8 Day Freeride Mountain Bike Adventure in Peru
Highlights: Mountain bikers – this trip is for you ! Our Colorado expat tour leader designed this 8 day trip to combine all the best of Peru – ceviche and an ice cold beer overlooking the surfers on the Pacific Ocean in Lima; a trip to Machu Picchu and several other massive Incan sites; and the best high altitude singletrack, downhill, and free riding in the southern hemisphere. This trip is for intermediate to advanced level riders..
Click here to see pro riders Rob J and MTB legend Rene Wildehaber shredding here with us !
After arriving to Lima either last night or this morning, you will make a short one hour flight across the heart of the Peruvian Andes into the capital Inca city of Cusco. During the flight, those who took our advice and booked a seat on the left side of the plane when they checked in will be treated to unbelievable views.of many mountains over 20,000 feet high. After landing, we will get our luggage and meet our driver outside the airport. Due to the rigors of overnight international travel and the high altitude here in the Sacred Valley of the Incas (over 11,000 feet !) we will leave the airport and make a short driving tour around Cusco before heading to the lower altitude of the Sacred Valley.
Our destination is our home base for this week, KB Tambo Hotel, famed locale of international shredders for many years. After checking in and getting unpacked a bit, we will be the guests at a special rooftop welcome party and happy hour on our deck. This is where we all throw down. Plenty of space to put your bike together as well, if you wish. There is definitely time for a short ride and there is a great trail right out our back door. Later, we will enjoy complimentary Pisco Sours, a national cocktail that is sort like a Peruvian margarita. They pack quite the wallop so go easy. If you would like to see pictures of the hotel rooms, just go to the ‘Hotel’ button on the home page.
After breakfast we will start off with a short cruise around town on the mountain bike to get acclimated a bit and check out the bikes before we really test them later on. We’re going to Pumamarca, one of KB’s personal favorites sites, it is actually a pre-Incan construction and an interesting archaeological place. It is situated at the juncture of two large mountain valleys that go up and over the continental divide of the Andes and down to the Amazon jungle. Interestingly, the same views and location that made a strategic fortress work seven hundred years ago are the same ones that make it a great place to ride your bike to! There is no entrance fee and very few other travelers. After visiting the site and maybe kicking around a soccer ball for a bit with some local kids, it’ll be time to ride.
Our descent will include several recently discovered but very sizable Incan ruins. And if all that wasn’t enough for our first half day, we should mention that the single track / racetrack / Inca trail that blazes down from the site directly to KB Tambo is simply delicious.
As the ride ends right at our hotel, after a brief rest and some lunch its party time – on the bike, that is. Everyone will have the option of either hanging out in town and relaxing doing their own thing, or hop back in the van for a second downhill bike run down to Ollantaytambo. Tonight we do a group dinner (included FREE in this package) in town.
Today is a freaking fast day of mountain biking in Peru. Lots of sun-baked clay single track, very fast and dry most of the year. (See how it is sunny the side of the Valley that this photo is taken in versus the Mountains of Doom in the background. Today is shuttle-mania, we will start with the famous Salt Mines and Moray ride, including two drops, plus a pump track / half pipe. After lunch, we’ll probably do a “Racchi”, and end up with a ripper secret single track down to the bottom of the Sacred Valley.Today is an awesome day of freeride mountain biking. Photo credit to Marco Antonio.
Day 4 brings us to some of the best mountain bike rides in Peru. This is the world famous Inca Avalanche race course (formerly the Mega Avalanche. Every May between one hundred and two hundred mountain bikers from all over the world gather in Ollantaytambo to ride this race, on of the highest altitude mountain bike races in the world ! Comprised of old Incan roads and a lot of singletrack, the course is a thriller.
One of the most exciting rides in Peru, this bike trail drops from 14,500 feet at the foot of a glacier all the way down to the valley floor 5,000 feet below. Along the way we will blaze past waterfalls, llamas, Incan ruins, pre-Incan ruins, small stone Andean houses and traditional culture. In fact part of the trail is on an actual Inca road, an ancient Amazon jungle access route that almost certainly pre-dates the Incas and is probably well over fifteen hundred years old.
The ride has a little bit of everything – rock garden, rock chutes, long flowy green grass sections, jumps (all avoidable), drops, clean single track, high alpine riding, you name it. This ride can be enjoyed by anyone with intermediate skills.
As we mentioned, this mountain bike trail is thousands of years old ! The Incas took this very route to escape the invading Spanish conquistadores, and no doubt that literally tons of jungle produce came up and over this pass from the Amazon jungle on its eastern flanks.
There are several Incan archaeological sites along the way that we can check out, many of them just recently been uncovered. In fact, the trail itself goes through a few smaller isolated buildings that predate even the Incas. The main route through an Incan route we no longer use out of respect to the site. Indeed, the road itself goes directly through several Incan sites, no one imagined the whole mountain side was full of them ! Today, restoration continues right where we are shredding..
But as we like to say, don’t let the culture and history of Peru fool you, the riding goes off pretty hard too! There are plenty of places to get your huck on, as well as high speed grading sections and plenty of rock garden. There is even some smooth Colorado-type single track in case that is your thing, though not much of it. The descent is a total blast and when we get to the bottom, we’ll have some cold drinks and fresh choclo con queso, a local treat of fresh corn on the cob with cheese.
And then we’ll hop in the van, drive up 5,000 feet and then do it all again. Yes that is over 10,000 feet of epic descending in two runs in case you are counting. Click HERE to see a video of the route
Today we ride more ancient Inca roads and single track, starting at the foot of a glacier and descending for what seems like forever, past countless Incan archaeological sites. By now, you will have seen a pattern develop with what the mountain biking is like in Peru:
1. Drive up long, crazy road to 15,000 foot pass in the Andes.
2. Put on full face helmet and rage down ancient Inca trails past ancient Inca ruins to the bottom ! Photo credit to Marco Antonio.
The trail down to Calca from the pass above is one of our all time favorites so we will do it twice – another 10,000 feet of descending that will include some epic scree runs starting out at over 15,000 feet above sea level.
On the drive back to Ollantaytambo, after a large lunch and some cold drinks in the sunny plaza of Calca village, we will have the opportunity to score one more downhill drop. We will have the choice of either the very steep, chalky soil foot trails DHing from Racchi down to the valley floor, or else one of our favorites: the Moab-ish red soil clay luge run from the Incan site of Moray down to the bottom that we call “Paucarbamba”.
You can see a video of that ride by clicking HERE.
Today there are several options and the group may temporarily break into two smaller groups for a day, depending on what everyone decides to do. Most of the group will be doing a crazy, two day adventure to arrive at Machu Picchu. For more details on that, see the information below. For those who want a rest, or want to do some hiking, rafting, or shopping today is a good day to do that, and then take the train the next day to join us in Aguas Calientes and we will all visit Machu Picchu together the next day.
For those biking the back way in to Machu Picchu, we will first drive up to Abra Malaga, which we know so well by now. Only this time we will drop off the back side, towards the Amazon jungle. This is the Continental Divide of Peru and one of the steepest drops in altitude in a short distance to be found anywhere. It is not a mountain bike ride, but it is incredibly fun. The road is brand new and smoothly paved ,and drops from the base of an icy glacier down to the jungle and right past coffee, banana, and orange trees. Yummy. It also passes by several interesting and beautiful Inca archaeological sites that are just now being uncovered for the first time.
At the jungle town of St. Maria we will load up the bikes and send them back to Ollantaytambo – we will be using other forms of transportation to complete our long journey back. First we will start by taking a local combi from St. Maria to St. Theresa. This can be a rather extreme drive – the road is on the side of a fairly sheer cliff face and there are frequent landslides. If you have a fear of heights and automobiles this might be a trip to avoid. However, accidents are nearly unheard of, and the drivers really know what they are doing. We arrive to St. Theresa and spend the night in our jungle lodge.
Next day it is time to get up early and do the longest zipline in South America. This zipline involves a short but steep climb up to the highest cable, then descending over the jungle canopy and river below, a total of six different times before arriving back at camp. Awesome ! Please note that we do not own the zipline and they are an independent third party provider, for more information see their website at www.CanopyPeru dot com. e t!
After the zip line, its time to head towards Machu Picchu. We will take a short drive to the Hydro Electric station, which is where the road ends. We will grab our packs and load up on hot, local food served up by the charming village ladies who make their living off people like us. It all feels right, and we will head out on the 3 hour walk along the train tracks to Aguas Calientes. (Note that you will have to carry your gear for this section). The walk is very flat and right alongside the Urubamba river. We think it is a gorgeous walk, in lots of tropical foliage, and as of very recently there are now sizable parts of Machu Picchu visible – both the construction of Huayna Picchu far, far above us or else the newly discovered building just across the river from us at eye level. We arrive to Aguas Calientes and meet up with any of the group that stayed behind in Ollantaytambo yesterday. Group dinner and an early night in.
Today you will visit Machu Picchu, then take the evening trail to Ollantaytambo
Today is the end of the tour, trip ends this morning
This Trip is a full 8 day itinerary and includes:
All guiding fees included in prices
Day 1: Private transport pickup from Cusco to Ollantaytambo; Dinner; Hotel
Day 2: Breakfast, private transport to Pumamarca; 2 bike descents; Dinner; Hotel
Day 3: Breakfast, private transp. to Salt Mines & Moray, all entrance fees, 2 descents,lunch, dinner, hotel
Day 4: Breakfast, private transport to Abra Malaga/ Inca Avalanche, 2 descents, lunch, dinner, hotel
Day 5: Breakfast, private transport to Calca, 2 to 3 descents, lunch, dinner, hotel
Day 6: Breakfast, private transport to St. Maria/St. Theresa, 1 long descent, lunch, dinner, hotel
Day 7: Breakfast, optional zipline, lunch, hotel in Aguas Calientes
Day 8: Breakfast, roundtrip bus ticket to Machu Picchu, entrance to MP, return train to Ollanta, hotel
All guiding fees included in prices
Cost per person is $1950 per person
For more details on what you need to know for this trip continue reading below for a day-by-day summary of important things to know and helpful details. Additionally, there is a lot of other information you will need, for that click here.
Specific Trip Details by Day:
Telephones are notoriously unreliable in the Sacred Valley, both landline and cell phone reception can and does go down. For this reason, and also the variety of languages that may be spoken, we do not do much with phones and the best way for anyone to reach you, or you reach us, before during or after your trip is via email at KBperu@hotmail.com. That said, there is a phone number at KB Tambo hotel which is (051) 084204091. Please note that English is generally not spoken. If you wish to have people call you, you should carry a cell phone, check with our carrier for roaming details, etc. They are welcome to call the hotel, they should use your last name and room number when calling. (You will receive this after checkin, obviously). Internet also is sporadic in quality in the Sacred Valley, so your loved ones should understand that constant and immediate communication may not always be possible, again email is always best.
Day 1 – Transportation to Ollantaytambo is included, it is a two hour drive from Cusco. Due to everyone arriving on different flights and times, we will have to coordinate things a bit. What we do is have our van leave Cusco at exactly noon, as most flights arrive in the morning this works out pretty well for everyone. Thus, we will need your Lima to Cusco flight information as soon as you have it. This will also allow you to spend the morning in Cusco depending on what time you arrive. If you don’t wish to do that, we can help you get a private taxi at your own expense (around $35) to come immediately to Ollantaytambo. If your flight arrives to Cusco later then 11.30 am (and try to avoid that when booking your flight) we will have to make specific arrangements with you individually, which may involve a shared taxi system that is popular (and safe) in Peru. Contact us directly with your exact flight info and we will help you with a solution.
The way it works is our van driver waits at a specific location just two blocks walk from the Plaza. A KB representative will meet you at the CUsco airport and take you to our meeting location, where you can leave all your bags safely with our driver. You will then be on your own to walk around, have breakfast, etc until noon when we leave for Ollantaytambo. Everything is in a very short distance from the waiting van.
After arriving to Ollantaytambo around 2pm, you can relax, wander around town, or build your bike and go for a short ride near the hotel. We have many to choose from, so we can’t list the details here but all the rides are fun. Plenty of good hiking also.
Day 2 Visit the Ollantaytambo fortress in the a.m, its pretty cool. Optional ride for those who don’t like history and Inca stonework . After noon ride to Salt Mines and Moray, approximately 14 kilometers riding, 9 kilometers flat and gradual downhill with just two short climbs, the last 5 kilometers is a screaming downhill descent on alternating rocky and buff singletrack. Hgh elevation 3500 meters (3.2 feet to the meter), overall elevation gain 200 meters, overall drop about 800 meters.
Day 3 2 descents of Pumamarca, approximately 10 kilometrs each drop, rocky singletrack, beautiful scenery, high elevation about 3500 meters, ending in town at 2850 meters, two runs totalling 1500 meters descending i.e well over four thousand feet ! No climbing.
Day 4 Inca Avalanche day, sick day of riding. Two drops of 22 kilometers each, on trail that varies from smooth grassy inca roads to rocky singletrack and steep descents. (see the video from Day 4 above). From 4500 meters to 2800 meters, about 5400 meters of descending or nearly 20,000 feet ! siiiiick.
Day 5 Lares/ Calca Nearly exact same details as Day 4, just a different part of the valley, but same distance and vert specs.
Day 6 See website, either 10,000 foot paved descent from the ‘alpine ice to the jungle bananas’ of biking or else other optional activities