Fancy an ‘Alice in Wonderland’ cycling adventure?
Well, we have arguably the most thrilling one-day Andean mountain bike adventure of them all. Where else can you embark on a relatively gentle, high altitude cycling route illustrated with a near fantasy world of surreal surprises? Historical Inca settlements, sleepy Quechuan villages, spectacular wild flower meadows, busy hand-tilled farmlands, a giant Inca agricultural laboratory and a patchwork quilt of 5,000 salt terrace ponds, to name a few.
All to the backdrop of swirling, heaven-high condor birds, views of the Sacred Valley and snow-capped mountain peaks over 6000m.
Starting in the charming Andean village of Chinchero, with its impressive Inca ruins, colourful colonial church and magnificent mountain views, you will immediately understand why the Incas regarded this area as the ‘birthplace of the rainbow’. Bright, multi-coloured and feeling as old as time, the cycle route’s scenery soon leads to the busy Chinchero Plateau with lush fields growing potatoes, maze, quinoa, kiwicha and beans.
Urubamba snow peaks stare down as families harvest their latest potato crop, taking rest-stops fortified by a thirst sapping swig of their traditional Chicha de Jora yellow corn brew.
The good news is that, although you are peddling at an altitude of over 3,000m, the unpaved roads and weaving agricultural tracks slowly drop downhill towards the quiet settlements of Maras. In Moray you come to the phenomenon of circulate terraces, ingenious layers of terracing that scholars confirm acted as an early agricultural research laboratory. Green-fingered Incas planted different crops at various altitudes, to see which propagated most efficiently. Today it is a stunning historical sight.
Your picnic lunch setting is about as magnificent as can be, stopping wherever you will, surrounded by rolling wild flower meadows, high altitude glacial mountain peaks and the constant babble of excited birdsong.
The finale to this extraordinary day of adventure is as fantastic as anything seen in the Sacred Valley or beyond: a giant stack of wedding cake style salt evaporation ponds. These, as described in a previous blog posting, will make your jaw drop.
Although it can be physically demanding, this truly is a magical day of adventure that I urge you to embrace wholeheartedly. Without doubt you will remember it forever.
Local farmers supply the ‘drink-me’ bull-horn local brew, while in Moray you will find the far-reaching assortment of historical Inca food to compete with any Mad Hatters Tea Party. The surreal Maras salt ponds match even the most mystical Queen of Hearts’ courtrooms, and the enormous horizon-stretching mountain scenery only accentuates the beauty of the Sacred Valley.
By the time you finish this extraordinary 35km bike ride you too will feel as if you have fallen through a magical rabbit hole.