Inka Jungle Trek – Four Days of Fun and Amazing Scenery

A popular way to visit tourist magnet Machu Picchu is via a multi-day trek with the primary treks being:

  • Inca Trail: the most expensive and prestigious route, often requires booking several months in advance
  • Salkantay Trek: an alternative route that can be hiked independently
  • Inca (or Inka) Jungle Trek: a hybrid, activity based trek staying in hostels instead of tents

I chose the Inca Jungle Trek and in August 2016 enjoyed a fantastic four days with a wonderful group of people including Dale, Wian, Johann, Damian, Magali and Nicola along with super guide Jhimmy. The good food, reasonable accommodation and great value topped off the trip.

Booked through my Cusco hostel Ecopackers, Inca Path Peru operated the tour.

Day 1

The tour began with a drive from Cusco up to 4,350 metre high Malaga Pass. From the high Andes mountains with glaciers visible we mountain biked downhill to hot and humid Huamanmar.

Inca Jungle Trek, Cusco

The Inka Jungle Trek driver removing mountain bikes from the van roof with a glacier in the background

After a drive to Santa Maria, we negotiated the Vilcanota River, my first ever white water rafting experience.

Inca Jungle Trek, Cusco

Negotiating a Vilcanota River rapid in the inflatable raft (photo courtesy of the rafting company)

Day 2

Day two began early and involved a long hike and stunning scenery between Santa Maria and Santa Teresa.

The original Santa Maria town was destroyed by floods, causing the town to be relocated. The floods also destroyed the railway line, a previously efficient distributor of the area’s mango crop. Now, mangoes rot on the ground during the November/December season. In August the mango trees were flowering.

Inca Jungle Trek, Cusco A railway bridge early morning of day two at Santa Maria

During day two we made several stops in fields and huts where our guide Jhimmy explained the local crops including coca, cacao, coffee and pineapple. Peru is developing its coffee industry with many organic, small-scale producers.

Inca Jungle Trek, Cusco

Guide Jhimmy holding three coca leaves together in the shape of the Inca “kintu” symbol. Coca, the source ingredient of cocaine, is a legal crop in both Bolivia and Peru and commonly chewed by locals

Inca Jungle Trek, Cusco

The tour group crossing a creek on the second day hike from Santa Maria to Santa Teresa

Inca Jungle Trek, Cusco

Colourful birds eating bananas at a day two rest stop

Inca Jungle Trek, Cusco

The Inka Jungle Trek is an opportunity for people to eliminate any fear of heights

Inca Jungle Trek, Cusco

Members of another tour group following us along an ancient Inca jungle trail

Inca Jungle Trek, Cusco

Guide Jhimmy holding half a cacao pod, exposing the flesh-covered beans; cacao flesh is eaten fresh or fermented while the beans provide the key ingredient of chocolate

Late afternoon on day two we crossed over the Vilcanota River on a rickety, manual cable chair

The stunning scenery and experience on day two left me completely satisfied, even if the tour abruptly stopped then and there.

Inca Jungle Trek, Cusco

The group appreciated Cocalmayo Hot Springs after a long day two hike

Day 3

Inca Jungle Trek, Cusco

A beautiful early morning cloudy sky at Santa Teresa on day three of the trek

Day three began with an early informal yoga class, then zip-lining along the river valley and a challenging walk along a suspension bridge.

Inca Jungle Trek, Cusco

Walking along a suspension bridge high above the ground near Santa Teresa

Hiking from Santa Teresa to Aguas Calientes via Hydroelectrica, we followed the railway line and passed Machu Picchu in the distance.

Inca Jungle Trek, Cusco

Shops and stalls alongside the railway line near Hydroelectrica

Inca Jungle Trek, Cusco

Thousands of bromeliads (plants) grow on this sheer mountain cliff near Machu Picchu

Aguas Calientes is an ultra touristy town which almost solely serves to support Machu Picchu.

A passenger train entering Aguas Calientes, the main town servicing Machu Picchu

On day four of the Inca Jungle Trek we visited Machu Picchu, a site worthy of a separate blog post.

One thought on “Inka Jungle Trek – Four Days of Fun and Amazing Scenery

  1. Pingback: Machu Picchu - the Inka Jungle Trek | Where is Joe.in?

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