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 three-day version you’ll hike a beautiful Inca trail to reach the house of the family that will welcome you and show you how to produce their organic and unique coffee.
On the third day 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.
P.S. We offer several versions of this Coffee Route! If you enjoy hiking, you should definitely consider the sportier four-day version of this route, which adds a beautiful route through the cloud forest passing by Inca ruins with a unique view on Machu Picchu!
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.
After breakfast it is time to say goodbye to your new friends. From Alejandro’s house you will walk to Santa Teresa, around four hours of walking, enjoying a multitude of flowers on the way. If the river level allows for it you can walk the beautiful and adventurous path by the river side. If not (during the rainy season), you will just follow the road or take a taxi for part of the route if you do not wish to walk (as much). On the way, you will also have to cross the river in a kind of cable-car cart: not for people with fear of heights.
Upon arrival to the hot springs of Cocalmayo (10 minutes before Santa Teresa), you can enjoy the three swimming pools or, if you’re lucky, relax in the sun.
For the thrill seekers it is also possible to enjoy a zipline experience! This adventure can take place only 20-25 minutes from Santa Teresa. Please coordinate beforehand with us or your guide.
Lunch is in Santa Teresa or at the train station (not included).
Finally, you will take public transportation to the train station called “Hidroeléctrica”. From there you will continue to Aguas Calientes (on foot approx. 2,5 to 3,5 hours; train is optional and can be decided on site).
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!
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.
Well, yes, a little bit. As mentioned in the Day-to-day description, 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. Fortunately the landscapes make it worth it!
If you or (part of) your group cannot hike uphill for over two hours, you may take another route (up to one hour hiking uphill) or even pay an additional fee to the driver for a private transfer up to Alejandro’s house.
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 a suspended bridge 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 1.800 meters (5,000 to 6,000 ft). Therefore this hike is perfect for unacclimatized travelers or people with altitude-related health issues.
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. Many people are open to sharing the Coffee Route with other travelers so we will ask you if any other people are booking on the same dates, if you can travel together. 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.
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.