Known locally as the Sacred Valley of the Incas, the Urubamba Valley is a vast stretch of naturally formed gorges, forged deep into the Peruvian Highlands of Cusco. The land was once revered by the ancient Inca civilization for its wealth of natural resources and today remains one of the most valuable and cherished commodities in Cusco. However, modern uses of the valley’s natural gifts differ a little from those of the Incas, with the rugged terrain now the setting for a number of exciting adventure trips available in the area.
White Water Rafting
One of the main features of the Sacred Valley is the Urubamba River, a seemingly endless body of water that helped to shape the very landscape through which it gushes. The river, that runs from the Amazon to Cusco, is divided into an upper and lower section, with the ferocious Pongo de Mainique pass acting as the partition.
For people wanting to experience the force of the river for themselves, various tour companies offer white water rafting trips, with tours ranging from one day to four days. These expeditions are easy to book on arrival to Cusco, with plenty of companies lining the highstreet and grouped in the Plaza de Armas. It’s a good idea to look for client testimonials as some are definitely safer than others.
Tours generally include pick ups, drop offs and lunch. During the dry season, between April and November, the river offers moderate class II, III and III+ rapids, however, real enthusiasts are recommended to go during the rainy season when you can experience class V and V+ rapids.
The varied and spectacular natural landscape in Cusco can sometimes take a backseat to the many famous ruins in the area. However, exploring the scenery in detail is a worthwhile venture. It’s especially rewarding when experienced from horseback, where you can concentrate on your astonishing surroundings rather than worrying about the lack of oxygen in your lungs.
Options for a horseback tour in the Urubamba Valley range from one or two days trekking, or full trekking holidays that include transfers from the international airport in Lima are also available. It is possible to make reservations online for the latter, however, booking in Cusco is easier for the shorter options. Tours include pick ups and drop offs, to be arranged by guests at the time of booking.
On the day of the trek, guests are taken from their accommodation to meet the horses in the Urubamba Valley, before setting off. Different tour operators will offer different rides, including horseback trips to old Inca settlements. One of the best rides for getting to know the natural terrain of the Urubamba Valley is the Maras and Moray tour, which takes riders up to the Andes to observe the snowcapped mountains of the region.
Zip lining in the Urubamba Valley is a unique mix of exhilaration and tranquility as you fly past the untouched landscape below supported by a combination of cables and pulleys.
A relatively new company, Nature Vive, offer the most comprehensive zip lining experience in the valley, with a trip that includes a climb up a recently constructed via ferrata before taking to the zip lines.
The initial ascent up the via ferrata can be a little intimidating for those with an aversion to heights, however, no climbing experience is necessary and all safety equipment is provided by the company. There are a total of six zip lines, ranging between 150 and 500 metres in length.
Pick ups and drop offs are included in the tour, as are safety gloves, however, these are not always the freshest, so if you intend to go zip lining, it’s a good idea to take your own. Visitors also need to take their own snacks.
Andreas Ambarchian is a freelance journalist from England. He writes about a variety of subjects including travel, wildlife and sport. This article was written on behalf of Peru for Less, a leading provider of adventure tours in Peru.
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