Inca Jungle: Mountain Bike to Machu Picchu
Days: 3, including Machu Picchu visit
Difficulty: Easy, 75km of all downhill biking (all paved roads), “from the Glaciers to the Jungle”
Highlights: This is the classic “back way” bike ride to Machu Picchu via Santa Maria and Santa Theresa, known as the Inca Jungle or BackDoor to Machu Picchu trip. It is not a mountain bike ride in the classic sense as the road is paved, however it is an extremely popular route due to the incredible scenery along the way and for people who wish to avoid the cost and hassle of taking the train.
Our mountain biking to Machu Pichu day involves 75 Km and 3312m of vertical descent on a asphalt road, taking you from the Andes to the Amazon – the most adventurous way to get to Machu Picchu! From Ollantaytambo we head out for the drive up to Abra Malaga, where we start our biking, following the same route that the Inca Ollanta took in the 16th Century when he lead his people to escape from the Spanish.
This ride begins at the base of a massive glacier, and finishes among the coffee and banana plants of the high Amazon jungle. Along the way we will pass by more waterfalls than we can count, plus at least two different Incan sites that are just now being uncovered. The scenery on this bike ride is simply spectacular, and the ride is all downhill – 75 kilometers with virtually no pedaling! The bike tour finishes in the small jungle village of Santa Maria. After arriving and enjoying a nice cold one, we jump into local transport for the hour transfer to Santa Teresa and then on to our hotel in St. Theresa, where dinner is included and a nice nights stay.
After breakfast you have two options: lounging in town along the Urubamba river and going to the Cocalmayo hot springs, or else doing one of the funnest ziplines in South America. This adrenaline pumping ride consists of several sections of zipline totalling over a kilometer of high wire. Criss-crossing the valley, you begin the ride about 250m above the valley floor and finish at the bottom. KBPeru customers receive a special price for this zipline, $45 instead of $60. The other option is spend a relaxing morning in town by the river and under the tropical sun, or just hang out at the zipline area but not actually do the zipline.
After finishing our morning’s activities, we take local transport arriving at the Hydro Electrica plant. We then begin to make our way to Aguas Calientes. We now have a relaxing and scenic 3 hour trek along the railway lines where we will see our first views of Machu Picchu itself and some new parts of it being uncovered – these are only viewable from this walk. In the late afternoon we will arrive at our destination Aguas Calientes and our hostel for the night. We will deliver to you all your Machu Picchu documents – entrance to Machu Picchu, roundtrip bus tickets from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu, and your train ticket back to Ollantaytambo – all of which are included. Huayna Picchu tickets are NOT automatically included and difficult to get – and also overrated in our opinion, expect hordes of tourists stampeding along the narrow path. You must get this ticket on your own (or email us as we will help you if time allows) if you want to clymb Huayna Picchu, we recommend Machu PIcchu mountain instead.
Machu Picchu, one of the 7 Wonders of the World ! Whether you get up early (buses begin leaving town for the 20 minute drive up to Machu Picchu starting at 5.30am, or begin at a more decent hour is up to you, as todays trip is not guided but rather on your own. Your breakfast is included free at the hotel, no matter what hour you begin. Due to the high surrounding mountains, sunrises tend to be a little less dramatic than people hope but nothing can diminish the awe and beauty of seeing Machu Picchu for the first time. Spend as long as you wish here, as your train leaves around 9.25pm, which gives you the entire day to visit Machu Picchu followed by a celebratory dinner in town. (Ask us about options for leaving on an earlier train, although we don’ t understand why folks come from across the world to see Machu Picchu but then are anxious to leave it as early as possible, if you take a train earlier than the 9.30pm train, you can’t even stay in the park until it closes !).
Many people ask about avoiding the crowds – the best kept secret is that Machu Picchu tends to empty out in the early afternoon, and the later you stay (it closes at 5pm) the less people there are. Indeed, bring a book and a snack and some patience, and you can all but have the place to yourself in the last hour or two – highly recommended and gorgeous sunlight that time of day! Return on the evening train to Ollantaytambo, where you can either stay the night there (preferred) or take one of the many shared vans that leave right from the train station in Ollantaytambo for the hour and a half drive to Cusco. This is not included but only costs about $4.
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The trip is 3 days and 2 nights and will get you roundtrip from Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu and back with everything included, besides the few exceptions noted below. Meals included are breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks on Day 1, breakfast, lunch, and snacks on Day 2, and breakfast on Day 3. Also included is private vehicle transport from Ollantaytambo up to the start of the ride at Abra Malaga, entrance to Machu Picchu (not including optional Huayna Picchu access), roundntrip shuttle bus ticket from Aguas Calientes to Machu PIcchu, and one way train ticket from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo. Also a full suspension mountain bike with hydraulic disc brakes, helmet, and full fingered gloves, and a bilingual guide knowledgable about the area and its culture. The cost for this trip is $420 per person, (minimum 3 people. * Note that a roundtrip train ticket from Cusco to Aguas Calientes, entrance tickets and bus ticket to Machu PIcchu, costs $210. All of that is included with your package. Ask about private trips for only two people if you do not meet the minimum of three, for a small extra charge of $19 there is no problem. This is not the cheapest tour down the mountain but it is the safest and most comfortable. It is very rugged terrain and you don’t want to rough it and sleep in a $4 hostel (trust us!). We do a great job on this trip and everyone loves it. Please note that if you have a fear of heights, windy or steep or exposed roads, this may not be the trip for you.
Please note that we reserve the right to cancel any trip or tour, even at the last moment, if due to weather, strikes, protests, mudslides, or any other reason, we deem the trip to be unsafe to either our clients or our staff. If we do cancel the trip for the above reasons, a full refund will be made on the spot. Any monies that were initially paid via PayPal, will be returned by PayPal.
WHAT TO KNOW AND BRING:
The most important thing to know is to pack lightly, you will have to carry everything you bring on your back between the Hydro Electric and Aguas Calientes, in the afternoon of Day 2. The bike ride from Abra Malaga down to St. Maria is dusty and dirty during the dry season, and pretty wet during the rainy season, so expect any clothes worn on the bike ride on Day 1 to get pretty icky. When we arrive in St. Maria on day 1, you can send back to KB Tambo hotel any dirty clothes you don’t want to carry the next 2 days. It is very cold at Abra Malaga, but then gets warmer the rest of the trip. It is not cold on day 2 or 3. Bring sandals, shorts are optional but there is a lot of biting insects on Days 2 and sometimes Day 3. Our recommendation is long sleeve, lightweight, breathable quick drying shirt and same material for pants. Insect repellent and sunscreen are also good ideas !