Four of the best adventures in Peru’s Sacred Valley
If you are looking for an action-packed few days as part of your holiday, look no further than Peru’s Sacred Valley. A hub for thrill-seekers of all ages, this is the perfect place to find your inner Bear Grylls. Here are just some of our favourite adventures in this breathtaking region:
Peru‘s landscapes are as endless as they are varied. The altitude can sometimes be a contender, but once you are acclimatised and ready to go, it’s an incredibly beautiful space to explore. There are hundreds of trekking routes you can tackle, the most famous of which is the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. The journey there, and your arrival at this spectacular site, will never fade from your memory. We also recommend some of the lesser-known trekking routes, such as the Lares and Ausangate treks, both of which offer something a bit different.
You can hike for anything from one day to nine days – and more if you so please. It is truly rewarding to step out of your day-to-day life and walk through the majestic mountains, some of which are snow-capped all year round. This is also a perfect opportunity to learn about Peru’s fascinating Inca history, as you will no doubt see many sites along the way. You can camp en route if you’re doing an overnight trek. Otherwise, the Sacred Valley has plenty of places to stay for a restful night; our favourite is the beautiful Sol y Luna.
Swap your hiking boots for trainers, jump on a bike and go off-road. There are many different routes – anything from a morning cycle to a 12-day expedition. One of our favourite shorter routes is spending a day cycling from the ruins of Moray to the Maras salt flats.
Starting at Moray, you will explore this ancient Inca settlement with your private guide, learning about why this site is unusual and unique in its layout compared to the others dotted around the area. Originally designed by the Incas as a ‘science lab’, it was used to grow an impressive six crops of potatoes per year.
You will then get back on your bike and head towards Maras, passing the fields of the Chinchero plateau, where corn, quinoa, kiwicha and potatoes will be your backdrop against the snow-capped mountains. Here, we recommend pausing to take some photos and soak up the mesmerising views.
Stopping halfway for a delicious picnic lunch, you can look back on how far you have cycled, before completing the last stretch – pretty much all downhill and at times steep – to the Maras salt flats. Still mined by hand, you can even buy some to take away with you.
The best thing about experiencing the region in this way is that you are looked after by your guide and followed by a driver. If you decide you’ve had enough at any point, you can pop your bike in the back of the car and admire the view from the comfort of your seat.
3 Stand-up paddleboarding
Lake Huaypo, emerald in colour and surrounded by Andean mountains, is a great place to practise and hone your paddleboarding skills. Spend half a day here, gliding through the gentle water at your own pace. You can see farmers in the distance, tending to their crops, and spot Andean birds through the reeds.
After your morning, you will have earnt a well-deserved meal. Traditional in Peru, and still common today, is a pachamanka lunch. To prepare for this, a hole is dug in the ground and hot stones are placed inside. Then, layers of wrapped meat are laid within, topped with more stones, followed by locally sourced vegetables, in turn topped with leaves. The food is left to cook for several hours, until an epic lunch is served on the water’s edge, which is a wonderful way to spend your afternoon.
Whitewater rafting has really taken off in Peru, as it is a brilliant way to explore the country in a really fun and active way. There are so many fantastic journeys with varying distances. You can raft through Cuzco (one day), down the Apurimac Granite Canyon (one or two days) or in the Tambopata National Reserve (10 days).
We will arrange for you to have a top, English-speaking guide with you on what will be an exhilarating adventure. As this is something that we have developed with our friends on the ground, the rapids are clean and empty, allowing you to get off the beaten track and do something a little different. This is ideal for a family with teenagers who have a get-up-and-go attitude.