Along with Huaraz  in the Cordillera Blanca , Cusco  is Peru’s main adventure travel center. The variety of intriguing options, and high-quality agencies, spur adventurers into Herculean feats of back-to-back sports.
One 21-year-old Israeli we met had trekked to Choquequirao, Salcantay , and the Inca Trail , rafted four days down the Class IV Río Apurímac , and mountain biked around Maras and Moray  above the Sacred Valley.
He had just returned from a guided trip down the Río Chilive, just outside the Manu park , where his group floated for 10 days on a homemade balsa raft. He wanted to ride in a hot-air balloon, paraglide over the Sacred Valley, and ride a Peruvian paso horse in Urubamba , but by that point he was broke.
For your safety, and for the environment, choose your agency carefully. If you choose to raft a serious river, like the Class IV Apurímac, go with accredited agencies and before departure check the equipment. An average of two tourists a year die on the Apurímac alone, and though not even the best agency can take away all the risk, a new raft, full safety equipment, and most importantly an experienced guide make a big difference.
Fly-by-night agencies, with which Cusco  is crawling, offer incredibly cheap prices but usually at the expense of your comfort and safety—and, worst of all, at the expense of the environment. This is especially true on the Inca Trail , where trash and human waste is becoming a serious problem.
These low-budget agencies do not tend to follow the principles of sustainable adventure travel, nor do they treat their staff fairly. The porters and cooks are not paid enough, they are not provided with acceptable standards of food and camp accommodation, and they do not receive proper training. Most agencies’ websites claim to practice responsible tourism, but these claims are probably unfounded if their prices are low cost.
Dozens of these agencies are closed down each year once the rangers in the Machu Picchu sanctuary catch on. However, the same agency can open again under a new name, which often mimics the high-quality leaders in the field. The excellent Trek Peru, for instance, is often confused with Peru Trek, Peruvian Trek, Trekking Peru, etc. Travelers who spend a bit more money to go with reputable agencies are helping to push up the bar of quality for all of Cusco’s agencies.
Most of the agencies offer a variety of activities, ranging from mountain biking to rafting, but we have organized them according to their main focus. Amazonas Explorer, for instance, is most famous for its rafting trips but does a good range of trekking, mountain-bike trips, and cultural tours as well.