Peru, A Horse Ride to Machu Picchu
LODGE TO LODGE TREK
Experience The Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu on horseback. This 7-day lodge to lodge adventure will take you on a historic section of Inca trail through 15 different eco-systems, while you traverse a mountain pass over 15,000 feet, explore villages where locals still maintain age-old traditions and re-discover the mystical beauty of Machu Picchu, the crown jewel of the Inca Empire.
Each day’s trek ends with a hot shower in a cozy lodge, complemented by a massage or a dip in an outdoor jacuzzi, followed by a gourmet meal with select wines and all provided with highly personalized service by local staff. This is a once in a lifetime physical, cultural and spiritual journey that will take you through the magnificent Salkanaty Inca Trail to the legendary ruins at Macchu Picchu.
Experience a horse ride like no other. Gallop through undulating open vistas, climb rugged high mountain trails and meander beside raging rivers.
Your trusty steed is the finest American Quarter Horses from top farms in Uruguay. The horses have been through an extensive training program, which means they’re the perfect trail companions to riders with a range of experience in the high mountain terrain.
DAY 1 | Cusco to Salkantay Lodge Overnight at Salkantay Lodge at 3,869 m/12,690 ft
Note: On the evening before this day there will be a briefing with your guide in Cusco.
After an early breakfast, we are picked up starting at 7:00 am at your Cusco hotel by a MLP guide and vehicle. En route we 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 cof- fee break before ascending a winding mountain road to Coronilla Ranch.
Here, after a short period of familiarization with the equestrian team and the horses, we begin our ride to Soraypampa. This is a good opportunity for everyone to acclimate while enjoying a beautiful 3-4 hour ride. Salkantay Lodge takes its name from the majestic peak at the head of the valley—Mt. Salkantay, the second most sacred peak in Inca mythology and, at 6,270m (20,600 ft), the highest in the region. After a warm welcome by our friendly staff, we are shown to our rooms and have time to freshen-up, before tea and cookies. The trip leader will hold a briefing by the fireplace, followed by aperitifs and dinner.
Riding Time & Terrain:
Approximately 5 hours (including picnic lunch en route)
Walk, trot, canter, gallop on open roads, some steep ascending trails.
Options include direct transfer or hiking to the lodge
DAY 2 | Ride to Humantay Lake and the Chakana Overnight at Salkantay Lodge at 3,869 m/12,690 ft
Today’s excursion takes us first to Humantay Lake, fed by glaciers far above on the slopes of the impressive Mt. Humantay. Our 1-hour ride there is followed by a short 20-minute walk, which is necessary in order to reach the lake, but the view is well worth it and those brave enough can go for a swim! After a short snack break we hike back down to where we left the horses, and from where we begin a 30-minute ride to our next dismount spot: the gateway to the “Chakana” (the mystical Cross of the Incas, located on a view point high above Soraypampa). From here, we begin a one-hour excursion on foot to our destination, the actual “Chakana”. This excursion allows guests to enjoy the best views of the Soray- pampa Valley, Mt. Salkantay and Mt. Humantay, and is truly one of the high points of our journey...which should not 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.
We return to the lodge for lunch with your afternoon at leisure, after which you may choose to trade the glacial swim for a relaxing soak in our outdoor jacuzzi. Additionally there is the option of riding out again for a couple of hours in the surrounding area. In the evening, the guide briefs us on gear and the itinerary for the following day. All meals are served at the Lodge.
Riding Time & terrain:
Approximately 4 hours
Walk, trot, canter on open roads, some steep ascending trails and open fields, or can hike to Humantay Lake
DAY 3 | Crossing the Salkantay Pass Overnight at Wayra Lodge at 3,906 m/12,812 ft
Today we continue our journey towards Machu Picchu, riding up the Rio Blanco valley and circling Humantay Peak across from Salkantay Peak. The highest point of the ride is the Salkantay Pass at 4,638 meters (15,213 ft). At the pass we stop to take in views of snow-capped peaks of the Vilca- bamba Range in every direction, with the glaciated south face of Salkantay towering above us. We will keep our eyes out for Andean condors, often visible in this area. From the pass we de- scend towards the Wayra Lodge, (“Wayra”: wind; from the name of the location “Wayrac- machay”: ‘the cave where the wind lives’) our destination for the evening. A hot lunch is taken en route; dinner and overnight at the Lodge.
Riding Time & terrain:
Approximately 5 hours (including hot lunch en route)
Walk, trot on mostly steep trails, and some open slopes Transfer to Ollantaytambo or Cusco or hiking along the trail
DAY 4 | Descending into the Cloud Forest Overnight at Colpa Lodge at 2,870 m/9,414 ft
On this day we enjoy a leisurely breakfast at Wayra Lodge, and then we continue down- hill above the Salkantay River, descending into the cloud forest, through increasingly verdant scenery. We can feel the warm air rising from the jungle, accompanied by col- orful butterflies and striking orchids. Upon arrival at Colpa Lodge we are greeted with a Pachamanca, a traditional festive Peruvian meal cooked by layering meat and veg- etables with hot stones. Everything is then covered with hot stones, plantain leaves, high Andean grass and local herbs and the contents are baked in this underground oven. Colpa Lodge is located on an open plateau at the confluence of three rivers. The outdoor jacuzzi has panoramic views of lush green mountains. We spend the after- noon relaxing or exploring the nearby orchid trail. Dinner and overnight at the lodge.
Riding Time & terrain:
Approximately 4 hours
Walk or trot, on narrow trails
Alternatively take a free day in Ollantaytambo or hike along the trail
DAY 5 | Following the Santa Teresa River Valley Overnight at Lucma Lodge at 2,135 m/7,003 ft
Today we ride along the Santa Teresa river valley, through more populated rural areas. We pass through banana, passion fruit, avocado orchards and coffee plantations. The coffee grown here is said to be one of the best organic coffees in the world. Our ride takes us to the beginning of the “Llactapata Inca Trail”, which is where we say goodbye to our horses and equestrian staff. A short 30-minute walk through an avocado orchard brings us to Lucma Lodge. Dinner and overnight at the lodge.
Riding Time & terrain:
Approximately 5 hours
Walk, trot, and canter on steep trails and some open roads
Transfer by train and vehicle to Lucma Lodge, hiking along trail, or Canopy Zip Line Tour (please see details below)
DAY 6 | First Views of Machu Picchu from Llactapata Pass Overnight in Aguas Calientes at 1,900 m/6,232 ft
After a hearty breakfast, we tackle the last day of our trek. We head uphill for 2-3 hours towards Llactapata Pass (2,736 m/8,974ft), where we come upon a distant but spec- tacular view of Machu Picchu Sanctuary from the southeast, a view few travelers ever get a chance to admire. We take a short break to explore the Llactapata Ruins, which have recently been restored. Lunch is served at a scenic viewpoint, looking out to Ma- chu Picchu. After which we begin our final descent to the Aobamba River through lush bamboo forests, orchards and coffee plantations. We then board a train for a scenic ride (approx. 1 hour) to Aguas Calientes, the town of Machu Picchu. Upon arrival, we check into an award-wining hotel for a celebration dinner with our guide and one last briefing!
Note - Those who prefer not to hike can go to the train station by van after a leisurely morning including breakfast and lunch at the lodge. They will meet the rest of the group at the train station for the ride to Aguas Calientes together. (The guide confirms your preferences the night before.)
Hiking Time: Hiking Level:
Moderate to challenging
DAY 7 |
Return to Cusco at 3,360 m/11,021 ft
Visit Machu Picchu Sanctuary
After a very early buffet breakfast at the hotel, we make our way to the bus station for the ride up to Machu Picchu Sanctuary (30 min). Our trip leader will give an intro- ductory 2 hour guided tour of the ruins, after which we have the option of climbing the steep staircase of Huayna Picchu, a steep and vertically quite challenging hike that takes about 2 hours which affords great views of Machu Picchu. Afterwards, we meet up with our guide again and return by bus to Aguas Calientes for a late lunch and to catch our train. The ride from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo takes about 11⁄2 hours, and then a private vehicle will drive us back to Cusco (an additional 11⁄2 hour). Upon arrival in Cusco (approximately 7 or 8 p.m.), we are dropped off at your hotel.
Quarter Horses which are specially exercised and trained for this trip, so they are highly aware and accustomed to the local terrain, wildlife and to performing at high altitude, making them a very secure ride. They combine responsiveness, energy, bravery and manners to produce the perfect trail horse. All horses are picked from a pre-selected pool especially for each trip, according to their level of fitness at the time.
For extra precautions horses are fitted with boots or bandages to pro- tect their extremities. Our horses are trained Western so they are used to neck reining and going on a loose rein. We mostly use American en- durance saddles, but there are English saddles available for those who prefer them. We are very careful in checking that the saddles fit each horse well and we constantly ensure that the tack and shoeing are in excellent condition.
We keep groups small, carefully match horses to riders, see that people of similar skills ride together, and train ride leaders carefully.
Please contact Asha Wood:
mobile- +61 (0) 414 505 132