Mountain Biking in the Sacred Valley: with Amazonas Explorer
May 11, 2015
Monday had us up early on a bright Cusco morning, ready to get peddling through the Sacred Valley with Amazonas Explorer. Amazonas Explorer are a top class adventure outfit based in Cusco. The adventure company has been running high end travel in Peru for the past 30 years. The successful company is run by British man Paul Cripps and his wife Carol. The company offers trips to all groups and ages in biking, hiking and many watersports. Amazonas Explorer employs experienced and highly knowledgeable local guides and expert guides from abroad. The trips planned take you to places off the beaten track and places you would not normally see.
This popular Moray Maras tour would take us mountain biking in the Sacred Valley for the full day. This tour would take us on a spectacular scenic tour through small towns and Inca ruins within the Sacred Valley. This is a whole day tour with lunch and return to Cusco. Bikes, helmets and water were supplied by Amazonas. We met our guide Juan Carlos (JC) at 8am at the Amazonas Explorer office and got ourselves geared up for a day of adventure and exploration. Little did I know at this point that this would be one of the most thrilling and exciting days I would have in the whole time I’ve been in Cusco.
Smiling For a Photo Before the Sweating Started!!
The trip started with a drive to the area of Chinchero in the Sacred Valley, about an hours drive from Cusco. JC prepped our bikes and did his last safety checks before we got on our merry way, mountain biking through the Sacred Valley. He had a little chat with us about the route, what to expect and important safety tips. The beginning of the cycle was generally flat and took us through colourful fields and fields of quinoa, potatoes and corn. This was a beautiful way to start the trip as it gradually introduced us, me especially, to mountain biking in the Sacred Valley. From the beginning of the trip the scenery was dramatic, with the snowcapped Urubamba range constantly in sight. Before long we encountered some uphills, that to be honest took the wind out of me! The altitude is a great excuse though! This cross country route, as JC called it, was a mixed terrain of ups and downs that would lead us to the Inca ruins of Moray.
The Route to the Ruins of Moray
Cyclists have the opportunity to dismount and visit the famous circular archaeological ruins. Our guide gave us some interesting and insightful information on the famous ruins. These circular terraces were once used by the Incas to do agricultural testing as the different levels of the terraces corresponded to different micro climates. Entrance to the ruins requires a Cusco Tourist Ticket (BTG), and is well worth it. After the ruins there are some thrilling downhill rides that made me feel like a pro mountain biker! Alas, for all those downhills there has to be some uphill right!? Yes! A path of rocky uphill terrain leads the way to lunch. Knowing there’s a lunch waiting really helps you up those hills though.
ENTERTAINMENT TIP: If looking for fun at night, or to watch sports during the day, or even a taste of home, visit the Wild Rover Hostel Cusco for great food, sports and beer! Entrance to their bar is free even for non-guests
The setting for lunch was breathtaking. The views were unbelievable, it was serence and tranquil and we enjoyed a well earned lunch and rest from our mountain biking in the Sacred Valley. As I sat and ate my third fresh ciabatta stuffed with yummy fillings, the clouds were clearing above the high mountain tops to reveal the jagged snowy mountain peaks of Mt. Veronica and Mt. Chicon. As we enjoyed lunch in the middle of the this green expanse I began to realize how truly beautiful and untouched the Sacred Valley really is. This was a great opportunity to talk to our guide about the Valley and the way of life out here. The Andean culture is a peaceful and happy way of life.
The ride after lunch took us through the small town of Maras and onto the town’s Salt Pans. We happily biked downhill until we reached the Salt Pans, some of the cycle nearly a kilometer of challenging single track. Some of the ride was scary and unnerving but so enjoyable. The guide is there to help and give advice at each new downhill section.
Our Next Stop!! The Salt Pans
The salt pans of Moras sit terraced down a hillside. There are over 2,000 pools that are used to collect salt of different colours. The pans are still mined by hand and have been since Inca times, this can be seen on your visit. Learning about the pans is fascinating and it’s possible to buy some salt while there. The salt pans are locally run and managed within the community of Maras. Be sure to include a visit here while mountain biking in the Sacred Valley as you are encouraging and boosting this local community.
Local Man Working in the Salt Pans
Throughout the journey we met cheery locals out harvesting crops, or sitting chatting while enjoying a chicha. Our guide JC took lots of opportunities to stop and tell us about where we were, to tell us about the crops growing or for us to take photos of the stunning scenery. He was really informative and made the trip really interesting for us. He was very organized and everything went to plan. He managed to change a punctured tire in a time that would rival a formula one team! Even the bus drive on the way back to Cusco was enjoyable and educational. We chatted and laughed about the day’s activity and learned more about the picturesque Sacred Valley. It truly was a day to remember. Something I’d never done before and now mountain biking in the Sacred Valley is something I will never forget.