Most affordable (and fun!) way to trek to Machu Picchu 2


Posted by Beth | January 8, 2016

Visiting Machu Picchu was near the top of our travel bucket list for South America and our organized tour did not disappoint. We were impressed with the overall value of our Inka Jungle Trek through Loki Travel and would highly recommend it to other travelers.

There are three main options for trekking to Machu Picchu, and each of these can be booked through multiple tour operators in Cusco, Peru.

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  1. The “original” Inca Trail—This is typically $500-$1,100 per person and necessary to get a permit and book in advance. Usually done in four days and three nights.
  2. The Salkantay Trail—A less-crowded but still hiking-intensive alternative. Can be booked a few days prior for $250-$500. Typically five days and four nights.
  3. Inka Jungle Trek—A less difficult, more adventurous option that includes less hiking but options to bike, raft, zip line and visit hot springs. Can be booked when you arrive in Cusco for $130-$250. Can be done as a three or four day trek. This is the trek we chose and loved it. We did this trek mid-December.

    Some girlfriends from Denver joined us for the Machu Pichu trek! Nicole and I had lots of adventures together on the World Race and it was so fun to be reunited.

    Some girlfriends from Denver joined us for the Machu Picchu trek! Nicole and I had lots of adventures together on the World Race and it was so fun to be reunited.

We decided in advance we wanted to do the Inka Jungle option because it was the cheapest, we knew we could book it when we got there, and it was the least amount of hiking. We were honestly a bit hiked out after Patagonia (See our W Trek posts here and here and El Chalten post).

Once we arrived in Cusco there was no shortage of tour companies in the main square offering their own version of the Inka Jungle Trail. A quick Google search showed that Loki Travel had great reviews and it was quite comparable price wise.

The Inka Jungle Trail through Loki Travel

Loki Travel is the travel agency inside of Loki Hostel. Loki is a huge party hostel I wouldn’t actually recommend staying in unless you’re 21 years old or really into toga parties, but non-guests can book their tours.

Price: $160 USD per person. This price did not include our train ticket, which we chose to book separately because we wanted to come back earlier. We did get $5 off for booking five people together, but we also paid an extra $5 to include Machu Picchu Mountain, this turned out not to be worth it as the weather was too foggy for us to see anything from the mountain.

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What’s Included:

  • Entrance to Machu Picchu: A $37 value.
  • Lodging: Three nights in private rooms with private bathrooms. The accommodations were much nicer than anticipated (though we still recommend wearing bug spray to bed). We even had free wifi the final night.
  • Meals: Four breakfasts, three lunches and three dinners. The meals were huge—typically three or four courses (appetizer, soup, entrée and dessert) and actually some of the best food we ate in Peru.
  • Transportation: All of our bus rides were included, but our train ticket home from Machu Picchu we bought on our own from Rail Peru for $85. Quite ridiculous for a less than two hour ride. If you pay Loki $230 then a train ticket is included, but you’ll leave on the last train of the night at 9:50, arriving back to Cusco around 1 a.m. Loki reimbursed us a few dollars for our cab from our hotel to Loki on the first morning, and was apparently supposed to cover the ride back to Cusco from the train station but we had a bit of a misunderstanding.
  • Tour Guide. Our guide Samuel was with our group of nine for the entire trip and kept us entertained.
  • Activities: Biking, hiking, some educational/informative stops, and a visit to the hot springs were all included. Rafting ($30 per person) and ziplining ($27 per person) were extra.
Free samples of homemade tequila with a snake inside are included.

Free samples of homemade tequila with a snake inside are included.

Itinerary:

Day 1: Biking and Rafting. The morning of the first day we biked down a 17,000 ft. mountain. All the protective gear we had to wear was a little intimidating but the ride itself wasn’t that bad.  A couple of our tour mates had completed the famous “Deadilist Road”  downhill bike ride in Bolivia and they said this was far less extreme.  In the afternoon there was optional white water rafting that we opted in on. The biggest rapids were Class III so it was good for beginners and they let us jack around standing up in the boat, floating out of the boat through the rapids and riding on the very front part of the raft.  At one point we also all stood in the river and introduced ourselves using our favorite nickname….

 

Day 2: Hiking and Hot Springs. This is the longest day of hiking, about six to eight hours, though we stopped quite a bit so the actual hiking time was probably only three or four hours. At one of our scheduled stops at a local jungle family’s house we tried homemade tequila with a snake in it and held monkeys. Pure randomness. The day ended at a huge, and quite nice (no sulfur smell), hot springs. 

 

Day 3: Ziplining and Hiking. In the morning there was optional ziplining but everyone in our group elected to participate and thought it was well worth it. We completed five different ziplines then walked across a suspension bridge. In the afternoon we hiked for about three more hours into the town of Aguas Calientes. It was a darling little town and we enjoyed the cheap happy hours, souvenir shopping and massages.

Not normally afraid of heights but I thought this bridge was terrifying.

Not normally afraid of heights but I thought this bridge was terrifying.

Day 4: Machu Pichu. After a steep, hour-long climb up to Machu Picchu we had a short, guided tour inside Machu Picchu. We had purchased the Machu Picchu Mountain tickets ($5 extra) but had to enter at a certain time, which for us was 7-8 a.m. It was way too cloudy still at this point for the views to be worth the hour and a half climb, so we decided to skip it to have more time wandering the ruins. The ruins were every bit as spectacular as we had dreamed, and we enjoyed taking our time walking around and snapping photos.


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