We had thought about writing another article detailing the many iconic sights and adventures contained on our popular Coffee Route to Machu Picchu. However, knowing that we’ve covered this in our itineraries already, we decided to use this blog to celebrate other aspects of our Coffee Route that make it such a unique experience.
On the Coffee Route, you will enjoy the color of Peru’s biodiversity, appreciate the warmth and generosity of welcoming host families, taste delicious local food, and much else besides.
For many of our guests, it is the surprises found along the Coffee Route that make it the highlight of their stay in Peru. Here you will uncover aspects of this mysterious land often shut off from the average tourist. And you are sure to make lasting connections with local people as you do so.
We depend on three families who open their doors to us and act as ambassadors for their regions on our Coffee Route. Alongside these regular hosts, we partner with many local people who help us during the journey. These encounters and the friendships formed from them bring a marvelous variety to this unconventional road from Cusco to Machu Picchu.
Visits to the homes of Julia, Alejandro, and Enrique and Teófila form the three stages we need to complete on our journey. These homestays are located at different levels of the Andean-Amazon jungle, but each produces coffees unique to their terrain.
You may have come from the city of Cusco or maybe preferred to acclimatize first in Ollantaytambo. Whichever choice you make, these centers of the Inca culture will fill your eyes with images of Andean life. From here, you will climb the Urubamba mountain range to enter the magical province of La Convencion.
Once in the warm valley of Huayopata, surrounded by tall trees, flowers, flocks of birds, and tropical fruits, you will be handed over to Julia and her partner José.
Having made yourself at home, you can enjoy Julia’s delicious food and relax. There is much to explore while you are here and you can choose from a range of options. Obviously, there are activities related to coffee, but also to tea, chocolate, and the tasting of the area’s many delicious fruits. José will act as your expert guide throughout, teaching you about the region’s produce. Or maybe you want to go for a walk at dusk, to see the most beloved birds of the country as they display their beauty in their natural environment. There’s a wealth of choice, no matter how you want to spend your time.
When you are ready to continue, you will journey along a short, picturesque section of the Inca trail. Here you will be given your first sight of Apu Salkantay in the Vilcabamba mountain range.
Once you reach Huacayupana, Alejandro will be there to greet you. Award-winning coffee beans are grown and harvested here and his family will give you incomparable insight into the love, dedication, and work that goes into the process.
In between Alejandro’s and Enrique and Teófila’s houses, you can find Pumachaca. In this idyllic location, you can enjoy accommodation provided by siblings Kattya and Juan Carlos.
Right after the photogenic bridge of Pumachaca (the one at the header of this article), you will reach the “Oroya de Cocalmayo.” The oroya is a metal carriage that will transport you over the river (we guarantee you haven’t crossed the water in anything like this before!). Here, there is also an ecological house with its privileged view of the Vilcanota waters.
A visit to the Vidal siblings’ house is optional. However, few guests regret stopping once they enjoy the hospitality and delicious food served in the terraced dining room. In fact, you may catch yourself looking at your clock watch and wondering just how long you can stretch out your stay in this magnificent place.
Further along the route, you will experience the thermal waters of Cocalmayo. Here you will find the crowded pools are, almost miraculously, mostly quiet by night — a perfect opportunity to soak your body and revitalize.
Only closing time will convince you to step out of the water! Having spent a long while in a state of pure, uninterrupted relaxation, you’ll begin to think about a comfortable place to sleep. Fortunately, the excellent night of slumber you long for can be found nearby, in Santa Teresa.
Good morning, Lucmabamba! Here, Enrique and Teófila will be waiting for you. Teófila is a magnificent barista who will delight you with her unique coffee creations. Their house is in the middle of an exuberant natural landscape. (Not unlike every destination along this enchanting route!).
Honey is present here, along with an array of other flavors of jungle that your palate will not forget. The climb up from Enrique and Teófila’s house is hard, as is the descent that you will face the next day to reach the railways that will eventually lead you to the town of Machu Picchu. But you will be rewarded for your effort with nature in abundance! Rivers and refreshing waterfalls, the shade of the forest and the glimpses of the wonder awaiting you in the distance, in addition to the occasional archaeological sites that act as evidence of the imminent approach to your destination.
¡Finally Machu Picchu!
Once in Machupicchu Pueblo (Machu Picchu town, also known as Aguas Calientes), you may consider visiting the Mandor gardens. This is the hidden gem of Aguas Calientes that very few tourists know about. Just a one-hour walk along the train tracks, you can reach a botanical garden that has more than 200 species of orchids. Thanks to the proliferation of plants and flowers there are more than 500 species of butterflies, some are only native to this region of Peru. Crowned by the landscape, the Mandor Falls are the main attraction of the gardens. It is a waterfall up to eight meters high.
Then it is time to visit Machu Picchu itself! We recommend you take the early bus to the citadel of Machu Picchu, “The lost city of the Incas.” The construction sits spectacularly above the Urubamba River, at 2430 m.
The site’s origins stretch back to around 1450 AD, the times of the Inca Pachacutec, “The shaker of the world.”
The route around Machu Picchu can take place differently depending on your interests. However, the Peruvian authority’s frequent and variable regulations to protect the site from over-tourism make it necessary to plan your Machu Picchu tour very well in advance.
For example, suppose you want to climb the understandably very popular Wayna Picchu or Machu Picchu mountains. In that case, you will have to purchase special tickets that allow access, since in addition, the daily limit of admission is from 200 to 400 people only.
You can also choose to visit the less restrictive (and also less crowded) Inca Bridge or Sun gate. But then you will want to think about the temples of the Sun, Condor, and Intihuatana, which, although they are included in the general ticket admission, now have scheduled visiting times.
Regarding the above, information will be provided to you by your travel designer. The expert guide accompanying you will further equip you with all the essential information.
Visiting Machu Picchu is a unique experience. It pays to have things perfectly organized to ensure you have a fantastic day.
After your visit, you can take the train back to Cusco.
At RESPONS we also recommend a time of prior acclimatization to enjoy your trip without worries. We take care of the whole process to ensure that you enjoy yourself from setting off on your journey until you are ready to return home.
Leave the work to us! Write to us at [email protected]responsibletravelperu.com or complete our questionnaire — we will be pleased to help you!