|Royal Inca : 7D
|The Best Of Southern Peru : 20D
|Salkantay & Inca Trail To Machu Picchu : 8D
|April to November
|7 days / 6 nights (Cusco-Cusco)
|Very active – strenuous with steep climbs, long distances and occasional narrow paths with sheer drops.
|Horse-supported hiking, camping, culture, nature exploration & history
The name Choquequirao means “cradle of gold” and this settlement was one of the last refuges for those Incas who continued to resist Spanish occupation after the conquest. Choquequirao is less well-known than Machu Picchu and the trek to get there is a unique experience.
The site was eventually abandoned and became covered in dense cloud forest vegetation, and to this day archaeologists continue to unearth new sectors of the city.
On this adventurous trek, we will walk Inca highways, hike through high Andean landscapes, descend into deep canyons and pass through biologically diverse cloud forest ecosystems.
This program combines visits to two major archaeological sites: remote Choquequirao and legendary Machu Picchu. It is a fascinating adventure through part of the old empire of the Incas and one of Peru’s most beautiful unspoiled wilderness areas.
An early morning scenic bus ride of approximately four hours through high Andean plains will bring us to the village of Cachora, where we will meet our mule drivers. Leaving the village, we will begin with a gentle hike along an old mining road to Kapuliyoq Pass (2800 meters / 9,240 feet). From this pass, we will have our first mesmerizing view of the deep Apurimac canyon and the surrounding snow peaks. After resting and enjoying the scenery, we will continue our descent of approximately three hours along a dusty trail, zigzagging down the arid wall of the canyon, to our first camp.
Camp at Chiquiska oasis (1800 meters / 6000 feet)
After a nourishing breakfast, we will continue our descent to the valley floor, where we will cross the Apurimac River (1495 meters / 5000 feet). From here, we will start to climb the long, steep trail (approximately five hours) to our destination: the impressive archaeological complex of Choquequirao, where we should arrive just in time to enjoy a breathtaking sunset over the deep canyon and the surrounding mountains
Camp at Choquequirao (3000 meters / 9,900 feet)
During the morning we will visit the restored section of Choquequirao and explore some of the ruins that are still covered by lush cloud forest vegetation. Much work has been done in recent years to excavate, clear and restore the site. From the highest point of the archaeological site (the “usno”, or ceremonial platform) there are fine views of the Apurimac canyon far below, and if we are fortunate, we may even see a great Andean condor soar above us. After lunch, those who choose to can visit the Cascade House (restored buildings and terraces some 300 meters (1000 feet) below the main structures of Choquequirao).
Camp at Choquequirao (3000 meters / 9,900 feet)
After a restorative breakfast, we will set off early, as we will have a considerable distance to cover. A short but steep climb takes us to the ridge from where there is a fine panoramic view of Choquequirao and the Apurimac canyon, far below. After a descent of about one hour, we will reach the archaeological site of Pinchaunuyoc, which is still covered by tropical vegetation. After visiting the site, we will continue our descent to Rio Blanco, where there will be ample time to rest and enjoy a good lunch. In the afternoon, a steep, dusty and hot climb will take us to Maizal.
Camp at Maizal
We will take advantage of the cool morning air and start hiking early. Walking along ancient Inca paths and trails, we will gain altitude quickly, while the surrounding vegetation changes from cloud forest to high Andean grassland. From San Juan Pass there are magnificent views of the surrounding snow peaks, including Mount Pumasillo (“Puma’s Claw”). After a delicious lunch, we will continue our hike with a two-hour descent, passing abandoned silver mines along narrow paths with sheer drops, until we reach the small village of Yanama. From here, we will take local transport (4 hours) to Lucmabamba, crossing a pass at 4650 meters / 15,300 feet, after which we will find ourselves surrounded by increasingly lush vegetation, passing waterfalls, passion fruit and coffee plantations. In the late afternoon we will arrive at our camp near the village of Lucmabamba (2155 meters / 7,100 feet), where we can refresh ourselves by bathing in the river before dinner.
Camp at Lucmabamba
After breakfast, we will climb along a trail that takes us through coffee plantations as far as the pass at El Mirador (2860 meters / 9,500 feet). From here there is an exceptional view of legendary Machu Picchu, from a rarely-seen angle. We will enjoy our last lunch at the vantage point of Llaqtapata (2650 meters / 8,750 feet), from where there are fine views of Machu Picchu and Mount Salkantay. After resting for a while, we will make the 2-hour descent to Machu Picchu hydroelectric station, from where it is a short distance to the village of Aguas Calientes, below Machu Picchu, where we will spend the night. Once we have checked in to our hotel, you can choose to relax in the natural hot springs, or just stroll the streets before dinner.
Overnight stay in Aguas Calientes
After an early breakfast, we will take one of the first buses up to the ruins of Machu Picchu, to enjoy the morning at this magical setting. You will be accompanied throughout the tour of the site by an expert guide, who will explain the architecture of Machu Picchu and the history of this magnificent vestige of the Inca empire. We will return to the town of Aguas Calientes in the afternoon to board the train to Cusco, where you will be escorted to your hotel.
|Private transport Cusco-Cachora, bus at Machu Picchu, train tickets back to Cusco
|Hotel ***1 / Camping 5 / Total Nights 6
|According to program
|ENTRANCE FEE / PERMITS
|Choquequirao & Machu Picchu Historic Sanctuary
|Bilingual guide / cooks / wranglers / mules / emergency saddlehorses
|Travel insurance, tips, tours & meals not mentioned in the itinerary
2024 cost per person in US dollars