Learn Spanish in The Sacred Valley






Outdoor Activities

Rafting:

It is no wonder that Peru has some of the best whitewater rivers in the world. What better way to encounter some amazing scenery as the Andes plunge down into the beautiful canyons of the Upper Amazon.

Cusco is by far the rafting capital of Peru offering popular 1 or 2 day trips on the Urubamba River and 3 or 4 day trips on the exciting whitewaters of the Apurimac River.

Whitewater rafting on the Urubamba River is extremely popular and can be easily organized once you are in Cusco. Many trips depart Cusco early and you are usually back in the city by mid afternoon. Trips normally include lunch, transportation and safety equipment with prices starting around $35 per person.
There are 3 parts of the Urubamba River which are regularly visited.

ready for rafting There is Huambutio to Pisac which has rafting trips all year round. This is a great place to begin if you have never rafter before. The rapids are relatively easy and previous experience is not necessary. For those looking for a greater challenge or rougher waters, there are some other spots to choose among. This trip is pretty tranquil, but provides the time to gaze at the beautiful scenery around.

Another fantastic rafting trip is the popular section of whitewater between Ollantaytambo to Chilca. Those without much experience can still raft down this area, however it is a bit more challenging. This trip is usually combined with a visit to some of the nearby ruins in Ollantaytambo on the way back to Cusco. The starting point is in Chilca which is about a 5 hour trek from the starting point of the Inca Trail at Km82. Some agencies will even offer this trip as part of a combined trip with the Inca Trail.

For those looking for a bit more of a challenge you can ride the rapids starting at Huaran. This usually runs between June and September. The size of the rapids is larger and experience in rafting is a must. This section of the river is further along the Urubamba heading towards Machu Picchu. Trips to not run daily so it is best to check with agencies in advance if you are interested.

The Apurimac River is another famous spot where tourists can catch a great ride. Apurimac means 'speaking God' in Quechua and was considered a sacred river by the Incas. The Apurimac heads out towards the mighty Amazon where the grand river cuts through cliffs, granite walls, gorges and descends into lovely valleys and tropical rainforests.

White water rafting is classified into different categories depending on the size of the rapids. They range from I to V with I being the easiest and V being the most difficult. Usually rapids classified as class V can only be undertaken by the most experienced of guides and often the public are unable to ride in these areas. Always check with agencies about the class of rapids that you will be riding to make sure that you feel comfortable. Safety is the most important for all of those looking to raft. When you feel safe and secure, you will be able to enjoy this adventure sport even more. So get your wet suits on! The beautiful waters of the Sacred Valley are waiting for you.

Hiking:

hiking If giving your legs a good workout is your thing, then the Sacred Valley and Cusco area is where you want to be to get out and stretch your legs among the fantastic mountain scenery. In addition to the famous Inca Trail, there are a variety of other treks and trails that cater to those with all fitness abilities. Whether you prefer leisurely afternoon strolls, or a heart pumping trek there is something for everyone, regardless of your tastes. Ollantaytambo and Yucay, in particular, make excellent bases for exploring the hills of the Urubamba Valley. There are numerous tour agencies in Cusco that offer information regarding hikes or offer group trips to suit whatever your needs may be.

The best time of year to hike is from May to November, and possibly December, when the trails are dry. It is important though that you are adjusted to the climate before heading out on a trek. The higher altitudes can make hiking tricky for those who are not yet used to the air. With lower oxygen in the region, it is best to take your time while hiking or beginning a trek.
Here are some popular treks for those looking to explore the Sacred Valley.

Salkantay:

salkantay The Salkantay trek requires a bit more physical strength and some prior experience in hiking. The heart of this trek is by far the crossing of the Nevado Salcantay (6,271 meters), the massive mountain that looms above the Inca Trail and plunges into the magnificent mountain city of Machu Picchu.

Most Cusco tours offer a four-day trek from Mollepata, located in the Limatambo Valley about three and a half hours from Cusco. You can reach Mollepata by hopping on a bus heading from Cusco to Abancay. From Mollepata it's a three-kilometer walk to Parobambo, where you can hire mules and guides. The route itself stretches across Cordillera Vilcabamba and includes a steep ascent up to the Incachillasca Pass (5,000 meters a.s.l.) followed by a sharp descent along the glaciers of Salcantay. Though physically demanding, the trail offers rewarding views of snow-covered peaks and glacial valleys. On the last day you'll depart your campsite at Acobamba and head towards the Inca ruins of Patallacta, near the popular tourist gateway to the Inca trail, Km. 88. From here you can catch a train to Machu Picchu or Cusco. (www.dosmanosperu.com)

The Inca Trail:

the inca trail The Inca Trail, with Machu Picchu as its final destination, is the most well-known and most popular hike amongst tourists. The total hike is about 45 kms and it takes about four days altogether to trek it. This also includes a one-day visit to the ruins of Machu Picchu. The natural scenery is breath-taking. With views of snow-capped mountains, the enchanting cloud forest and nature at its best, hiking the Inca Trail is an unforgettable experience.

Although there are many fantastic treks in the Sacred Valley, the Inca Trail is the only one that leads to the awesome gates of Machu Picchu, the most ultimate thrill to any trek. The trail is part of the Sanctuario Historico de Machu Picchu, an area of 32,000 hectares that has been set aside by the Peruvian state to protect the local flora and fauna that grow in this region. As of 2001, new guidelines for hikers were put into motion in order to preserve the land and the wildlife growing in the area. Currently, only 500 hikers are allowed on the trail per day and all hikers must be accompanied by a guide. The Inca Trail fills up fast and is sometimes unavailable for months at a time. Be smart and book your reservation well in advance if you are interested.

The Lares Trek:

the lares trek The Lares trek is a great alternative for those who are looking to get away from the traditional Inca Trail. This area is quite remote and rarely visited which is wonderful for those who want to steer clear of the touristy areas. The Lares Valley is beautiful with a magnificent backdrop of the Urubamba Mountains that lay east to the Sacred Valley. They stretch out for about 30 km with several snow-capped peaks that you can see from the Machu Picchu train. This area is easily accessible from Cusco and offers strenuous trekking through quaint mountain villages and with upward climbing that can pass up over 4,000 m. Unlike other treks, the Lares trek gives you some rare glimpses of the majestic mountains of Pitusiray, Sawasiray and Chicon. Peek into the lives of the local Quechua-speaking Indians herding the local llamas and alpacas while farming potatoes and oca. The Lares trek is a wonderful experience and will open your eyes up to the amazing culture in this historic region.

Bicycling:

bicycling Biking through the Sacred Valley is a wonderful way to take in the region and to get a bit of exercise while at it. Many tours in Cusco offer biking tours taking you on some wonderful trails that lead throughout both the Valley and up into the mountains.
For those who love to mountain bike, Peru has one of the largest networks of Inca remains and numerous trails that will take you to many amazing and archaeological sites all throughout Peru. Take a trip through remote villages and visit with the local Andean communities or venture outward towards the Andes Mountains and gaze at the spectacular views. Whichever your pleasure, there is something here for everyone.

In Pisac (2970m) it is possible to do a short hike to visit the archaeological remains founded by the Incas, visit a local Andean market and continue biking along the lush sacred valley on the right bank of the river. Here you can pass through towns such as Qoya, Lamay, Calca, Urubamba (2880m) and Ollantaytambo (2850m). With few tourists and cars in the area, you can feel free on the road without any of the traffic and take in all of the surroundings.

Many tour companies offer bike tours to visit multiple archaeological sites in the Sacred Valley in one day. One particular bike trip is a tour to Moray, Maras and Salinas located in the Sacred Valley.

The Moray Complex is located about 7 km away from Maras and about 35 km from Cusco. This fascinating site boast large natural depressions in the ground surface which the Incas used this area for building irrigated farming terraces. Because of its local climate, it was a very important site for domestication and hybridization for agriculture and the natural species who reigned in the region.
From Maray you can then head over to the Maras Salt Mine located near the town of Maras. Gaze at the snow peaks located out in the distance while visiting the local saltpans of the Sacred Valley that formerly belonged to the Incas.

Biking through this region gives you the chance to see a great deal in a short period of time. This is a great option for those who are tight on time and anxious to get out and experience the region. Tour companies throughout all of Cusco can give you information on all of the local tours, giving you the chance to experience the Valley on your own terms while suiting your individual needs.





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