The Jungle Inca Trail!

Inca Jungle Trail


Cusco, Peru

The Jungle Inca Trail is an alternative to the original commercial Inca trail, taking you on a different route, and including the option to do a number of other activities along the way. This was without doubt going to be one of the highlights of our trip, so we were very excited. Read on to learn more about the Jungle Inca Trail, and how it went!

The Jungle Inca Trail

Firstly a little more about the Jungle Inca Trail, the company we went with, and why it is a good alternative to the more well known commercial Inca trail.

  • It lasts 4 day and 3 nights.
  • Like I mentioned in the intro it takes a different route to the standard Inca trail taking you through the “High Jungle”, although you do rejoin the classic Inca trail at one or two points along the way.
  • Of course you visit Machu Picchu for a whole day on the 4th day.
  • The first day involves a long mountain biking session.
  • For a small amount extra you have the option of white water rafting and a zipline course through the mountains.
  • You don’t camp but stay in small Hostels in the towns you trek to along the way.
  • The price includes a snack (a big one) and dinner on the first day, and a breakfast, lunch and dinner on the remaining four days.
  • A train back from Aquas Calientes and the a bus back to Cusco is also included.
  • Unlike the conventional Inca trail you shouldn’t need to book it months in advance, just turn up in Cusco and book it for 1 or 2 days time. (In the peak season it may be best to try and book online)
  • Its quite a bit cheaper than the conventional Inca Trail
  • Its friggin awesome!!

Reserve Cusco &

Reserve Cusco


When you arrive Cusco you will soon realise you are spoiled for choice when it comes to tour companies (and funnily enough massages, probably because your legs will be aching by the time you arrive back to Cusco after one of these treks!).

Choosing between them can be tricky but as always there are some companies that are more reputable than others, and there are some things you need to look out for when booking these tours (this will be covered in a later post), so for this reason we decided to play it safe and choose the Lonely Planet recommended Reserve Cusco, and As you will find out throughout this series of posts this turned out to be one of the best decisions we have made throughout or entire trip! With Reserve Cusco the standard price s 225 $US or 198 $US if you are a student with an ISIC card (like us).

Day 1

Juan Carlos From Reserve Cusco

Juan Carlos, probably the best guide we have ever had! Seriously!

After another early morning get up, and a short walk to the Reserve Cusco office arriving 10 minutes early (best to be on the safe side) we were impressed to see our guide, Juan Carlos, already waiting there for us!

Shortly after Arturo, probably the nicest boss you have ever met, arrived to open up the office and transfer the final bits of paper work and the all important train tickets to Juan Carlos before we could leave.

After everything was finalised we were on the minibus complete with a roof full of bikes heading towards the town of Ollantaytambo, and to a final altitude of 4350m where we would start our mountain biking. The views from the bus were stunning almost the entire way, and Juan Carlos, who I forgot to mention spoke perfect English as well as four other languages, told us a lot about the areas we were passing through, which on a whole made the journey really interesting.

Inca Jungle Trail Mountain Biking

4350m above sea level, about to begin the cold but fun ride down!

Once we arrived you get all the necessary safety equipment ie. helmet, gloves and a high visibility jacket, and then of course the bikes! After a short while riding around to get used the bikes, and the fact that just like almost anywhere else in the world the brakes are the opposite way round to the UK, we set off down the windy paved roads around the mountain.

Its paved roads the whole way down, so you won’t need to worry about any difficult riding, but never the less the good road surface allows you to go pretty fast making it a fun ride. Unfortunately for us the bike ride was really wet and cloudy so we couldn’t really appreciate the amazing views behind the white curtain.

White Water Rafting

Inca Jungle Trail White Water Rafting

If only you could see in a picture how fast that river was flowing!

After finishing the biking, and a shortish bus ride the rest of the way to Santa Maria we reached our first Hostel/Lodge where we ate our “snack” . I say snack, but we were actually treated to one of the biggest slices of cake I have ever eaten amongst other things!

The rafting cost an extra 25 $US. After seeing the state of the river due to the recent rain, we had thought that the rafting may be called off, but to our surprise, and probably terror, before we knew it we were sliding the raft down the edge of the bank toward the raging river.

After a safety talk and general rafting instructions we were off, and it soon became apparent that the river was much less scary once you are on it and the adrenaline is pumping. It also became apparent that white water rafting is really hard work! After a short section of rapids my arms were already killing me but it was immense fun, and during the calmer sections you also got the chance to appreciate the amazing surroundings that encompassed the river.

Dinner & Sleep

Shortly after arriving back to the hostel and having a quick shower we walked to a local restaurant for the first of many excellent meals. It was a three course affair, we had a classic Peruvian soup to start, a delicious main almost like Chinese, and a small desert, just what was needed to fill the hole after a hard two hours rafting!

Without meaning to be boring, we went back to the hostel and straight to bed. The first day was tiring, and we needed to be up early in the morning for the start of the first trek which happened to be no less than 28km. I think you’ll agree sleep was needed!

Stay tuned for the next Inca Jungle Trail posts, or in the meantime check out all the photos on Flickr! Update: The next post is here find out what we did on days two and three trekking the Inca Jungle Trail


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  • Ah, white water rafting! $25 is a really reasonable price, and rafting on a swollen river sounds like a blast. I haven’t gone down a river in ages, but I grew up in a popular rafting area so I went constantly as a kid. I miss it… you’ve made me really want to go again! 🙂

    • Yeah we couldn’t miss out on rafting for $25! Bargain. It is great fun, looking forward to doing it again in NZ!

  • Jacqui

    Wow, I can’t wait to do the same trip myself, in 3 years time. Your blog is really helping me, decide where to go & what trips to sign up for. The photos are amazing & your guide sounded fantastic. I was sold on a big slice of cake though!!!

    • The cake out here is actually amazing! You wouldn’t expect it but it there are loads of “Tortas” shops that sell these really ornately decorated cakes!

  • Lucy

    What happened to Bolivia …..
    The first blog of the Inca Trek again is a really good read. Juan Carlos sounds a great guide and I’m sure a lot of what you got out of the trip was down to good guiding so you struck lucky. White water rafting ahhhh I remember Honeymooning in NZ and the Shotover River!x

    • Don’t panic, Bolivia is on its way, just wanted to get this one out while it was fresh in our minds :p

  • Wow- this sounds like the perfect tour! the food, biking and rafting… I want to do this!

    • Yeah we were really pleased we chose it. There is a lot of choice but I think the Jungle Inca trial offers a lot of variety for your money!

  • Steve Maxted

    Sounds as though you picked a brilliant, genuine company. What an exciting way to do the inca trail. Can’t wait to read about the rest of the trek to Machu Pichu, thgrough the jungle etc.

    • Yep it makes all the difference. The next posts are on there way.

  • I’m actually glad to see someone take an alternative tour. This was one of the tours I looked at when I was at Peru but I got lazy and decided to take the train to Machu. Hehehe. Looks like you boys had another wild adventure.

    • Yeah there are a few different options for going to Machu Picchu that I don’t think that many people know about which may be a better option for some people. Everyone seems to think you need to book the “Original” Inca Trail months in advance but that really isn’t the case.

  • I would have loved to do this! We did the Salkantay instead, but hiking, rafting and biking sound better to me! Thanks for letting us know about these other options!

    • Apparently Salkantay is amazing too! We spoke to some people who did it on the train back from Aquas Calientes and they said it was hard work but worth the effort.

  • Kelly

    So cool! I hiked the commercial trail and it was awesome but would’ve loved to do some rafting! How cool!

    • Oh yeah I bet the commercial trail is no doubt amazing as well. I think it just depends what you are looking for, its good to have the different options.

  • This looks like so much fun and I love the idea of sleeping in hostels rather than camping.

    • Yeah we wouldn’t have minded camping but it is nice just being able to jump into a proper bed after a hard days trekking!

  • Garth

    soo jealous about the inca trail! defo something i want to do one day! can’t wait for the next update

  • Pingback: The Inca Jungle Trail – Part 2 | Where Now? Around The World Travel Blog()

  • Miss_dotty

    Hello chaps! Just googling for some reviews on Reserv Cusco as we were thinking of booking with them, your blog has helped us make our decision, thanks! It sounds like you had a blast. A quick
    question… One of our group has a real fear of snakes, a full blown phobia in fact, just wondered if you saw any on the inca jungle trail? Many thanks, Anna

    • No we didn’t see any snakes during the trip, but our guide did say it isn’t that rare to see the odd one, we did on the other hand see quite a few large spiders!

    • Eric

      Miss_dotty, did you end up booking a trip with Reserv Cusco?  Have you gone yet? I am thinking of booking a trip and just looking for more reviews/recommendations.

  • Benny

    The tour with this agency was awful. the guy we had kept lying to us all the time. on the last day he didnt want to get up at 4am and wanted us to get up at 5.30am, his name was raul and he hardly speaks english. our guide at machu pichu disappeared in the morning. disappointments in many ways 🙁 i wouldnt recommend this company to anyone!! bigmmstake by lonelyplanet….

    • Hi Benny, really sorry to hear that. It has been a few years now since we went on this tour so I can’t be sure whether something has changed. I still stand by the fact we had a great experience with them though. Although I can imagine that the experience may vary depending on which guide you get.

      • Benny

        We went back 3times and the boss Arthuro didnt show up even if he promised us to on the phone, at the end he switched off the phone completely. An Irish couple in our group has paid for the river rafting already in advance, but we got stucked by a *construction* for 3hours. We asked some workers on the road, they said there would be a construction everyday from 12am to 4pm. im wondering why arthuro didnt know about this?! anyhow we met the irish couple again last night, they just told us that theyve heard from the others that someone defo died by doing rafting, thats why theres no rafting at all at the moment. arturo must have known this. The Irish never got their money back either for rafting. We didnt get even one apology from the company. Neither from the boss nor from Marcus (leader of the guides). They treated us as we were bunch of idiots. So i recommend others to go with other agencies (not sure if they were better). This agency is full of scumbags… from arturo till our guide raul…

        • Wow that is awful!! Thank you for commenting, it is important people know about this. I have to say I am not surprised about someone dying on the rafting. When we did it the river was extremely fast and I can imagine things would get nasty very quickly if you were to fall off. Thinking about it now it probably isn’t the safest of rivers to take beginners on. Please let me know if you do happen to get any money back/compensation.

          • Benny

            No, no1 got any penny back… they told us the boss will be defo back by yesterday morning, we went back again (3rd time!) and guess what? the door was locked at 10am!! they knew that it was our last opportunity to go to their office as we left cusco yesterday for puno… im happy we met wonderful ppl on this tour and machu pichu and the lanscape were amazing! but again dont go with this company. ive heard from others that the guide *fletcher* from this company was a disaster too.. our guide raul kept lying to us and the only time he was nice to us is when he tried to sell us some traditional instruments. what a disgrace that the company uses lonelyplanet to charge more than the other companies if their service was that bad!

          • IRS Schulz

            Actually I made the same experience with Reserve Cusco. The Organisation was a disaster and the guide very unprofessional. It’s all about money! Raul, our guide, constantly wanted to sell us something, as we didn’t he got pissed off and barely spoke to us afterwards. He also had very poor knowledge about history and told us a lot of crap and his English was very bad. The guide who should show us around Machu Picchu just didn’t show up therefore we had to contract another guide from Machu Picchu who was actually way better than the guides from Reserve Cusco. We made some complaints afterwards in their office but we never got any apologize. Machu Picchu is a great place but Reserve Cusco is such a disappointment.

  • Miguel Angel

    The Inca Jungle Trail to Machu Picchu is considered one of the best trekking tours in the world !!
    Without doubt is the best experiences for the visitor !!! A path where you can experience the beauty of nature and the rich history of the Incas.