Type of horses:
Nature of horses:
High spirited but easy to handle, strong, sure-footed and extremely comfortable.
Height of horses:
14 - 15.3 hh
85 kgs / 13.5 stone / 190 lbs (dressed for riding). You may be weighed prior to riding so please be honest.
Traditional Peruvian tack, which consists of ornate saddle with Pyramid shaped stirrups. All saddles have additional leather straps (called guarnicion) that encircle the rear of the horse, as well as a crupper under the tail. The bridles are also ornate with an incorporated halter.
Founded in 1996, this prestigious ranch and stables have been offering exceptional riding holidays for experienced riders in the Andean highlands for a number of years. The ranch is nestled against a majestic mountain backdrop in the heart of the mythical Sacred Valley of the Incas, between Cusco and Machu Picchu. This area within the Peruvian Andes offers some of the most spectacular scenery in the world, with endless riding trails along ancient Inca roads.
A highlight of these trails are the magnificent Peruvian Paso horses. These horses are considered part of the Cultural Heritage of Peru by the National Institute of Culture and the breed is protected by law since November 1992. All horses at the ranch and used on the trail rides are pure bred and registered with the Peruvian studbook association (ANCPCPP). The Peruvian Paso horse is a direct descendant of the Spanish horses brought to America by Christophe Colombus and the Conquistadores, but due to its isolation for almost 500 years, it has become one of the purest breeds in the world.
The trademark of the Peruvian Paso is their special, inherited and natural four beat lateral gait called the Paso Llano. Similar to the amble, where the legs on the same side move together in a two-beat movement, the Paso Llano is a four-beat gait, with the hind leg moving before the fore leg. The gait produces harmonic and rhythmic steps in which the horses centre of gravity stays almost immobile, producing a very smooth ride. It is for this reason that the Peruvian Paso is known as the Cadillac of horses.
Your hosts are Eduard van Brunschot and his wife Maria Zans Gamarra. Eduard (better known as Eddy) is Peruvian Dutch and after growing up in relatively flat Holland, he moved to Peru and bought farmland high in the Sacred Valley. Exploring the area on his Peruvian Paso horses he soon discovered the fantastic trails and Inca sites which led to him creating his company and offering exceptional riding expeditions to travellers.
The riding season in Peru is only during the dry season as the riding trails become too slippery during the monsoon season (there are heavy rains between November and February).
As well as the fantastic riding trails you are given time to explore the stunning local scenery and Inca sites. Free days in both Cusco and Machu Picchu are included so you can explore at your leisure.
Riding in Peru is at high altitude and there is little oxygen in the air, and so itineraries are tailored to include some time to acclimatise - gentle first days allow you to rest and adjust. During the rides you will notice how difficult it is to exert yourself and run somewhere. It is for this reason, together with the terrain, that the rides do not include lots of galloping. The horses are incredibly fit and well adapted to the altitude, but they still require oxygen. The rides are spectacular and the fantastic Paso Llano is a delight - short canters may be possible, but these are not fast rides by definition. The scenery will take your breath away anyway!
You stay in a number of different hotels along the trail - each with private bathrooms. The hotels are generally of a high standard and have many local features. Hotels can vary depending on availability and the exact hotels are confirmed near your time of departure, but they may include:
Hotel Sonesta Posada del Inca in Urubamba. This hotel is only 5 miles from the stables and has comfortable heated rooms with private bathrooms and plenty of local colour. The hotel is a former 18th century colonial style monastery surrounded by beautiful gardens - it has the feel of a small village, with plazas, gardens and even a chapel. The 69 rooms have tiled floors, wood ceilings, hand carved headboards and balconies overlooking the gardens or terraced hillsides.
Hotel Costa del Sol in Cusco was once an old mansion of the Spanish nobleman Marquis of Picoaga but has now been converted into a comfortable hotel. The intimate and public areas are beautifully decorated in a colonial style, framed by stone archways on two levels, stone columns and Spanish patio.
Breakfasts are always at your hotels. Lunches are usually a delicious picnic out on the trail - usually you are met by the back-up vehicle who sets out lunch before you arrive.
Dinners are either in local restaurants or at the ranch.
Meals represent the tasty regional cuisine of the area and include fresh vegetables, dairy products and fresh trout as well as good meats. Vegetarian and other special diets can be accommodated with advance notice.
Your hosts Pisco Sours are well known and refreshingly welcome on return to the ranch after riding.
Some meals are not included (on the free days in Cusco and Macchu Picchu) so you can choose from the many restaurants available.
A free day in Cusco and a visit to Macchu Picchu are included in the itinerary. Whilst riding you will see many Inca ruins and sites along the trail but this itinerary is not suited to Non Riders.
Languages: English, Spanish, Dutch
Health requirements: Good general health - this ride is at altitude so you should consult your doctor if you have any medical issues, in particular relating to your heart, circulation or respiration.
Age limit: 16 years or older
Included: Accommodation, riding, entrance fees and transfers to Macchu Picchu, riding, airport transfers from Cusco at set times, most meals
Not included: Meals on Day 1, Dinner in Cusco on Day 5, meals in Cusco on Day 6, lunch at Macchu Picchu on Day 10, alcoholic drinks at restaurants, flights, insurance
There are no direct flights to Cusco from the UK so you will have to fly via a European hub city or the USA. Common routes include via Madrid and Lima. You may also need an extra night in Lima to connect onto the flight to Cusco, which we can help with if required.
The meeting point for the ride in Cusco airport and transfers are included to your hotel. We recommend arriving around midday so you have the afternoon to acclimatise to the altitude.
Your return flight should not depart Lima until 5pm or later to allow time for your transfer to the airport and flight from Cusco to Lima.
Ride in the heart of the Sacred Valley, following a route from the Urubamba river through mountain pastures to highland terraces and small mountain villages. The trip includes a visit to the legendary Inca citadel of Machu Picchu and a free day in the ancient Inca capital of Cusco.
You will be met on arrival at Cusco airport and transferred to your hotel near the centre of this historical city. Today it is important that you rest and relax to help acclimatise to the altitude. There is no riding scheduled for today but you can walk around the city a little and spend your time resting. Lunch and dinner are to your own account today.
After breakfast, at c. 9:15am, you will be collected from your hotel and transferred c. 1 hour 15mins to your accommodation in the Sacred Valley. You will spend the next three nights in this hotel which is just a short drive from the stables. After time to unpack and refresh you will be transferred to the ranch to meet the horses.
After a delicious barbecue lunch there is a demonstration of classic Peruvian equitation in which your guides will introduce you to the tack and style of riding. A short riding lesson follows, where you are matched with a horse according to your ability, weight, preference etc. Dinner is either at the ranch or at a local restaurant.
After breakfast you are transferred to the ranch for your first full day of riding. After crossing the Urubamba bridge, you pass Pichingote which is an old Andean hamlet built alongside the river. Ride onto Salinas up a narrow track where you will see salt pans from Inca times which are still being used by 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 will climb nearly 850m on horseback to reach the Andean altiplano - the climb takes about 2 hours and is done slowly so both riders and horses have time to adjust to the altitude. Once at 3,550m you will be surrounded by stunning scenery including the snow capped mountains of Chicon, Veronica and Pitusuray.
Continue your ride to Maras, a typical Andean village with a 400yr old colonial church where you stop for a picnic lunch. This church was built just after the conquest and is one of the ten oldest churches in South America. From Maras you visit the ruins of Cheqoq where the Inca's constructed fascinating cold storage areas to preserve their produce. Cooling is achieved by a series of wind tunnels and water channels. Continue riding to the beautiful churchyard of Tiobamba where you stop for the day - the horses remain here and you are transferred back to your hotel. Dinner will be at the ranch or a local restaurant.
Riding c. 3-4 hours. Altitude 2,800m - 3,550m
After breakfast you are transferred back to the horses at Tiobamba. Set off along primitive trails across the altiplano with spectacular scenery all around you - snow-capped mountains, wild flowers and mountain lakes. You may see local Quechua children with their herds of sheep or cattle, or campesinos ploughing their fields using oxen hitched to a wooden plough.
Stop for a picnic lunch just before Chinchero, where on a clear day the views are tremendous - a vista of rolling altiplano ringed by the snow-capped peaks of the cordilleras Vilcabamba and Urubamba. After lunch, ride a short distance to Lake Piuray where you leave the horses and take a short car journey to Chinchero. Here you may visit a textiles workshop and view a demonstration of local techniques for spinning, dyeing and weaving wool - the beautiful fabrics are available to buy if you wish.
Transfer back to your hotel for dinner in a local restaurant or at the ranch.
Riding c. 4 hours. Altitude 3,550m - 3,800m
After breakfast you are transferred back to Lake Piuray and your horses. Your ride sees you crisscrossing the rough Andean landscape, passing Quechua communities, herders huts and small farms or chacras. Today is one of the most beautiful riding days as you follow a cobblestone paved section of an Inca road network called Capac Nan. The scenery is breathtaking (literally!) as you climb to 4,000m. You pass numerous Inca ruins including an ancient aqueduct and irrigation channels. Lunch is taken in a scenic spot where you are met by the back-up crew.
In the afternoon, there is a tricky technical section where you have to cross a gorge in order to reach Cusco - your guide will offer you lots of guidance here. At c. 4.30pm you will arrive just outside the historical city of Cusco and leave your horses. For the next two nights you stay in a hotel in this former capital of the Inca empire. Dinner is to your own account tonight and your hosts will recommend restaurants depending on your tastes.
Riding c. 6 hours. Altitude 3,800 - 4,000m
Today is a rest day for the horses and a free day for you to explore Cusco with its numerous ruins, cathedrals and museums - or you may prefer to relax in one of the many coffee shops or bars.
According to Inca legend, Cusco was founded around 1200AD by Manco Capac and Mama Occlo. Manco Capac selected the site after the golden staff given to him by his father, the Sun, sank into the earth and disappeared. Each Inca emporer built his own palace during his reign and you can still see the original walls throughout Cusco.
All meals, except breakfast, are to your own account today.
After breakfast your riding adventure continues as you ride along old Inca trails and through open countryside with spectacular views. Follow a footpath north until reaching a stone-lined Inca irrigation channel running parallel to the trail. Ascend a steep, narrow valley to reach a pass at 4,350m where you can see the small, shallow Lake Quellacocha - this is the highest point of the ride.
Stop for lunch at Lake Q'oricocha where you may see herds of llamas and alpacas, as well as the friendly, local people who grow mainly potatoes. Set off riding again and start descending from the altiplano to the valley of Umaspampa - the zig-zag trail takes about two horses and during the descent you may have to dismount and lead your horse for a short while across some rocky terrain.
At the end of your ride you will be transferred to your hotel in the Sacred Valley again.
Riding c. 5-6 hours. Altitude 3,300m - 4,350m
Today is another scenic riding day with plenty of photo stops. From the village of Umaspampa you ride to the villages of Cuper Alto and Cuper Bajo before arriving at Chinchero in the early afternoon. You follow trails which are part of the great Inca road network - the Capac Nan - which was one of the greatest engineering feats undertaken in the New World, rivaling the Roman road system of the Old World. The 25,000km network links Cusco (the Inca capital) to it's far-flung territories including Bolivia, Ecuador, Argentina and Chile - there are four clearly recognised main roads plus many secondary roads.
The afternoon ride leads you to the village of Racchi and then onto Tiobamba where you leave the horses for the night and transfer to your hotel.
Riding c. 5-6 hours. Altitude 3,800m - 3,500m
Today is your last riding day and it starts with a visit to the agricultural terraces at Moray. Hundreds of years ago the people in this region sculpted the four huge natural depressions into multi-level terraces which served as agricultural stations for the development of different crops. A remarkable natural phenomenon means that many different ecological zones are present in this site and in the 30m between the bottom and top levels, the scientist John Earls once recorded a difference of 15 degrees celcius!
After lunch near Moray, follow a trail with great views of the Urquillos Valley before arriving at the village of Maras and continuing your descent into the Sacred Valley. You will arrive at the ranch around 4pm in time for a celebratory Pisco Sour. Dinner will be at the ranch or in a local restaurant.
Riding c. 4 hours. Altitude 3,550m - 2,800m
An early start today(c. 6am) as you take the train from Urubamba to Machu Picchu. The experience of visiting Machu Picchu is not limited to the ruins themselves as the train journey is one of the most spectacular in the world. The Vistadome train brings you into Machu Picchu an hour before the main tourist train from Cusco allowing time for a more peaceful first view of the ruins. Since its discovery by Hiram Bingham in 1911 the site has captivated the hearts and minds of the modern world.
In the afternoon, take the train back to Urubamba and enjoy dinner in one of the famous restaurants or at the ranch. (Lunch is to your own account today).
Early morning transfer to Cusco airport for your flight to Lima. The driving time is around 1 hour 15 minutes. The earliest your flight can depart from Lima is 5pm.
Please note that the itinerary may vary due to local conditions such as weather or other unforeseen circumstances, but always with your best interests at heart.
|Minimum group size:||4|
|Maximum group size:||8|
|Ability description:||You need to be at least a strong intermediate rider who is comfortable, secure and in control over varied terrain in open countryside. The pace is not fast due to the altitude but there are some technical sections where good balance is vital, and you will experience the fabulous paso llano pace where the terrain allows.|
|Type of ride:||Trail ride|
|Total riding time:||11 days / 10 nights / 6 days riding (3-6 hours per day)|
|Departure dates:||2017: 17-27 April, 8-18 May, 22 May-1 June, 11-21 June, 10-20 July, 24 July-3 August, 7-17 August, 4-14 September, 18-28 September, 9-19 October.|
£3681 per person sharing
£558 single supplement