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Five hundred years ago the Incas built a network of paths through what is now known as the Sacred Valley of the Inca. Today this network through the Sacred Valley offers one of the most extensive mountain bike trail selections in the world. From technical singletrack to gentle fire access roads - from huge descents to big air - the region surrounding Cusco has it all. Escape the tourist traps. Ride the trails still used by local villagers, with unmatched opportunities to experience the real Peru. Epic downhill routes through the historic villages of the Peruvian Andes offer amazing riding for the intermediate to advanced mountain biker. From llama herds to stone houses surrounded by potato fields to the mysteries of the World Heritage site of Machu Picchu, this is the experience of a lifetime.
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Meet in Cusco. Transfer to the Sacred Valley, heartland of the Inca Empire.
Meet your guides at the Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport in Cusco. Shuttle 70 minutes to Villa Urubamba with its eye-popping views. Enjoy dinner here tonight - the first of three nights here - and get ready for a spectacular day of riding tomorrow.
Ride what the Footprints Guide calls '...one of the finest one-day rides in Peru' - through ancient Inca villages, volcano-spiked landscapes and salt pans.
The Footprints Guide to Peru describes this first day's classic ride as "...one of the finest one-day rides in Peru." Start near Chinchero, a small Andean village believed to be the mythical birthplace of the rainbow that overlooks the Sacred Valley of the Inca. At 3,600m, you'll love the variety of undulating dirt trails with spectacular views of the white peaks of Mount Veronica, Pitusiray and Chicon. Ride to the rarely-visited Inca ruins of Moray with time to explore and enjoy an explanation of this weird and wonderful site. Enjoy a delicious picnic lunch here, then ride down a fantastic donkey trail to the colonial village of Maras - then a divine singletrack to explore the town's out-of-this-world salt evaporation ponds, in use since Inca times. A final zigzagging singletrack drops you next to the Urubamba river, then back to the hotel in time to enjoy hot showers, sun-downers on the balcony and dinner either at the hotel or a restaurant of your choice.
Ride two epic trails today: the singletrack to Amparaes, then an ancient Inca trail complete with age-old Inca stairways.
Hop in the shuttle this morning. High in the Andes at just over 4000m lie two of the world’s best kept mountain-biking secrets. The singletrack down to Amparaes gets off to a rough start but soon turns into one of the most beautiful 16km trails ever. It’s as if someone came along and swept away the rocks, leaving super-smooth path for you to whoop and swoop past local villages, llamas and alpacas down to tiny Amparaes just in time for lunch. Afterward, climb back up to 4,200m for the second of today's truly amazing singletrack rides, this one in an incredibly beautiful canyon. Follow an ancient Inca trail - complete with original Inca stairways and Inca tombs - before joining the road to Calca. Feeling adventurous? Try one of the wacky shortcuts. Arrive in Calca Plaza de Armas in time for a quick beer before returning for your last night at the villa.
Singletrack to heaven: ride high in the Andes through Inca villages. ancient ruins and across an Inca hanging bridge. It's all downhill from there.
Ride for today: Singletrack heaven.When the drive to the start point is almost as extreme as the ride itself, you know you are in for a good day out! Take on a true wilderness biking adventure high in the Andes. Shuttle up to 4,000m, then, stock up on snacks and spares for the day. Follow an Inca trail that winds its way up to an Inca ceremonial platform at nearly 4,200m. Then it’s nearly all downhill or cross country as you discover Inca sites and charming Andean hamlets - even an Inca hanging bridge! After a short portage through an un-rideable but truly gorgeous canyon, emerge at a viewpoint high above the Sacred Valley. Cycle along well-preserved Inca terraces into the impressive Inca ruins of Huchuy Quosqo, thought to have been a royal palace. Need more adrenaline? Take another 800m descent to the Sacred Valley by way of a delightful dirt trail all the way back to Calca. Tonight: relocate to the Tunupa Lodge, with its views overlooking the Incan fortress of Ollantaytambo Take a stroll through the plaza – if you're still able to walk, that is.
Two of the Sacred Valley's best downhill rides: one from the market town of Chinchero; the other from Cerro Sacro, the highest point in the region.
Got body armor? Today might be a good day for it. On the fun menu for today are arguably two of the best singletrack downhills in the Sacred Valley if not the whole of Peru. Starting at the delightful market town of Chinchero, traverse a vast set of Inca terraces on a perfectly restored and wide royal Inca trail. A series of rideable (or walkable) steps leads down through eucalyptus forest to a spectacular viewpoint. From there, tackle more technical singletrack to the small village of Huayllabamba. The record is about 45 minutes, but you've got all morning (you may need it!) Lunchtime means a shuttle back up the hill to Cerro Sacro the highest point in the area and a haven for paragliders. Feast on stunning views before starting the second epic trail. Take your pick of routes as you cruise a super smooth descent back down to Urubamba - anything from sublime to extremely challenging. Back at the lodge, explore the local artisan market, stop for a drink at the local bar - and/or enjoy a well-deserved massage at the spa.
Ride the Inca Avalanche Course - the Abra Malaga - a 1,600-meter descent of a lifetime.
Today, ride the ‘Abra Malaga’ route - from over 4,400m to 2,800m: 1,600 meters of pure descent over approximately twenty kilometers. Swoop down a beautiful mix of fast road and technical singletrack, surrounded by fantastic Andean scenery: waterfalls, herds of llamas, stone huts surrounded by potato fields. It's one for the books. No wonder it was chosen as the site of the internationally famous Inca Avalanche Course downhill race. Spend one more night here at the Tunupa Lodge.
Hop aboard the train to Machu Picchu. Then a night on the town in Cusco.
Take a break from the singletrack to climb aboard the train to Peru's most famous icon - the World Heritage Site of Machu Picchu, mysterious Incan citadel perched high in the Andes. The train ride is fun, the history is rich and the views are amazing. Take a guided tour of the citadel and gaze at the jaw-dropping views. Then it's off to Cusco for a night out. Prepare for a whole lot of fun: Cusco by night is probably more extreme than any singletrack you've ridden. Fine dining; pubs galore; salsa dancing or the best of 80’s disco kitsch - Cusco has it all and doesn’t close until daylight. Stay these last two nights at the Quinta San Blas, in the older, bohemian artists' neighborhood.
Three of Cusco locals' favorite rides: Salcantay, Antisuyo - and either the Red Bull or the 'Birthday Ride.' Still got energy? Salsa 'til dawn.
The best is last. The hills that surround Cusco are the local playground. Do three of the favorites today. Fire it up with 'Salcantay:' a 750m vertical descent on sweet singletrack through Inca ruins and eucalyptus forest. Finish in Cusco with two more trails to go. Back at the top of the hill, follow an ancient Inca trail past Inca ruins and day-tripper tourists. Next up: 'Antisuyo.' the recently restored Inca trail to the jungle. With its beautiful set of navigable steps all the way down to San Blas and the Plaza de Armas of Cusco, it's time to perfect your step jump. One more ride: start in Yuncaypata, site of the local’s favorite downhill ride. Choose between 'Red Bull' (steep but doable) and the 'Birthday Route' with sweet singletrack and Inca ruins, plus a few choice steps. After a truly epic day’s biking, shower up and explore the culinary delights of Cusco, where guinea pig is a local specialty. For those who dare, take another go at the eclectic nightlife and salsa till dawn.
Sleep in, then it's time to pack up and head off to the airport and the trip home.
Sleep in, then pack up your bike (if you brought your own). Then it's off to Cusco airport in time for your flight back to Lima and home again.
As an optional extra, a person traveling solo on any inn-to-inn trip may reserve a room for his or her exclusive use. This will guarantee you a private room and private bath every night. Unlike other tour companies, if you're willing to share a room, there is no extra charge for coming solo, no matter when you sign up for the tour - even if you wind up with a private room by default.