Adventurous Coffee Route hike to Machu Picchu

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  • 4 Days, 3 Nights
  • Difficulty: medium. For fit people only.
  • April through December

The Coffee Route is a unique, alternative experience that takes you to Machu Picchu while meeting and staying with remote coffee farmer families along the way. On this four-day version you’ll hike beautiful Inca trails with steep stairs alongside high cliffs to reach the houses of the families that will welcome you and show you how to produce their organic and unique coffee.

On top of all of this, you’ll be visiting “The Lost City of the Incas”: Machu Picchu is one of the most famous and spectacular sets of ruins in the world.

Price Includes

  • During the first days:
  • Taxi from Cusco or Ollantaytambo to Santa Maria
  • English-speaking guide for three days
  • Lunch, activities, dinner, overnight stay and breakfast at Alejandro's house (double room)
  • Lunch, activities, dinner, overnight stay and breakfast at Enrique's house (double room)
  • Overnight stay in Aguas Calientes in a comfortable small-scale hotel
  • On the last day:
  • Bus tickets from Aguas Calientes to the entrance of Machu Picchu and back
  • Entrance fee Machu Picchu
  • Private tour through Machu Picchu with your coffee route guide
  • Train Aguas Calientes - Ollantaytambo
  • Private transfer from the Ollantaytambo train station to your hotel in Cusco

Price Excludes

  • Taxi (or different public transportation) from Santa Maria to the trailhead, approx. 10 soles p.p. (organized on site by your guide)
  • Snacks to make it through the morning (lunch might be somewhat late)
  • Crossing the river by "cable car" at Cocalmayo (sometimes you have to pay for this: 5 soles p.p.)
  • Entrance to the Cocalmayo hot springs (10 soles p.p; optional)
  • Taxi (or different transportation) to Lucmabamba: count on approximately 25 soles p.p. (arranged by your guide)
  • Lunch and dinner on day 3 and day 4
  • Overnight stay on day 4

What to Bring

  • To begin with, you can only bring 6kg of luggage per person on this trip, due to restrictions on the train. At least include:
  • Light clothes, hiking shoes, hat and raingear
  • Bug repellent, sun screen and sun glasses
  • Cash and passport
  • Necessary toiletries
  • Reusable water bottle

Why is this experience RESPONSible?

The Coffee Route is a wonderful example of a sustainable trip. Instead of taking the tourist train to Machu Picchu, you are slowly traveling towards the site through its backyard, using the services of the Machu Picchu Coffee farmers, local transport companies and other local services. By hiking the ancient Inca Trails you give an important incentive to maintain these archaeological treasures. Eating seasonal food based on local produce and refilling your water bottle with the family’s water filters will further decrease your impact whilst you make your way largely on foot to Machu Picchu. Well done!

Day by Day

Day 1Cusco or Ollantaytambo - Huacayupana (1.650m)

From Cusco or Ollantaytambo you will be picked up by your guide to take private transportation to Santa María (passing the Malaga pass at 4300 m.a.s.l. along the way), from where you will take other transportation to the trailhead of the path leading to Alejandro’s house. You can choose the most beautiful hike (2 to 2,5 hours with some steep parts) or a shorter hike of about 1 hour and 15 minutes (only if you’re afraid of heights). Upon arrival, Alejandro’s wife Elvira will serve you a delicious lunch!

In the afternoon you will learn all about the coffee making process from one of Peru’s best specialists: from harvesting the beans to your own cup of coffee.

Overnight stay at Alejandro’s nice accommodation. Some rooms share a bathroom with a hot shower; other rooms have this ensuite.

Day 2from Alejandro to Enrique in Lucmabamba (2.100m)

From Alejandro’s house you walk towards Santa Teresa; a nice walk of about four hours. If the water level allows for it, you will take the beautiful, adventurous path alongside the river. If this isn’t possible, the guide will choose a more suitable path.

Once arrived at the thermal baths of Cocalmayo (about 10 minutes before Santa Teresa), you get to use the baths and relax before continuing to Lucmabamba.

After taking shared or private (not included) transportation to Enrique’s house, it’s time for a delicious lunch prepared by Teófila, Enrique’s lovely spouse. After lunch you can get to know Enrique’s coffee plantation or you could also go for a walk to look for orchids and hummingbirds.

Overnight stay at Enrique’s homestay; your room has a private bathroom with a hot shower.

Day 3Lucmabamba - Aguas Calientes (2.100m)

Rise and shine! Today you have to leave Enrique’s coffee farm early to continue the route following a well-preserved Inka Road. This is the same route as the last day of the Salkantay Trek and the cloud forests along this route are a paradise for birdwatchers. From the top (after having climbed for about 2 to 3 hours) you will descend for another 2,5 to 3 hours with an almost continuous view at Machu Picchu; breathtaking!

After arrival at the train station called Hidroelectrica you can have lunch (not included) and then continue your way on foot to the village just below Machu Picchu: Aguas Calientes. This part is optional and can be done by train as well: the cost is USD 34 p.p. You can decide on the spot whether you want to do this or walk to Aguas Calientes alongside the train tracks for another 3 hours (flat terrain).

In Aguas Calientes you could do a little walk around town and have dinner in one of the many restaurants. You will probably want to go to bed early, to be one of the first to go to the Machu Picchu entrance: the gates open at 06:00am!

Day 4Machu Picchu (2.430m) - Ollantaytambo - Cusco

From Aguas Calientes you will take the bus to Machu Picchu, early in the morning (you can decide the time in advance with your guide). Often referred to as “The Lost City of the Incas”, Machu Picchu is one of the most famous and spectacular sets of ruins in the world. It is located 2,430 meters above the Urubamba river. The Incas started building it around AD 1430 as an estate for the Inca emperor Pachacuti, strategically located between deep canyons and impressive mountains called Apus (Gods for the Incas), so it was a well hidden and well protected fortress.

In the morning you will have a tour in Machu Picchu (duration: 2-2,5 hours).

Our tip for active people is to climb the Machu Picchu Mountain after the tour: not the over-visited Huayna Picchu. The Machu Picchu mountain is a little higher (climbing one and a half hours) but offers a nice panoramic view of Machu Picchu, Huayna Picchu mountain and the underlying Urubamba river. In addition, the path and the nature on the way are beautiful, and because of its limited number of visitors, it feels like an escape from the hustle and bustle of Machu Picchu. Note: you must decide beforehand whether you want to do it or not: it is a different entrance ticket and there are fixed times of entrance (time slots).

The same afternoon, after your visit, you will take the train back to the Sacred Valley and then private transportation back to your hotel in the Sacred Valley or Cusco.

The Route

Your Hosts: Alejandro and Enrique
Alejandro and Elvira receive you in their lovely lodging along the Coffee Route to Machu Picchu - RESPONSible Travel Peru

Alejandro & Elvira

Ever since Alejandro and Guido visited the Coffee Route families back in 2011, we have a very good relationship with them. Together we have made this route better, more popular and more sustainable. Alejandro and Elvira have been receiving hundreds of visitors since then, end everyone comes back talking about their hospitality, their smiles, Elvira’s wonderful food and the beautiful rooms handbuilt by Alejandro.

Alfrán and Camila, their children, are adults by now but you still might see them when you visit the family’s house on your way to Machu Picchu. After an internship in the RESPONS office, Alfrán is now still working for us as a driver. Wonderful how we can continue to support this hard-working family and keep enjoying their excellent services.

We are sure that you will love and remember your visit to this family just as much as we did, back in 2011. 

Coffee farmers Enrique and Teofila host you on the Coffee Route to Machu Picchu - RESPONSible Travel Peru

Enrique & Teofila

Enrique and Teófila live in Lucmabamba, a village that has been visited for many years by groups of trekkers hiking the Salkantay trekking to Machu Picchu. However, until back in 2011, those groups were just camping in the fields in the area and inhabitants weren’t obtaining much (if any) income from these tourists. Enrique and Teófila, together with a few other families, wanted to offer accommodation in their house to travelers and with our help they became part of the Coffee Route and started improving their services. 

Now, Enrique and Teófila offer two excellent guest rooms beautifully built and decorated, with private bathrooms, whilst Teófila makes wonderful gastronomic creations (with some coffee flavour,of course!) in their traditional kitchen. Their son and family are generally also home and help with the service, so you’ll meet a good part of the family when you visit them. 

Enrique will proudly show you around his plantations or take you to spot birds and other flora & fauna of the area. They would love to welcome you to their little piece of paradise in Lucmabamba!