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. This is one of the most active Coffee Routes in our offer; for hiking and nature lovers.
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.
Even though this is a personal favourite of many RESPONS team members; there are other ways of getting to Machu Picchu, like a shorter Coffee Route to Machu Picchu or our super complete Tea & Coffee & Nature version of the Coffee Route. Read everything in our Travel Guide to Machu Picchu.
You will be picked up by your guide from your hotel in Cusco (around 7.00 am) or Ollantaytambo (around 8.00 am) -if you’re in other areas of the Sacred Valley, please check the FAQs- and taken on 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 cup of coffee.
Overnight stay at Alejandro’s nice accommodation. Some rooms share a bathroom with a hot shower; other rooms have this ensuite.
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.
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 of Machu Picchu; breathtaking!
After arrival at the train station called Hidroelectrica you can have lunch (not included) and then continue your way on foot alongside the train tracks for another 3 hours (flat terrain) to the village just below Machu Picchu: Aguas Calientes. This part is optional and can be done by train as well, but we need to know in advance if you want to take the train since you cannot buy tickets at the train station in Hidroeléctrica on the day of its departure. The train ticket can be added throughout the booking process and costs USD 34 p.p.
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 06:00 am!
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 Cuzco. You will arrive back there between 17.00 and 19.00 pm.
Important note: only one day-backpack per person is allowed on the train back to the Sacred Valley. Please, pack only what you need for the few days you will spend on your way to Machu Picchu and leave your big luggage in your hotel. Read more about this in our FAQ’s further down.
Yes it is. The first day has quite some steep uphills (Inca stairs) that go on for around two hours. If it is hot, this can be quite strenuous. The second day has about four hours of hiking; not too heave. But the third day boasts a six-hour route of which at least three hours are uphill. If you don’t take the train, you’ll add another two to three hours to your hiking time of this day. Despite the lower altitudes, this tour is recommended for fit people only.
By the way, if (one of) you suffer from vertigo, this route might also cause problems. The precipices are quite impressive, you’ll have to cross suspended bridges and even cross the river on a small ropeway. Of course, your guide is always there to assist.
By car, you’ll pass the Abra Málaga which has an elevation of 4.330m (14,200 ft). When hiking, the altitudes are rather low: between 1.500 and 2.900 meters (5,000 to 9,500 ft). Thanks to that, you can do this hike after just one day of acclimatizing in the Sacred Valley (unlike the Inca Trail).
Nowadays, almost every room of our coffee farmers has its own private bathroom ensuite. Here and there, when they have more guests, they might make use of additional rooms where the bathroom is outside, but these are exceptions.
The coffee farmers have rooms with twin beds, double beds and multiple beds. Usually, there is enough space for double occupation. If there is another small group when you visit, traveling families might have to share a room. You will never have to share a room with strangers nor with your guide.
The rooms are located next to the farmers’ own house, but not inside them, for more privacy for both.
No, they don’t. However, your guide will be with you all the time to translate whatever the coffee farmers are explaining.
Most of the coffee route takes place at lower altitudes; the area is also known as the “high jungle”. It’s generally quite hot and humid during the days, but nicely fresh during the nights. It can rain anytime throughout the year but from January to April the chances are very high on much rain.
Find more info about climates in Peru in our blog “Best Time to Travel to Peru“.
In the high season, our Coffee Route is quite popular. We include it in many of our our Custom Itineraries, so you might meet other people. Groups will never be larger than six, unless two larger groups travel together, for example, two families. In the busiest season, there might be a second group (with their own guide) staying in the same family. We will always make sure that your experience with the family remains authentic and intimate, for example by offering meals at different parts of the house or at different times.
First of all: you won’t have to carry your big luggage throughout this whole trek. Actually, on the train that takes you from Aguas Calientes back to Ollantaytambo on the last day, only one backpack (that does not exceed 6 kg or 13 lb) is allowed per person. So, pack only what you need for the few days and take this with you in your backpack.
What about your big luggage then? Well, it depends.
If you stay in Cusco before this trek and want to end up in Ollantaytambo afterward, we will pick you up in Cusco on the first day, drive past your hotel in Ollantaytambo, where you will be staying after your tour and leave your luggage there. Then, at the end of the tour, we will take you from the train station in Ollantaytambo to the respective hotel, where you will check in and retrieve your luggage.
If you stay in Ollantaytambo before the tour and in Cusco afterward, just leave the luggage directly in your hotel and, when we come back from the tour, we will pick it up and take it to Cusco for you.
If you stay in the same location before and after the tour, you will of course just leave your luggage there and retrieve it upon arrival back to the hotel.
In any case, we will take care of your luggage. Just let us know in which hotels you will be staying before and after the tour and don’t worry about it any longer.
As the pick-ups will be made only in Cusco or Ollantaytambo, we recommend you be already in these two cities, or at least in Urubamba (since it’s close to Ollantaytambo, it will only take you 30 minutes to get there using the local or private transportation). But in case you’re in other areas you will have to manage how to get to the meeting point on time.
Keep in mind that in case you take local transportation it may take a little bit longer to get to your destination than if you take a taxi
You will find a source of filtered or purified water available in the hotel accommodations, and also in the house of Alejandro. Enrique is still working on providing a source of purified water, but he will always find a way to help you refill your bottle and offer you boiled water.
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.
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!