Riding: 4 hours
After an early breakfast, guests will be picked up at c. 7am from their hotel in Cusco by a guide, and taken to the Salkantay Lodge and Adventure Resort (SLAR) in Soraypampa. On route you will take a short break to visit the Quillarumiyoc archaeological site before reaching the mountain village of Mollepata. Lunch is taken at El Pedregal, a beautiful farmhouse in the village where you will also have the chance to learn about local agriculture and livestock. After lunch you continue on a winding, ascending mountain road to the Coronilla Ranch.
Here after a short period of familiarisation, you will begin your ride to Soraypampa. This is a good opportunity for guests to acclimatise and enjoy a calm and beautiful 3-4hr trek on their first day. The SLAR takes its name from the majestic peak at the head of the valley - the "Salkantay", the second most sacred peak in Inca mythology and, at 20,600 ft, the highest in the region. After a warm welcome by the friendly staff, guests will be shown to their rooms and have time to wash and relax. The first day is gentle so that you can adjust to the altitude, taking advantage of the outdoor jacuzzi or just walking in the beautiful surroundings..
Type of Terrain: Open roads, some steep ascending trails. Walk, trot and canter possible.
Non-riders will be transferred directly to the Lodge or can hike to the lodge (c. 3 hour hike, easy to moderate)
Riding: 4 hours
Today's excursion takes you first to Humantay Lake, fed by glaciers far above the slopes of the impressive Mt. Humantay. The one hour ride there will be followed by a short 20 minute walk, which is necessary in order to reach the lake. The view is well worth it! After a short snack break you will hike back down to where you left the horses, from where you will begin a 30 minute ride to your next dismount spot; the gateway to the "Chakana" (the mystical Cross of the Incas, located on a view point high above Soraypampa).
From here, you will begin a one hour excursion by foot to your destination, the actual "Chakana". This excursion allows you to enjoy the best views of the Soraypampa Valley, Mt. Salkantay and Mt. Humantay, and is truly one of the high points of the journey which cannot be missed! A mystical offering to Mother Earth (or "Pachamama:) at the Chakana, performed by a local Shaman, in full view of the awe inspiring Mt. Salkantay, tops off this unique experience.
You will return to the lodge for lunch, after which there will be the option of riding out again for a couple of hours in the surrounding area, or you can choose to trade a glacial swim for a relaxing soak in the outdoor hot tub instead. In the evening, the guides will brief you on gear and the itinerary for the following day.
Type of Terrain: Open roads, some steep ascending trails and open fields. Walk, trot and canter possible.
Non-rider activity: Hike to Humantay Lake (c. 4 hour moderate hike)
Riding: 4 - 5 hours
Today you will continue your ride towards Machu Picchu, riding up the Rio Blanco valley and circling Humantay peak opposite Salkantay peak. In the process you will reach the highest part of the ride, a pass at 4638 metres (15,213 ft). Keep your eyes open for Andean condors, common to the area. At the pass you will stop to take in views of snow-capped peaks of the Vilcabamba Range in every direction, the south face of Salkantay towering above you. From the pass you will continue your descent toward the Wayra Lodge (“Wayra”: wind; 'the place where the wind lives’), your destination for the evening. A hot lunch is taken en route. Dinner and overnight at the Lodge.
Type of Terrain: 80% steep trails and 20% open land. Walk and trot only.
Non-rider activity: Hike across the Salkantay Pass to Wayra Lodge. Hike is challenging and c. 6 hours.
Riding: 3 - 4 hours
A leisurely breakfast at the lodge this morning before you continue downhill above the Salkantay River, descending into the cloud forest, through increasingly verdant scenery. You will feel the warm air rising from the jungle accompanied by colourful butterflies and striking orchids. Upon arrival at Colpa Lodge you will be greeted with a Pachamanca (subject to availability; traditional underground stone cooking). This traditional meal is famous for its cooking method, which consists of layering meat with hot stones and then covering the whole thing up to bake. Colpa Lodge is located on an open plateau at the confluence of three rivers. The outdoor jacuzzi has almost panoramic views of lush green mountains. You may spend the afternoon relaxing or exploring the nearby orchid trail. Dinner and overnight at the lodge.
Type of Terrain: Steep, narrow trails. Walk and possibly trot.
Non-rider activity: Hike down into the cloud forest, c, 3-4 hours, easy to moderate.
Riding: 4 - 5 hours
Today you will head down the Santa Teresa river valley, through banana, avocado and passion fruit orchards and coffee plantations. The coffee grown here is said to be one of the best organic coffees in the world. Along the way you will stop for a picnic lunch. Afterwards, you will continue your ride to the beginning of the Llactapata Inca Trail, which is where you will say goodbye to your horse. A short thirty-minute walk through an avocado orchard will bring you to Lucma Lodge. You may arrive in time to allow for exploration of the small village of Lucmabamba and possibly meeting with members of the local community.
Type of Terrain: Steep trails and some open roads. Walk, trot and canter possible.
Non-rider activity: Hike through the valley to Lucma Lodge. Approx 5.5 hours, moderate to challenging.
Riding: No riding.
After a hearty breakfast you will leave the lodge and hike uphill for around three hours towards Llactapata pass (2736 metres/8974 feet) where you will have a distant but very special view of Machu Picchu from the southeast, a perspective that few tourists get to enjoy. Take a short break to explore the Llactapata Ruins which have recently been restored. Lunch is served at a scenic viewpoint looking out to Machu Picchu.
After lunch you begin your final descent to the Aobamba River through bamboo forests, orchards and coffee plantations, a descent of between two and three hours. Aguas Calientes, the town of Machu Picchu, is a 1 hour scenic train ride away and you will check into your hotel for dinner and a well-earned rest.
The whole group spends the night in Aguas Calientes.
No riding option. Non-riding hike is c. 4-6 hours, moderate to challenging. It is possible to travel with the luggage and avoid the hike if preferred.
Riding: No riding.
Today you will have a very early start in order to make the thirty-minute bus ride up to Machu Picchu to arrive before sunrise. You will then enjoy a 2hr guided tour of the city, followed by another couple of hours in which you will be free to explore the ruins by yourselves.
You can choose to climb the steep staircase of Huayna Picchu if you have a good head for heights (subject to ticket availability) but please note that entrance to this hike is now an additional cost which must be paid in advance.
Afterwards you will return to Aguas Calientes by bus for a late lunch wit your guide and then an afternoon Vistadome train to Ollantaytambo (about an hour and a half), where you will be transferred by car to Cusco (about one and a half hours), to your hotel of choice. You will arrive in Cusco about 7/8pm and will need to spend the night here (not included in the price).
*Please note it is strongly recommended that you bring your own safety equipment, although helmets can be provided.
Note: All programmes and itineraries are weather dependent; in the face of adverse, or unexpected, weather conditions reasonable attempts will be made to provide equivalent riding. All programmes are accurate at the time of writing. However, the team may adapt or modify details, whilst aiming to provide a similar experience.