Volcanoes, Condors and the Sacred Valley
Peru is a high altitude adventure that combines cycling with an opportunity to see Condors, visit Lake Titicaca and Machu Picchu, as well as take in a day of the rocking Annual Festival in the town of Ollantaytambo. You will see lots of Lhamas, Alpacas, and their ancestral brethren, the Vicuna. We bike a combination of paved and unpaved roads. There is plenty of dirt. The dirt washes off, but Peru does not. It has a way of sticking with you. In Peru, the air is thin, the sun is strong and the people are friendly.
Don't let the distances fool you. Many roads are dirt and soft. You definitely will not be going very fast. Part of the time, you could be pushing your bike.
Day 1 - Arequipa (alt 7,749 feet)
We start in Arequipa. We strongly recommend that you come to Arequipa a day early, to both acclimate to the higher altitude and check out what the city has to offer. There is the Monastery of Santa Catalina, which will give you a good sense of convent life. You can also visit Museo Santuarios, chock full of Incan relics and the amazing Juanita, the Incan girl who was sacrificed at the age of 12 on the top of a mountain and preserved to the present time in a block of ice. Juanita's story is guaranteed to put a chill up your spine. There also is the very interesting Alpaca Museum and the impressive Basilica on the main square, Plaza de Armas.
Day 2 -Yanque (alt 11,211 feet)
We depart early and transfer by coach to the highest Pass in the area (Patapampa at 16,109 feet). This is where we start our cycling adventure with a long and winding decent to Chivay (12,000 ft). After lunch we continue cycling into the Colca Valley to the small village of Yanque. If we have time. we can head to Tambo hot springs for a soak. Yanque has nice views of the surrounding mountains as well as Sabancaya, the distant volcano with a plume of smoke.
Day 3 - Pinchollo (alt 11,886 feet)
From Yanque, we cross the river to the other side of Colca Canyon and continue on dirt a dirt road to Lari. Immediately after Lari we dip down to the river and then climb up the other side as we make our way to Pinchollo. There isn't zip in Pinchollo other than the hotel we stay in, so don't bother looking for a disco. If we have time, we'll fit in a hike.
Day 4 - Pinchollo to Cruz del Condor to Yanque (alt 11,211 feet)
After an early breakfast, we bike a few kilometers to Cruz Del Condor. Cruz Del Condor is the primo spot for observing the Andean Condors of Colca Valley. The Andean Condor is the largest bird in the world, if you measure by a combination of wingspan and weight. Their wingspan can be over 10 feet and oftentimes you can hear the whoosh of their wings before you see the bird. They have one or two offspring a year and they can live to be up to 70 years old. After Cruz del Condor we make our way back to Yanque, but without crossing ot the opposite side of the canyon. There is a 1/4 mile tunnel so a light is needed.
Day 5 - Capachica (alt 12,664 feet)
Today is mostly a travel day (6 hours vehicle time). We transfer by coach on the busy main road, taking time to stop at a few points of interest along the way. Shortly after lunch, we mount our bikes again for our first ride on the Altiplano (high plains) using some quiet back roads. Our final destination is the peninsula of Capachica. Live in Capachica lis similar to that on the islands in Lake Titicaca, but a lot less crowded. For those who are feeling energetic, there is the option to hike up to see the sunset over Lake Titicaca in the evening. In Capachica there are no large hotels and no internet (this is the real Peru). We may have to split up and/or singles may have to double up, depending on how many people we have. In Capachica, we are certain to experience traditional Peruvian life and hospitality.
Day 6 - Sicuani (alt 12,664 feet)
Today we will visit one of the floating islands that Lake Titicaca is famous for and then bike down the eastern side of the peninsula to the small town of Sicuani. We will have time to explore more of the peninsula in the very rural section of Peru. Not many tourists visit this area.
Day 7 - Pisac (alt 9,514 feet)
Day 8 - Ollantaytambo (alt 9,160 feet)
Today we cycle alongside the Urubamba River towards the town of Ollantaytambo, which is dominated by two massive Inca ruins. For most of the ride we are able to stick to quiet back roads and lanes for the most part. We will arrive early enough in Ollantaytambo to check out the town's amazing annual festival.
Day 9 -Aguas Caliente (alt 6,693 feet)
You have the morning free to explore the ruins around Ollantaytambo, visit the nearby Maras salt ponds, watch the town festival or anything else you might want to do. In the afternoon, w take a train today from from Ollantaytambo to Aquas Caliente. Aguas Caliente is the main town accommodating visitors to Machu Picchu. It has some unusual features. The most unusual is that the train is routed directly through the center of town with outdoor cafes and shops and pedestrians just a few short feet away. There are also hot springs from which the town takes its name. And, of course, there is shopping and lots of restaurants.
Day 10 - Machu Pichu and Cusco (alt - 11,152 feet)
We'll have a very early start in order to maximize our time in Machu Picchu. You can either hike out of town and up the mountain to Machu Picchu or take the bus up. The same option exists for the return to Aguas Caliente. We'll catch a 3 PM train to Ollantaytambo and then transfer by bus to Cusco.
There is plenty do do and see in Cusco. If you can afford to, you should consider spend some additional time in Cusco. Cusco was the capital of the Inca Empire which flourished from the 13th Century to 1530 and is now a Unesco World Heritage Site. There is much to see. There are Incan structures all over town, the Cathedrals at Plaze de Armas, the main square as well as the gigantic wall of Sacsaywaman built by the Killte culture around 1100, preceding the Incas. It is unknown to this day, how all the intricate construction was accomplished with massive rocks. The Spanish did not have anything close to it and it amazed them. It still amazes everyone that visits.
10 nites accommodations.
Dinners (except the two nights in Ollantaytambo)
Transport of baggage
Stocked Sag Vehicle
Entry fee to Machu Picchu
Train ticket to Aguas Caliente
Train ticket to Ollantaytambo
Visas (not needed for US Citizens).
Beer, wine, booze
Lunches are excluded. There are many places to stop and eat along the way and food is relatively inexpensive. In certain spots where no choice is available, lunch arrangements will be made and is included.
Immunizations from your doctor or travel clinic.
Airport transfers- easy to arrange - we will give you instructions.
Bicycles, but rental bikes are available.
Hot Springs, historical sites, or anything you independently decide to do.