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The Inca Trail Ride: Diary 2014

Looking for a taste of what our Inca Trail Challenge Ride is really like?

Check out our blog from a group of riders who have come to the BHS for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to explore the Andes on horseback!

This Challenge Ride truly provides a new adventure around almost every corner. With very few foreign visitors, the local people have changed almost nothing of their lifestyle for centuries. The Ride isn't just an important fundraising mission (all proceeds from the ride and riders’ fundraising go BHS Welfare to directly help horses in need) but a way for our Riders to really experience a genuine slice of Peruvian culture.

The trails the riders will be facing through the Andes are narrow, so Challengers need a good head for heights to enjoy this ride. The terrain is often steep and takes them through the mountains to the north of the Sacred Valley of the Incas. This Challenge Ride is not for the fainthearted - but it's a fantastic experience!

Sunday 1 June 2014 

It's the first day of the Challenge Ride here in Peru, and everyone's anticipating the fantastic time ahead and the ride of their lives! Anyone with a base level of outdoor riding ability and confidence can sign up to one of these rides and all proceeds go the BHS to help horses with Welfare needs.

Today is our first day of riding and we’ve arrived in Cusco at Pumamarka. We’re currently 3,800m above sea level and are acclimatising to the altitude - of which any effects are entirely forgotten when you look across the stunning views.

We travelled to the camp this morning to meet our horses and spent time getting to know them before we matched each rider to their companion for this exciting trip – we’re really looking forward to getting to know their personalities more over the coming days!

It's been very interesting so far meeting the local people as well as sampling the food - we even had time to travel up the paths to get a breath-taking view of the Sacred Valley of the Incas where we’ll be heading to ride through later on in the week.

None of the riders on the group have been to this part of the world on horseback or otherwise before so the atmosphere and anticipation of what lies ahead is in the air and is very exciting! 

Wish you were here! 
The BHS Challenge Riders – Peru 2014

Monday 2 June 

Today we headed over to Chinchero which was another beautiful ride – we even managed to follow a trail of Alpacas and Lamas on our journey!

We reached a high point of 4,200m today and with that we were rewarded with some incredible views of Cordillera Urubamba.

Our horses have done nothing but impress us so far – they've been so sure-footed, strong and can climb like mountain goats! We’re feeling very confident and ready for the rest of the journey.

A number of people in the group have commented about the weather – we are British, after all! It’s been so comfortable – a few people were expecting it to be hot but it's been pleasantly cool, making the rides for horse and rider all the more fun and relaxing.

Today we also managed to visit a beautiful picturesque market town at 3,200m above sea level. The views are what have been amazing us all so much, but there's so much more to take in with all of the birds and wildlife around, as well as absolutely stunning flowers.  

Wish you were here! 
The BHS Challenge Riders – Peru 2014

Tuesday 3 June

It’s hot and sunny here today and we've got the sun cream at the ready.

Today we've travelled down to the Inca Complex in Chinchero, which is a delightful village and very welcoming – the villages were threshing a crop in mounds on the floor as we rode in and locals invited us to help them out so we rode the horses all over it! We had great fun helping them get their work done with the aid of some handy heavy hooves.

We then rode to the Sacred Valley of the Incas, where we were astonished to see our view was mainly white blocks until we realised it was the Maras salt pans where salt mining still occurs – it was amazing to see it in its natural form and where they are taking it out of the ground.

We continued the ride around the side of the mountain to take us in to Urubamba, where we'll stay tonight.

The entry in wasn’t as smooth as a little welcome sign, though – we had to cross over a rope bridge! On horseback!

We paid our fare to cross over and set on our way. It was important that we all went single file and trod carefully.

It was particularly nervewracking when a few of the ride were on the bridge and it started to sway a little – we see what they mean when they said this ride isn’t for the faint-hearted! It definitely got our adrenaline pumping!

Wish you were here! 
The BHS Challenge Riders – Peru 2014

Wednesday 4 June

Tonight is the first night where we start the camping part of our trip, so the luxury of hostels is no more!

We’re really starting to bond with our horses now and their characters and little ways are emerging. Shambo is a little star, leading the way and certain of every step and track we take and the guide horse, Chollo, is a firm favourite, too.

They’re all brilliant, though, and everyone is pleased with their mount.

We do have a cheeky one among us who has mastered the art of removing his bridle with a honed head-shaking technique that even Houdini himself would have to be impressed with! It would be an excellent name for him… He is a good boy, though; he just likes to show off his skills!

We rode through a village today where there were loads and loads of potatoes everywhere! All the villagers were out treading on them trying to squeeze all the moisture and liquid out of them so the potatoes could dry out in the sun. Once they’ve dried out, they’re then good enough to store and eat for a long time.

We're being woken very early with the festivals here – there’s almost a festival every day at the moment. We were woken this morning about 5am with firecrackers going off to celebrate the Festival of the Potato! It’s a good job we head to bed nice and early.

Wish you were here! 
The BHS Challenge Riders – Peru 2014

Thursday 5 June 

Today is a rest day for the horses so we’re off the Pisac Market, where the whole town turns into a big street market!

We’re sure they’ll be lots of new things to see and try – they sell handicrafts, antiques and Alpaca wool clothing. There’s no doubt we’ll be shopping until we drop and a few of us might need an extra bag or two for the journey home…!

Here they also have a real local market of fruits, vegetables and meats as well as several clay ovens where we can try an empanada de queso, which looks a bit like a pasty! It’s a pastry parcel and usually contains ground beef, seasoned with cumin, hard-boiled egg, onions, olives, and raisins or there are cheese versions. The dough is usually sprinkled with icing sugar and commonly also lime juice as well before eating.

We’ve also been told that there is an excellent place for brownies on the main plaza so we're sure we’ll be heading there for an indulgent chocolate fix! 

Wish you were here! 
The BHS Challenge Riders – Peru 2014

Friday 6 June 

We rode all day today, stopping for lunch by a stunning lake before continuing our journey to the highest peak of our ride – 4,700m.

Following a beautiful morning, we had to endure our return to camp in freezing rain and hail! Well, it couldn’t be perfect all the time! We know there's been plenty of rain back home as well so it’s only right that we had our fair share.

We’re up very high at the moment so all things technical are limited – just down to us and the horses for the day, which was refreshing and relaxing (until the hail came!).

Wish you were here! 
The BHS Challenge Riders – Peru 2014

Saturday 7 June

This ride is taking us to Lares today – to get there we headed through the meadows alongside the Urubamba River back to camp.

We were very spoiled after yesterday as when we got to camp we were able to treat ourselves to a soak in the hot springs! Lots of achy muscles from riding to relieve and a little bit of luxury before heading back to our tents for the night.

We’re getting used to the climate at night a little bit now – it’s pretty cold here during the night and we’ve all taken to trying to wear as many clothes as possible.

The ride has certainly taken to worshipping the sun – just as the Incas did!

Wish you were here! 
The BHS Challenge Riders – Peru 2014

Sunday 8 June

We joined the Andean Trail again today, riding along the ancient Inca paths.

Zorro, our dog for our trip, has been striding out in front to ward off the wild dogs and keep us out of trouble. What a brave soul!

It’s our final day here on the ride so we rode the horses back to Ollyantaytambo where we said a sad goodbye to our trusty companions who have taken us to great heights, incredible views and given us the pleasure of their company.

Tonight we continue camping and will certainly wrap up again for the night where it’s due to be -10 degrees!

Wish you were here! 
The BHS Challenge Riders – Peru 2014

Monday 9 June 

We’re all starting to catch up with civilisation a bit now and have taken a train ride to Machu Picchu.

The whole group have loved our time in the Sacred Valley of the Incas and we were so impressed with our guide Edwin who has looked after us all the way – including saving us from going in to all the bogs! A huge thank you, Edwin!

One of the ride started the trip with a fear of heights and we are pleased to announce that she has overcome her fear! Well, let’s face it - she didn’t have much of a choice riding on a rope bridge and on high ledges only one foot wide! What a way to confront your fear! Well done, Vicky. We’re all very proud of you.

We’re already missing our horses and Suffa, a gorgeous one so comfortable in trot and never wanting to be left behind, is especially missed very much. 

Wish you were here! 
The BHS Challenge Riders – Peru 2014

Has this blog left you fired up for the ride of a lifetime?

If you’re interested in helping raise money for BHS Welfare, take a look at the other Challenge Rides that you could be a part of! With challenges now operating in Bulgaria, Iceland, Mongolia, Inner Mongolia, India, Jordan, Peru, Spain and Lesotho there is a trip to inspire everyone, each offering a unique experience no matter where you ride.

These challenges really do put the fun in fundraising but as well as enjoying a life-changing trip, all of the riders raise money that is vital in continuing our welfare work.

Without the aid of our dedicated Challengers, our nationwide network of Welfare Officers would not be able to help anywhere near as many horses as they do.

The British Horse Society has over 200 equine specialist welfare officers, more than any other charity, and together they improve the lives of countless horses, ponies and donkeys in every corner of the UK.

So if you want to show your support for British horses, saddle up! We guarantee you won’t regret it when your reward is one of our Challenge Rides - and knowing you have contributed to the welfare of every horse in the UK. See what challenges are coming up and get ready for the ride of your life!

If you've got questions or simply want to know more, please contact our Challenge Ride Organiser, Wendy Minor, at wendy.minor@bhs.org.uk or call 02476 840572.
 


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