The site of Choquequirao, meaning “Cradle of Gold” in the native Quechua language, is an archaeological complex of enormous significance, hidden deep within the Vilcabamba mountain range in Peru’s southern Andes. The site, often referred to as Machu Picchu’s sister city, is thought to have been the gateway to the Incas’ last refuge during their final resistance against Spanish conquest. Although the site dwarfs Machu Picchu in scale, and possibly importance, its isolation has spared it from the crowds, and much of this magnificent complex remains unexplored.
This challenging but extremely rewarding Peru trekking adventure offers a chance to approach the site on a quiet and isolated route following the Apurimac River into the Vilcabamba itself, where the region’s spectacular landscapes and wilderness can be appreciated without disturbance from other visitors. The route promises an exhilarating adventure into Peru’s mythical and historical heartland, supported by the best trekking services available.
Start your adventures early today with a pick up from your hotel and drive into the countryside. The road will cross the Pampas de Anta or Yawar Pampa (Blood Plains), the location of a vicious battle between the Incas and the Chankas over leadership for the city of Cusco.
The journey continues over the mountains and across the Apurimac River until you arrive at the town of San Pedro de Cachora where you will enjoy an energy rich lunch.
From here you will set off on foot, following a trail that leads up into a cool forest of fragrant eucalyptus trees and native flora until the trail flattens out and you reach a lookout point at Capuliyoq which offers stunning views of Choquequirao and the surrounding Vilcabamba mountains. From here you will descend on a zigzagging trail until you reach your first campsite in a relatively warm valley at Chikisqa.
Distance: 11.8 miles (19 km) Maximum Altitude: 9,514 feet (2,900 m) Approximate Time: 6 hours Gradient: Moderate
After a hearty breakfast, you will start the day’s hike with a descent leading to the Apurimac River. From here you’ll begin to climb, sometimes tackling very steep inclines, until you arrive at Marampata at 9,555 feet (2,912 m). Here you will be able to take a well deserved break and enjoy the great view of Choquequirao.
Next, you will follow a varied route until you reach the camp at Choquequirao itself in time for lunch. After resting your legs, you will start exploring the intriguing site, which is still only partially understood by archeologists.
Your guide will take you through the lower part of the enormous complex to visit the agricultural terraces, water channels, and an impressive ceremonial rock called the Paccha.
After the tour, you will return to camp to relax before enjoying an excellent evening meal.
Distance: 8.7 miles (14 km) Maximum Altitude: 10,100 feet (3,075 m) Approximate Time: 8 hours Gradient: Challenging
After a delicious breakfast, you will explore the outskirt sites of Choquequirao such as the Priests’ House, the Urin Sector, and the main lookout point. You will return to your campsite for lunch and rest.
In the afternoon, you will set off again on the trail toward San Ignacio, crossing the Apurimac River and following an extremely steep descent, which unfolds some unforgettable views of the Vilcabamba Mountains. After a gentle climb, you will arrive at camp for dinner.
Distance: 5.6 miles (9 km) Maximum Altitude: 10,100 feet (3,075 m) Approximate time: 5 hours Gradient: challenging
After a delicious breakfast, you will leave the camp to follow a trail through the valley of the Tambobamba River. You will walk through a beautiful mango forest and enjoy the calming scenery.
Your trail ends at the delightful lodge of Villa Los Loros in Huanipaca. Here you will enjoy a final delicious lunch amid tranquil flower gardens and next to a gently flowing river. You will then meet your transfer for your trip back to Cusco.
Distance: 5 miles (8 km) Maximum Altitude: 10,100 feet (3,075 m) Approximate time: 5 hours Gradient: Moderate