During your trip to the imperial city of the Incas, you will find an infinite number of options for trekking and adventure sports in Cusco. It’s a matter of organizing the trip and not following stressful itineraries. Don’t worry about safety! Since Cusco is a purely tourist city, it offers the best support to its visitors, so much so that in the city of Cusco there are police officers at the service of tourists “tourist police” who provide advice and security.
Cusco is not only Machu Picchu, you can find many extraordinary adventures such as the trek to Choquequirao, the valley of lares, rainbow mountain, horseback riding and tours of the sacred valley on ATVs. which are said to be the “best options for adventure in Cusco“. Anyway, you should know that there are economic trips for all tastes.
In the following list we present only some of the hikes and adventure sports in Cusco that are out of the ordinary.
Rafting on the Urubamba River.
if you are a river lover, this beautiful experience is for you!
There are 1, 2 and 3 day canoeing programs on the Urubamba River.
Keep in mind that the water level changes a lot depending on the season and of course it directly influences the level of difficulty: for beginners, try the adventure during the dry season as the rainy season has levels from 2 to 4.
It is possible to book the rafting trip at some agencies, but few of them really provide guaranteed safety. For the adventure, the pick up from the hotel is included, either in a private transport or in charge of the tourist company.
The rafting usually lasts 1 hour in the rapids with an expert guide. Then you can enjoy the hot showers and sauna at the Cusipata River Camp, before having a good lunch.
The Sacred Valley from the air.
There are several activities to do in the Sacred Valley, such as bungee jumping, slingshot, railroad, or tandem paragliding, always accompanied by a professional. Flights vary from 10 to 20 minutes, to cover between 500 and 900m.
Perhaps considered one of the most beautiful experiences in the Sacred Valley, imagine observing the Urubamba Valley from the top!
Also, if you have more time you can hire a half-day tour of the Sacred Valley of the Incas, and of course, you can find luxury or very economical transportation depending on your tastes.
There are also zip lines (ziplines), in Pachar for example, with cables between 1 and 2 km long. The advantage of this activity is that it is really accessible for everyone… as long as you don’t get dizzy, of course!
You can book the zip line which also includes the visit to Chinchero (it covers a part of the Sacred Valley of the Incas tour).
Huchuy Qosqo, little Cusco.
“Huchuy Qosqo is an Inca archaeological site that consists of several buildings and an irrigation system. It is no less than the most important archaeological site in the Urubamba Valley after Ollantaytambo and Pisac!
Its great advantage is that it is much less frequented and you have to walk uphill to get to this beautiful place, it is one of the best opportunities for acclimatization walks. If you plan to visit Huchuy Qosqo, you can request a full day tour after visiting the sacred valley and Machu Picchu.
There are several ways to get to Huchuy Qosqo:
-From the village of Lamay: a (intense) 2-hour climb.
-from the community of Tauca (near Chinchero): it is a slightly longer trail (3 hours each way) but much less frequented and with beautiful landscapes. Its highest point is the Piuray Lagoon at 4500m.
Exploring the Andes on quads.
Personally I’m a big fan of the quad and I can’t imagine a more mythical place than the Sacred Valley to enjoy it!
Imagine driving the quad between the high mountains and the quinoa fields to visit the salt mines of Maras and the terraces of Moray…
Discover the pre-Columbian cultures.
Located between Pisac and Urubamba, less than 10 minutes from Calca, the Inkariy museum is in the Sacred Valley because it is one of the best museums in the region!
It is a very well designed museum that presents 10,000 years of history, with different pavilions dedicated to the Caral, Chavin, Paracas, Mochica, Nazca, Wari, Chimu/Lambayeque and Inca cultures. The exhibitions are very complete and present their traditional art, customs, beliefs and clothing.
The visit lasts a little over an hour with a guide and is really interesting!
Explore the south of the valley during your adventure in Cusco!
Tourism in the Sacred Valley of the Incas is concentrated almost exclusively around Ollantaytambo and Pisac, then Chinchero, Maras and Moray.
It must be said that travelers have little time to devote to the Sacred Valley – often considered as a crossroads between Cusco and Machu Picchu – and it is normal to want to concentrate on the major attractions.
But if you want to discover less touristic destinations or if you have a little more time ahead, you should know that there is a tour proposed by some agencies that brings together 3 destinations of the traditional circuits in the south of the Sacred Valley: Tipón, Pikillacta and Andahuaylillas.
Tipon: Tipon is known for two things, its guinea pig -which has a great reputation- and its Inca center. The site of Tipon is a magnificent example of hydraulic engineering and Inca architecture, but it is one of the least visited sites in the valley. There are canals, still in operation, which pass through a sundial, then ceremonial fountains before moving on to the agricultural terraces.
Pikillacta: is a large archaeological complex of the Wari (an important civilization that was eventually conquered by the Incas). It is one of the few Wari sites (known, of course…) in the Cusco region.
Andahuaylillas: is a small town known for the church of San Pedro, a true colonial jewel whose rather sober facade contains a rich baroque interior that earned it the nickname of Sistine Chapel of America.
See the Humantay Lake.
Lake Humantay is a small, beautiful turquoise lake at the foot of the glacier of the same name, surrounded by several mountains.
From Cusco you have to go to the town of Mollepata (2h) and then to the community of Soraypampa (1h), the starting point of the hike. It takes about 2 hours of walking uphill to get to the lake, which is a short walk that offers a magnificent panorama for taking photos!
To get to Humantay without an agency: Take a bus from Cusco (Arcopata) or special taxi services from Cusco, they are safer. The entrance to Humantay Lake costs 20 soles. It is better to organize the return trip with the same taxi.
Besides living exciting experiences such as hiking, train trips to Machu Picchu or private tours Cusco, the ancient land of the Incas offers experiential adventures where you can choose to stay in a traditional place (communities), to meet and live a couple of days with the native inhabitants. It is one of the most beautiful experiences you can have in Cusco!
If you plan to learn more about Cusco culture, experiential tourism is your best option. During the days that you are in some community, you will be part of customs such as: work in the field, offerings to mother earth, folk festivals, coca reading and healing retreats like the sessions of San Pedro.
Visit Cusco in a different way! Perhaps one of these hikes and adventure sports in Cusco can add more excitement to your trip.