Machu Picchu Ride, Peru

Machu Picchu Luxury lodge to Lodge Trail Ride 7 Days/6 Nights. Come with a small group of friends or family members or make new friends on this trip of a lifetime. See spectacular varied scenery, experience a new culture and an exciting cuisine. Be dazzled by the colour of the local markets, the elegance of the colonial architecture, and the sophisication of the Inca and pre-Inca archaeological sites. This ride is all about the magnificence of nature and the friendly people who inhabit the high altitude regions of the Andes. This is a trip for people who want an amazing adventure, but don't want to 'rough it'. You will experience all of the above, ride fantastic horses and feel very well looked after. Non-riders can join the trip but trek on foot from lodge to lodge. Responsible tourism: The Riding Company is proud to be associated with Yanapana Peru, the charity founded by the owner of the Mountain Lodges, which is striving to reduce poverty along the Salkantay route to Machu Picchu (where the lodges are situated) , through sustainable community development. Also new: mobile Coastal Ride.

Horses

Quarter Horses, Arabs and Thoroughbreds from Uruguay. All horses are picked from a pre-selected pool especially for each trip, according to their level of fitness at the time. Our horses are especially trained for high altitudes and rugged terrains. On most days, you will be walking, trotting and cantering with a couple of plateaus where it is possible to gallop. There are just a few days where you are mostly walking because of the steep terrain but you nearly always have spectacular scenery so you won't mind going more slowly ! You should be a confident intermediate or advanced rider. 'Horsemen' accompany each ride to take care of the horses.

'Peru leaves me with amazing recollections; It’s a land of extremes, from Glacial Mountain Passes to Rain Forest and Amazon Tributaries. With local coffee growers and villages living in very primitive conditions, Inca ruins scattered across the hundreds of Inca Trails, which spread throughout all the mountains of this truly memorable country. But perhaps the most remarkable memories of all were the Horses we rode - to my mind more amazing than Machu Picchu itself.' Stephen and Jeanette

The Ride

Itinerary for the Machu Picchu Lodge to Lodge Ride (7 day/6 night program, Cusco to Cusco)

Day 1

After an early breakfast, guests will be picked up at their hotel in Cusco by our guide and taken to the first mountain lodge, the Salkantay in Soraypampa. En route we will take a short break to visit the Inca ruins of Tarawasi near the town of Limatambo (approx. 1.5 hrs from Cusco). After leaving Limatambo, we pass through the mountain village of Mollepata where we stop for a short coffee break before ascending a winding mountain road to the Coronilla Ranch.

Here, after a short period of familiarization, we will begin our ride to Soraypampa. This is a good opportunity for guests to acclimatise and enjoy a gentle but beautiful 3-4 hour trek on their first day. The Salkantay Lodge 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 (6,270m), the highest in the region. 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.

Technical Description:
Riding Hours: Approx. four hours
Type of Terrain: Open roads, some steep ascending trails
Type of Riding: Walk, trot, canter, gallop

Note: Lunch is a picnic lunch en route. Non-riders will be transferred directly to the Lodge.

Day 2

Technical Description:
Riding Hours: Approx. three hours
Type of Terrain: Open roads, some steep ascending trails and open fields
Type of Riding: Walk, trot, canter
Non-rider activity: Hike to Humantay Lake

Day 3

Technical Description:
Riding Hours: Approx. four hours
Type of Terrain: 80% steep trails and 20% open land
Type of Riding: Walk, trot
Non-rider activity: transfer to Ollantaytambo.

Day 4

Technical Description:
Riding Hours: Approx. three hours
Type of Terrain: Steep trails
Type of Riding: Walk, trot
Non-rider activity: Day free in Ollantaytambo

Day 5

Technical Description:
Riding Hours: Approx. four hours
Type of Terrain: Steep trails and some open roads
Type of Riding: Walk, trot, canter
Non-rider activity: Transfer by train and vehicle to Lucma Lodge

Day 6

Today we are transferred to the train station by van in order to catch the train to Aguas Calientes, also known as Machu Picchu town. Those who wish to can hike this distance instead. (The guide confirms guests’ preferences the night before)

Description of OPTIONAL hike:
We leave the lodge around 9am and head uphill for around two hours towards Llactapata pass (2600 metres/8500 feet). After heading downhill for about ten minutes we come upon the recently restored Llactapata Ruins from where we also have a distant but very special view of Machu Picchu from the southwest, a perspective 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. We 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 we check into our hotel for dinner and a well-earned rest

The whole group spends the night in Aguas Calientes.

Day 7

Please note that sometimes the exact details of the itinerary will change if a particular part of the trail becomes unsafe to pass. Your safety is paramount.

Read this fantastic in depth article about our Inca Ride in the excellent Local Rider magazine:. Also included is a separate piece about Cusco and lots of background information about the Incas and local traditionsResponsible tourism:

The Riding Company is proud to be associated with Yanapana Peru, the charity founded by the owner of the Mountain Lodges, which is striving to reduce poverty along the Salkantay route to Machu Picchu (where the lodges are situated) , through sustainable community development. The principal focus is to provide for basic needs: children's health and education and training for the men and women of these remote Andean villages in order that they may generate income for their families and thus achieve economic and social development. Due to geography and the distance of the area from urban developments, the families do not have access to basic services, such as drinking water, a sewage system housing, health and education, as a result of the governments's lack of resources and organisation. In spite of their living situation, the Andean settlers preserve traditional values inherited fdrom his forbears: solidarity, work ethics and hospitality, and they have welcomed, and have high hopes for, the projects that Yanapana Peru has set up for them.

Yanapana is an independent, non-government, non-profit organisation. The difference you will be making in that the local people have been set up in business to supply the lodges with organic jams, honey, cheeses, fruit and coffee. Some locals bring their hand-woven textiles to the lodges and you will be helping their whole family by purchasing these colourful souvenirs (hats, scarves, wall hangings etc...) . The ride passes through a village where it will be possible to visit the school set up by Yanapana. There is a sponsorship programme to support an individual child through monthly donations. Yanapana will keep you informed with the progress and development of your Andean child. You could also take with you some basic educational materials to donate in person. Yanapana also helps the animals by sponsoring teams of vets who pass through the whole valley giving medication and advice to the local communities.www.yanapana.org

Guest feedback

Emma, 40, from Jersey writes:'This is a holiday of a lifetime - as breath-taking in terms of the riding and terrain as the Andean scenery and culture. Despite the riding being challenging (some steep narrow paths alongside rushing rivers, some rough rocky terrain under hoof and rickety wooden bridges being some of the adrenaline-inducing thrills) I embarked on this trip as a fairly new rider. I was fit and strong, had undergone intensive riding lessons for 4 months before departure and had a certain appetite for adventure, but I could hardly be described as experienced. This was an adventure but the ever-diligent equestrian team always looked after us on the trail and made us feel confident and safe - always alert and aware of every rider and horse. It quickly became apparent that just as the horses knew where to put each hoof and how best to negotiate river beds and rocks, so too their handlers all knew every inch of the trail, how the horses interacted and how each group member was managing their mount. As well as developing special bonds with our horses over the course of the trip we also had huge respect for the men who accompanied us - and who had attended to all the horses' needs and got them ready before we had even got out of bed in the morning! As if the stunning scenery, adorable horses and the promise of ending our pilgrimage at the dream destination of Machu Piccu weren’t enough, we soon became accustomed to a very royal and 4 star welcome at each of the lodges. Every day we were met with welcome drinks (hot coca tea in the cold of the pass, cooling home made lemonade in the humidity of the cloud forest) and a smile. At most lodges there was a hot tub to relax in and ease away the aches of the day whilst exchanging stories of the day with fellow riders, or time could be spent resting and recuperating in comfortable rooms with crisp sheets and robes as one would expect in any luxury hotel. Dinner was always a 3 course meal and every dietary need was catered for individually. This was an absolutely extraordinary level of service considering the logistics involved in running these isolated places the majority of which rely on mule and human transportation to convey even the most basic of items in and out. No wheeled vehicles reach these parts. This is an adventure for the person who wants to feel they have also had a restful holiday and have been looked after. However due to the charitable links with the local communities that the lodges have this trip goes beyond tourism and makes you feel you have been touched by and touched a culture not previously encountered. You can’t leave this trip without feeling a sense of awe not just at the scenery, historic sites and equestrian challenge you have completed but also at what is being achieved to socially and economically redevelop this beautiful rural area. As a paying visitor you are directly contributing to this and it is a good feeling to come home from a holiday in a country not as economically developed as your own and feel you have contributed rather than exploited during your visit. I cannot reccommend this trip highly enough.'

Helping the local community: 'Stuff Your Rucksack' is a fantastic website which encourages people to stuff a few extra things into thier rucksacks which are really needed by local communities. Visit www.stuffyourrucksack.com to find out what is needed where you are visiting.

New : Down the Coast mobile ride: Discover riding through the mountains south of Lima in the Viñak - Reichraming Lodge, gallop along immense desert sand dunes in Ica, ride along the Pacific Ocean, and finally fly over the impressive Nazca Lines in this alternative adventure. First - class service provided together with high - class boutique hotel accommodation in this "off the beaten path" trip (6 day trip that includes 5 full days of riding).

Saddles: two different types of saddles are offered : Uruguayan Endurance Saddles: assimilates to English-type; leather or American Endurance Saddles: assimilates to Western-type; synthetic and very comfortable. No need for 'seat savers' or padded pants !

Level of riding difficulty: Confident riders who are in control of their horse. Intermediate to advanced.

Safety: Every effort is taken to ensure the safety of you and your horse. A mounted Doctor accompanies the ride. We strongly recommend the use of safety equipment such as helmets and back protectors on this ride. Helmets, chaps and back protectors can be rented at the beginning of the ride, subject to availability and advance booking. There are several "replacement" or "back-up" horses taken on every trip. Several equestrian staff accompany the ride to look after the horses.

Please note that sometimes the exact details of the itinerary will change if a particular part of the trail becomes unsafe to pass.

Minimum age: 14 years for riding and 12 years for hiking on foot. Minimum number on ride 4, max 18.

What to bring: a detailed packing list will be sent with further details on booking. Your luggage is carried by mule to the mountain lodges (no roads!) so it is important that each person limits their luggage to 20k.

Getting there: Fly to LIMA then take a connecting flight on to Cusco.
KLM fly to Lima via Amsterdam (www.klm.com)
Iberia fly via Madrid (www.iberia.com)
British Airways and American Airlines fly via Miami (www.ba.com and www.americanairlines.co.uk)
Air France fly via Paris (www.airfrance.com)
Then get a connecting flight to Cusco with Lan Peru (www.lan.com) (1 hour flight, many flights throughout the day).
We will meet you at Cusco airport and drop you back at Cusco airport at the end of the trip.

Book flights independently or with specialist agency www.journeylatinamerica.co.uk, or see www.travelocity.com or www.expedia.com for the best deals.

Fly Carbon Neutral: London to Lima generates 2.56 tonnes of CO2 which you can offset for just £19.17. See www.climatecare.org

Visas: not required for UK and European/Commonwealth nationals.

Money: Peruvian Sol and US dollars. ATM machines everywhere, to withdraw either currency. No travellers cheques. Credit cards accepted in larger shops and hotels. Keep small bills to use for tips. We recommend tipping the Mountain Lodge staff as you leave each of the 4 lodges (these people are from very remote and impoverished communities) and tipping the equestrian guides and the main tourist guide.

Communications: Mobile phones: Peru is 5 hours behind GMT. Phone signal in main cities but not along the riding trail. All the lodges have satelite internet connection so you can check email along the way.

Health/immunisations: Visit your doctor at least 8 weeks before departure to check on which jabs you need. See www.mdtravelhealth.com for excellent advice on its recommendations. Only requirement for Peru is Yellow Fever and only if you are coming from a yellow fever infected area. Usual precautions for a visit to a tropical area apply such as protect from mosquitoes (which can carry malaria and dengue fever) and innoculate agaist hepatitis A, tetanus/dyptheria and typhoid. A mounted Doctor accompanyies the ride so you do not need to bring a medical bag except for some aspirins (helps with altitude), some antihistomine for any insect bites, any prescribed drugs and some diarhhrea pills (just in case !). The hotels we use and all the mountain lodges have the highest standards of hygiene in their preparation of food.