Sacred Valley riding holiday in Peru - Far and Ride
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Sacred Valley, Peru




Programme


• Sacred Valley Ride

 

Horses



Type of horses:

Peruvian Paso

Nature of horses:

High spirited but easy to handle, strong, sure-footed and extremely comfortable.

Height of horses:

14 - 15.3 hh

Weight limit:

85 kgs / 13.5 stone / 190 lbs (dressed for riding). You may be weighed prior to riding so please be honest.

Tack type:

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.

 

Weather



 

Ride Description

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!

See Programmes.

 

Food & Accommodation

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.

 

Activities

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.

 

Further Details

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

Tuition: No

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

 

Travel Information

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.

Airport: Cusco

 

Programme


Sacred Valley Ride



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.

Day One:

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.

Day Two:

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 four 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.

Day Three:

After a hearty breakfast at your hotel you are transferred to the ranch for your first full day of riding. You set off along an old, forgotten path behind the ranch, which leads to a breathtaking spot on the top of the Cordillera Vilcanota. Follow hidden trails through unspoilt landscapes and truly off the beaten track - we keep the route secret so it remains exclusive!

The first part of the ride involves a serious climb following narrow but beautiful mountain trails though lots of vegetation. You can see 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 (similar to a cherry), the Quena Tree (with a twisted trunk and reddish bark which flakes and peels like paper), the Tamarillo Tree (tree tomato), Cantutas (the flower of the Incas), Aguaymanto (Peruvian cherry or cape gooseberry), Muna (mint-like Peruvian herb) and many other intriguing species. 

At the top of the mountain, the horses rest whilst you appreciate the view - there are no words to describe the panorama. After snacks and drinks, you continue your ride downhill along lush and secret trails across privately owned land until reaching a property which belongs to friends of your guide, nestled in a gorgeous valley. Here you stop for a delicious lunch of fresh trout before heading back to the ranch around 4pm.

Dinner will be at a local restaurant or the ranch before returning to your hotel to rest. 

Day Four:

Today 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. Since its discovery by Hiram Bingham in 1911 the site has captivated the hearts and minds of the modern world.

Since July 2017, the Peruvian government has established new regulations to preserve this Wonder of the World. There are two entrance times - Morning (06:00-12:00) and Afternoon (12:00-17:30). Capacity at the site is limited to 2,500 visitors, split between both entrance times. You entry to Macchu Picchu has to be booked in advance and your guides will endeavour to book the afternoon session with the most convenient train times, but this is not guaranteed. 

You will travel on the luxurious Vistadome train from Ollantaytambo in the morning (30mins drive from your hotel) and will return to the same station at about 7/8pm, where you will be transferred back to your hotel, via the ranch for dinner. (Lunch is to your own account today).

Day Five

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. 4 hours. Altitude 2,800m - 3,550m

Day Six:

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 to the historical city of Cusco - the oldest continuously inhabited city in South America and former capital of the great Inca Empire. For the next two nights you stay in a very comfortable hotel in the heart of Cusco's archaeological centre. Enjoy dinner in Cusco (to your own account) - your guides can recommend a restaurant to you.

Riding c. 4-5 hours. Altitude 3,550m - 3,800m

Day Seven:

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.

Day Eight:

After breakfast you are transferred back to Lake Piuray and your horses. Today is a beautiful riding day with breathtaking scenery (literally!) of impressive snow-capped mountains and the altiplano where herds of alpaca and llama are often seen grazing. You may have to ride along non-existent mountain trails where you have to improvise and find the best way along the side of the mountain - this is a remote area which is not easily accessible. You will be impressed by the skill of your horses and how they are able to handle the difficult terrain and steep climbs. At one point you will reach a pass of 4,350m, from where you can see Lake Quellacocha - this is the highest point of the ride. 

Stop for a simple lunch at the lake and then continue riding to Lake Qqoricocha, passing vast potato fields which are all ploughed by hand. The trail starts to descend into the valley of Umaspampa along a zigzag route of about two horses - you may have to dismount and lead your horse for a short while (15mins) to cross some rocky sections. Close to the village of Umasbamba, you leave your horses and are transferred to your hotel by car. 

Dinner will be at a local restaurant or the ranch.

Riding: c. 5-6 hours. Altitude: 3,300-4,350m

Day Nine:

Another stunningly beautiful day with plenty of breaks for photo stops! From the village of Umaspampa you ride to the villages of Cuper Alto and Cuper Bajo, arriving in the early afternoon at an abandoned church near the village of Chinchero, where you stop for lunch. 

To reach this place you have to follow a trail which was once a beautiful paved Inca road - parts of the road are still intact with water channels for irrigation and drainage, with paved grades leading to higher levels. This great Inca road system - the Qhapaq Nan - was one of the greatest engineering feats undertaken in the New World, rivalling the Roman road system of the Old World. The 30,000km network linked Cusco, the Inca capital, with the empires far-flung domains in Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Argentina and Chile. There are four major roads plus many secondary roads.

Continue riding through more stunning scenery to the village of Huaynacolca, high on the mountains that surround the Valley of the Incas. Here you leave the horses and transfer to your hotel in time to freshen up before dinner at a local restaurant or the ranch.

Riding c. 5-6 hours. Altitude 3,800 - 3,550m

Day Ten:

Today is your last riding day, but before you meet the horses at Huaynacolca, you stop at a pottery shop of the renowned artist and ceramicist Pablo Seminario. Pablo is a local legend and integrates abstract modern styles with traditional Incan and pre-Incan ceramic techniques and designs. After your visit, you transfer to the horses and continue riding along the old Inca roads high above the Sacred Valley. Ride past farmland and the small village of Santana before returning to the village of Maras. Continue inland to the beautiful courtyard of an old house, which according to locals is bewitched, where you stop for lunch. 

After lunch follow a trail with great views of the Urquillos Valley and continue your descent into the Sacred Valley, passing the salt mines again and arriving back 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

Day Eleven:

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: 2018: 15-25 April, 10-20 May, 27 May-6 June, 10-20 June, 15-25 July, 5-15 August, 19-29 August, 6-16 September, 23 Sept-3 Oct, 7-17 October.
 
Pricing: 2018:

£3546 per person sharing
£590 single supplement

** 10% discount off the first scheduled departure in 2018 - the mountains are green, full of crops and wild flowers, and the horses are eager to go!