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Choquequirao Trek to Machu Picchu

choquequirao1Which is the most beautiful trekking route in the Cusco region? Choquequirao trek to Machu Picchu is on the very top of the list.[*] This extraordinary 7-day journey into remote region where the Andes meet the Amazon goes through low river valleys, high mountain passes with amazing views of the surrounding snows-capped mountains, and sub-tropical cloudforest. It’s a great opportunity to see the variety of wildlife (Andean condors, even spectacled bear) and vegetation (bromeliads, orchids) that inhabit these environments. The well preserved Inca Trail also leads the trekkers through time into secluded Andean villages and to three archeological sites: Choquequirao, Llactapata, and Machu Picchu. This off-the-beaten-track experience offers the best of Cusco with the bonus of very few visitors on the route all the way before reaching Machu Picchu.

The name of Choquequirao is commonly translated as ‘Cradle of Gold’. What is translated as ‘gold’ also means ‘treasure’. Although the Inca Empire was rich with gold, the treassure of Choquequirao refers to knowledge and wisdom rather than material wealth.

Terrain

The total walking distance of the 7-day Choquequirao to Machu Picchu trek is 67km. There are steep stair sections on the route; some parts of the Inca Trail are carved into the cliffs and can only 50 cm wide. The altitude varies from as low as 1500m to as high as 4050m. The Inca paths zigzag up and down the slopes. All of these make hiking this route through the Mountain Range of Willkapampa (also spelled Vilcabamba) quite physically challenging, but the level of trekking difficulty is rewarded with stunning beauty. Due to the remoteness of Choquequirao Archeological Site and the difficulty of the access to it roughly only 15 – 30 people come to discover this fascinating place per day (compared to up to 2500 that Machu Picchu receives daily). It feels that all who come have the ancient Inca City to themselves. This is one of the reasons why National Geographic recommends Choquequirao as a great trekking destination. In fact, about 60 – 70% of the structures are yet to be uncovered.

Andina Travel itinerary gives enough time to explore the Choquequirao Inca City. Our groups visit the site on Day 2 of the 7-day trail, spend the night camping near it, and still have plenty of time to spend inside Choquequirao the next morning.

Choquequirao full view

Choquequirao

Cable Car to Choquequirao

Authorities of the Apurímac and Cusco regions can’t agree on the final details of the cable car project that would bring to Choquequirao up to 3000 visitors per day, therefore the construction has not begun yet. It makes this route ideal for those seeking intimate trekking experience.

Unique Views of Machu Picchu

Llactapata complex is the penultimate Inca Site visited on Day 6 of this long Choquequirao route. This sixth day too rewards the trekkers’ endurance with a truly amazing view of Machu Picchu from the back that few visitors get to see. It means approaching the UNESCO protected citadel from the opposite direction than the Classic Inca Trail route, which tends to be fully booked months in advance.

Llactapata (Town Above or High Town) was first cleaned up in 1989. But it has gained major attention since 2003. The position of Llactapata fits into major geographical and astronomical alignment: Huayna Picchu towards the North, Machu Picchu towards the South, Putucusi Peak towards the East, and Llactapata complex towards the West. Machu Pichu Citadel is also aligned with the Winter Solstice and its original entrace from the Inca Trail – Inti Punku (Sun Gate or Gateway of the Sun) – is aligned with the Summer Solstice.

Safety

In Andina Travel safety comes first especially when it comes to challenging terrains of trekking routes like Choquequirao. With each group we provide the corresponding number of guides, wranglers, baggage horses and mules, and emergency horses or mules – should someone feel tired or needed to be evacuated. We also promote responsible tourism. So you can be sure when booking with us you are in the hands of experienced professionals and need not to be worried about your safety or the well-being of our staff.

Extras

For those who choose the private service there is an option of customizing the trip and making a stop near Santa Teresa for the best and safest zipline adventure by Cola de Mono, or a visit to Cocalmayo Hot Springs.

One Client Testimonial

I feel so fortunate to have “stumbled upon” Andina Travel. By chance, my wife’s first search online about Machu Picchu led her to a page where people were talking about taking a trek by foot.  After a few more clicks she found someone mentioning Andina Travel and right away they were quick to respond to emails, great with ideas and questions, and accommodating with our total novice desire to take on such a big trip.  We ended up doing the ambitious Choquequariao trek which led us through an AMAZING 6 days leading up to Machu Picchu.  None of my research could’ve prepared me for the reality of such an amazing and formidable journey but multiple people at Andina Travel set my worries at ease.  Being a business person myself, I knew it was necessary to trust the experts and every step of the way the entire team at Andina Travel delivered!  They paired our group of 6 with a very confident and personable guide, Yamil (Ja-Meal) who connected us with two great chefs (and brothers) Francisco and Alejandro.  Along with the mule drivers, we were lead through an unforgettable expedition down mountain paths with beautiful vistas all around, across raging rivers, through legendary ruins with incredible stories told delightfully by our guide, and resting in camps set-up for us when we arrived (and don’t forget two great chefs who were responsive to our tastes by cooking TOP NOTCH meals three times every day)!  It is impossible to describe exactly what type of life-changing trip we took with Andina Travel but they made it possible for my 12 year old daughter, wife, and 3 great friends to accomplish a monumental journey that would’ve been less without them.

We took thousands of high resolution photos of our trip and plan to put together a documentary to help others understand why taking a trek is the type of thing everyone needs to consider, and why choosing Andina Travel is the only way to do it!

We would love to show you some of our photos and videos at www.Facebook.com/TerpstraPhoto and www.TerpstraPhoto.com/blog  >> There are so many more to share and we truly hope to share our videos soon!

Dan and Michele Terpstra, Lily, Jenny, Jeremy, and Andrea

Grand Rapids, Michigan USA 

More Choquequirao Options

If you want to escape the crowds that stroll through Machu Picchu every day, Andina Travel also offers circuit 5-day trekking option to visit the Inca City of Choquequirao. Contact us at sales@andinatravel.com to learn about different trips we offer.

 

 

 

[*] Together with the trekking Circuit around the Ausangate Mountain – which we will tour in the following article.

 

 

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