Browse the Itinerary for this Ride
Upon arrival at the Cusco airport the outfitter’s representative will welcome you to Cusco (he or she will have a sign with your name on it) and ensure that you have a safe transfer to your comfortable hotel near the center of this historical and beautiful city.
Today it is very important that you relax, rest and get acclimatized to the high altitude, before the start of your exciting riding expedition high in the Andes. Reservations have been made for you at the wonderful Hotel Costa del Sol, a 4-star establishment with rooms in the colonial part of the building, and only 2 blocks from the famous Plaza de Armas. Earliest check-in time is 11 AM.
Please make sure that you rest well, because tomorrow you will meet and ride the Peruvian Paso horses and learn all about the classic Peruvian riding style. Lunch and dinner is on your own tonight.
After a delicious breakfast you will be picked up at 9:15am outside your hotel. From Cusco it is a 1.25 hr drive to your accommodation in the Sacred Valley. For the next four nights you will be staying in comfortable rooms at the Hotel Sonesta Posada del Inca, in the heart of the Sacred Valley of the Incas; just a short drive from the stables. Once you have unpacked and refreshed yourself, you will be collected and transferred to the ranch. Today you will have an opportunity to become familiar with the beautiful Peruvian Paso horses and the traditional Peruvian riding gear.
Enjoy a delicious barbeque lunch at the ranch, some good wine and of course Maria’s famous Pisco Sours. In the afternoon, there will be a demonstration of classic Peruvian equitation, followed by an introductory Peruvian riding lesson, during which your riding ability will be evaluated. We will then match you with a mount in accordance with your riding ability, preference, personality and weight class. All horses are forward going, very well trained and a pleasure to ride.
Dinner will either be at the ranch or at a local restaurant.
Enjoy a delicious barbeque lunch at the ranch, good wine and of course Maria’s famous Pisco Sours. In the afternoon, there will be a demonstration of classic Peruvian equitation, followed by an introductory Peruvian riding lesson, during which your riding ability will be evaluated. We will then match you with a mount in accordance with your riding ability, preference, personality and weight class. All horses are forward going, very well trained and a pleasure to ride.
Dinner will either be at the ranch or at a local restaurant.
After a hearty breakfast at your hotel you will be picked up at 9:15am and taken to the ranch, from where the ride will start off. Today you will ride along an old and forgotten path, not far behind the ranch, that leads to a breathtaking place on top of the Cordillera Vilcanota, feeling close to heaven. Today’s ride will take you along hidden trails, unspoiled landscapes and is absolutely off the beaten track.
The first part of the ride will be a serious climb following narrow but beautiful mountain trails with lots of vegetation. You can observe the rich flora of the Peruvian Andes, such as the Molle tree or “Pepper tree” (the Incas once used the resin to embalm mummies), the Sauco tree (which produce small and very tasty purplish-black fruits), the Capuli fruit tree (its fruit is almost the size as a cherry and its color, when ripe, is very attractive), the Qeuna tree (the trunk is quite twisted and the reddish bark flakes and peels as paper, leading some of people of Cusco region to call it "the tree of tourists”), the Tamarillo tree (tree tomato), Cantutas (a.k.a. the flower of the Inca), Aguaymanto (Peruvian cherry or cape gooseberry), Muña (A mint-like Peruvian herb) and many other botanical specimens native to the Peruvian Andes.
Once you get to the top of the mountain you will let the horses rest for a while and enjoy the spectacular view. There are really no words to describe the panorama. After some snacks and a drink you’ll continue the ride downhill, along lush and secret trails. The land is privately owned. At around 2pm you’ll arrive at a friend’s place located in a gorgeous valley. Here we meet our back up team and enjoy a delicious lunch (fresh trout). We will be back at the ranch around 4 or 4:30pm, and dinner will be here or at a local restaurant.
Riding time: 4-4.5 hrs, Altitude: 9,190-11,800 ft
After lunch you will climb with the horses (almost 850 meters / 2,790 ft) to the alti-plano of the Andes. This climb takes about two hours, and will be at an easy pace because the change of altitude does not only affect the horses. At 3,550 meter (11,400 ft) you will be impressed by the stunning scenery and the snow-capped mountains of Chicon, Veronica and Salcantay. Continue your ride to Maras, a typical Andean village with a beautiful 400-yr-old colonial church for a picnic lunch. The church at Maras was built just after the Conquest and is one of the ten oldest churches in South America. From Maras follow primitive trails across the altiplano to visit the ruins of Cheqoq. Here the Incas constructed fascinating cold-storage depots to conserve the agricultural products of the region. Cooling of the products was achieved by using a system of underground air-circulation.
From Cheqoq continue riding to the beautiful churchyard of Tiobamba where you arrive around 4.30 PM. The horses will stay here with the grooms and the back-up van will return you to your accommodations in the Sacred Valley. Dinner at one of Urubamba’s famous local restaurants or at the ranch. Riding time: 3-4 hours. Altitude: 2,800 – 3,550 m/ 9,1900-11,650 ft.
Today you will visit Machu Picchu by train. Since its discovery by Hiram Bingham in 1911, Machu Picchu has captivated the hearts and minds of the modern world. The experience of visiting Machu Picchu is not limited to the ruins themselves; the train journey is one of the most spectacular in the world.
Take lots of film, this is every bit as magnificent as you have imagined.
As per July 2017 the Peruvian government has established new regulations to keep intact and preserve the facilities of this Wonder of the World. There are two entrance times: Morning: From 6am to 12pm,and Afternoon: 12pm to 5:30pm. The capacity of the Citadel is limited to 2,500 visitors per day, which will be distributed in the 2 shifts mentioned.
As to the increase of tourism in Peru it is essential that we book your visit to Machu Picchu in due advance. We will do our utmost to book you for the afternoon shift and with the most convenient train schedule.
Depending on availability at the time of booking you will be travelling with the luxurious Vistadome train service leaving from the train station in Ollantaytambo in the morning (a 30 minute drive from your hotel) and return to the same station around 7 or 8 pm where our car will pick you up. On your way to your hotel you will stop at the ranch for dinner.
After a hearty breakfast at your hotel you will be taken to the ranch and the ride will set off. You cross the Urubamba River via a bridge, pass a tiny village called Pichingote along the river and then riding onto Salinas up a narrow track where you will see the salt pans from Inca times which are still being used by the locals to extract salt from the mountain spring water. The saltpans consist of a series of platforms where the salty water is channeled through an impressive irrigation system and left to evaporate in the sun.
Today you climb nearly 2800 ft. with the horses to reach the Andean altiplano. The climb takes about two hours and will be at an easy pace. Once at 11,400 ft you will be surrounded by stunning scenery and the snow-capped mountains of Chicon, Veronica and Pitusuray. Continue your ride to Maras, a typical Andean village with a beautiful 400-year-old colonial church, where a picnic lunch will be waiting for you nearby. The church at Maras was built just after the Conquest and is one of the ten oldest churches in South America.
After a delicious picnic lunch you will visit the ruins of Cheqoq. Here the Incas constructed fascinating cold-storage areas (pre-Hispanic refrigerators) to conserve the agricultural produce of the region. Cooling of the products was achieved by using a system of wind tunnels to circulate the air and a network of water channels to circulate the cold water from a nearby mountain spring. Continue riding to the beautiful churchyard of Tiobamba. The horses are left at a nearby village with the grooms and you will be returned to your hotel. After some rest and a hot shower, we will take you out to enjoy dinner at one of Urubamba's local restaurants or at the ranch.
Riding time: approximately 4 hours. Altitude: 9,190 - 11,650 ft.
Today is free to do as you wish. You can visit the numerous churches, cathedrals and museums, do some shopping, or just relax. Some may opt for a one-day rafting adventure on the Urubamba River. The evenings in Cusco are full of exciting nightlife.
According to Inca legend, Cusco was founded around 1200 AD by Manco Capac and Mama Occlo. Manco Capac selected the site when the golden staff given to him by his father, the sun, sank into the earth and disappeared. Each Incan emperor built his own palace and compound during his reign.
The Spanish initially tried to destroy the Inca buildings but soon realized that because of their quality construction, it was easier to reuse the foundations for their own buildings. Throughout Cusco many of the original Inca walls can still be seen today.
Cusco is a vibrant city and the vast majority of the native Quechua Indians live here. Despite being a major tourist destination, both for its own treasures and as a staging point for the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu, Cusco has managed to hold on to its own distinct flavor. It retains a natural charm that is irresistible. Overnight in Cusco.
After a sound and restful sleep, you will be picked up at 9:15am and transferred back to the village near Tiobamba where the horses will be waiting for you. Today is a day for following primitive trails across the altiplano, enjoying spectacular scenery along the way with views of snow-capped mountains, farmland, wildflowers and beautiful mountain lakes. Meet smiling Quechua children with their herds of sheep or cattle and see campesinos ploughing their fields in the traditional way; oxen hitched to a wooden plough. You may even share a chicha (a traditional maize drink) with them. Just before Chinchero a delicious picnic lunch and our back up team awaits you. On a clear day the views from Chinchero are tremendous; to the west and northwest stretches a vista of rolling altiplano, ringed in the distance by the dramatic snow- capped peaks of the Cordilleras Vilcabamba and Urubamba.
After lunch the ride continues to Lake Piuray. From here you ride in the direction of Cusco and pass some small villages. At one of the villages you end today’s ride and leave the horses with the grooms at a farm of a local family. If time allows you will visit Chinchero (if not, we will schedule this visit in the morning of day 8). At Chinchero you have the chance to visit a textiles workshop and see a demonstration of ancient techniques of spinning, dying and weaving wool. The beautiful fabrics are still made in the same way as they would have been made in Inca times. Take some money as you may want to buy some souvenirs (although please do not feel obliged to buy anything).
Transfer to the historic city of Cusco, the oldest continuously inhabited city in South America and the former capital of the great Inca Empire. For the next two nights you will stay at the very comfortable Hotel Costa del Sol located near the Plaza de Armas, the heart of Cusco's archaeological center. Enjoy dinner in Cusco (to your own account) and let us know if we can recommend a restaurant for you. If you still have the energy you can explore Cusco's legendary nightlife!
Riding time: approximately 4-5 hours. Altitude: 11,650 - 12,470 ft.
After breakfast, the riding expedition continues. Pick up is at 9:15am from your hotel in Cusco. Today's ride will pass along old Inca trails and through open country with spectacular views providing another memorable riding day in the Andes. You will be collected from your hotel with your luggage and taken to the horses. Your luggage will be brought to your hotel in the Sacred Valley while you are riding. Today is one of the most beautiful riding days. The scenery is breathtaking (quite literally), with impressive views of the many snow- capped mountains and the altiplano. Herds of llamas and alpacas are usually seen grazing. You may need ride along non-existing mountain trails which means that your guide have to improvise and find the best way to get from one side of the mountain to the other. This is a very remote area that is not easily accessible. You will be impressed with the horses and how they are able to handle the difficult terrain and steep climbs. At one point you will reach a pass at 14,275 ft. and see the small, shallow Lake Quellacocha; the highest point of the ride. At the lake you will stop for a simple lunch. After lunch you continue the ride to Lake Qqoricocha and will pass large extensions of potato fields, all ploughed by hand. After a while you will start to descend with the horses from the altiplano into the valley of Umaspampa on a zig-zag trail for about two hours. During the descent you have to lead your horse for a short while (15 minutes or so) to cross some rocky terrain. Close to the village of Umasbamba you leave the horses in the caring hands of the grooms and you will be transported to your hotel in the Sacred Valley of the Incas by car.
Dinner at a local restaurant or at the ranch. Riding time: approximately 5 to 6 hours. Altitude: 10,820 - 14,275 ft.
The 25,000 km network linked Cusco, the Inca capital, to the empire’s far-flung domains. The road system reached almost all of the Andean territories, including Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Argentina and Chile and was formed by four clearly recognizable main roads, and many secondary roads. After another beautiful afternoon ride you arrive in the village of Racchi where you have lunch.
After lunch ride to Tiobamba where the horses will stay with our grooms for the night. Transfer to your hotel in the Sacred Valley. Dine at a local restaurant or at the ranch, and overnight at the comfortable Hotel Posada del Inca in Yucay. Riding time: approx. 5-6 hours. Altitude: 3,800 - 3,550 m/12,470 - 11,650 ft.
Today is another stunningly scenic day and you will enjoy plenty of breaks and photo-stops. From the village of Umaspampa you ride to the villages of Cuper Alto and Cuper Bajo, arriving in the afternoon at an abandoned church near the village of Chinchero where you have lunch. To reach this place you have to take a trail that used to be a beautiful paved side road from Inca times. Some parts of this road are still intact and have underground water channels for irrigation and drainage with paved grades to get to higher levels.
Much of the riding today is along trails that are part of the great Inca Empire’s road system, the Qhapaq Ñan. The Inca road network was one the greatest engineering feats ever undertaken in the New World, rivaling the Roman road system in the Old World. The 30,000 km network linked Cusco, the Inca capital, to the empire’s far-flung domains. The road system reached almost all of the Andean territories, including Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Argentina and Chile and was formed by four main roads clearly recognisable, plus many secondary roads. The Qhapaq Ñan is part of the ‘World Heritage List’ of Unesco.
After another beautiful ride with stunning scenery you arrive to the village of Huaynacolca, high on top of the mountains that surround the Sacred Valley of the Inca’s. Here is where the horses will stay with the grooms for the night. Transfer by car to your hotel in the Sacred Valley where you can fresh up for dinner.
Dinner at a local restaurant or at the ranch. Overnight at a comfortable Hotel Posada del Inca in Yucay. Riding time: approx. 5-6 hours. Altitude: 12,470 - 11,650 ft.
You will be collected after breakfast for your last riding day. Before you meet the horses at Huaynacolca you will stop at the pottery shop of the renowned ceramicist and artist Pablo Seminario. Pablo Seminario is a local legend amongst Cusqueños. He invented a new form of ceramic artwork that integrates abstract modern styles with traditional Incan and pre-Incan ceramic techniques and designs. After the short visit to the pottery shop you’ll be taken back to where we left the horses the day before and continue the ride along the old Inca road high above the Sacred Valley. You’ll pass farmland and the small village of Santana before you return to the village of Maras. From Maras you continue inland until you arrive to a beautiful courtyard of an old house, which according locals is bewitched, but where you can enjoy lunch. Maria and our back up team will be waiting for us with drinks and a delicious lunch.
After lunch you mount up again and follow a trail with great views of the Urquillos Valley arriving once more at the village of Maras. From Maras you continue the descent into the Sacred Valley, passing the salt mines again, arriving back at the ranch and journey’s end at around 4pm. It is a good time to celebrate your safe return with a traditional Pisco Sour. Tonight you will enjoy your last dinner at the ranch or at a local restaurant. Overnight at the Hotel Posada del Inca in Yucay.
Riding time: approximately 4-4,5 hours. Altitude: 11,650 - 9,190 ft.
Early morning transfer to the airport in Cusco for your onward travel. The driving time is 1.25 hr; if continuing to Lima for international flights, book flights departing 5pm or after.
THIS ITINERARY IS FLEXIBLE. CHANGES MAY OCCUR DUE TO WEATHER OR OTHER UNFORESEEN CIRCUMSTANCES.