Riding the Inca Trail
We have horses for experienced riders
and novices - No Experience Necessary
Exploration of The Sacred Valley of The Incas
and Inca Trails on Horseback.
A comfortable multi-day horseback trip following ancient Inca and colonial pathways to Peru's Sacred Valley and Inca Heartland with an optional narrated visit to Machu Picchu… We stay each night in at comfortable (and one rustic) inn or hotel. The focus is learning as much as possible about Andean culture, traditions, history of the Incas and their ancestors while enjoying an unusual, memorable mountain excursion on quality, dependable horses and tack.
We own special mountain bred horses descended from noble Spanish Barbs brought from Spain in the 1500’s. Crossed with the comfortable but less sure-footed Paso breed our mountain horses give a strong, comfortable ride with greater endurance, stability and reliability needed for steep Inca trails. We raise and train horses at our ranch in the Sacred Valley. These well cared for horses are no-nonsense, experienced, sure-footed, non-gaited mountain trail horses affording a secure, comfortable ride on steep pathways. Although you do not need to be an expert rider, we recommend some previous riding experience or confidence around horses. We give instruction and attention to the less experienced as we travel. Our skilled Quechua speaking wranglers give careful attention to each rider as needed and care for our mounts while we lunch or hike through ruins.
Families and Youngsters:Our route, logistical flexibility and nature of the trip offer an excellent program for teenagers to enjoy modified itineraries which permit riding and/or a day or two traveling along with our support vehicle can easily be arranged.
The Ride:Day 1: Ride Ccorao to ChincheroWe Pick you up at your hotel in Cusco at 7:30 am and travel 45 minutes by road passing the ruins of Sacsayhuaman and Puca Pucara and over the historic C’orao pass and down into traditional village of the same name. Here we’ll meet our horses and wranglers and head off up the valley, as peasant farmers using traditional foot ploughs, till the fields. This will be a full days ride through the Andean countryside past traditional villages and isolated farming communities with stunning views of the Cordillera Vilcanota and visit a deep blue high Andean Lake full of waterfowl such as Yellow-billed Teal and Andean Goose. Today is a day for following trails across the high Andean altiplano and enjoying spectacular scenery along the way with snow-capped mountains, herds of Llamas and Alpaca’s, wildflowers and beautiful mountain lakes.
We meet smiling Quechua children with their herds and see peasant farmers plowing their fields in the traditional way; a pair of oxen hitched to a wooden plough. You may even share a chicha (a traditional maize drink) with them. Passing the blue lakes and a noisy assortment of Andean water birds, just before Chinchero a delicious picnic lunch and our back up team awaits you at our selected picnic site at the Inca Temple of Cuper Bajo. Later we arrive at the famous Indian market town of Chinchero at around 12,000 feet in altitude. An early colonial period church and large plaza frame well-made Inca walls that once were part of the Emperor Huayna Capac's Royal Estate. If it’s a market day the plaza is full of tents with Quechua vendors selling every conceivable native handicraft, pottery, weavings, paintings and artifacts.
We journey on through stone walled Inca terraces and to our hotel the simple but pretty Casa de Barro. The main square of the town is famous for its massive Inca wall, set with ten of the largest trapezoidal niches known among Inca structures. This was probably the base wall of a palace - perhaps that of Topa Inca - that once overlooked the square.
Chinchero is famous for traditional Andean textiles and you may see a demonstration of the ancient techniques of spinning, dying and weaving wool. The beautiful fabrics are still made in the same way as they would have been made in Inca times. Take some money, as you may want to buy some souvenirs (although please do not feel obliged to buy anything). We corral our tired horses with waiting alfalfa and grain, then off to a hot bath at our country hotel before meeting again for dinner. (Saddle time 5-7 hours.) B: L: D
Day 2: Ride Chinchero Maras and Tiobamba and visit MorayA leisurely breakfast and cups of tasty Peruvian coffee fuel us for the day's adventure. We leave at 8 am. To day is a one-way ride. We move smartly out at a trot along rolling foothills and fields with the glittering snow peaks and snowfields of Chicon and Wakaywilca. We are on a high plateau of rolling hills and immense grasslands. A spectacular panorama of the great Ice peaks of the Vilcanota range crowns the near horizon.
You will see women with their children herding their sheep and enjoy a glimpse of real Andean country life. The locals here usually speak Quechua and although they have a hard life they are very friendly. We'll ride towards the ancient town of Maras with its colonial church. Continuing to Moray, which is an enigmatic Inca site where hundreds of years ago, people in this region took four huge natural depressions in the landscape and sculpted them into levels of agricultural terraces that served as an experimental agricultural station for the development of different crop strains.
This was possible due to a fascinating phenomenon: the climates of many different ecological zones were present at a single site. In the thirty or so meters of altitude between the bottom and top levels of Moray's main depression, scientist John Earls has recorded a full 15 degrees Celsius (59 deg. F) difference in temperature. That is equal to the difference between the mean annual temperatures of London and Bombay. It is likely that Moray played a key role in the original transformation of maize into a high-altitude crop. There are no great ruined structures in Moray to amaze you; it is more for the contemplative traveler or farmers! We’ll have a picnic lunch here and our horses will return home as we explore the ruins and visit the Inca Salt “mines” of Maras - since pre-Inca times, salt has been obtained in Maras by evaporating salty water from a local subterranean stream. The highly salty water emerges at a spring, a natural outlet of the underground stream. The flow is directed into an intricate system of tiny channels constructed so that the water runs gradually down onto the several hundred ancient terraced ponds.
Almost all the ponds are less than four meters square in area, and none exceeds thirty centimeters in depth. All are necessarily shaped into polygons with the flow of water carefully controlled and monitored by the workers. The altitude of the ponds slowly decreases, so that the water may flow through the myriad branches of the water-supply channels and be introduced slowly through a notch in one sidewall of each pond. The proper maintenance of the adjacent feeder channel, the sidewalls and the water-entry notch, the pond's bottom surface, the quantity of water, and the removal of accumulated salt deposits require close cooperation among the community of users. It is agreed among local residents and pond workers that the cooperative system was established during the time of the Incas, if not earlier. We continue back to our Chinchero hotel by van via Tiobamba - an isolated cathedral seeming lost and forgotten by time and modern civilization. B: L: D
Day 3: Ride From Chinchero To Huchuy QosqoPicking up our rested horses we ride along the side of Lake Piuray and onto the traditional village of Tauca. Amidst waving children and curious parents peering from doorways at the unusual site of gleaming horses and gringos, we trot along the old Inca route well away from the modern paved highway. Following a walled pathway we head for some spectacular craggy peaks. We could be back in the 16th century. Modern Peru is centuries away. Heading northeast and to the right of the jagged skyline to a pass marked by two stone Cairns or "apachetas".
The view from the pass is stupendous with views of the Vilcanota and Ausangate massifs and the sacred glaciers of Qoyllur Rit'i. Bearing left on undulating terrain we reach gently to a second pass with views of Chicon and its glaciers. Following a valley down to we reach some ruins once the gateway to the ruins of Huchuy Qosqo. A stunning view greets you 45 minutes later –the ruins of Huchuy Qosqo set out below on a small plateau and beyond a 1000-meter drop into the Sacred Valley of the Incas and the village of Lamay (where our stables are) – truly spectacular. Here we stay at a small Quechua homestay with comfortable beds local food and adequate shared bathroom facilities. We rest our horses and relax and if time or energy, explore these seldom-visited ruins. Night at a Quechua villagers homestay B: L: D
Day 4: Huchuy Qosqo To LamayToday is our final day of the ride. Leisurely breakfast with our hosts. Commanding a magnificent view of the valley floor we explore the ruins on foot. There is a fine "Kallanca" or great hall some 40 meters long overlooking a ceremonial esplanade with fine terracing and many ancillary buildings. We can visit an Andean Condor lookout where these impressive birds are infrequently seen.
Finally after exploring all - we wind our way down an abandoned road to Calca and continue on flat trail overlooking the rushing Urubamba River through cornfields and much deserved flat terrain after the morning. Much of the riding today is along trails that are part of the great Inca Empire's road system, the Qapac Ñan. The Inca road network was one the greatest engineering feats ever undertaken in the New World, rivaling the Roman road system of the Old World. The 25,000 km network linked Cusco, the Inca capital, to the empire's far-flung domains.
The road system reached almost all of the Andean territories, including Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Argentina and Chile and was formed by four main roads clearly recognizable, plus many secondary roads. Reaching the bridge at Lamay we cross the river and clatter through the back streets of Lamay and up the valley for a mile until we reach our stables, or if going to Machu Picchu say farewell to our horses and continue to Ollantaytambo. Our horses will pick up speed, as they know home is in sight! We'll dismount at the stables take some refreshment and then our van will return you to Cusco or any hotel in the Sacred Valley between Pisac and Urubamba (Saddle time 6-7 hours) B: L
Add a Day and Overnight at Machu Picchu to your trip for an extra $670 USD
MACHU PICCHU, one of the most magical and mysterious places on Earth! Situated on the spine of a jungle cloaked granite peak towering some 2,000 ft. above an entrenched meander of the roaring river below, the site is frequently shrouded in misty clouds pierced by the powerful equatorial sun. Constructed from precisely sculptured granite blocks carefully joined with the projecting exposed stone of the surrounding mountain, the site may well be the finest architectural achievement of the new world.
Day 1: Sacred Valley To Machu Picchu Our magical journey starts with the narrow gauge train ride to the New World's most spectacular archaeological monument, Machu Picchu. We breakfast then hop aboard the morning narrow gauge train heading down valley. An interesting hour of click, clack and sway with all of the accompanying sounds and smells of rural Peru takes us to the bustling backpacker town of Aguas Calientes, the portal for Machu Picchu. Soon we are gathered at the gateway to famous "Lost Cities of the Incas" Our guide takes us on a 3-hour tour of the ruins telling you the story of the rise and fall of the ancient civilizations of the Andes with the tragic end of the Inca and the enigma that this remarkable site remains. After lunch you are on your own to explore the ruins and when ready, bus back down to Aguas Calientes for overnight at our very comfortable Hotel. B:L:D
Day 2: Machu Picchu To CuscoAll morning at leisure. You may return to explore the ruins if you wish or relax and lunch at our favorite French Bistrot and then afternoon Cusco bound train, we arrive back in the Capital of the Inca early evening or those who wish may stay in Ollantaytambo B:L: