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!
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 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.
Change in altitude: 385 meters (12.060 feet), ascent
Distance: 3.8 km (2.36 miles)
After breakfast, it’s time to say goodbye to your hosts. From Alejandro’s house, you will take a four-hour walk following the road to Santa Teresa, and enjoying a multitude of flowers along the way. You can even walk the adventurous path along the river bank if the river level allows it. On the way, you will have to cross the river in a kind of cable car: not suitable for people with a fear of heights. And if you don’t want to walk so much, you can take a taxi for part of the route.
Upon arrival at the hot springs of Cocalmayo, you can sit, relax, and enjoy the three swimming pools. For thrill-seekers, it is also possible to enjoy a zipline experience! This adventure takes place 20-25 minutes away from Santa Teresa, so please coordinate beforehand with us!
Finally, you will take public transport to the train station called “Hidroeléctrica”, and from there you will continue to Aguas Calientes. You can continue your way on foot alongside the train tracks for 2.5 to 3.5 hours (flat terrain), or take the train. 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!
Change in altitude: 379 m (1.240 feet), 45 minutes of ascent, the reste descent
Distance: 7.9 km (4.9 miles)
If walking instead of taking the train: + 10 km (6.2 miles), flat terrain
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). You will tour the spectacular “Lost City of the Incas”, built around 1430 AD between deep canyons and impressive mountains (considered Apus or gods). During the two-hour visit, you will learn more about the history and architecture of Machu Picchu; and be amazed by the different temples, terraces, and breathtaking sceneries you will pass by.
Our tip for active people is to climb the Machu Picchu Mountain after the tour, instead of the over-visited Huayna Picchu. The Machu Picchu mountain is a little higher (climbing one and a half hours) and offers a nice panoramic view of the area, including the underlying Urubamba river. In addition, the path and the nature on the way are beautiful, it feels like an escape from the hustle and bustle of the archeological site.
But, 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 5.00 and 7.00 pm.
Note: Only a one-day backpack per person is allowed on the train back to the Sacred Valley. Please, pack just 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 FAQs further down.
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.
View of Alejandro’s garden. One of the rooms at Alejandro’s homestay.
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
Yes, you will find a source of filtered or purified water available in Alejandro’s house.
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.
Alfran 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, Alfran 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.
We had 3 wonderful days in and around Machu Picchu!
The hike on day 1 was more exhausting than expected, but the views were very rewarding. Our guide told us many interesting facts about the plants and animals in the jungle. The homestay was very comfortable and the food was delicious. We made our own coffee, which was a really interesting experience, too!
Also on day 2, we really enjoyed the hike, crossing the river by cable car and the ride in the panoramic train. Also the selected hotel in Aguas Calientes was perfect, very comfortable and with hot water!
Finally, the visit of Machu Picchu and Machu Picchu mountain were amazing. Again, our guide shared a lot of interesting information and details.
Long story short: the 3d coffee route was an amazing trip! We learned a lot, organization was perfect and our guide amazing. Highly recommended!