Multi-day hikes to Machu Picchu along the classic Inca Trail or Salkantay are not the only ways to experience adventure in the Andean region of Peru. A wide range of tours in and around Cusco and the Sacred Valley offer something for every traveler, from the cautious thrill-seeker to the extreme adrenaline junkie. Here is an overview of some action-packed activities to occupy your free time and new experiences.
There are half-day and full-day bike tours suitable for any level of experience, with most of the trails running through the beautiful landscape of the Sacred Valley between Pisac and Ollantaytambo. There are easy, moderate or advanced bike trails on dirt and paved roads; difficulty varies according to experience and fitness level. Among the attractions of the trail are the quarries of Cachicata; villages along the banks of the Urubamba River, such as Sillque and Chillca; and sites such as the agricultural terraces of Moray and the salt mines of Maras. We can also invite you to enjoy cycling down the Abra Malaga 4350m, until you reach Santa Maria on the Inca Jungle Trail.
Mountain biking in and around Cusco can be enjoyed all year round. The rainy season is seen with days experiencing little or no rainfall, but even on wet days, riding on paved roads avoids muddy conditions. Bike tours include a professional English-speaking guide and usually transportation to and from hotels and complete equipment (mountain bike with front suspension, helmet and gloves, etc.)
Independent travelers, groups of friends and families can choose from a variety of rafting options in the Sacred Valley. A day rafting excursion will provide a safety briefing prior to departure, transportation to and from your hotel, and a list of items to bring. A longer 2 or 3 day rafting trip can be arranged if desired.
Rafting is a year-round activity. Rainfall is heaviest from December to early March and the Urubamba River rapids can be class IV or higher. During the dry season, between May and September, the water flow is gentler and travelers enjoy good class II and III rapids. We can also mention the Santa maria rafting (Inca Jungle tour)
Travelers who are not afraid of heights can enjoy a half or full day zip line tour in the Sacred Valley, with no previous experience required. Tour operators generally offer the option of climbing a rock wall with the via ferrata and then zipping down the mountain. The via ferrata allows climbers to safely ascend a steep mountain face while being attached with a double carabiner system to a steel line that follows the route. At the top you can enjoy the view of the Sacred Valley and then take the opportunity for an adrenaline rush on the zipline. These activities now have more operation in Santa Teresa in its different valleys.
Zip line tours generally offer transportation, bilingual guides, trained specialists and a box lunch. All professional CE certified equipment is provided, such as harness, helmet, lanyard, zip line set, gloves and helme
From Cusco, horse rides leave not far from the city’s main square and explore the surrounding hills. Bring a camera because you are guaranteed to see beautiful Andean views and to see panoramic views of Cusco during your ride. Stops may include the archaeological sites of Sacsayhuaman, Qenqo, the Temple of the Moon, Pucapucara and Tambomachay. With the exception of the Temple of the Moon, a Tourist Ticket is required to enter these ruins.
Most of the horseback riding tours start in the morning and offer guided excursions of between 2 and 4 hours. The sun is strong in the Andean region and the horseback riding terrain around Cusco and in the Sacred Valley has limited tree cover. Sturdy shoes, hat and sunglasses are recommended. The weather changes quickly at altitude, so pack a rain poncho for a horseback ride during the region’s rainy season to be safe.
Compared to the established climbing routes of Huaraz in the Cordillera Blanca of Peru, climbing in Cusco continues to gain popularity in the region. For this reason, booking a day trip for outdoor climbing is not as easy as booking a rafting trip. Travelers may know some key points for sport climbing (where the rock has already been bolted) and rock (no ropes needed), but the trick is to connect with professionals in the area to discover more climbing spots.
Visiting a local climbing school once you arrive in Cusco is a traveler’s best bet to add this adventure sport to your travel itinerary. These schools can provide useful instruction for beginners and offer the right equipment. Travelers with their own equipment can ask if they can accompany a group from the school on a weekend climb.
I am founder and content creator of Lorenzo Expeditions, since 2006 I started with the Inca Jungle tour, guiding and serving thousands of tourists in a personal way to get to know Machu Picchu in a unique and authentic way.