Lares Inca Trail
Once the capital of the Inca empire, Cusco, Peru, is now a unesco world heritage site and the main tourist hub to explore both Machu Picchu and the Inca’s Sacred Valley. It’s also one of South America’s premier mountain bike destinations.
“The coolest thing about Cusco is that there are phenomenal riding on trails the Inca built centuries ago,” says Nate Lessnick, the rider happiness director at Sacred Rides. “It’s this beautiful blend of mountain biking and culture. It feels like a real adventure.”
Mountain biking in this region can feel intimidating, so Lessnick highly recommends either booking a multi-day trip prior to travelling or finding a local guide for day rides. Most mountain bike trails begin above 4,000 m, so it is essential to acclimatize before heading out. The riding isn’t easy, either, as the routes are rugged and technical: large rocks, uneven terrain and exposure are all commonplace.
“If I had to pick a single trail,” Lessnick says, “it’d be the Lares Inca Trail. We started up in the clouds, at 4,420 m, and ended in the Sacred Valley, descending thousands of rock steps, winding through a stunning river valley and passing through several small villages where locals only speak Quechua. It’s a breathtaking experience.”