The Sacred Valley is one of the most culturally rich regions in South America — and also one of the most adventurous. A little known secret is that the Sacred Valley is emerging as a great adventure sports destination. From rafting to rock climbing, the Sacred Valley offers numerous ways to get your adrenaline fix in a stunning environment.

Highlights

  • Follow the historic ‘Inca Trail to Machu Picchu along ancient Inca footpaths
  • Mountain bike down single track trails between picturesque mountain villages
  • Spend the night in a glass capsule hanging high on a cliff above the Sacred Valley
  • Jump off one of the highest bungee jumps in South America and get your adrenaline pumping 

Overview

In addition to trekking, the Sacred Valley has increasingly become a destination for other action and adventure sports. For those with a thirst for adventure, the Sacred Valley offers mountain biking, whitewater rafting, bungee jumping and rock climbing — all of which can be arranged with local tour operator based in Cusco.  

If you’re planning on doing one of the alternative treks to Machu Picchu, it may be possible to include some of these highlights in your trekking itinerary: just check with the local operators for options

White-water Rafting

The Sacred Valley offers some fun Class II and III rapids on the Urubamba river, which can be enjoyed on day trips organized by one of our local specialists. The most popular section is the Class III section from Ollantaytambo to Chilca. Trips often start around 9am, include transport, your time on the river, and a stop for lunch. For those with more experience, longer multi-day trips can be organized on the Apurimac and Tambopata rivers.  

Mountain Biking

Apurimac Canyon
Descending down into the Apurimac Canyon (© William Koch)

Once you’ve acclimatized, biking can be an excellent way to explore the Sacred Valley’s best off-the-beaten-path places at your own pace. Given the altitude, and that the main roads in the Valley don’t offer much room for riders, take time to speak with a local specialist to plan your routes well before you set off.

There are countless options, but one highly recommended route goes from Maras town to the Moray ruins and finishes at a local brewery in Pachar. A great place to rent a bike or book a biking tour is at Sacred Wheels or Haku Expeditions, where they rent quality mountain bikes and provide guidance on the best routes for exploring the Sacred Valley. In addition, local operators can also arrange transport for you and your bike to/from some of the best rides

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Multi-Day Treks

Trekking in Peru
Trekking down a steep path in Peru

The most famed way to arrive at Machu Picchu is by trekking the “Inca Trail”, a four-day trek that finishes at sunrise with a spectacular view over the ruins from the Sun Gate. Inca trails actually run throughout the Andes, and many travelers seek “Alternative” Inca trail treks, to avoid the crowds on the main trail, or because they couldn’t get a permit. Whichever trek you choose, be sure to book with a responsible local operator.

Day Hikes

In addition to the more adrenaline-charged activities, the Sacred Valley also offers excellent day hikes for those looking to take in more of the spectacular mountain scenery at their own pace. These hikes can be adventures in their own right, and are a great way to visit some of the welcoming rural communities and lesser-visited ruins throughout the Valley.

Paddleboarding

Stand up paddle boarding (SUP) on Lake Piuray is a great activity for those seeking a more relaxed way to connect with nature in the Sacred Valley. The lake sits at 3,720 meters, so this half-day trip is best enjoyed after acclimatizing. Most trips depart Cuzco early in the morning to take advantage of calmer waters and return by midday.  

Bungee Jumping

Although not technically in the Sacred Valley, for those seeking an adrenaline rush you can check out Action Valley which offers both a bungee jump and a “slingshot” at their “Adventure Park”, a 30-min. drive west of Cusco. A small platform attached to a cable strung between valley walls provides the base for both activities. The bungee jump is over 400 feet high and claims to be the highest in Latin America.    

Zip-lining and climbing

zip lining in the sacred valley
Zip-lining above the Sacred Valley (© Natura Vive)

Natura Vive offers thrill seekers a unique vantage point on the Sacred Valley from the company’s cliff-side operation near Ollantaytambo. Climb 400 meters up the vertical cliff using the metal handles embedded in the rock, then zipline down via 7 cables of varying from 150 to 700 meters in length. Top off the experience by spending a night in one of their glass-enclosed capsules hanging from the side of the mountain.

Overnight in a Sky Capsule

Sky Lodge Peru
Spend the night in a glass capsule hanging high above the Sacred Valley (© Natura Vive)

Hanging against the cliff walls high above the Sacred Valley (near the village of Ollantaytambo) are glass capsules where the extra adventurous can spend the night. Natura Vive has guides who are trained to help you climb the wall (with the help of a harness and ladder) to the capsules, where you'll be given a meal, an optional zip-line tour, and will spend one of the most picturesque nights of your life overlooking the beauty of the valley below. 

ATV Tours

For those who enjoy motorized quad-bikes, also known as ATVs, the Sacred Valley offers a few adventurous tours. One popular day trip takes you across dirt roads throughout the Valley, stopping at some popular attractions including Maras, Moray, the Salt Mines, and Chinchero.  Be sure to check with the local operator to ensure they operate their tours responsibly, appropriately managing environmental and community impact as well as taking adequate safety precautions.  

Getting around the Sacred Valley

Taxi: Taxis are a good way to get around Cusco, and can be hired to take you to and from Urubamba and down the valley. You can readily find taxis near the Plaza de Armas square in the center of Cusco.

Private car/van: Great for getting around the Sacred Valley, particularly to remote communities in the surrounding mountains. Best organized through local tour operators.

Bus: Public buses are available, inexpensive, but not always efficient for those seeking to make the most of the limited time.

Train: Most travelers will take a train either to or from Machu Picchu. The ride, following the Urubamba river as it winds its way through the valley, is a definite highlight. Peru Rail offers additional destinations beyond the Sacred Valley for those who want to continue their travels by train.