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Cusco has the potential to offer some top class biking trips but, generally, facilities are underdeveloped and the quality of rental bikes is just about adequate. It won't take long until the situation improves, but until then serious bikers are better off bringing their own bikes.
There are several tour companies and equipment rental shops along Calle Plateros which rent out bikes from $15- 25 per day. All should come complete with helmet, pump, basic tool kit and puncture repair kit.
Excellent day trips include Chinchero to Ollantaytambo and from the Inca ruins of Tambomachay to Calca. Both routes are long downhill sections followed by flat sections along the Sacred Valley and are on paved roads. The start and finish points are easily accessed by local bus to or from Cusco. Just throw your bike on the bus roof and hope for the best! There are some off-road alternatives to the above routes but you must bare in mind that most trails in and around Cusco are frequently used by farmers and villagers; encounters with a large group of cyclists hurtling along can prove a little unsettling to the locals so please be careful.
Most companies that rent out bikes can provide basic maps and route descriptions, as well as guides and private transportation.
For the more adventurous, longer biking trips can be arranged. These are best undertaken with the support of an experienced tour operator who can provide professional guides and equipment as well as the necessary support vehicles. A popular route is from Tres Cruces to La Union on the road from Cusco to Manu (Amazon jungle). Some of the Manu specialists can arrange this beautiful, breathtaking trip.
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Day trips whitewater rafting on the Urubamba River are extremely popular and easily arranged once you arrive in Cusco. Typical trips depart Cusco daily at 9am and return by 3pm, leaving about 3 hours actually on the river. Trips usually include lunch, transport and all safety equipment and costs start at about $25 per person. Some trips combine a visit to the Inca ruins of Ollantaytambo or Pisac on the way back to Cusco.
The Apurimac means 'speaking God' in Quechua and was considered a sacred river by the Incas. On its way to the mighty Amazon, this spectacular river cuts deep through gorges, surrounded by steep cliffs and sheer granite walls and slowly descends into wide pastoral valleys and tropical rainforest, providing some of the most exciting whitewater in the world. Most of the time will be spent rafting class III+ and IV rapids, although there are a few IV+ and V rapids along the way. Amongst the wildlife to be found in this remote and isolated canyon are river otters, condors, foxes and torrent ducks.
There are several tour companies in Cusco operating this trip (see Cusco Tour Operators #Rafting ), all running a similar itinerary. Obviously safety is of paramount importance in this 'high risk' adventure activity, so choosing a professional company should be priority.
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The Cordilleras Vilcabamba and Vilcanota provide some exciting climbing in the province of Cusco. However, most of the climbs are technically difficult and there are very few opportunities for inexperienced climbers.
All serious expeditions should be planned well in advance with June to September being the best months to make an attempt on a summit.
There are very few tour agencies in Cusco with suitable experience of mountaineering. Enigma www.enigmaperu.com can help arrange expeditions including some climbs for people with no previous experience
Duration: 12-14 days
Months for climbing: June-Sept
Duration: 9 days
Month for climbing: June-Sept
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This excellent well-established ranch and riding stables near Urubamba in the Sacred Valley is run by Dutch-Peruvian Eduard van Brunschot and his wife Maria Zans Gamarra. They offer several horseback riding tours on Peruvian paso horses. Itineraries range from 2 days rides (Salineras, Maras & Moray) including meals and accommodation as well as longer tours up to 11 days.
Ranch is located just outside Urubamba about 4km along the road to Ollantaytambo. You will have to cross the Urubamba River on a small footbridge. This is the path that takes you up to the Salineras (Maras Salt Pans). The ranch is about 400m after the bridge
Cusco For You offer horseback riding day trips to the Saneras, Maras & Moray as well as longer trips. They also offer accommodation and other activities in the area such as mountain biking and hiking.