The Jungle Trek to Machu Picchu is the most exciting way to get to this Wonder of the World, and is also one of the cheaper options! This trek includes biking through the Andes Mountains, zip lining in the jungle, white water rafting, and hiking on a part of the Inca Trail. It is an experience I will never forget, and one that I highly recommend doing! It is action-packed and adventure heavy, and so much fun!!
Read more: 6 Ways to Get to Machu Picchu
The Jungle Trek to Machu Picchu is typically offered as a 4 day/3 night option. However, because of political protests in Cusco on the day my tour started, we had to cut a day off of our tour and only spent 3 days on the trek. The day we cut out was Day Two, which was hiking part of the Inca Trail. We were pretty disappointed, but at least we could still do most of the tour and make it to Machu Picchu despite everything else!
Our tour company picked us up in a minibus near our hostel in Cusco, and we started our journey by driving into the mountains of Peru. Here, we suited up in reflective vests and helmets, got on mountain bikes, and rode our bikes down the mountain roads, winding through the mountain ranges. It was absolutely stunning, and one of the highlights of the journey for sure. Everywhere you look was beautiful! The nice thing about this part of the tour was that everybody went at the speed they were comfortable with, so if you wanted to pull over and take some photos, you can!
Biking through the mountains took up a good chunk of the morning, so after biking, we had a quick lunch at a local shop and then headed out on our rafting adventure. I would recommend wearing your bathing suit underneath your clothes before leaving on the tour because there were no change rooms and we had to change on the bus! They also suggested against bringing any cameras or go pro on the rafts, so I left mine with my bag on the bus. However, I think it would have been fine to take it with me and I wish I had!
White water rafting was a ton of fun and took the majority of the afternoon, we were getting out of our rafts as the sun was setting. After rafting, we were returned to the little town we had left for rafting from, and we were able to change out of our wet suits in a little room in one of the shops. Once everyone returned from rafting (there were a few different groups), we jumped back into the minibusses and headed to the town we were staying at for the night.
Once we made it to our hotel, we were served dinner and then went straight to bed because we were so worn out!
This is the day that was cut out of my tour because of the protests in Cusco, but this day includes hiking on a part of the Inca Trail through the jungle, and I think a trip to hot springs. I wish I could have experienced this day on my tour, but at least I didn’t miss out on everything!
On the morning of day three, we went on a ziplining adventure in the jungle! Closed-toe shoes are necessary for the zipline, and make sure to wear bug spray and sunscreen as well.
After ziplining we got into the minibusses and drove to a village called Hidroelectrica. Hidroelectrica is the farthest place you can drive to get to Machu Picchu, and so it is here where most travelers start their walking journey. Here we had lunch, and then headed out!
The walk from Hidroelectrica to the town of Aguas Calientes (the gateway town to Machu Picchu) takes about 3 and a half hours along train tracks and through the jungle. Everyone hikes at their own pace on this part of the journey as well! Anyone who is visiting Machu Picchu typically spends the night in this town, because the shuttle busses and hike up to Machu Picchu starts around 5 AM and it is still dark out at this time. There is a gate blocking the entrance to the hike, and so around 4:30 AM people start lining up at the gate and the shuttle busses to be the first on the trails or catch one of the first busses.
Aguas Calientes is a beautiful town and I wish I had spent an extra day here to explore. But once you make it to the town, there’s a guide who will take you to the hotel you stay at for the night. There is free time for you to explore the town before dinner, and most spend this time at the hot springs! We ate dinner as a group with the tour, and then went to the shops to get some snacks and went to bed early before our big trek up to Machu Picchu the next day!
Day four is the earliest start, I woke up at 4 AM in order to get up, pack up all my stuff, and get going! You have to take everything with you when you go to Machu Picchu, because after visiting you have to head straight back to Hidroelectrica.
Anyway, to get to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes you have two options: you can either catch the shuttle bus to the top (around $12 CAD) or hike up the stone steps to the top.
I chose to hike the steps – I was tempted to take the shuttle bus, but decided to push myself to do the hike and I am so happy that I did! Although it was one of the most difficult hikes I’ve ever done!
The gates to the hike open at 5 AM and the first shuttle bus leaves at 5:30 AM, so basically the goal is to wake up as early as possible and walk to the entrance for the hike or the shuttle bus line. By the time we got there (around 4:25), there was already a line up for both, so it was here that we stood in line with our friends and ate our breakfast in the dark waiting for the gates to open!
Once the gates opened, we had about an hour to get to the top for sunrise (6 AM) and to catch our group for the tour around Machu Picchu. I was solo tired and so sweaty after finally making it to the top. We arrived just barely on time and caught our tour, saw the sun peak through the mountains, and we spent the morning exploring Machu Picchu! It was incredible.
We left Machu Picchu around 11 AM (don’t forget to get the Machu Picchu passport stamp at the exit – just for fun!) and we began our descent down the steps we had taken up that morning. Once at the bottom, we continued our walk back to Hidroelectrica, and waited for our bus. We had to leave at 11 AM at the lastest, in order to make it back to Hidroelectrica to catch our bus at 3 PM.
Now there was a mix up with the company we booked, and no bus came for us. Our friends, however, did have two extra seats on their bus (we were so lucky) and so we were able to buy tickets to catch that bus back and make it all the way back to Cusco. Now, this was a looooong bus ride and definitely very uncomfortable. If you have the money, I would highly suggest taking the train back to Cusco. But, when you’re traveling on a budget, sometimes you don’t have a choice and just have to deal with the 8 hour, super squished ride back!
We were dropped off around our hostel again, and we had made it back from our amazing adventure to Machu Picchu!
The price of the tour was around $200 CAD when we had first negotiated the price, but we did get some money back because of the mishap with the bus from Hidroelectrica back to Cusco, and because we lost a day of the tour because of protests in Cusco. But! This was the typical price I found when shopping at different companies, although my friend did find a cheaper price right after we had booked our tour! My friend booked with a different company but was actually on the same tour as us. So, from what I can tell, it doesn’t make a huge difference in the company you book with, because your tour will most likely be combined with other companies anyway!
Basically everything essential was included in the cost of the tour! We had English speaking guides the whole way and for our tour around Machu Picchu, all of our meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner), all of our accommodations while on the tour, the river rafting, ziplining, biking and equipment, entrance fee into Machu Picchu and the tour, and all of the transportation by bus.
When booking your tour, you can customize it for the comfort level that you want (nicer rooms cost more, less nice rooms cost less, bus cost vs taking the train, etc).
If you want to do extra hikes while in Machu Picchu (Huayna Picchu) this will cost extra. As well as anything extra you want to do while in Aguas Calientes (hot springs were about $4 CAD, $2.75 USD), and the lunch on the last day (after visiting Machu Picchu). The shuttle bus to the top of Machu Picchu is also an extra cost (around $12 CAD, $9 USD) (the hike up is free!).
On day two during the Inca Trail hike, there is also a cable car that you have to use to cross a river, and this also costs extra (about $4 CAD, $2.75 USD). Whatever extra costs there are, your tour company should let you know about them!
Finally, any snacks you want, supplies (sunscreen, bug spray, etc,) and water bottles/extra drinks are also an extra cost.
Tour Company I Used
We booked with Peru Andean Hop Tours for our Jungle Trek to Machu Picchu, and they were incredibly friendly and offered us a great price! We booked our tour once we had arrived in Cusco and shopped around for different tour prices, and settled on Peru Andean Hop Tours because they were so friendly and very informative. We booked our tour about 2 days before leaving on our trek.
The bus mishap was a one-time accident, and I think it was because of the Cusco protests, the bus company thought we had canceled because of it. A simple misunderstanding! After the bus mishap though, they were incredibly apologetic and reimbursed us for the cost of the bus. All in all, I would highly recommend Peru Andean Hop Tours.
Things to Know
- I booked my tour in Cusco 2 days before leaving for the trek.
- You cannot bring your entire 45 L+ backpack with you on this trek. You need to pack light for this journey, so be sure to have a smaller backpack you bring that has the essentials for this tour, and store your main bag in Cusco while you’re gone. My hostel offered bag storage for those who were on treks to Machu Picchu, but I did have to buy a random smaller backpack to take with me for the trek.
- An extra day in Aguas Calientes would have been awesome! The town is super cute and if we had an extra night we could have left our stuff in the hotel and not have to have such a long day of exploring, hiking, and an extra long bus ride.
- The weather changes a lot, pack a warm sweater and pants, but also shorts and tank tops!
- Water and food are really expensive when in Machu Picchu, so pick up water and snacks the night before the hike from Aguas Calientes.
- A Jungle Trek to Machu Picchu is one of the cheaper options for a multi day-tour to this Wonder of the World!
What to Bring
- Whatever you take with you, you will have to carry during most parts of the hike, and up to Machu Picchu. So pack light!!
- Once you get to the top, have a change of clothes you plan on wearing to explore around Machu Picchu. The jacket I was wearing and the pants on the hike up got so disgusting and sweaty, it was nice to change at the top!
- Pack a bathing suit for rafting and if you’re interested in the hot springs at Aguas Calientes. Flip flops were also nice to have for the hot springs.
- Wear good shoes, because you are doing a ton of walking.
- Closed-toed shoes are also essential for the zip line!
- Bring extra cash with you in case you need to buy something last minute, or something goes wrong!
- Pack some snacks for your hike and water!!
- Bring a small flashlight or headlamp, it is SO useful when hiking up the stairs in the dark
Would I Recommend This Tour?
Yes! I would absolutely recommend this tour & the jungle trek to Machu Picchu in general. It was a cheaper option to get to Machu Picchu and so much fun!! This was definitely a highlight of my trip, and such a cool way to make the journey!
Machu Picchu is a must see if you’re in Peru, and hopefully, these suggestions help you plan your trip or inspire you to take a jungle trek to Machu Picchu! Comment below or send me an email with any questions, or just to say hello!
* This is not a sponsored post, all opinions are my own! *