Huancancalle to Machu Picchu
Mountain bike to Vilcabamba and Machu Picchu
Days: 4, including visit to Machu Picchu
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate, but very fun !
Highlights: This trip combines two of the most magnificent places in Peru – Machu Picchu and Huancancalle in the Vilcabmaba. There is over 15,000 feet of descending on this ride !! Extensive experience is not required, however basic biking skills are. We will pass by and/or visit over a dozen Incan sites, and bike past glacier ice as well as coffee, banana, orange trees and more. This trip is one of KB’s all time personal favorites and has the added benefit of taking routes that see very few other tourists.
We begin in Ollantaytambo at 9am, where you can relax a moment and have some coffee while we load your gear. We then drive one hour up to Abra Malaga (4316m, 14,150 feet) where you will begin your descent. First though, our guides will get the bikes and safety equipment sorted and give you complete instructions and assistance in how to enjoy the ride safely. Starting from the foot of the massive Veronica glacier, we will begin this amazing downhill to the jungle (there is some short singletrack sections up near the pass but the rest of the ride is on a newly paved road).
Along the way are spectacular views, Incan ruins, and an increasingly jungle-like terrain and culture as we whiz down the road. After a quality and hearty lunch at our favorite Incan site, those who are a bit tuckered out (or don’t fancy riding some uphills) can hop in the support vehicle, while others can continue on biking, with some short climbs of just a kilometer or two, before the final downhill plunge into the town of St. Maria. From the pass of Abra Malaga, this takes between 3 to 4 hours. Once in St. Maria, you can kick back and have a cold beer or other beverage while we load up the bikes.
We will then make the 3 hour drive to Huancancalle, up one of the most beautiful mountain valleys we have ever seen. We arrive to the Andean village of Huancancalle, which was the base of the Incan rebels for forty years after the Spanish Conquest, until they were ultimately forced down to Espiritu Pampa. We will stay in the charming hostal established by famed explorer Vincent Lee, called Sixpac Manco, where we will enjoy a large and well deserved home cooked meal.
After a large, hot breakfast we will take a hike visiting some of the areas Incan sites. The hike is short and just a few kilometers in total, but it will take us two to three hours due to the utterly fascinating and magical sites that are here. These sites include Manco Inca’s former palace which is known as VItcos or alternatively Rosapata, followed by our favorite place in all of Peru, Yurac Rumi also known as the White Rock. There is much more than just these, and as they defy description we won’t even try, but trust us you will be blown away by their magnitude and magical energy.
We will return down to Huancancalle after the walk and have another home cooked meal, then after lunch we will hop on the bikes for the massive, all downhill descent back down to the edge of the Amazon jungle and St. Maria. Here, the biking portion of the trip ends with yet another cold beverage break while we load the bikes to be sent back to Ollantaytambo. We will take local transport onward to St. Theresa and our hostal there. Dinner with local fresh and organic ingredients is included, as is a peaceful nights sleep under the stars and banana trees.
Today we have the option of either going to the zipline at Colo de Mono or else just lounging around by the river in St. Theresa. The zipline is very popular and is one of South America’s highest, consisting of 6 sections in total, zig-zagging their way down the mountain and soaring over the jungle canopy and Yanatile river. After, we will make the short drive to St. Theresa and then the HydroElectric station. From here there is the option of either taking a train to Aguas Calientes (pending availability and costs an extra $10, the train does not run consistently) but we recommend.instead the lovely 3 hour walk along the train tracks to Aguas Calientes. Along the way we will see native birds, plants, and the mighty Urubamba river. We will also get our first glimpse of Machu Picchu itself as well as some newly discovered parts of Machu Picchu that are only visible from this walk. We arrive at Aguas Calientes ,the town below Machu Picchu, where the guided portion of the trip ends. We will bring you to our hotel (included) and give you all your tickets and needed documents for Machu Picchu (also included) - including entrance, roundtrip bus ticket up to the site, and your train ticket for returning to Ollantaytambo the following day. Dinner is on your own and we have several recommended options.
Machu Picchu ! The bus system does not use reserved seats but rather a rotating shuttle bus, so you can get up at your own pace and make the few minute walk to the bus station for the short bus ride up the mountain to Machu Picchu. You will have as much time as you wish to visit the site, your train will not leave until early evening, well after Machu Picchu closes, so the pace and schedule will be your own. Afterwards, you will come down on the shuttle bus (ticket included) and have dinner before taking the train back to Ollantaytambo. Upon arriving at the train station in Ollantaytambo, you can either decide to spend that night in Olllantaytambo, which we recommend, otherwise there is ample transportation waiting right at the train station to take you the two hours back to Cusco, at a cost of only around $7 per person. (not included). This trip in our opinion is the best way to visit Machu Picchu, one of the 7 Wonders of the World.
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This is a multi night trip and includes everything. You will arrive to Aguas Calientes on the evening of the third day, spend the fourth at Machu Picchu and then return to Ollantaytambo or Cusco. (Ask about the optional Llactapata extension) Meals included are lunch, and hot dinner on Day 1, full meals on Days 2 and 3, and breakfast and lunch on Day 4. Five day option includes all meals on Day 4 and breakfast and lunch on Day 5. Also included is private vehicle transport to Abra Malaga and then Huancancalle from either Ollantaytambo or Cusco, and from St. Maria to the HydroElectric station. Your hostals in both Huancancalle and St. Theresa is included also, as is a guide knowledegable about the area and its culture. The cost for this trip is $495 per person, minimum 3 people. Ask us about private, two person trips. Be sure to check out all that is included, such as all charges related to visitng Machu Picchu, all biking, food, hostals, and transportation. Add $125 per person for the Llactapata extension, zipline not included.