9. From Cusco: Budget Inca Jungle Trek with Return by Car
DAY 1: Cusco - Abra Málaga - Huamanmarca - Santa María or Santa Teresa (overnight depending on option chosen)
Pickup from your accommodation in Cusco between 6:00 - 6:30 AM. Transfer to the highest point, Abra Malaga, at an altitude of 4316 m, from where you will descend by bike for 3 hours, passing streams and vegetation until you reach Huamanmarca. Then, you will be transferred to the town of Santa María, to have a typical lunch and free time to explore coca and coffee plants with your guide. You can choose to add on a rafting adventure available at an additional cost (Level II, III and IV).
If you choose the 3-day option, you will continue the route until you reach the thermal baths of Cocalmayo in Santa Teresa, which are medicinal and therapeutic waters. After relaxing, continue in a 40-minute walk to the town of Santa Teresa where you will overnight in a family lodging.
If you choose the 4-day option, you will have free time until dinner time in Santa María, and will overnight.
DAY 2 for 4-day option: Santa María - Quellomayo - Termas de Cocalmayo - Santa Teresa
Start the hike with a gradual climb for 3 hours. This area is tropical and you will appreciate organic products of different varieties such as coffee, cocoa, avocado and medicinal plants. Along the way you will also appreciate natural attractions such as the "El Velo de Nusta" waterfall, before reaching the highest pass of the day called "Pastogrande" at 1900 meters. Stop for lunch at Islayunca.
Continue to the unexplored waterfall "Gonzales", then walk 2.5 hours so you can enjoy the hot springs of Cocalmayo in Santa Teresa, which have medicinal and therapeutic waters. After relaxing, continue on a 40-minute walk to the town of Santa Teresa where you will overnight in a family lodging.
DAY 2 for 3-day option / DAY 3 for 4-day option: Santa Teresa - Hydroelectric - Aguas Calientes
After a typical breakfast, you can choose to add on a zipline adventure after your breakfast. In this case, after the activity, you will be taken by transport to the beginning of the trail to Aguas Calientes at Hydroelectric. If you skip the zipline, you will be taken straight to Hydroelectric.
Start a walk on the train tracks through a native jungle to Aguas Calientes, about a 3 hours trek. Upon arrival in Aguas Calientes, enjoy lunch. At Aguas Calientes, your guide will show you to your accommodation. Have dinner in a restaurant and plan with the guide for the next day's visit to Machu Picchu. Overnight in Aguas Calientes.
DAY 3 for 3-day option / DAY 4 for 4-day option: Aguas Calientes - Machu Picchu - Hydroelectric - Cusco
Get up early in the morning at 4:30 AM to start the walk towards Machu Picchu, the Lost City of the Incas. The steep walk up will last approximately 1.5 hours, and the objective is to appreciate the sunrise from the Inca citadel and be the first to arrive. The walk up to Machu Picchu requires a good physical condition — you can also choose to add on a bus to Machu Picchu, if you don't want to do the walk.
Enjoy a 2-hour guided tour of Machu Picchu and the surrounding sites. Enjoy free time to take photos and look around the citadel. If you chose one of the extra hikes to one of the mountains, you will split ways with the group to go by yourself to Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu mountain. You can choose to add on these hikes at the checkout.
Leave Machu Picchu and return to Aguas Calientes (walking or by bus, depending on if you choose add-on at checkout). Once in Aguas Calientes, start the walk back to Hydroelectric where your guide will be waiting to gather the group to return to the city of Cusco — again, you can choose to add on a train to Hydroelectric at the checkout, if you don't want to do the walk.
Be back in Cusco around 9:30 - 10:00 PM. The drop-off will be in San Francisco square in the historic center, near Plaza de Armas.
Please have in mind this is a budget-friendly tour and does not include the train back to Cusco. Distance traveled by car/van from Hydroelectric to Cusco is approximately 5 to 6 hours.