The Jungle Inca Trail is an alternative to the original commercial Inca trail, taking you on a different route, and including the option to do a number of other activities along the way. This was without doubt going to be one of the highlights of our trip, so we were very excited. Read on to learn more about the Jungle Inca Trail, and how it went!
Firstly a little more about the Jungle Inca Trail, the company we went with, and why it is a good alternative to the more well known commercial Inca trail.
When you arrive Cusco you will soon realise you are spoiled for choice when it comes to tour companies (and funnily enough massages, probably because your legs will be aching by the time you arrive back to Cusco after one of these treks!).
Choosing between them can be tricky but as always there are some companies that are more reputable than others, and there are some things you need to look out for when booking these tours (this will be covered in a later post), so for this reason we decided to play it safe and choose the Lonely Planet recommended Reserve Cusco, www.reserv-cusco-peru.com and www.incajungletrail.com. As you will find out throughout this series of posts this turned out to be one of the best decisions we have made throughout or entire trip! With Reserve Cusco the standard price s 225 $US or 198 $US if you are a student with an ISIC card (like us).
After another early morning get up, and a short walk to the Reserve Cusco office arriving 10 minutes early (best to be on the safe side) we were impressed to see our guide, Juan Carlos, already waiting there for us!
Shortly after Arturo, probably the nicest boss you have ever met, arrived to open up the office and transfer the final bits of paper work and the all important train tickets to Juan Carlos before we could leave.
After everything was finalised we were on the minibus complete with a roof full of bikes heading towards the town of Ollantaytambo, and to a final altitude of 4350m where we would start our mountain biking. The views from the bus were stunning almost the entire way, and Juan Carlos, who I forgot to mention spoke perfect English as well as four other languages, told us a lot about the areas we were passing through, which on a whole made the journey really interesting.
Once we arrived you get all the necessary safety equipment ie. helmet, gloves and a high visibility jacket, and then of course the bikes! After a short while riding around to get used the bikes, and the fact that just like almost anywhere else in the world the brakes are the opposite way round to the UK, we set off down the windy paved roads around the mountain.
Its paved roads the whole way down, so you won’t need to worry about any difficult riding, but never the less the good road surface allows you to go pretty fast making it a fun ride. Unfortunately for us the bike ride was really wet and cloudy so we couldn’t really appreciate the amazing views behind the white curtain.
After finishing the biking, and a shortish bus ride the rest of the way to Santa Maria we reached our first Hostel/Lodge where we ate our “snack” . I say snack, but we were actually treated to one of the biggest slices of cake I have ever eaten amongst other things!
The rafting cost an extra 25 $US. After seeing the state of the river due to the recent rain, we had thought that the rafting may be called off, but to our surprise, and probably terror, before we knew it we were sliding the raft down the edge of the bank toward the raging river.
After a safety talk and general rafting instructions we were off, and it soon became apparent that the river was much less scary once you are on it and the adrenaline is pumping. It also became apparent that white water rafting is really hard work! After a short section of rapids my arms were already killing me but it was immense fun, and during the calmer sections you also got the chance to appreciate the amazing surroundings that encompassed the river.
Shortly after arriving back to the hostel and having a quick shower we walked to a local restaurant for the first of many excellent meals. It was a three course affair, we had a classic Peruvian soup to start, a delicious main almost like Chinese, and a small desert, just what was needed to fill the hole after a hard two hours rafting!
Without meaning to be boring, we went back to the hostel and straight to bed. The first day was tiring, and we needed to be up early in the morning for the start of the first trek which happened to be no less than 28km. I think you’ll agree sleep was needed!
Stay tuned for the next Inca Jungle Trail posts, or in the meantime check out all the photos on Flickr! Update: The next post is here find out what we did on days two and three trekking the Inca Jungle Trail