Trek to the ruins of one of Peru´s most impressive Inca sites. Choquequirao is as impressively located as its more famous sister city Machu Picchu, but this route through the remote Vilcabamba triangle has been traveled by few trekkers, guaranteeing our travelers a sense of discovery, after a journey through spectacular scenery and vivid regional history.
The more famous ruins of Machu Picchu are situated on the eastern slope of the Cordillera Vilcabamba, and Choquequirao, located on the western slope at about the same parallel, forms what could almost be described as their mirror image. Both citadels are located half-way up steep, densely-forested mountain slopes, overlooking two of the region’s major major rivers.
The approach to Choquequirao requires a steep descent from over 3000 meters to the Apurímac river at 1200 meters, followed by an even steeper ascent to the ruins. The site is perched a magnificent 1600 meters above the Apurímac, surrounded by spectacular cascading waterfalls and densely-forested mountain slopes in the shadow of huge, snowcapped peaks. The ruins have been partially-cleared and can be easily explored by those intrepid enough to undertake the demanding trek required to get there.
Trekking to Choquequirao
Day One: From Cusco, we journey by road to the small village of Tambobamba. The journey is 140 kilometers along a paved road, followed by 30 km of dirt road and a 10-kilometer track. We will reach the village (at 2270 meters/7445 feet above sea level) at around midday. That afternoon we will walk for two to three hours to the San Ignacio bridge ( 1509 meters/5244 feet) over the Apurímac River, where after a refreshing swim we will make our first camp.
Day Two: Today we make our ascent to the ruins. This is a 1500 meter climb along a trail too narrow for pack animals, surrounded by dense cloud forest foliage. Our gear will be carried by local men hired as porters from the village of Tambobamba. This is a strenuous day’s hiking, but we will be rewarded with fine scenery, abundant bird life, and a real sense of discovery when we camp at the ruins of Choquequirao that night at 2858 or 9374 feet above sea level.
Day Three: We have a full day to explore Choquequirao, both in the company of our guide and alone, as well as visiting other sites such as Pikiwasi and we will have time to study the recent excavations around the site, which have revealed several outbuildings and extensive terracing long hidden by the luxuriant cloud forest.
Day Four: Today we make the long descent from the ruins to San Ignacio bridge, where once again the cold waters of the Apurímac will refresh our limbs. We will have reached the bridge by midday, giving us the afternoon to hike up to Tambobamba, where we will make our final camp. Horses are available on this final day for those tired from almost four days of trekking.
Day Five: Today we end our journey into this remote and magnificent region of the Andes with the drive back to Cusco. On the way, we will have an opportunity to visit the Saywite stone. Saywite is a limestone outcrop about four meters in diameter on which the Incas carved a model of their empire, Tawantinsuyo. The stone, upon which images of the flora, fauna, topography, and customs of the empire were carved, was used in ceremonies dedicated to the worship of water. Several other similar rock outcrops lie scattered across the surrounding area, along with the vestiges of an Inca highway.
Cost of the expedition is $1095pp; two people minimum required for trek. (airfare not included)