We had originally tried setting up a one day horseback riding trip with a local outfitter but found out when we arrived that it had fallen through. Our hostel had another outfitter who would take us out for four hours at a fraction of the price. At 9 AM we piled into a small car with the owner of the stable and a guy from Wales named Colin who was also riding that day.
We chatted with Colin on the 15 minute drive to the stable and found out he was on a 4 month leave from work that included treks in Peru, Vietnam and several other countries. The quote of the day came from Limbo, who remarked, “You speak English really well.” The car was silent until I pointed out that Colin was from Wales and everyone started laughing. For the rest of the day, Colin called Limbo “Blondie.”
When we arrived at the horse farm, we were introduced to a group of five from a Contiki tour who would also be riding that day. Javiar, our guide for the day, started assigning everyone horses. I was riding a roan Paint named Super. As we were waiting for everyone else to get horses and I saw that Super didn’t respond to aids well, I half wondered how super the ride would be.
Soon everyone was saddled up and we tentatively headed down the road towards the trails. As everyone relaxed a bit more in the saddle, we started having a bit more fun.
We had worn our backpacks while riding because we wanted to get used to them before our hike and weren’t sure what else to do with them. It wasn’t really a great choice but we made the best of it.
There really aren’t words to describe the rugged beauty of the Peruvian mountains. I took many pictures throughout the entire trip, but I don’t think even they can do justice to our trip.
We picked our way up a mountain trail, found places where the horses liked to gallop and finally came to a stop on the side of a mountain where Javiar told us to dismount. He laughed and said we had to walk back from there. In truth, he wanted to take us for a hike. We hiked higher up and saw beautiful views. We stopped after a steep incline (that had the three of us seriously questioning whether we could handle the hike at the end of the week) and then had the snacks Javiar had given us at the beginning of the ride. Then we headed back down the other side of the mountain until we were at a cave.
We slid down into the mouth of the cave and hiked through the stream in the cave to the other side. Once we were out of the cave, we hiked back up a hill to our horses and walked and cantered back to the ranch. We also got some great views of Sasqaywaman, a local ruin while we were riding back.
After leaving our horses, we piled into a van that took us back to the town square in Cusco. We hugged Colin, Chase, Devon and the rest of our new friends good-bye and headed to explore some more. Our first stop was the chocolate museum in Cusco. We drank chocolate tea and tried to be interested in reading the history of chocolate on the walls. In the end, we bought a bunch of chocolate and fondue and sat on the overstuffed couches eating it.
After chocolate, we were also craving ice cream and asked the guy at the museum to recommend a good ice cream shop. We hiked across Cusco and found the small ice cream shop where the man behind the counter served delicious ice cream, using sheets of toilet paper as a napkin! Definitely an experience worth laughing at.
At 6pm, a van came to pick all of us from the First Descents tip up at the hostel, and our official trip began. We checked in for the night at the Casa Andina hotel and went out for a group dinner where the logistics of our rafting trip were explained.