedish girls!
After we cleaned up at our hostel, ate some food and took a shower, we heard that there was a Disco Techa in Santa Teresa. A Disco Techa, is essentially a bar, dance club, hangout spot for locals. Of course we had to meet up with the swedish girls we met at the hotsprings and have some drinks, danced our gringo butts off until the wee hours of the morning. We totally forgot that we had to wake up in a few hours and start trekking again!
The next morning was a total blur for me. Still a little drunk from the night before, my friends and I almost didn´t wake up in time to go zip linning. I have to admit, after laying in the shower for fifteen minutes and drinking a few cups of coffee, I was totally fine. A little hung over, but I wasn´t gonna let that stop me. Santa Teresa has an absolutley amazing zip linning course. 5 zips high above a river and banana forest, as well as an Inca bridge that is hundred of feet up with six inch planks of wood to step on, about two feet apart. My favorite part about this place by far. I don´t know if it was the bridge itself I enjoyed, or the fact that my friend and I were at the front and back of an entire group of people on it, and we were shaking and jumping on the bridge terrorizing a group of girls clinging for their lives. Yeah I know, we are assholes.
Afterward a quick car ride to a place called Hydro Electrica, the hang over finally caught up to my friend who spent the whole car ride half way out the window puking his brains out, we can finally see Machu Picchu mountain. Here we begin a three hour hike along some train tracks all the way to Aguas Calientes. Once in Aguas Calientes we stay at a really nice hostel, eat some food and go to bed early so we can wake up around 4 am to hike up to Machu Picchu.
The holy city of Machu Picchu is glorious. One of the most beautiful locations accented with some of the most genuis architecture. PERU PATHs Inca Jungle Trail to Machu Picchu was one of the most well rounded treks I have been on. It had a little of everything. Extreme sports, trekking, casual hang outs with other travelers, and of course your last day is the highlight of the entire trip. Finally visiting the Holy City of the Incas at Machu Picchu.
I recommend this trek to anyone who loves extreme adventure and isn´t afraid to get a little dirty.
For more details and information about all the different alternative treks to take to Machu Picchu as well as the Classic 4 Days Inca Trail itself, check out PERU PATHs website :