Cusco
Off the beaten track

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Our most recommended Cusco Off the beaten track

Sacred Valley: Maras & Moray by Quad Bike from Cusco

1. Sacred Valley: Maras & Moray by Quad Bike from Cusco

Embark on an incredible experience on four wheels during this guided ATV adventure tour from Cusco through the Sacred Valley. Take in views of the Urubamba Mountains as you venture to Maras and the archeologist site of Moray. Leaving by van from Cusco, travel for approximately one hour to the community of Cruz Pata in the heart of the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Get ready for the start of your adventure after approximately 15 minutes of ATV training. Once ready, drive approximately 1.5 hours to the archaeological site of Moray to closely observe the remains of the terraces built by the Incas to experiment with the adaptation of crops. Later, hop back in the van to continue to the salt mines of Maras (outside only). Enjoy beautiful views of the Urubamba Mountain range and contemplate the peaks of the Verónica and Chicón Mountains. At the historic salt mines, you'll have the opportunity to take pictures from a viewpoint as well as buy the products made from the same salt that is found there. At the end of the trip, take a different route back to the city of Cusco, ending a day full of adrenaline.

Cusco: Urubamba River Rafting Adventure

2. Cusco: Urubamba River Rafting Adventure

After being collected from your your hotel in the morning, you will embark on a 1.5-hour drive towards the shores of the upper Urubamba-River. Here, your professional rafting guides will give a safety talk, and provide you with all the proper equipment for rafting. You will then begin your rafting adventure, which will involve you floating down the river for approximately 2.5 hours. In this time you will run class II and III rapids, with the rainy seasons also providing rapids that can even reach class IV and IV+. Finally, you will arrive at the Cusipata River Camp shoreline, where a hot sauna and hot showers will be waiting for you. Here you will also be able to enjoy a full lunch, whilst recovering from your rafting experience. If you are interested in even more adventure in your day however, you can also zip-line across the river. You will return to Cusco at around 5 in the afternoon, and later in the evening, you can view the exciting pictures from your trip at the tour office.

Salkantay Trek 5-Day Hike to Machu Picchu

3. Salkantay Trek 5-Day Hike to Machu Picchu

Follow in the footsteps of the ancient Incas and hike along the same paths they used to trek through the mountains centuries ago. Get back to nature and experience amazing views of the snow-capped mountain peaks of the Andes. Day 1: Cusco - Mollepata - Markhuq’asa - Soraypampa - Humantay Lake (L, D) Depart Cusco and journey to Markhuq’asa for the start of your trek to Soraypampa, 3,850 meters above sea level. Stop for lunch at the base camp and then go on a round-trip hike to Humantay Lake. Then return to base-camp to spend the night. Day 2: Soraypampa - Salkantay Pass - Collpapampa (B, L, D) Hike to the highest point of the trail at Salkantay Pass and get spectacular views of the snow-capped mountains before a 2-hour downhill hike to the camp for lunch. Then, enter the upper part of the Amazon jungle on a hike through the “cloud forest.” Look for native wildlife on the way to the village of Collpapampa, where you will spend the night. Day 3: Collpapampa - La Playa - Santa Teresa (B, L, D) After breakfast, take an easy hike to La Playa through the Santa Teresa valley and marvel at the waterfalls and wild orchids. Encounter coffee, banana and avocado plantations, and get the chance to sample the local coffee at an organic coffee farm. After a typical lunch in La Playa, take a 40-minute car ride towards Santa Teresa where attractions include hot thermal springs and abundant birdlife. Here you will spend the night.  Day 4: Santa Teresa - Hidroelectrica - Aguas Calientes (B, L, D) On this day, in Santa Teresa, you can choose to visit the zipline, canopy, or hot springs. Then, you will head to Hidroelectrica, passing trough waterfalls coming from the glaciers and fields of cocoa and coffee. After a nourishing lunch, begin a 2-hour walk to Machu Picchu Pueblo, known as Aguas Calientes. Once in Aguas Calientes, you can go to your hotel to shower and relax before dinner. After dinner, get some rest before the early morning climb up to Machu Picchu the following morning. Day 5: Machu Picchu (B) Explore Machu Picchu in the early morning before the crowds arrive. You can choose to hike uphill to the ruins or take the bus for an additional charge. Benefit from a 2-hour guided tour on arrival and learn more about the temples, palaces, priest houses, and more. You will have some free time to explore at leisure and you can use it to climb to Huayna Picchu or the Machu Picchu mountain (if booked in advance). Alternatively, you can trek to the Sun Gate at the main entrance of the Inka Trail. Take the train to Ollantaytambo at approximately 6:30 PM and then catch the bus back to Cusco for drop-off at your hotel or hostel on arrival.

Sacred Valley: Huaypoo Lagoon and Maras by Quad Bike

4. Sacred Valley: Huaypoo Lagoon and Maras by Quad Bike

Explore the Huaypoo Lagoon and Maras on this Sacred Valley quad bike tour from Cusco. Spot the snow-capped mountains of Verónica and Chicón and reach a viewpoint to see the Maras salt mine. Get trained on how to operate your bike for a safe adventure off the beaten path. The tour begins with the pickup from your hotel or chosen meeting point in Cusco. Take off on a 50-minute ride to the community of Cruz Pata in the heart of the Sacred Valley of the Incas. In Cruzpata, join a 15-minute bike training, then officially start your adventure. Drive to the imposing Laguna de Huaypo, a location that has inspired many stories and legends. Feel the adventure from head to toe as you venture down the path that will take you to Riobamba, then take the bus to the salt mines of Maras. See the mines from a viewpoint and choose to buy some of the salt products that are offered there. On the tour route, you'll also see the mountains of Verónica and Chicón. Later, return from the Salineras de Maras to the city of Cusco.

Cusco: Small-Group Alternative Rainbow Mountain Hike

5. Cusco: Small-Group Alternative Rainbow Mountain Hike

The world-famous Vinicunca Rainbow Mountain has garnered plenty of attention over recent years. However, this small site has lost its charm due to the abundance of travelers and overcrowding. Luckily, you can still experience the true beauty of these colorful landscapes on an alternative route to Palyccoyo Mountain. The day begins with early morning pickup at 4 AM from your accommodation in Cusco. Set out on the journey towards the hiking route, stopping by a local restaurant for a hearty breakfast to fill you up for the trip. Arrive at the trail's starting location at 9:30 AM and listen to a briefing to ensure you’re prepared for the 50-minute hike ahead. As you walk to the top of Palyccoyo, admire the incredibly colorful landscapes and meet friendly alpacas that roam the mountains. At the top of Palyccoyo, soak up unspoiled views of your surroundings and marvel at the beauty of nature. You can also opt to continue the hike onto the nearby Stone Forest where another fantastic lookout awaits. After some time to enjoy the view, walk back down the mountain and head to a nearby restaurant for a well-deserved lunch before the return journey to Cusco.

From Cusco: Rainbow Mountain Camping Experience

6. From Cusco: Rainbow Mountain Camping Experience

Day 1: Cuzco – Quesoyuni – Llamachimpana  Set out on a drive through the South Valley and enjoy lunch in Pitumarca. Continue your trip to the trailhead at Quesoyuni to hike through villages and interact with the local residents. Have the opportunity to see adorable chinchillas and vicunas. After a hike of 3-4 hours, reach your camp, near the village of Llamachimpana. When night falls enjoy a serene night’s sleep under the stars. Day 2: Llamachimpana – Vinicunca (Rainbow Mountain) – Red Valley – Cuzco  Start your day with an early climb up the beautiful Rainbow Mountain. Take in the views of landscape and the valleys that this beautiful place offers. Cross 2 lagoons and arrive at Llamachimpana for lunch before heading back to Cuzco where your adventure comes to an end.

From Cuzco: Full-Day Ausangate Trek

7. From Cuzco: Full-Day Ausangate Trek

Get picked up by your professional guide from your Cuzco accommodation from 4–4:30 am. Make the 3-hour drive to Pacchanta all bundled up with extra warm sweater, jacket, hat and gloves as morning temperatures in the area range from 5–9°C. Stop for breakfast and any last minute things you forgot to buy in Cuzco like water and snacks. From Pacchanta, take in your first views of the magnificent Apu Ausangate Mountains, rising 6,384 meters above sea level. Take some time to prepare your day pack and then begin the 1.5-hour trek to the first of the Ausangate Lakes. Hike at a comfortable pace along the steep terrain with a small-group and attentive guide who will look out for your safety. Then trek back to Pacchanta where a fortifying local lunch awaits you. Once you've refueled, hop in the nearby hot springs and relax as you take in incredible views of the surrounding highlands. Arrive back in Cuzco between 6 and 7 pm. 

From Cusco: 2-Day ATV Tour to Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu

8. From Cusco: 2-Day ATV Tour to Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu

Day 1: Start the first day with pickup from your hotel in Cusco and travel to the first destination, Cruzpata. This is the ATV base camp, where you will be able to practice using your ATV, which you will drive to the first two destinations of the tour. Set out on your ATV with your guide to Moray in the Sacred Valley of the Incas. See the terracing system and irrigation using aqueducts, indicative of the ingenuity of the Incan civilization. Next visit the Maras Salt Mines. The salt mines, or the famous "salt pools" are located in the rural community of Pichingoto. This site is highly recommended for photography lovers because of its impressive landscape. After visiting the salt mines, enjoy lunch in one of the local restaurants of Urubamba. Next, make your way to Ollantaytambo to hop onboard the train to Aguas Calientes. Depart at 3:37 PM and enjoy a scenic 1.5-hour journey. During the train ride, take time to appreciate the beauty of the surrounding valleys and Andes mountains. The train will arrive in Aguas Calientes, which is a small town located at the base of Machu Picchu. Your transfer will be waiting for you at the train station to take you to your selected hotel in Aguas Calientes. Have a meeting with your guide to find out the scheduled departure time for Machu Picchu the next morning.   Day 2: It is recommended to wake up early in the morning to enjoy breakfast at the hotel. At the scheduled time, head to the bus station to try to catch one of the first buses, which begin at 5:30 AM and fill on a first-come, first-served basis. The bus journey will take about 25 minutes to get to Machu Picchu. As soon as you arrive at the complex, meet your guide who will take you to the best viewing spots throughout the ruins. Get a panoramic view of the landscape and the sunrise over the mountains. There will be a rendezvous to observe the sunrise in order to get spectacular views of the Lost City of the Incas. Take a 2-hour guided tour around Machu Picchu, with plenty of free time afterwards to explore the ruins on your own. If you have tickets to climb the amazing mountain of Huaynapicchu, your guide will direct you to where this hike begins. Please make sure this is arranged at least 1 or 2 months in advance of your visit, as tickets do sell out fast. Once you are done exploring all Machu Picchu has to offer, take a bus down to Aguas Calientes then take the train back to Ollantaytambo. From here, be returned to the historic center of Cusco.

Cusco: 2-Day Inca Trail Tour to Machu Picchu in Small Groups

9. Cusco: 2-Day Inca Trail Tour to Machu Picchu in Small Groups

After pick-up from your hotel on the first day, travel by bus to the town of Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley. From here, a train will take you to the starting point of the trek, on the banks of the Urubamba River. The trail slowly ascends to meet the original Inca Trail. Along the way, pass through dense cloud forest with a rich variety of plants, flowers, and birds. If you are lucky you might see some of the local mammals, such as the rare spectacled bear. After a full day of trekking, arrive at the Sun Gate in the late afternoon for your first views of Machu Picchu. The lighting at this time makes for amazing pictures. Descending from the Sun Gate, continue along the beautiful paved stone path to Machu Picchu, to the famous look-out point above the main part of the citadel. From here, descend to the town of Aguas Calientes in the valley below. Check in to your hotel and enjoy dinner. You will rise very early on the second day to catch the first bus up to Machu Picchu. Take a 2-hour guided tour of the site to see some of the most important locations, altars, and constructions. Learn about the history of this amazing place and the people who once lived here. After this, the rest of the day is yours to explore the citadel by yourself. If you have the additional permit to climb either Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu mountain, this will be the time. In the afternoon, your train will depart from Aguas Calientes back to Ollantaytambo. From here, drive by bus to Cusco, where you will be dropped off at your hotel.

Cusco: Private Full-Day Inti Punku Hike to the Sun Gate

10. Cusco: Private Full-Day Inti Punku Hike to the Sun Gate

Inti Punku is a small Inca ruin at the top of a 3,900-meter hill. On this scenic hike, you will enjoy the views of the Urubamba River, the Ollantaytambo Archaeological Site and Veronica Mountain. Your tour will begin at 5:00AM, with private transportation from your hotel in Cusco. From here you will drive to the Sacred Valley of the Incas, with a stop for breakfast in the community of Pachar, only a few kilometers from Ollantatyambo. After breakfast, you will continue driving until Ollantaytambo to begin your ascent. Along the way you will pass thought the Inca Quarries of the archaeological site of Ollantaytambo, until you finally reach the Sun Gate. Whilst here you will have several hours to hike, taking in varying and breathtaking terrain with your hiking guide. You will also be presented with a box lunch during your hike, which will assist you with energy for the rest of your day. Afterwards, on your way back to Cusco, you will return to the community of Pachar, which will make an ideal spot to refresh yourself with some of the best craft beer in all the Cusco region. Following this, you will be safely returned back to your accommodation in central Cusco.

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What people are saying about Cusco

Overall rating

4.7 / 5

based on 226 reviews

Riding with Holger (aka, George) was a great experience for us and our kids (13 and 11). George grew up riding horses, and he led our group with an infectious enthusiasm. He speaks excellent English at a volume the entire group could hear. The horses were obviously well-trained, and we rode based on our collective level of experience, maxing out with some trotting here and there (plenty for me, judging by how I felt the next day ). The whole experience seemed like a very authentic way of experiencing the Peruvian countryside. Riding itself would have been 5 stars, but there was icing on the cake: - a short hike to Devil’s Landing; - a 10-minute cave exploration with a little bouldering (have your phone for its flashlight); and - a snack of Peruvian fruit. Altogether, a very enjoyable afternoon! Kudos! Highly recommended!

Palcoyo is an incredible place which is totally worth the early departure. Photos can't describe the beauty of the landscape. Our guide Darwin was very nice and patient. The lunch stop was also nice with well cooked local dishes and surrounded by the beautiful landscape of the lush mountains on a sunny day

Best day! Holger trains his horses very well and these are probably the most comfortable horses I ever have ridden! If you have experience, do not leave without having tried the Peruvian gait. Beginners can also go with him, as his horses are not scared of anything.

Very attentive and friendly guide , small group of 5 people , comfortable transport, everything went according to plan

Really fun day! The views were amazing. All of the guides were very nice and funny.