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Hiking and Biking in the Sacred Valley

Our Tailormade Product Executives, Hannah Cuss and Rachel Britton, travelled to Peru’s Sacred Valley and stayed at the recently opened explora Valle Sagrado hotel. They found many reasons to go back, as Hannah explains here!

What’s special about the location?

This explora is located right in the Sacred Valley; so-called by the ancient Incas because of its fertile and beautiful landscape and also known as the Rio Urubamba Valley. It has some of Peru’s best Incan ruins, from Pisac and Ollantaytambo, to world-famous Machu Picchu.

What’s special about the hotel?

I’d heard a lot about the explora brand and was aware of their responsible tourism ethos and enthusiasm for outdoor activities - factors we at Explore are also passionate about. First impressions of the hotel were amazing! It’s a short but bumpy ride off the main road through the Sacred Valley and is a modern low-rise building overlooking quinoa and corn fields, surrounded by picturesque mountains.

On arrival we were greeted by the friendly reception staff and guides who showed us to our spacious rooms, all located to make the most of the most incredible views. Warm and inviting, with a huge Jacuzzi bath to soothe the muscles, this was going to be the perfect place to relax after a day’s hike in the valley.

Back in the main building we were shown to the hotel’s presentation room where the explora concept was explained to us; they believe in sustainable tourism (for example each client is given an explora water bottle and access to filtered water to try and reduce the need for plastic bottles). They also strongly recommend getting out of the hotel and experiencing the area properly; as they said – “there’s so much more to the Sacred Valley than just the Inca Trail”.

What’s worth seeing and doing?

The hotel offers a variety of hikes and bike rides with a range of difficulty levels. The first afternoon we set out on the easy Racchi walk, 6km across rural landscapes with views down into the valley. Passing farmland and small-holdings, this was a good first walk to acclimatise to the area.

The following day our group split up to try different activities. I chose the only “easy” bike ride on their programme - a three hour, 33km ride along the Urubamba River from Pisac back to the hotel. Now, I’m not a cyclist, in fact I don’t even own a bike, so after two hours I had to admit defeat and jumped into the support vehicle. “Andean flat” tracks are not the same as UK flat routes! However, anyone into biking would definitely be able to do this excursion.

In the afternoon we drove to the small town of Maras and headed out on foot on the Salineras trek, which takes three hours (6.5km) to the salt mines. This was by far one of the highlights of my whole trip to Peru. Walking a gradual downhill route, passing sheep herders and locals going about their business and arriving at the vast, pre-Incan salt pans was a fantastic, memorable experience.

Four members of our party headed out on the medium-graded Five Lagoons hike, up to an altitude of 4373m. This was a generally easy walk, with some ups and downs, but was graded as medium due to the high altitude.

My colleague, Rachel, went on the full-day overland Maras excursion which took in Ollantaytambo, the farming terraces at Moray, the small town of Chinchero and the salt pans at Maras. This was a great way to tick off the main highlights while still getting in plenty of walking.

The following day we all travelled by bus and train to Machu Picchu, possibly the country’s most famous site and every bit as magical as you’d expect. At the end of all our hikes we were met by the support van with snacks and drinks so we could enjoy a sundowner before heading back to the hotel.

In the evenings we snuggled up by the fire with a glass of wine, flicked through the many coffee-table books and chatted to the guides and other guests - an ideal end to amazing, unforgettable days!

What does the package include?

A package at the explora is all inclusive; meals are light and healthy yet filling. During full-day hikes or overland tours explora pack up a picnic or lunchbox. A good variety of drinks, including wines, local craft beers and fruit juices are also available.

To find out more call us on 01252 883 184.

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