Riding High In the Andes At the end of August I found myself traveling the Altiplano high in the Peruvian Andes in the Cusco area. I had been selling the Sacred Valley of the... Read more
Horseback Riding in Peru
Horseback riding in Peru through the Sacred Valley of the Incas high in the mighty Andes is a wonderful experience you will not soon forget. This valley was the heart of the highly developed Incan civilization which once controlled a vast area stretching from Ecuador well down the coast of Chile. The monolithic remains of this powerful empire are everywhere to be seen and the surrounding landscape, with the towering peaks of the Andes, is breathtaking. The Peruvian Paso horses are much-loved, reliable and fun to ride and, with the help of your knowledgeable guides, allow you to explore remote parts of the Sacred Valley not seen by most tourists. Accommodations are in charming hotels in the Sacred Valley. The cuisine is a happy blend of Peruvian and Spanish Colonial offering a great variety of delicious, fresh local produce.
As you ride through the heart of the Inca Empire you quickly become aware of how advanced the civilization became. The skillful way the Inca engineers moved huge stone slabs, sometimes weighing over a hundred tons, and positioned them snugly into place without the use of mortar is most impressive. These closely fitting slabs retained some flexibility and stood up far better against earthquakes than buildings using mortar. Ancient roads, agricultural research stations, and towns dot the landscape, even now, 1000 years after the fall of the Inca. It is hard to understand how less than 200 Spanish soldiers managed to gain the upper hand and historians are now coming to think that it was only possible because many native Peruvians were unhappy with Inca rule and helped the Spaniards to overthrow them. Of course the courage, ruthlessness and superior military technology of the Spaniards were important also and the awesome looking horse with a rider on his back was undoubtedly a huge advantage in frightening the Incas.
The enormous infusion of wealth Spain gained from the conquest of Peru vastly enriched them and changed the whole balance of power in Europe. For centuries the colony prospered with gold and silver mines and wide areas were cultivated with crops like sugarcane which required overseers to cover long distances on horseback. This gave rise to the breeding and refinement of the Peruvian Paso which developed over the centuries to improve on the Paso Fino. On this journey, you will appreciate how well suited these horses are to the terrain and how comfortable they are to ride for many hours each day.