You can walk to Machu Picchu on the Inca Trail or take the tourist train. You can also take a detour through the town of Quillabamba. This alternative route to Machu Picchu is a spectacular ride that includes both an uphill 4000 meters and a descent over 3000 meters into the highland jungle. It is also a lot cheaper.
>Mini vans are waiting for you in the former Inca capital of Cusco. They leave as soon as the car is full. Since this way of transport is also popular with the locals, you never have to wait a long time until the 7 to 10 seats are occupied.
Once out of Cusco, the route continues through the Sacred Valley to Ollantaytambo. This town is known for its Inca ruins and temples. The train also leaves from here to Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu). It is an option to disembark here and continue the next day on your alternative route to Machu Picchu. However, you can also visit Ollantaytambo on the way back, by taking the train from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo.
Climb into the clouds
The minivan continues on its way over the Abra de Malaga, a considerable climb to about 4000 meters. It can be quite spooky on top. The descent is also spectacular. At some points along the route you can look down and see the many hairpin bends. During the descent you will pass various tea and coffee plantations. The tea plants have beautiful white flowers when they are in bloom. If you are lucky, the driver will stop here for a rest. After all, the entire ride takes more than 6 hours. And a part of the route is on unpaved roads.
Quillabamba, city of eternal summer
The more you descend, the warmer it gets. Once you have arrived in Quillabamba, you are at about 1000 meters altitude, and you can feel it. It is not without reason that this town is called the city of eternal summer. It is a provincial town with a beautiful, shady square. Coffee and tea from the region are transported from here to Cusco and Lima. Before you continue towards Aguas Calientes, the village near Machu Picchu, you should definitely consider staying here for a day and exploring the area. For example, go to the siete tinajas waterfall and the town of Echarate. By the way, did you know that Che Guevara lived in the area for some time when he was in a relationship with a Peruvian woman?
Along the track …
From Quillabamba you continue the route with a local van or a taxi to Santa Teresa. Here you have the choice to relax in the Baños Termales de Cocalmayo or continue your way to the final destination of this alternative route. In Santa Teresa you can buy a ticket for the local train to Aguas Calientes. Another option is to walk along the track for half a day and enjoy nature. During your walk it is worthwhile to visit the Cataratas de Mandor . You will also come across a butterfly garden along the way. Walking along the track, you still make a kind of Inca trail on your alternative route to Machu Picchu.