Ride the Sacred Valley of Peru in April of 2016

From April 9 to 24, 2016, we experienced Machu Picchu, visited Lima and Cusco, and had an amazing journey.

“A ride through the sacred valley of the Inca, from Cusco to Machu Picchu, on a Peruvian Paso is a haunting, spiritual experience. The dramatic setting in the Andes features sheer cliffs and lush valleys.”National Geographic’s Top 10 Horseback Rides

Are you ready to challenge yourself for the ride of a lifetime?  This highly specialized tour is not for everyone.

  • This exclusive tour is limited to six riders and is not designed for the casual rider.
  • Some of the riding is in the Andes Mountains, and portions are somewhat technical and challenging, requiring energetic horses and intermediate to advanced riding skills.
  • The welfare of the horses is paramount to Perol Chico, our riding tour operator, and there is a strictly enforced rider weight limit of 85 kg (190 lb).

The December/January edition of Canadian Cowboy Country is “The Dream Issue”.  Our tour is featured in the “Beyond Your Wildest Dreams” section.

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To Perol Chico’s amazing itinerary, we have added the following:

This truly will be a trip to be remembered, and I am so excited about sharing my own fifth visit to Peru with you.

The price of this tour is $7,750 USD.  Bring a friend (or let us pair you) and save.  Share accomodations and your cost decreases to $6,750 USD.  Airfare to Lima is not included in this price, but top-rated hotels, flight to Cusco, tours, transfers, riding and most meals are included.  Details of this are provided in the daily itineraries below.  We negotiated with a recipient of TravelAdvisor’s “award of excellence” for custom day tours in Lima and Cusco to put together even more amazing experiences.  Did I mention that I’m excited about this trip?????

Our tour operator for the riding portion of the trip is Perol Chico.  Please visit their website for amazing photos and futher details.  Most of the narrative below is taken from their literature.

Contact us for further details or use the button below to make a non-refundable deposit of $250 USD on your adventure, with balance due within one week.



Summarized Itinerary

Here is our proposed itinerary for the trip:

April 9 – 10 – Lima

April 11 – 12 – Cusco

April 13 – 16 – Incredible horseback riding in the Sacred Valley on spirited and ultra-smooth Peruvian Horses

April 17 – Tour day in Cusco

April 18 – 20 – More incredible trail riding with one of the National Geographic’s top ten horseback rides in the world

April 21 – take one of the top ranked train rides in the world to visit Machu Picchu

April 22 – 24 – Lima and the Peruvian Horse National Show

Detailed Daily Itinerary

Here is the detailed daily itinerary:

April 9 – Lima

We will be picked up from the airport in Lima, Peru and transferred to our hotel in the beautiful Miraflores area.  This hotel was awarded a TravelAdvisor “certificate of excellence”.

April 10 – Lima

Lima city tour with another “certificate of excellence” winner.  See the Limeños in their Sunday best!

April 11 – Cusco

We fly to Cusco where the adventure really begins.

Our Perol Chico representative will be waiting for us at the Cusco airport on our arrival.  They will welcome us to Cusco and ensure that we have a safe transfer to our comfortable hotel near the centre of this historical and beautiful city.

Today it is very important that we relax, rest and get acclimatized to the high altitude, before we start our exciting riding expedition high in the Andes. Our reservation is at the wonderful Hotel Costa del Sol, a 4-star establishment, another “certificate of excellence” award winner, and only 2 blocks from the famous Plaza de Armas.

Decide for yourself whether you stay with the group or explore on your own.

April 12 – Cusco

Walking and car tour in Cusco with another “certificate of excellence” winner.  Today is our chance to acclimatize ourselves to to the altitude.  Dinner will be at a lovely local restaurant on your account.

April 13 – Sacred Valley
After a delicious breakfast we will be picked up at 9h15 outside our hotel. From Cusco it is a 1hr15 drive to our accommodation in the Sacred Valley.

For the next three nights we will be staying in comfortable accommodation in the heart of the Sacred Valley of the Incas; just a short drive from the stables. Once we have unpacked and refreshed ourselves, we will be collected and transferred to the ranch.

Today we will have an opportunity to become familiar with the beautiful Peruvian Paso horses and the traditional Peruvian riding gear.  We will 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 our riding ability will be evaluated. Perol Chico will then match us with a mount in accordance with our riding ability, preference, personality and weight class. All horses are forward going, very well trained and a pleasure to ride.

Dinner will be at the ranch or at a local restaurant. Overnight at the Hotel Sonesta Posada del Inca in the Sacred Valley. (B, L, D).

April 14 – Sacred Valley
After a hearty breakfast at our hotel, we will be taken to the ranch and the ride will commence.  We cross the Urubamba River via a bridge, pass Pichingote, an old Andean hamlet built along the river and then ride onto Salinas up a narrow track where we will see salt pans from Inca times which are still being used by the locals to extract salt from the mountain spring water. The salt pans 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 we climb nearly 850 m with the horses to reach the Andean altiplano. This climb takes about two hours and will be at an easy pace because the change of altitude does not only affect the horses. Once at 3,550 m (over 11,400 ft.), we will be surrounded by stunning scenery and the snow-capped mountains of Chicon, Veronica and Pitusuray.

We continue our ride to Maras, a typical Andean village with a beautiful 400-year-old colonial church, where a picnic lunch will be waiting for us nearby. The church at Maras was built just after the Conquest and is one of the ten oldest churches in South America.

From Maras, we 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, which you should reach shortly before 16:30. The horses are left here with the grooms and we will be returned to our hotel.

After some rest and a hot shower, we will enjoy dinner at one of Urubamba’s local restaurants or at the ranch.

Overnight at the Hotel Sonesta Posada del Inca in the Sacred Valley. (B,L,D).
Riding time: approximately 3 – 4 hours. Altitude: 2,800 – 3,550 m/9,190 – 11,650 ft.

April 15 – Sacred Valley
After a sound and restful sleep, we will be picked up at 09h30 and transferred back to Tiobamba where the horses will be waiting for us. Today is a day for following primitive trails across the altiplano, enjoying spectacular scenery along the way with snow-capped mountains, wildflowers and beautiful mountain lakes.  We will 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.  We 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 snowcapped peaks of the Cordilleras Vilcabamba and Urubamba.

After lunch there is a short ride to Lake Piuray where we will leave the horses and take a short trip by car to visit Chinchero. At Chinchero there may also be 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 we will have a chance to buy some souvenirs if we choose to (although please do not feel obliged to buy anything).

Transfer back to our hotel by vehicle. Dinner will be at a local restaurant or at the ranch. Overnight at the Hotel Sonesta Posada del Inca in the Sacred Valley. (B,L,D).
Riding time: approximately 4 hours. Altitude: 3,550 – 3,800 m/11,650 – 12,470 ft.

April 16 – Cusco
We will be collected after breakfast and transferred back to Lake Piuray. From here, we crisscross through the rough Andean landscape, passing remote Quechua communities, herder’s huts and small farms called ‘chacras’. Today is one of the most beautiful riding days. We will travel a cobblestone-paved section of the network of Inca roads called the Capac Ñan, and enjoy wonderful vistas as we climb to an altitude of 4,000 m/13,125 ft. The scenery is breathtaking (quite literally), with impressive views of the many snowcapped mountains and the altiplano. We pass numerous Inca ruins; an ancient Inca aqueduct and Inca irrigation channels. Lunch will be enjoyed at a scenic spot and we will be met, as always, by our support crew. In the afternoon some technical riding is required with a tricky gorge to cross before we reach Cusco.

After a hard day’s ride following old Inca trails, we will arrive at around 16h30 just outside 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 we will stay at the very comfortable Hotel Costa del Sol located near the Plaza de Armas, the heart of Cusco’s archaeological centre.  Enjoy dinner in Cusco (to your own account).  If you still have the energy you can explore Cusco’s legendary nightlife! (B,L).
Riding time: approximately 6 hours. Altitude: 3,800 – 4,000 m/12,470 – 13,125 ft.

April 17 – Cusco
Relax; today is ours to spend as we wish. Optional walking tour.  Visit the numerous ruins, churches, cathedrals and museums of Cusco, enjoy some shopping, or just sit in one of the many coffee shops, restaurants, or bars and watch the world go by.  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 Inca emperor built his own palace and compound during his reign. The Spanish initially tried to raise the Inca buildings to the ground, but soon realised that because of their quality construction, it was easier to reuse the Inca foundations for their own buildings. For this reason, you can still see many of the original Inca walls throughout Cusco.

Cusco is now a vibrant city of some three hundred thousand inhabitants, the vast majority of whom are native Quechua Indians. Despite being a major tourist destination, both for its own treasures and as a base point for the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu, Cusco has managed to hold onto its own distinct flavour. It is great place to be for a day.

Overnight at the comfortable Hotel Costa del Sol in Cusco. (B).

April 18 – Sacred Valley
After breakfast, the riding expedition continues. Today’s ride will pass along old Inca trails and through open country with spectacular views providing another memorable riding day in the Andes. Wewill be collected from our hotel and taken to the horses – waiting where we left them, just outside Cusco in the countryside just beyond Sacsayhuaman.

Starting at 3.300 m we will begin by following a footpath leading north, then after climbing we will see a stone-lined Inca irrigation channel which parallels our trail. On ascending a steep, narrow valley, we reach a pass at 4,350 m (14,275 ft.) and see the small, shallow Lake Quellacocha; the highest point of the ride. After lunch we descend the high trail around the north end of the lake and ascend eastward to Lake Q’oricocha. At the lake we will stop for lunch. Herds of llamas and alpacas are usually seen grazing. The people living at this high altitude are friendly, hard-working farmers who grow mainly potatoes. From Lake Q’oricocha the ride heads northeast in the direction of the Sacred Valley. We descend with our horses from the altiplano into the valley of Umaspampa on a zig-zag trail for about two hours. During the descent we will have to lead our horses for a short while (15 minutes or so) to cross some rocky terrain. Transfer to the Hotel Sonesta Posada del Inca in the Sacred Valley.

Dinner at a local restaurant or at the ranch. (B,L,D)
Riding time: approximately 5 to 6 hours. Altitude: 3,300 – 4,350 m/10,820 – 14,275 ft.

April 19 – Sacred Valley
Today is another stunningly scenic day and we will enjoy plenty of breaks and photo-stops. From the village of Umaspampa we ride to the villages of Cuper Alto and Cuper Bajo, arriving in the early afternoon at Chinchero. Much of the riding today is along trails that are part of the great Inca Empire’s road system, the Capac 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 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 main roads clearly recognisable, plus many secondary roads.

After another beautiful afternoon ride we arrive at the village of Racchi where we have lunch. After lunch we will ride to Tiobamba where the horses will stay with our grooms for the night. Transfer to your hotel in the Sacred Valley.

Dinner at a local restaurant or at the ranch. Overnight at a comfortable Hotel Posada del Inca in Yucay. (B,L,D)
Riding time: approx. 5-6 hours. Altitude: 3,800 – 3,550 m/12,470 – 11,650 ft.

April 20 – Sacred Valley
We will be collected after breakfast for our last riding day. Today we visit the agricultural terraces of Moray. Moray is quite unique – hundreds of years ago, people in the region took four huge natural depressions in the landscape and sculpted them into multi-level agricultural terraces that served as an experimental agricultural station for the development of different crops. This was possible due to a remarkable natural phenomenon: the climates of many different ecological zones were present at a single site. In the thirty or so metres of altitude between the bottom and the top levels of Moray’s depression, scientist John Earls once recorded a full 15 degrees C difference in temperature. This is equal to the difference between the mean annual temperatures of London and Bombay! It is possible that Moray played a key role in the original transformation of maize into a high-altitude crop. There are no great ruined structures in Moray to impress; it is more for the contemplative traveler or farmers!

After a delicious lunch near Moray we mount our horses and follow a trail with great views of the Urquillos Valley arriving once more at the village of Maras. From Maras we continue the descent into the Sacred Valley arriving back at the ranch and journey’s end at around 16:00 and time to celebrate our return with a traditional Pisco Sour.

Tonight we will enjoy dinner at the ranch or at a local restaurant. Overnight at the Hotel Posada del Inca in Yucay. (B,L,D)
Riding time: approximately 4 hours. Altitude: 3,550 – 2,800 m/11,650 – 9,190 ft.

April 21 – Sacred Valley
An early start today (usually pick up is at 06:00 am!), as we catch the train from Urubamba to the ruins of Machu Picchu. 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. The Vistadome train brings you to Machu Picchu an hour before the main tourist train arrives from Cusco. Since its discovery by Hiram Bingham in 1911, Machu Picchu has captivated the hearts and minds of the modern world.

In the afternoon take the train back to Urubamba, arriving late afternoon. Enjoy dinner at one of Urubamba’s famous restaurants or at the ranch and make the most of the last chance to sample Maria’s legendary Pisco Sours!

Overnight at the Hotel Posada del Inca in the Sacred Valley (B,D).

April 22 – Lima
Early morning transfer to Cusco airport for our flight to Lima. The driving time is one hour + 15 minutes.   We will return to our lovely hotel in Miraflores.

April 23 – Lima

We will visit beautiful haciendas around Lima.  Accomodations at our award winning hotel in the upscale Miraflores district of Lima.

April 24 – Lima and homeward bound

Peruvian Horses are known as the pride of Peru, and that pride will be fully demonstrated on this day.

We will see the amazing spectacle of the Closing Ceremonies of the Peruvian National Horse Show at Mamcona during the day.  Horse shows are very different here in Peru.  The show arena is a four acre field, with bleacher seating.  The vendors on site have food, clothing, finely woven straw hats, ponchos and beautiful traditional Peruvian tack for sale.  Also on the show grounds are the amazing quadras – stables owned by some of the top breeders in Peru. We will be part of the celebration.

We return to Lima for dinner.  Most will fly home late that evening.  And so ends a trip we will always remember.

Celestina052

Contact us for further details.


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