Peru is known for Machu Picchu, one of the 7 Wonders of the World. It also holds some of the finest high altitude mountain biking single track to be found anywhere on the planet.
Peru is a special and important place to the Global Epix team, and we know the riding here better than anyone else. It’s amazing ! You’ll benefit from our decade of riding here, as we take you to off-the-path hot spots and authentic (not manufactured) cultural interactions. That is because wherever we go, we know all the local families and community – you will have many authentic cultural experiences during your trip with us, and Peru’s mountain culture is one of the oldest and most interesting in the world .
During my career, I’ve ridden my bike all around the world, but there is something special about Peru that keeps me coming back year after year. The warmth and tradition of the local people and culture, combined with the unbelievable quality of the area trail network makes for a true adventure mountain bike destination that every serious rider should experience once in their lifetime.
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. After landing, we will 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, Ollantaytambo, a historic and ancient Inca village with a lot going on, as it is also a jumping off place for Machu Picchu. After checking in and getting unpacked a bit, we will have plenty of space to put your bike together as well and we’ll all check over our gear. There is definitely time for a short ride and there is a great trail right out our back door with a shuttle up to the trailhead an included option as well.. Later, we will have our first night’s Welcome Dinner at a local restaurant and maybe some Pisco Sours, a national cocktail that is sort like a Peruvian margarita. They pack quite the wallop so go easy !
Today is a very 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 from, compared to the Mountains of Doom in the background)
We call it shuttle-mania, and we will start with the famous Salt Mines and Moray ride, including two drops, plus a pump track / half pipe
Our morning ride will consist of some unique singletrack that Darren and Global Epix have developed, that soon join in with one of the area's best known mountain bike rides: the trail that connects Moray to the Salt Mines. Moray is an Incan site built into a series of natural depressions in a hillside between Cusco and Ollantaytambo, along one of the many Royal Roads that the Incas built to transport the king and his entourage. It is not certain their purpose, though the commonly accepted theory is that they took advantage of a natural variation in temperatures between each constructed terrace to simulate different altitudes and thus develop different strains of crops. In any event, they are absolutely stunning to see in person, and we will ride our bikes right up to the edge, then leave them at the gate and visit on foot:
"Las Salineras" as the Salt Mines are otherwise known, are a large system of hand built evaporation pools, designed to naturally produce pure salt from a nearby salinated stream. These salt pools predate even the Incas and have been used by humans for over a thousand years. A fascinating visit, and the trail down to them is extremely fast and fun.
After lunch in a local restaurant, we'll head out for more gravity-fed mountain biking. We have some "local" trails that we have learned of during our last 12 years of mountain biking in this area, and they will be the focus of our afternoon's fun.
We don't publish their exact locations online, so as to preserve your experience we keep them a secret :) but trust us, with names like "Fairway to Heaven", "Claw's End" and "Halfpipe Hideaway" you will ride the best of the Cusco and Sacred Valley area that few others get to see. Today is an excellent day of mountain biking, and we'll finish it off in one of Ollantaytambo's ever-growing list of local restaurants serving fresh Peruvian cuisine,Your dinner is, as always, included at no extra charge with your Global Epix trip.
The third day brings us to one of the epic bike rides in Peru – this is the world famous Inca Avalanche race course. Every year nearly 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 single track, 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.
There are a few Incan archaeological sites along the way that we can check out, many of them just recently been uncovered. The ride takes about 1 to 1.5 hours per descent, allotting time for a few pictures of the amazing views and culture along the descent.
And then we’ll hop in the van, drive back up 5,000 feet and then do it all again. Yes that is over 10,000 feet of epic mountain bike descending in two runs in case you are counting.
Back at the hotel after showers and resting, we’ll do some video and photo swapping in our hotel restaurant and have dinner at a more relaxed pace, Tonight their chef will be cooking us up a special meal, using some of your favorite dishes from the trip so far.
There are some really great descents in the Sacred Valley area, and today we are going to ride 2 of the best of them. First is what we call “Wild Child”, a beautiful singletrack through rolling hills and farms, coming off one of the highest passes around it is mostly descending but definitely enough pedaling to keep us honest. Then we’ll drive back up to the Continental Divide of Peru and descend one of the area’s more famous trails – the descent to Calca via an ancient Inca road. Time willing, we’ll even do it twice. This trail has some smooth sections as well as plenty of stairs and rocky parts as well – a long, gravity-driven romp Peru style.
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.
4. Go back to our spacious hotel, shower, and then out for a short walk to some outstanding local Peruvian cuisine!
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”.
Today is an optional visit to Machu Picchu. Most of the group will be going, but is it an optional visit and not included in the basic trip price. We can, however, handle all the logistics for you at no extra cost. You will take the train in the morning, return in the evening, and between visit one of the 7 Wonders of the World ! For anyone not wishing to go to Machu Picchu today, the Global Epix van and guide will be available all day for unlimited downhill shuttle runs wherever you wish to go, based on favorite runs from the previous days.
For those not going to Machu Picchu, we will be doing a unique hidden trail that is truly epic, with some of the smoothest singletrack over 14,000 feet in altitude that you will ever ride in your life, followed by some stunning Inca ruins and a long descent back to Ollantaytambo.
Today is our last day biking, and we will spend it doing 2 of the only local-favorite trails that we have yet to ride so far on the trip. These are some more of the routes we pioneered in the area and aren’t well known, so we won’t print their names here, but today will feature over 10,000 feet of descending on smooth, flowy singletrack plus an interesting Inca road descent. A great way to finish off the trip!
Today marks the end of the tour, trip ends this morning after breakfast (included), we will take you to Cusco airport for your departing flight or, in the event you are staying on extra days to explore Cusco or other parts of South America we’ll bring you to your hotel.