Choquequirao & Machu Picchu Trek 9 days (challenging)
Timing: 9 days
An amazing combination of challenging trekking and visits to two major Inca archaeological sites. First the remote and less well known Choquequirao (The Sister City Of Machu Picchu) and then the mystical and famous Seventh Wonder of the World Machu Picchu.
Choquequirao (Cradle of Gold) is a partly excavated ruined Inca city which bears a striking similarity in structure and architecture to Machu Picchu. It is often referred to as the 'sister' of Machu Picchu. Choquequirao receives far fewer tourists than Machu Picchu but the ruin is no less interesting and is a good alternative to the crowded Machu Picchu.
The ruins at Choquequirao are comprised of buildings and terraces at different levels from the lower level Sunch'u Pata to the hill top. The hill top has been leveled and ringed with stones to form a large platform.
Choquequirao (3,085m) is situated among the Salkantay Mountain Range above the Valley of the river Río Apurímac. The entire complex encompasses 1,800 hectares of which 30-40% is uncovered. The site is believed to have been built during the reign of the Inca king Pachacuti Inca Yupanqui and is considered to be the last bastion of resistance and refuge of the Sons of the Sun who fled from the city of Cusco when it was under siege by the Spanish in 1535.
This is a challenging trek and it is important to be well acclimatized to the altitude and to have a good fitness level.
Day 1: Cusco to Chiquisca
We leave Cusco early in our private transport and drive towards Cachora, an Andean community located 4-5hrs from Cusco at 2800m where we meet the horseman & horses and the trek starts. We start the trek climbing for 2 ½ hours towards the Abra Capuliyoc at 2750m, where we enjoy beautiful views of the surrounding mountains and the Apurimac River Canyon. We then descend for two more hours towards Chiquisca, where we set our camp and spend the night (1850m)
Day 2: Chiquisca to Choquequirao
We leave Chiquisca very early to avoid the heat later in the day when we are climbing and hike down to for about an hour where we cross the Apurimac River and start climbing towards Santa Rosa, zigzagging up a steep slope for about 2 hours. From Santa Rosa we continue climbing slowly for about 4 ½ hours until we reach the archaeological complex of Choquequirao, located at 3103m where we will set up camp and enjoy some free time to explore the terraces and buildings.
Day 3. In Choquequirao
We have the entire day to explore this stunning Inca settlement and to take a well earned rest.
Day 4: Choquequirao to Maizal
We climb gradually to a low pass at 3299m and then descend to Rio Blanco, 1909m. First we walk through cloud forest, but then all becomes steep open prairie with open views of the Mountains and valleys and then we come to the river Rio Blanco where we can have a cool swim. We cross the river & then start a long and steep climb of about 3 hours to our camp in Maizal, high above the river close to the sacred Apus of the Incas at 3000m.
Day 5: Maizal to Yanama
We start walking uphill passing by the impressive Inca mines called Minas Victoria. First we walk through cloud forest and the through Andean pampa grass. It is a long climb to the top of Victoria Pass at 4200m and near the top of the pass we find original paved Inca Trails. We take in a fantastic view of the mountain Choquetakarpo from the top of the pass before we start the descent towards Yanama, a small isolated settlement at the bottom of a long valley surrounded by mountains where we camp at 3800m. A long day hiking, 6 or 7 hours
Day 6: Yanama to Totora
After breakfast we start climbing slowly to our highest pass Yanama Pass 4668m. Again the view is amazing, we are surrounded by snow capped mountains the Mt. Sacsarayoj and Mt. Padreyoj. If we are lucky we can see condors. The descent is a long hike through grassy fields and bush areas on the way towards the community of Totora, where we spend the night. 4100m. 6 or 7 hours hiking.
Day 7: Totora to La Playa
On this day we make a long descent about 2000m to the Totora river. As we go down the birdlife is very interesting especially hummingbirds & woodpeckers and there are many species of orchids and begonias. We gradually climb & camp in a warmer campsite in the village of La Playa 2400m. Approx 7 hours hiking.
Day 8: La Playa - Aguas Calientes Town.
From La Playa we take a local transportation for approximately 20 minutes to Lucma ( or we hike if local transport is not available), from here we start a climb of about 3 hours to Llactapata ( newly discovery Inca Site ) which is famous for a “great condor view of Machu Picchu”. We then hike down hill for about 2 ½ hours to the Hydroelectric Station where we should arrive approx. 3:00pm. We will take the local train 45 minutes to Aguas Calientes where you can enjoy a relaxing swim in the towns famous hot springs (Aguas Calientes). Hotel in Agua Calientes
Day 9: Machu Picchu Full day and return to Cusco
After an early breakfast from Aguas Calientes we walk or take bus to Machu Picchu. We start our visit with a 2-3 hours guided tour. The rest of the day we spend at this amazing ruin and you will have the chance to climb Wayna Picchu or visit the beautiful moon temple. We meet in the afternoon in Aguas Calientes and take the train back to Cuzco
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