Machu Picchu Pony Express
9 Days / 8 Nights

Back to Peru Travel Planner
Back to Peru Travel Planner



















Day 1: Arrival in Lima
This will be a travel day from home and most flights from North America and Europe arrive in the early to late evening. We greet you off your flight and take you to a small safe hotel just 12 minutes from the airport or you can ask for the available upgrade to the 4* Ramada Airport Hotel right next to arrivals.
Day 2: Lima to Cusco
Flight to Cusco. We will meet your arrival at the Cusco airport and escort you to our centrally located hotel. Time off and then lunch with your guide. The afternoon is scheduled for a walking introduction to the archaeological and colonial highlights of the old capital of the Inca’s and the nearby important ruins... This 3-4 hour tour takes you to all the important Inca sites in Cusco town and environs . We start with a visit to the most sacred of Inca sites - the Koricancha . Winding out of town we will take in the megalithic fortress of Sacsayhuaman where our ride leader describes the rituals and ceremonies that would have taken place at the massive walled limestone constructions and sculptured terraces surrounding the immense central plaza the strange temple of Kenko and the water fountains of Tambomachay. We gather for dinner and discussion at our favorite restaurant near our centrally located comfortable lodging in Cusco. (B,L,D)
Day 3: Cusco to Lares and ride to Vilcabamba
Leaving Cusco in the rear view mirror, we travel by van over a low pass then down into the famous Sacred Valley. The scenery is unsurpassable, close and distant snow peaks glistening in the sun. An interesting drive of several hours takes us over another Andean pass to our trailhead at Chihuapampa. And our waiting horses and trail crew. Our guide gives a helpful riding lesson, a review for more experienced riders and necessary trail instructions, as duffels and gear are expertly sorted, matched and loaded on mules by a colorful group of Quechua speaking wranglers. Abandoning tents and baggage to follow on the mule train, we set off, riding past the mountain town of Lares. Looking something like the trail worn vanguard of Francisco’s Pizarro’s army, arriving in Cusco in 1533. Men loading a truck stare in wonder. Curious kids at a nearby school stop their football game to watch us clip-clop by on the cobblestone street. Soon we are on an ancient trail climbing steeply out of the valley past small potato fields and adobe houses. Giant blue Lupin bushes line the trail. We follow the Rio Lares downstream Late afternoon finds us on a high broad ridge with a level area suitable for our tents at Qollpachaca at 10,500ft – we have been riding for 2 and a half hours,. We make camp near the village of Vilcabamba, a few scattered simple houses with friendly occupants. When we camped here for the first time in May of 2004, the locals said that we were the first outsiders to pass through in their memory. Ride time 2 and a half hours. (B,L,D)
Day 4: Ride Vilcabamba to Chupani
The Andean dawn breaks colorfully to the east. We linger over a last cup of gourmet coffee as restless mounts wait impatiently to begin the day’s journey. Crossing a deep quebrada, we angle around another ridge passing Santa Rosa opposite the weaving village of Cachin. We may be lucky enough to buy or bargain for some of the most prized of Andean textiles produced here. Riding on, past curious, red -ponchoed locals working small potato fields with ancient digging sticks, we follow a well worn pathway once trodden by Inca pack trains laden with jungle goods from the nearby lowlands. Climbing Qochayoq pas at 13.800 ft, we drop into and stop for lunch at Chupani, a small isolated village of stone-walled, grass roofed huts perched casually on a broad alluvial fan protruding down from the junction of two immense canyons. Hot Coca tea, boiled potatoes, roasted corn and avocado salad fuels us for the remainder of the day’s journey. Continuing up into a broad high open region, we pass by a number of small villages. This high pampa with its beautiful view was probably a place for breeding and raising of llamas used for carrying supplies along the royal roads. We continue our climb passing herds of grazing alpacas. Mountain vizcachas (related to the chinchillas) scurry amongst boulders washed down from the higher peaks. We descend to our camp at Mauca Chupani 13,200 ft Ahead in a majestic circular bowl crowned by a deep blue lake, our wranglers have set up a ring of green tents awaiting our arrival. Some of us stretch our legs by walking the last mile or so to Camp. Shortly, we are sipping hot chocolate and munching fresh popcorn near grazing alpacas. Savory aromas from the cook tent drift across the pampa. Several of the bold sip one our famous expedition martinis awaiting arrival of the first course of soup that announces the arrival of dinner. Ride Time 6-7 hours. (B,L,D)
Day 5: Ride Chupani to Mantanayoc
Startling flocks of puna teals and andean geese, we trot out and upward into the morning mist and Chupani pass at 13,800ft. Today is a long ride through spectacular scenery. Following lunch we cross over another high, unpronounceable pass named Huacahuasicasa. Passing Wacawasi we descend thru Wacawasi .The trail narrows as we wind through towering metamorphic sentinels guarding the approach. The view from the top of this 4500 meter high pass easily equals the best the Andes has to offer. Now in the downhill back toward the Sacred Valley, the horses pick up energy as they know they are pointed toward home. The rose colored glaciers of Nevado Pumahanca hang overhead, lit by the glow of the fading Inca Sun God Inti as we reach the evening camp at Mantanayoc. A glass of selected Chilean wine completes the day. (B,L,D)
Day 6: Ride Mantanayoc to Yanahuara
The day breaks bright and sunny. Fresh fruit, yogurt and hot cakes start our day. Duffels packed for the waiting mules, we head down valley. Its all downhill today along the Aruraycocha and Mantacnayoc rivers (streams actually). We pass through stands of rare, original Qeuña woodland. This is the genus Polylepis, home for some of the rarest birds on earth. An Andean Hillstar Hummingbird darts out as we clatter down the rocky trail. Herder's huts and chacras (small farms) become numerous. We pass grazing cows, barking dogs and children coming and going along the trail. Reaching the Sacred Valley at Yanahuara, we ride on through farmlands along the Urubamba River. A final ride along a colonial period lane completes our magical journey. We sadly say good-bye to the cooks, wranglers and hardworking ponies. Tomorrow begin a new adventure! We overnight at our selected 4* country inn. Dinner and good conversation follows...we slip off to our rooms to ponder the mystery of the last Incas before drifting into undisturbed slumber. (B,L,D)
Day 7: Yanahuara to Machu Picchu
We board the morning narrow gauge train heading down valley. An interesting 2 hours or so of click, clack and sway with all of the accompanying sounds and smells of rural Peru takes us to our final destination, Machu Picchu and the bustling town of Aguas Calientes, located some 2,000 ft. below Hiram Bingham’s great 1910 discovery. MACHU PICCHU is one of the most magical and mysterious places on Earth! Situated on the spine of a jungle cloaked granite peak towering some 2,000 ft. above an entrenched meander of the roaring river below, the site is frequently shrouded in misty clouds pierced by the powerful equatorial sun, the INCA GOD INTI. Constructed from precisely sculptured granite blocks carefully joined with the projecting exposed stone of the surrounding mountain, the site may well be the finest architectural achievement of the new world. The day is yours to explore and photograph We later meet at the Intihuatana stone. Our guide concludes the story of the raise and fall of the ancient civilizations of the Andes with the tragic end of the Inca and the unresolved mystery that this "lost city" remains. We return to Cusco on the afternoon train. The evening is yours to shop and wander around. We meet for a final dinner then migrate to the Cross Keys, Cusco's only authentic English Pub, for drinks and lively conversation with the resident congregation of guides, expatriates, adventurers, treasure hunters and smugglers from far corners of the universe.. (B,L,D)
Day 8: Cusco
Free day on your own in Cusco to explore this ancient city and take advantage of the many shopping opportunities, visit museums etc. The city abounds with small shops and street side vendors selling their wares. Colorful weaving and handmade alpaca sweaters are popular gifts for friends at home. Its Saturday night and there are many great restaurants and bars to choose from. To-morrow begins a new adventure - the Amazon Rainforest. (B)
Day 9: Cusco to Lima and home
Morning to enjoy Cusco and we take you to the airport for connecting flights home
Departures 2011:
Dates Full tour: June 4-11, August 20 -27, November 12-19
Dates ride only: June 6-9, August 22 -25, November 14-17
Tour includes: - Bi-lingual mountain guides
- Experienced cooks, camp and field staff
- All terrestrial transport on a private basis
- All food except lunches and dinners in the cities of Lima and Cusco
- All hotels except in Lima (We will arrange this if required)
- Top quality camping equipment where relevant (except sleeping bag)
- Sleeping pads
- Transfer to and from hotel in Cusco
Not included: - Lima - Cusco - Lima flights (can be arranged on request)
- Hotels or airport transfers in Lima (can be arranged on request)
- Sleeping bag (Can be hired in Cusco by per-arrangement)
- Airport tax (at present $4 internal and $25 International)
- Entrance fee to the Inca Trail ($50) (Relevant for the traditional and Sacred Inca Trail treks only)
- Bottled drinks except water or where provided with meals
- Optional tips to staff
- Items of a personal nature, e.g. Laundry
- Excess baggage changes
2011 Rates per person: Price Ride Only: $1281. Single Supplement: $23
Full Price Package: $2437 . Single Supplement: $231