Great trip! Thank you, excellent crew.
This trip will take us to the archeological site of Choquequirao, which means „cradle of gold“. It's a spectacular hike where we'll descend into the narrow ravine of the Apurimac river and climb up the steep slopes on the other side, in order to reach the fascinating archeological site of Choquequirao. This hike requires you to face high physical challenges, but will reward you with an unbelievable view into the ravine of the Apurimac river and the surrounding mountain tops, an impressive landscape and the vast construction of the Inca site of Choquequirao.
LOCATION: The archeological site of Choquequirao is located to the right of the Apurimac river, high on the slopes of the mountain with the same name, next to the snow capped peak of the Qoriwayrachina, which is part of the Salkantay mountain range. Politically Choquequirao belongs to the district of Santa Teresa, Provincia de la Convención which is part of the Greater Cusco area. In 2001 the site was chosen by highest decree No. 050 and national decree No. 512 as National Park under the name of Vilcabamba and Choquequirao. In total the park covers an area of 522.878 hectares and has a circumference of 367.090 meter in length. The archeological site of Choquequirao alone covers an area of 1.810 hectares with a border length of 20.940 meters.
HORSES: During the hike, our horses will carry our camping equipment as well as 7 kg (15 lb) of personal belongings per passenger. If you feel the need to bring along more than 7 kg of personal belongings, you have the opportunity to hire an additional horse and share it with another passenger. Each horse can carry up to 18 kg.
We will leave Cusco early in the morning and drive through spectacular landscapes along the pastures of the Anta plateau, which is surrounded by the snow-capped mountains of the Andes. The winding mountain road takes us down more than 1.820 m into the deep ravine of the Apurimac river, where it passes over an iron bridge and climbs back up on the other side. The drive follows along plenty of farmland and densely planted gardens, to a narrow downhill road, leading to the village of Cachora at an altitude of 3.400 msl which offers breathtaking views of the mountain range of the Vilcabamba (drive takes approx. 4 hours). In Cachora we will meet our horse wrangler „Delfin“ with his horses and after loading our equipment we will commence our hike. From the viewpoint of Capuliyoc, right across the majestic Pedrayoj (5482 msl), we're able to catch our first glimpse of Choquequirao in the distance. We will begin our descent trough an area of dry cacti, Ichu (Peruvian feathergrass), bromeliaceae or achupallas and orchids down near the river Apurimac (named the “great garrulous spirit” by the Incas) until we reach the riverbank and the Playa Rosalina where we will put up our tents for the night.
Distance to hike approx. 21 km, walking time 5-6 hours
We will leave Playa Rosalina very early the next morning, since it's best to ascend in the milder morning temperatures. We will cross the Apurimac river and its abundant waters over a newly built bridge. A wide path ascending in sharp bends, will take us to the dry zone of the ravine. Passing along sugarcane plantations, up to the grass pastures of a small plateau where, after the first two hours of hiking uphill, we will enjoy a short break in order to buy water or soda or try one of the delicious sugarcane chichas. Shortly after, we will continue uphill, until we reach the site of Marampata where we will have lunch. This is where the arduous and steep climb ends and we can enjoy our first view of the complex of Choquequirao, located on the other side of a steep cut into the mountain. The last segment of our hike takes us along the mountain, through the cool shadows of a cloud forest to the thickly wooded mountain crest (3.000 msl) on which the Incas built their sanctuary. We will put up our tents directly below the actual site of Choquequirao. This campsite offers toilets and showers with cold water. In case we arrive early at the camp site, we will be able to pay our fist visit to Choquequirao today.
We will take a 3 to 4 hour guided tour which will take us to the most important points of the archeological site. Choquequirao, which means cradle of gold, is just as mysterious as Machu Picchu. The river Apurimac is raging at 1.450 m below and can be observed from both sides of the steep mountain slopes, to which the Inka city clings. We will approach the heart of the city, where the extensions of the enormously bent terraces lead our view up to an artificial hill and a ceremonial platform, which leads uphill from the main square. The thermal updrafts of the afternoon attract condors, which will soar over the temples, mausoleums, royal living quarters, ritual baths and water channels, assembly halls and warehouses. Behind the small hidden gardens spreads out a gigantic flight of stairs which is decorated with the famous mosaic of the „lama of fire“. This architectural structure has been preserved until today and is prove of the conscientious construction work and planning of the Inca engineers. The excavations of Choquequirao started only recently, and until today archeologists are constantly discovering more structures and buildings. On the steep slope below the main complex lies a small group of newly discovered buildings. This ceremonial site is called „group of the mountain crest“ with the „temple of cascades“. It offers a fascinating view of the waterfalls of the nearby ravine.
After our visit to Choquequirao we will return to our camp site and enjoy a substantial breakfast before packing our things and returning along the same path. We will be able to admire the ample flora and fauna, will pass by Marampata again, take our lunch in Santa Rosa, leave the camp site of Playa Rosalina behind and finally reach the camp site of Chiquisca under the shadows of fruit trees and put up our tents for our last night.
Again we will have to rise early in order to escape the heat of the day which can be brutal in the narrow ravine. At the crack of dawn we'll be able to enjoy the chill of the morning air, and in return will be rewarded with a stunning sunrise above the ravine of the Apurimac.
We will hike roughly 3 hours on a winding path beneath trees covered in dense foliage, overgrown by orchids, and will once again reach the mountain pastures, which lead to the viewpoint of Capuliyoc. After a short break we will continue our hike on an easy path and after 2 more hours reach San Pedro de Cachora where we will enjoy a final lunch and say good bye to our loyal crew which accompanied us for the last days. Along the impressive mountain road we will drive back to Cusco.