Vilcabamba hosts a multitude of horse tour companies ready to take you up to the National Park. Tours vary from 1-2 hours to 1-3 days. Any intelligent visitor who hasn’t been on a horse for almost 10 years, would start out with a short trip. As we all know, it doesn’t take long bouncing in a stiff leather saddle to render the human bum incapable of walking normally— do to the pain! How quickly I forgot. I zestfully chose the all-day, 8-hour trip. This was no tranquil trail with well designed, High Sierra style switchbacks, we’re talking straight up into the mountains on a steep, rock strewn, deeply carved trail with very shallow switchbacks. I honestly don’t even know how the horses handled it. My horse, Pisco, calm and faithful, seemed to take it all in stride and only halted a few times, resisting what must have appeared like no fun at all. Named after a Peruvian Cocktail, Pisco Sour, he must have known that Happy Hour wasn’t that far away.
The ultimate destination was a beautiful waterfall just inside the park boundaries. The tour company guide took one look at me when we signed up and said the trail might be “challenging” for me. He impressed upon me that it was so steep down to the falls and back up again that there were ropes to keep you from falling down the mountain and assist you to hoist yourself back up the trail again. I figured he was exagerating, but it was so. I was on a trail crew in my 20’s in the Sierra and have never seen anything like these trails! But, I made it. Last down and last up, but everyone was patient.
When we reached the river hours later, the horses deserved a long, long drink. As I put my arms around Pisco’s neck and let him drink, my glasses must have fallen into the river. They’re gone now. He had himself a $150 drink! I’ve such awe and respect for the strength, endurance, and kindness of these amazing animals. Sure wish I hadn’t forgotten a carrot.