top of page

The Sacred Valley Ride

Nestled deep in the Peruvian Andes against a back-drop of snow capped peaks, flowering meadows, deep crystalline lakes and abundant forests lays the enigmatic Sacred Valley, a place stepped in ethereal natural beauty and cradle of the once glorious and illustrious Inca Empire. This narrow strip of land running from the old imperial capital of Cusco to the mysterious might of Machu Picchu contains some of the best soil in the region, boasting extraordinary geographical and climatic qualities, referred to as Sacred because it was not only a part of the Empire, but the property of the Emperor himself. Today, the Valley is a land deeply immersed in Andean history and culture, home to Peru’s main tourist attraction, Machu Picchu, and with a vast collection of small towns and Inca archaeological sites that offer a full representation of the ingenuity, accomplishments and operation of the once mighty Inca Empire.

Located deep in the heart of the legendary Sacred Valley, Perol Chico ranch and riding operation offers exceptional riding experiences throughout this mystical land with National Geographic selecting their Sacred Valley Ride as being one of the top ten horseback rides in the world………. the die had been cast, it was time to return to the Andes once again. Having ridden in the majestic mountain range of the Andes twice before, the stunning vistas, endless stretches of wilderness and spectacular natural scenery were not my only motivation……….my true incentive for choosing the Sacred Valley Ride was the promise of riding the Rolls Royce of horses, The Peruvian Paso.

Descended from the horses of the Conquistadors, the Peruvian Paso is “hot-blooded” possessing the royal heritage of pure Spanish breeds. No outside blood has been introduced to the breed since it landed on Peruvian shores; instead it was selectively bred for its distinctive amble, the velvety smooth Paso Llano, at the time there was a need for an effortlessly fluid and comfortable ride as there was no other mode of transport that could link the valleys, provinces and villages of the coast with those of the mountainous regions further inland. Today’s Peruvian Paso is the result of over 400 years of highly selective breeding making it the ultimate horse for riding pleasure and one of the country’s greatest treasures. A beautiful stallion by the name of Cruz de Jaime caught my eye, captured my heart and became my faithful companion for the six-day riding expedition.

Over the following days we were truly immersed in the stunning scenery and ancient history of the Sacred Valley, our horses worked tirelessly and courageously as we improvised mountain trails, traversed remote, inaccessible craggy passes and deep, rocky gorges. Traversing the Urubamba River, we climbed steadily uphill passing the salt pans, a relic from the Incas still being used by the locals today to extract salt from the mountain spring water. We danced the Paso llano through typical Andean villages, hooves echoing loudly on the cobbled streets, the sound reverberated a reflection of the past. High in the Andean altiplano we were encapsulated by breath-taking views, the snow-capped peaks of Chicon, Veronica, Pitusuray, the Cordileras, Vilcabamba and Urubamba became our picnic lunch backdrop. We roamed across farmland and carpets of wild flowers, smiling Quechua children busily herded their sheep and cattle, farmers worked the land in the traditional way with oxen hitched to a wooden plough. Herds of alpaca and llama watched us curiously, large eyes fixed and unblinking as they followed our course. Crystalline mountain lakes glistened in the sunlight, as we reached our summit at 4,350m, the horse’s legs earning a well-deserved massage from the cool calming waters. Delving once more into the past we followed the great Inca Empire’s road system, the Qhapaq Nan, a 30,000kms network that ultimately linked Cusco to the Empires far-flung domains, our ever-gallant steeds floating heartily over the cobbles………

Janine White

A few musings from my travels there in September 2014.


bottom of page