During this Route of Goodies, you will appreciate wonderful landscapes of the high jungle, you will walk the beautiful Inca Trail, you will bathe in turquoise hot springs and you will visit “The Lost City of the Incas”. The Route of Goodies is one of our slow proposals to get to Machu Picchu!
Cocoa, tea, coffee, tropical fruits. Are they familiar to you? On this journey you will also learn and meet the people who make it possible for you to enjoy them at your table. You’ll meet inspiring local people like Alcira, who has carried on the family tradition of growing and processing high-quality tea, and Julia, who has an orchard where she grows a variety of fruits, coffee, and cocoa.
P.S. We offer several versions of this 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 of Machu Picchu! If you have fewer days or money to spend, try the Short Coffee Route to Machu Picchu.
If you take a closer look, you will also realize that this tour has one of the best Sustainability Scores! You can be proud of yourself if you book this tour.
You will start this Route of Goodies with being picked up from your hotel in Cusco (around 7:30 am) or Ollantaytambo (around 8:30 am) -if you’re in other areas of the Sacred Valley, please check the FAQs- and driven to the Abra Malaga Pass, at 4300 m.a.s.l. From here we will drive to Alciras’s house, located at 1500 m.a.s.l. Along the way, you will experience the different ecosystems and climates: from the high plains and glaciers to the lush upper jungle and banana trees! Thanks to your private transportation you can sometimes stop for a photo, but not too often: these are regular taxis that have to do various rides today.
Upon arrival at Alcira’s house, you will have some time to freshen up, and then take a walk along the tea plantations where you will learn about the different varieties of tea and picking techniques. Then you will reach out to the factory, where you will have the chance to create blends of teas with medicinal herbs.
Next, you will go to Julia’s house where lunch will be waiting. In the afternoon you will go with Julia or one of her family members to take a walk along the plantations, to learn about all kinds of coffee, fruits, and cocoa they grow here. You will also be able to taste different fruits and make juice! Making your chocolate is also possible: ask Julia if she has some cocoa (depending on the season).
Dinner and overnight stay at Julia’s guestrooms.
After a delicious breakfast, it is time to say goodbye to this nice family. Together with the guide, you will take a private taxi to the trailhead via Santa Maria, which leads to Alejandro’s house. Then 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 (if you’re afraid of heights) to Alejandro’s house. Upon arrival, Alejandro’s wife Elvira will serve you a delicious lunch!
In the afternoon of this Route of Goodies 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 of this 3rd day of the Route of Goodies, 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”. After arrival, you can have lunch (not included) and then continue on your way* to Mandor, a biodiversity conservation initiative located 4 km from Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu town). Staying here means that you will have the opportunity to discover beautiful landscapes and the biodiversity of the place while you walk freely through the trails of the property.
*The hike along the railways is optional and the distance can also be done by train, but we suggest going for the first option since it’s just a 2-hour walk (approx.; flat terrain). 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 29 p.p.
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: + 6 km (3.7 miles), flat terrain
Depending on the time, you will walk for approximately one hour by the railway, from Mandor to the bus station, where you will take the bus to Machu Picchu (arrange the time in advance with your guide).
In the morning, 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 archaeological 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. End of your Route of Goodies to Machu Picchu.
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 Route of Goodies 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.
At Mandor you will get super comfortable, even if you will be next to the railroad, but the space is ample and the surrounding forest is very pleasant.
No, the families you will meet along the Route of Goodies don’t speak English. However, your guide will be with you all the time to translate whatever the coffee farmers are explaining.
Most of the Route of Goodies 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 Route of Goodies 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.
When staying 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 Route of Goodies 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 the accommodations in Mandor, and also in the houses of Julia and Alejandro.
Alcira is our new treasure that takes you to Machu Picchu. She has a dream and this is that more and more people get to know more and more about her teas. Our host is is part of a family dedicated to the production of tea for more than 13 years and was the winner of the national award of the entrepreneurial woman of the year in the region of Cusco. Thanks to her work she is activating the local economy by creating added value to her teas and contributing to the communities with a fair payment, technification and positioning the regional brand.
Julia is one of the pioneer collaborators of Impactful Travel (formerly known as RESPONSible Travel Peru), since we started she has received many travelers and it makes us very happy to see how tourism has helped her children to go to college, start their own ice cream business and increase the number of rooms.
Julia produces high quality fruits as well as cocoa and coffee and cooks like a goddess.
Ever since Alex 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 built by hand by Alejandro.
Their children, Alfran and Camila, 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 our Cusco office, Alfran is now still working for us as a driver, while Camila is studying medicine. 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.