Machu Picchu Horse Project
Join a family run ranch in the Sacred Valley of Peru in the middle of the Inca Trail, just below the ancient city of Machu Picchu. Explore this remote and magical area and support local communities, whilst focusing on the care and riding of Peruvian Paso horses.
Experience true Peruvian hospitality, living on a local family ranch, by Machu Picchu
Experience riding world’s smoothest saddle horse: the Peruvian Paso
From horseback, enjoy the amazing scenery of the Inca Trail including snow-capped mountains plunging down to green valleys, bubbling rivers and ancient Inca ruins.
Canter along endless sandy tracks, cross wooden bridges, pass local shepherds with their sheep, cows and alpacas.
Assist with equine therapy for children with special needs.
Care for horses and other animals on the ranch.
On the weekend take optional excursions to Machu Picchu, The Rainbow Mountain, Pisac’s colourful souvenir market, the cultural city of Cusco with many ancient Inca sites and gold laden churches. Adventure lovers can go rafting, rock climbing (staying in bedroom pods on the face of the cliff) or zip lining.
The ranch is located in the heart of the Sacred Valley, right in the middle of the famous Inca Trail, amid the majestic Andes Mountains of Peru. It is run by Yojan, a Peruvian horseman who grew up in the valley, and his wife Karina. Together they care for their beautiful herd of horses on a working ranch, and open their doors to animal lovers from around the world.
Anyone can volunteer on this project, you don’t need any past experience. We take complete beginners up to experienced riders. The ranch is home to 15 horses, 10 of which are Peruvian Paso horses used for trail rides and 5 of which are ponies used for therapy for children with special needs. The horses range from well behaved school masters to younger horses which need bringing on. The workload will be a mixture of horse management and horse riding.
The Sacred Valley and Andes Mountains are a marvellous place to ride and enjoy amazing sceneries over the snowy mountains, valleys, rivers, and lakes as well as experiencing the ancient Inca culture. Whilst some horse experience is helpful on this project, it is not necessary. We will take those not confident with horses through a gentle training process until they are comfortable with basics like catching, haltering and tacking up, and you will be able to ride our calmer horses on the trails. Those with horse experience will be allowed to assist or lead activities such as training horses, horse management, riding with tourists, and full day rides.
Volunteering here you will experience something few tourists ever see, accessing rolling farmland and towering mountain passes that most will never know exist, to view archaeological complexes by horse. You will visit the radiant salt flats “Salineras de Maras” in the mountains, the circular crop terraces of Moray and the ancient town of Ollyantaytambo, and head to Machu Picchu via foot or train on your days off, to name just a few.
In order to help us provide the best possible care for the horses on the ranch, and to bond with our 4 legged family, you will assist with a number of day to day activities involving the care of the animals. Being part of the family in this way will truly immerse you in the Peruvian way of life and make you feel part of the team.
Feeding the horses in the mornings and afternoons. In the morning you also feed the dogs, cats, chickens, ducks, rabbits and guinea pigs.
Raking & watering the yard around the horse stables after the morning feeding.
Grooming the horses before every ride.
Saddling and unsaddling the horses before and after every ride.
Natural horsemanship training, from the ground and in the saddle.
Assisting the equine therapy for children with special needs.
Hoof care and assisting the farrier.
Tack maintenance and cleaning.
In the Saddle
The riding is varied and can change from day to day, but you will generally do a 2, 4 and 7 hour ride each week between Monday and Friday. Sometimes you will join and help with the tourist rides, and other times we ride just with the volunteers to keep the horses fit and active. During your stay you can get involved in the following riding activities:
2 hour horseback rides: enjoy rides along the banks of the Urubamba river or head up into the mountain ranges around the ranch. We cross wooden bridges over the river on horseback, see ancient Inca tombs and natural rock formations, and have a beautiful view over the sacred valley and its quaint little towns.
4 hour horseback rides: explore more hidden gems of the sacred valley off the beaten track. We cross the river, ride along the water’s edge and pass ancient Inca towns as we ascend up the hillside past cows and sheep grazing peacefully with their shepherds. The bird life here is lovely and you can spot cormorants, kingfishers, hawks and eagles. We pass into dense forests and continue to a lake oasis nestled amid towering mountains.
Full day horseback rides: these are tours where you go high up in the mountains, riding along narrow paths to the salt flats where local people are still mining salt from ground. We extend this ride to the circular crop terraces of Moray, have a cold drink and eat cultural cuisine in a local restaurant, stretch our legs, before riding for home.
Natural horsemanship training: train the horses from the ground or under saddle, familiarising them with various aspects of their work. During these rides you mainly take a horse that needs training to get to know the trails or how to cross water, bridges or meet certain other challenges. We train in a positive manner, encouraging confidence and happiness in our horses.
Volunteers stay in a house on site at the ranch. Being on site is a great way to integrate with local customs and people as well as be close to the horses in your care. The home belongs to your host family Yojan and Karina and their daughter. The volunteer accommodation has a separate entrance to the main house, and its own balcony. In the room there are 2 bunk beds, a comfy sofa and flat screen smart TV, kitchen with fridge, stove, and dining table. There is a volunteer bathroom with a hot shower to the side of your room. From the balcony you can look out over the stables and mountains around you, enjoy a drink in the afternoon light or marvel at the night’s sky which is bright with stars, thanks to the remote location.
Breakfast and dinner are self-prepared in the volunteer kitchen and the ingredients are included in the cost of your stay. Lunch is not included and you can eat as you wish, buying from the shops or eating out depending on the activity of the day. You can use the washing machine for washing your clothes and use a line to dry them out. Bed sheets, blankets, towels and washing powder are provided. Internet is available using the free Wi-Fi at the volunteer accommodation. Most café’s and public places in Peru do offer Wi-Fi too, and you can also purchase a local sim card if you wish and load it with a data bundle.
Peru is one of the most colourful and diverse countries of South America. It has wild Pacific coastline, endless desert landscapes that plunge down into the ocean, the striking snow-capped mountains of the Andes and the Amazon jungle running through it. But Peru is not just renowned for its landscapes. Peruvian hospitality and food is world class. Unique and flavour packed dishes to suit all palettes can be enjoyed in classy restaurants, or whilst perching in front of street vendors. There are 51 different indigenous peoples, each with their own customs and history, unique clothing, stories and religious beliefs that will have any traveller falling in love with Peru and its people.
From the bustling capital city Lima, you can fly 1 hour to Cusco, which is the ancient Inca capital in the heart of the Andes Mountains. Cusco (3400m) is a beautiful city built using local stone, with cobbled streets telling of an era almost forgotten. Here you can see many archaeological sites and colourful souvenir markets, bars, restaurants, museums, and churches. From Cusco you can do day-tours to hot springs, the Rainbow Mountain or Humantay Mountain Lake. Cusco and the Sacred Valley are famous for the ancient Inca civilization: Machu Picchu is the most preserved Inca town and considered one of the 7 wonders of the world.
From Cusco city you drive 1.5 hours through the mountains to the project, located in the heart of the Sacred Valley (2800m). The area is perfect for horse riding and hiking with the snow-capped mountains dropping down in to green fertile valleys where shepherds still live among sheep, cows and alpacas, and you can see the various tribes meeting every week at the local market to sell their goods like coffee, chocolate, cheese, clothing, spices and fruits.
2023 and 2024
2 weeks: £1199
3 weeks: £1785
4 weeks: £2184
Want to know what is included? Great news, it is almost everything including:
Airport collection and returns
Breakfast and dinner (self-preparation)
24 hour support on site at the project
All your horse riding
OUR PRICES EXCLUDE
Lunch (taken in restaurants when on trails, or self-prepared at the house when not riding out)
Medical and travel insurance
Weekend trips and extra activities
Volunteers arrive and depart from Cusco airport on the Monday that the project starts and ends. Alternative start dates and drop off locations can be arranged with advance notice. Please ask us about any such requirements when you enquire.
November 14th and 28th (max. till Dec.12th)
April 3rd and 17th
May 1st, 15th and 29th
June 12th and 26th
July 10th and 24th
August 7th and 21st
September 4th and 18th
October 2nd, 16th and 30th
November 13th and 27th (max. till Dec.11th)
"The best part was the hands on experience with the horses and the ability to spend my weekends visiting incredible places in Peru"
"The horses are so well looked after and lovely to ride. This was a lifechanging trip. As a solo traveler I felt totally safe and can't wait to come back one day.
Does exploring ancient Inca ruins on horseback sound like the adventure you have been waiting for? Are you ready to get stuck in caring for horses and riding in the breath-taking Andes mountains? Just click the “apply now” button, fill in the form and we will be in touch shortly.