Day Minus 1
Today you will be catching your trans-Atlantic flight to Lima, Peru (flights not included in the price). You can fly with KLM via Amsterdam from the UK, or with Iberia via Madrid. Early this evening you will be landing in Lima where you will spend the first night of your holiday (not included, please ask the office upon enquiry for recommended hotels).
This morning after a night’s rest you will be flying to Cusco – the ancient capital city of The Inca Empire (flights not included in the price). This city was the political and religious centre of the Incan civilisation and it is now the cultural capital of Peru. Here you will find a mixture of ancient and colonial history combined in a multicultural mêlée. The colonial buildings have been constructed upon the ancient Inca foundations. The Empire of the Sun revolved around this town and this is where ‘the children of the sun’ lived and worshipped. The Incas were the royal class of this civilisation – the legend originally says that the Incas came from The Titicaca Lake, a man and a woman were born from the sun and the man was given a golden stick, the sun told him that where the stick sunk into the earth, this was where he should build his empire and this place was Cusco. Today this vibrant city offers visitors a mixture of art, culture and history.
This evening you will be staying in your chosen hotel in Cusco (not included, please ask the office upon enquiry for recommended hotels). Tonight is your pre-ride briefing.
Today is the first day of your 6 night trail ride. After an early breakfast guests will be collected at 7:00am from their chosen hotel in Cusco. You will be taken to the Inca ruins of Tarawasi near the town of Limatambo (approx. 1.5 hrs from Cusco). These ruins were formally an Inca Temple and were an important resting place for Inca travellers heading from the coast to Cusco. After leaving Limatambo, we pass through the mountain village of Mollepata where there will be a short coffee break, before ascending a winding mountain road to the Coronilla Ranch where you will meet the horses.
Here, after period of familiarisation, we will begin our ride to Soraypampa. This is a good opportunity for guests to acclimatise and to enjoy a beautiful 3-4 hour trek on their first day of riding. Soraypampa is located in between two sacred Inca mountains, as you ride along you pass from a river valley into a glacier valley and you will be able to look across the valley and see the ancient Inca irrigation channels cut into the side of the mountain. You will also see an ancient forest of polylepis trees (queunas) native to this region.
Tonight you will be staying at The Salkantay Lodge which takes its name from the majestic peak at the head of the valley – the “Salkantay”, the 2nd most sacred peak in Inca mythology and, at 20,600 ft (6,270 m), the highest in the region. The lodge is designed to resemble an Inca Palace with all the luxury and elegance that this period of history evokes. After a warm welcome by our friendly staff, guests will be shown to their rooms and have time to freshen-up. The first afternoon is spent at leisure to adjust to the altitude, taking advantage of the outdoor jacuzzi or just walking in the beautiful surroundings. An evening briefing by the fireplace is followed by aperitifs and dinner.
Today you ride out for three hours in the surrounding area of Soraypampa to visit the Humantay Lake which is fed by the glacier far above on the slopes of Humantay Mountain. The Inca’s considered glacial lakes to be the ‘eyes’ of the mountain and to show respect to the mountain Gods they would build apachetas (stone piles) and today walkers carry on with this tradition. A short walk of about thirty minutes is necessary in order to reach the lake, but the view is well worth it and those brave enough can even go for a swim. We return to the lodge for lunch, after which there is the option to ride out again for around two hours in the surrounding area, or guests may choose to trade the glacial swim for a relaxing soak in the outdoor jacuzzi. We spend the night at the Salkantay Lodge and Adventure Resort with gourmet food and warm, comfortable beds. In the evening, the guide will brief the party on gear and the itinerary for the next four days. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are taken at the Lodge.
Today we continue our ride (about five hours) towards Machu Picchu, riding up the Salkantay River and passing between Salkantay and Humantay Mountains. The mountain pass is 4800 metres (14,800 ft) above sea level and this is the highest you will be during the trip. The Inca’s used the pass as a cemetery and today you will see many apacetas built by walkers as a sign of their respect for the Salkantay Mountain. Today you will have the opportunity to make your own offering to the mountain. Your cultural guide will instruct you in the manner that you should make your offering (of coca leaves) and as you let your leaves fly into the wind you can ask the mountain for a wish. Throughout the ride keep your eyes open for Andean condors, common to this area. From the pass you can see our destination of the Wayra Lodge (“Wayra”: wind; ‘the place where the wind lives’), but before we reach the lodge lunch will be served in a spectacular glacial valley with an amazing view of Vilcabanba Snow Mountain Range.
The Wayra Lodge has been built to resemble an Inca religious shelter. The decoration inside the lodge is representative of the Inca’s religious beliefs. You will find pictures and artefacts relating to ancient pilgrimages and Chaman rituals. Dinner and overnight at the Lodge.
Today we leave the high pampas and head for the river valley that is known as the cloud forest. The scenery changes dramatically as the temperature rises becoming hot and humid. Bamboo trees, orchids and hummingbirds appear in the increasingly verdant scenery. You will pass through small family communities who eek out their living by farming and fishing. Inquisitive children come to see the horses and are happy to wave you on your way. The ride today is three hours long, you may need to get off and walk in some areas as the trail can be quite narrow. Upon arrival at Collpa Lodge we are greeted with a Pachamanca (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 with earth to bake. After observing the uncovering of the Pachamanca, which consists of a variety of meats (chicken, lamb, beef, pork) and vegetables (potatoes, sweet potatoes and yucca) we enjoy our meal. Collpa Lodge is built at the conjunction of three rivers, one of which flows to Machu Picchu. As with all the lodges it is built in a unique style, this time to commemorate the art and music of both the Inca and the colonial times. Brightly coloured masks and traditional hand woven ponchos adorn the walls. The outdoor jacuzzi has panoramic views of the lush green mountains. We spend the afternoon relaxing or walking in the surrounding area. Dinner and overnight at the lodge.
Today we head down the Santa Teresa river valley, through banana and passion fruit orchards and coffee plantations. This area is rich in minerals and hot springs bubble up from deep underground. Flocks of paroqueets squalk noisily in the tree canopy that rises up from the mountain side. The coffee grown here is said to be one of the best organic coffees in the world. You will also notice a change in the appearance of the local people as you ride closer to the jungle. Along the way we stop for lunch, the chef from the lodges will appear as if by magic to prepare food to the usual excellent standard. Afterwards, we continue our ride (a total of around five hours) to the beginning of the Llactapata Inca Trail, the second most famous Inca Trail which is where we say goodbye to our horses. A short thirty-minute walk through an avocado orchard brings us to Lucma Lodge. Lucma Lodge celebrates the nature of the area, inside there are many plants and beautiful pictures of butterflies and orchids which you will have seen at first hand along the route today.
Today our destination is the bustling town of Aguas Calientes, also known as Machu Picchu town. Those who wish to, can hike this distance but others may catch a bus instead. The hikers will leave the lodge after breakfast and head uphill for around two hours towards Llactapata pass (2600 metres/8500 feet). After heading downhill for about ten minutes you will come upon the recently restored Llactapata Ruins from where you will catch your first glimpse of Machu Picchu across the river valley. This perspective is one that few tourists get to enjoy. We walk another ten minutes or so to our lunch spot where we enjoy a picnic lunch with the same view of Machu Picchu. After lunch we will then descend to the Vilcanota 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 short train ride away and here we check into the beautiful Inkaterra Hotel for dinner and a well-earned rest.
The whole group will spend their final night of the trail ride together in Aguas Calientes.
Today there will be an early start in order to make the thirty-minute bus ride up to Machu Picchu to arrive before sunrise. You will then enjoy a private guided tour of the city, followed by several hours in which you are free to explore the ruins by yourselves. Afterwards you will return to Aguas Calientes by bus for lunch and then take the afternoon Vistadome train to Ollantaytambo (about an hour and a half), where you are transferred by car to Cusco (about one hour) to your chosen hotel in Cusco (not included, please ask the office upon enquiry for recommended hotels). For those flying back to the UK you will need to spend one final night here before catching a flight home via Lima. If you are travelling back to a different country you may not require this night in Cusco. You can discuss your travel arrangements with our office staff.
For those flying home via Lima you will be transferred to Cusco airport for the flight back to Lima. Transatlantic flights depart in the early evening and you will be back in England by mid afternoon of the following day.
This Riding Holiday is of a First Class Standard.
The price includes the first class lodges used throughout your riding programme. If you require a hotel in Lima for the first night we can arrange this for you. All meals are included during the ride, we can arrange your stay in Cusco before and after the ride programme - choose from 3 - 5 star accommodation.
The riding is challenging in places although the horses, who are mainly American Quarter Horses with some Arab crosses and thoroughbreds are well trained and are more than able to cope with the difficult terrain.
Throughout the tour you will have a cultural guide (on horseback where necessary) and a horse trekking guide. A doctor will accompany the group throughout the trekking part of this holiday.
There is a maximum of 6 – 8 guests and in addition to the staff already mentioned, two wranglers will also assist the group.
Your riding ability needs to be intermediate to experienced (some trail experience recommended). You need to be very fit and healthy, due to the high altitude, demanding terrain and optional hike on day six.
Weight limit: 90kg
Age Limit: over 65 years and we require a doctors letter.
Single Room Supplement
There is a single room supplement charge of 20% for the ride, guests can opt to share with a fellow traveller. Should a suitable companion be found (likely) then no single supplement will apply, should one not be found but the guest has expressed their willingness to share then the single room supplement will be 10%.
Prices 2020 *£2,750pp low season* / £3,500pp high season
Departure Dates 2020 = Day One of Riding
26 March 2020
17 April 2020
14 May 2020
17 June 2020
17 July 2020
26 Sept 2020
Transatlantic flights from the UK to Lima cost from £500 - £1000 depending on your dates of travel. You will also have to buy a short internal flight from Lima to Cusco with LAN airlines (50 minutes) which start at around £30 each way.
"I have travelled the world and must say this experience was one of the highlights of my travels. The horses, the accommodations, the scenery, the staff, etc. were top notch. It was an incredible experience and one that I recommend wholeheartedly."
For more Equestrian Escapes reviews click on the link!
This riding holiday is a once in a lifetime experience and is well worth a visit to enable you to explore the trail that was explored by travellers hundreds of years ago. For riders who like to travel in style may we also recommend our Medieval Castle Tour in Tuscany.
Alternatively, for adventure tours and holidays in Chile, we are happy to reccommend the excellent Patagonian tours offered by Criollo Expeditions. You can find them at www.criolloexpeditions.com, they offer Horse Riding, Hiking, Fishing and more.
We inspect all the horses in our horse riding holidays to ensure the best quality holiday for you.