Riding: No riding.
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.
Riding: 1 hours
After breakfast, at c. 9:15am, you will be collected from your hotel and transferred c. 1 hour 30mins 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.
Riding: 4 - 6 hours
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.
Riding: No riding.
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.
Depending on availability, 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).
Riding: 4 hours
After breakfast you are transferred to the ranch for a 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.
Altitude 2,800m - 3,550m
Riding: 4 - 5 hours
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 and continue in the direction of Cusco to a local family farm where you leave the horses. Time allowing, you'll then take a short car journey to Chinchero to 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.
Altitude 3,550m - 3,800m
Riding: No riding.
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.
Riding: 5 - 6 hours
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 hours - 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: 5 - 6 hours
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 the hotel's restaurant (your guides are unable to join you for dinner this evening).
Altitude 3,800 - 3,550m
Riding: 4 hours
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.
Altitude 3,550m - 2,800m
Riding: No riding.
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.
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.