The Sacred Valley Ride 11D/10N, Cusco-Sacred Valley-Machu Picchu-Cusco
Our signature and most popular ride starts from our riding operation in the heart of the Sacred Valley at about 8,500 feet (2,800m). The Sacred Valley Ride follows a route across the Urubamba River, up through mountain pasture where smiling Quechua children herd sheep and cattle, to highland terraces and small, mountain villages, where the horses' hooves echo on ancient cobblestone roads. Oxen pull wooden ploughs through the fields, travel is largely by foot and the native people speak Quechua, the language of the Incas. The trip includes a visit to the legendary Inca citadel of Machu Picchu and a 2 night stay (mid-trip) in the ancient Inca capital of Cusco. Set departure dates run from April until mid October.
The meeting point of the ride is in Cusco. Our representative will be waiting for you at the Cusco airport on your arrival. He/she will carry a sign with your name, so when you pass customs please look out for it. Our representative will welcome you to Cusco and ensure that you have a safe transfer to your comfortable hotel near the centre of this historical and beautiful city.
Today it is very important that you relax, rest and get acclimatized to the high altitude, before we start our exciting riding expedition high in the Andes. We have made your reservation at the wonderful Hotel Costa del Sol, a 4-star establishment, and only 2 blocks from the famous Plaza de Armas. Check-in time from 11h00.
Please make sure that you rest well, because tomorrow you will meet and ride our Peruvian Paso horses and learn all about the classic Peruvian riding style. Lunch and dinner is for your own account.
After a delicious breakfast you will be picked up at 9h15 outside your hotel. From Cusco it is a 1hr15 drive to your accommodation in the Sacred Valley.
For the next three nights you will be staying in comfortable accommodation 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 be at the ranch or at a local restaurant. Overnight at the Hotel Sonesta Posada del Inca in the Sacred Valley. (B, L, D).
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 Pichingote, an old Andean hamlet built along the river and then riding onto Salinas up a narrow track where you 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 you 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.), 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.
From Maras, 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, which you should reach shortly before 16:30. The horses are left here with the grooms and you will be returned to your hotel.
After some rest and a hot shower, we will take you to 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.
After a sound and restful sleep, you will be picked up at 09h30 and transferred back to 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 snow-capped mountains, 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 there is a short ride to Lake Piuray where you 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 you may want to buy some souvenirs (although please do not feel obliged to buy anything).
Transfer back to your 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.
You will be collected after breakfast and transferred back to Lake Piuray. From here, you 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. You will travel a cobblestone-paved section of the network of Inca roads called the Capac Ñan, and enjoy wonderful vistas as you climb to an altitude of 4,000 m/13,125 ft. The scenery is breathtaking (quite literally), with impressive views of the many snow-capped mountains and the altiplano. You 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, you 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 you will stay at the very comfortable Hotel Costa del Sol or the Hotel Marriot located near the Plaza de Armas, the heart of Cusco's archaeological centre. 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! (B,L).
Riding time: approximately 6 hours. Altitude: 3,800 - 4,000 m/12,470 - 13,125 ft.
Relax; today is yours to spend as you wish. 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 or the Hotel Marriot in Cusco. (B).
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. You will be collected from your hotel and taken to the horses - waiting where you left them, just outside Cusco in the countryside just beyond Sacsayhuaman.
Starting at 3.300 m you will begin by following a footpath leading north, then after climbing you 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 you 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 you have to lead your horse 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.
Today is another stunningly scenic day and you 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 you arrive to 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.
You will be collected after breakfast for your 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 you continue the descent into the Sacred Valley arriving back at the ranch and journey’s end at around 16:00 and time to celebrate your return with a traditional Pisco Sour.
Tonight you 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.
An early start today (usually pick up is at 06:00 am!), as you 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).
Early morning transfer to Cusco airport for your flight to Lima. The driving time is one hour + 15 minutes. The earliest possible departure time for your international flight from Lima is 17:00pm.
The itinerary is flexible. Changes may occur due to weather and other unforeseen circumstances.
Dates & Pricing
- US$ 4750.00 (Trip price per person)
- US$ 720.00 (Single supplement)
- Price includes meals as reflected in the itinerary, professional English speaking trail guide, horses, tack, all trip gear, land travel, entrance fees to the ruins, train, bus and entrance fee to Machu Picchu and all accommodation (including 10 nights in hotels).
Price does not include
- Price does not include dinner on Day 5, meals in Cusco on Day 6 and lunch at Machu Picchu on Day 10, alcoholic beverages during meals at restaurants, gratuities, optional activities, personal expenditures and travel insurance.
- Single supplement. The price for each ride is based on shared occupancy. If you are traveling solo and wish to share accommodation, we will make every effort to find a roommate (always of the same gender). If you are willing to share and no roommate materializes, then the customary single supplement will apply. A single supplement is always applicable for participants who specifically request single accommodation.
Dates and availability:
Set departure dates. Please contact us for availability.
Scheduled departure dates 2017:
May 8 - May 18
May 22 - June 1
June 11 - June 21
July 10 - July 20
July 24 - August 3
August 21 - August 31
September 4 - September 14
September 18 - September 28
October 9 - October 19
The ride combines 10 nights in quaint hotels with private bathrooms.
Depending on availability at the time we make our final reservations for our groups, we use the following hotels during our Sacred Valley Ride:
Hotel Sonesta Posada del Inca, Plaza Manco II de Yucay 123 Urubamba, Cusco. The hotel Sonesta Posada del Inca in Yucay is only 5 miles from our stable, has comfortable heated rooms with private bathrooms and plenty of 'local colour'. The Sonesta Yucay Posada is a former 18th century colonial-style monastery and is surrounded by beautiful gardens. The 69-room hotel is like a little village with plazas, gardens and a small chapel. The rooms, with tile floors, wood ceilings, and hand-carved headboards, have balconies that overlook the gardens or the terraced hillsides.
Hotel Costa del Sol, Santa Teresa 344, Cusco. The Hotel Costa del Sol (former Hotel Picoaga, was originally the old mansion of the Spanish noble, the Marquis of Picoaga (century XVII). It has now been converted into a comfortable hotel. The intimate and public areas are beautifully decorated in colonial style, framed by fine stone archways on two levels and the beautiful columns and Spanish patio complete an authentic sample of 17th Century architecture.
Meeting point for this ride is Cusco.
We are happy to arrange all your travel plans starting from and ending in Lima, including hotel accommodation in Lima and your domestic flights Lima-Cusco and Cusco-Lima. Contact us for more information.
Riders RequirementsTo take part in these rides you need to be a reasonably experienced rider, intermediate or above. You should be comfortable, secure and in control on a well schooled horse at all paces and used to riding in open country and over varied terrain. You should have a reasonably good level of general and riding fitness.
A rider who has limited experience, is unable to apply basic aids and does not have a firm and balanced seat
A rider who is capable of mounting and dismounting unassisted, capable of applying basic aids, comfortable and in control at the walk.
A rider who has a firm and balanced seat, who is capable of mounting and dismounting unassisted, comfortable and in control at all paces but does not ride regularly.
An intermediate rider who is currently riding regularly and is comfortable in the saddle for at least 6 hours per day.
All of the above, plus an independent seat, soft hands, and capable of handling a spirited horse in open country.
Weight limit: 13,5 stones (85 kgs, 190 pounds)
Age Limit: 16 or older.
Rider's Weight (Important!)To ensure the welfare of our horses there is a strict rider weight limit of 85 kgs / 13.5st / 190 pounds. There are scales at the stables and riders may be weighed prior to the ride setting off. Riders exceeding our weight limit may be excluded from the ride and no refund will be made.
Horses and TackThe horses are locally bred Peruvian Pasos. This breed dates back to the colonial era of Peru and originates from the Spanish Andalusians. Peruvian Paso horses are bred for their grace, spirit, and intelligence and are a symbol of their historic and noble past. These horses like to amble, moving fore and hind limbs on the same side at the same time, unlike other equine races that typically move diagonal limbs at the same time. During the ride you will experience traveling on horseback at the smooth Paso Llano gait (4-beat lateral gait, between 8 to 10 Km. per hour). The horses are well cared for, strong, and even-tempered.
The tack utilized is very traditional and demonstrates refined Peruvian craftsmanship. The hardwood hex stirrup and the guarnicion, or tailpiece, are unique elements of the Peruvian tack. The saddle is a box saddle and has a deep seat.
Pace of the ride
Due to the very high altitude and rough, rocky terrain, this is not a fast-paced ride. The horses are asked to work at altitudes of between 2,800m and 4,350m, and we should remember that with the altitude and reduced oxygen this high up makes their job of carrying us much more difficult!! On this ride you will experiene the fabulous 'paso llano' where the terrain allows, but this is not a fact paced ride by definition.
While on the Sacred Valley of the Incas Ride, guests are treated to wonderful meals representing tasty regional cuisine. Dishes are made from fresh vegetables, dairy products, and fresh trout. Most meals are included in the trip price, with the exception of lunch and dinner in Cusco on Day 1, dinner in Cusco on day 5, lunch on day 10 (Machu Picchu) and lunch and dinner on Day 6, the free day in the city of Cusco. Vegetarian or other dietary requirements will be accommodated with advanced notice.
Responsibilities of ride participants
All care will be taken, but we assume no responsibility for injury, loss or damage in any way. Guests are responsible for having an adequate, valid insurance policy including coverage for all the sporting activities that they are likely to participate in. Appropriate medical insurance is obligatory.
It is understood by Perol Chico / Maria Zans Gia EIRL that guests are in a suitable condition to partake in a riding tour, are not riding against any medical advice, and that guests know of no reason why they should not be participating in such a tour. Guests will be required to sign a waiver of liability at the start of the tour.
Ride participants have a certain responsibility to Perol Chico and to the other members of the ride. Participants are responsible for understanding the requirements of the ride, and for selecting a ride appropriate to their ability. Participants with medical problems or special dietary needs are responsible for informing Perol Chico of these issues well in advance.
For the protection of all participants, the ride leader reserves the right to prevent anyone from riding who displays insufficient ability, or whose behavior endangers the safety of other riders, themselves, or the horses. No refund will be made to a participant who is rejected for any such reason, or who is unwilling or unable to complete a tour.
Participants are responsible for arranging travel to and from the ride's meeting point, for carrying valid travel documents, and for obtaining immunizations appropriate to the destination. Participants are responsible for understanding what is and is not included in the price as outlined in the detailed ride itineraries.
Anyone who does not want pictures of themselves to be used in promotional materials should notify Perol Chico accordingly.
Visas and Documents
Citizens of most Western European countries, North and South America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand only require a valid passport to enter Peru. You need to ensure that your passport has at least 6 months left to run after the date that you enter the country.
On arrival you will be given a tourist card, which you fill out in duplicate. At the immigration office you will normally get a 90-day stay in Peru; both your passport and the tourist card are stamped and you will be given one copy of the tourist card to keep. Do not lose it since you need to hand it back when leaving the country. Losing the card will incur plenty of hassle in replacing it.
Terms & Conditions
Read how to make a deposit on a trip, about cancellations and refunds, our participant expectations and more. Click here
Suggested Packing List
- Comfortable riding trousers (two pairs)
- T- shirts
- Long sleeved cotton shirts. These are without doubt the best things to ride in. Sleeves can be rolled up or down for protection from the sun and the collar helps to protect your neck too.
- Thick socks
- Wind-bloc Fleece or warm jacket for cold evenings especially at these high altitudes.
- Waterproofs. Ideally a Gore-Tex or similar wind and rain proof jacket. Waterproof leggings are also a good idea. You will be provided with woolen and waterproof ponchos, but it is often useful to have another waterproof jacket underneath your waterproof poncho for added protection. It may not rain, but better to be prepared.
- Riding boots with rubber sole, also suitable for walking (around Inca ruins etc). The best would be a pair of the dual purpose Ariat or Mountain Horse riding/leisure boots.
- Protection for the lower leg, either full or half-chaps.
- Hat. We recommend a hard hat for riding and something with a wide brim is advisable as protection against the sun (baseball caps work well). Your hard hat must be secure on your head.
- Riding gloves
- Light pair of shoes for après-riding.
- Good sunglasses with a neck cord. Your eyes will become bloodshot if you do not wear sunglasses.
- Sunscreen and Lip Balm are essential because of the altitude and dry air. We suggest at least Factor 30, if not total block.
- Insect repellent (Machu Picchu and the surrounding area can be prone to mosquitos).
- Spanish Phrasebook/dictionary
- Casual clothes - for when you are not riding.
- Small medical kit with antiseptic cream, good supply of ibuprofen, aspirin and plasters, antihistamine tablets, any medication you regularly take.
- Scarf/bandana, useful for protection against the sun.
- Additional passport photos
- Copy of passport/visa and debit cards
- Wash bag. A supply of baby wipes will be invaluable. We also recommend biodegradable personal washing products. Hair-dryers are available at all hotels on the trail.
- Ziploc bags/supply of plastic carrier bags - always useful for wet/dry kit.
Leather saddlebags are provided for you. Each person has a set of saddlebags and carries what they need for the day. Jackets and ponchos can be tied behind the saddle so it is easy to put them on and take them off. To keep your saddlebag contents clean, a good idea is to put all your things in a plastic carrier bag/Ziploc bag first and then into the saddlebags. We provide each rider with a warm Alpaca poncho and rain poncho during the ride.