From Choquequirao to Machu Picchu Trek (8n/9d)

Anyone planning to trek in Peru should make sure they come properly equipped

Anyone planning to trek in Peru should make sure they come properly equipped

Day 1: Cusco-Cachora-Santa Rosa
At 06:00 a.m. we’ll pick you up at your hotel in a private vehicle and we’ll start our trip to the town of Cachora, arriving at around 09:30 a.m. There we will meet with the muleteers who will handle our luggage. From Cachora we will enjoy the impressive view of the majestic Padrayoc, the snow-capped peaks of which tower up to 5482 meters (17979 feet) above sea level. On our first day we will walk 21.70 kilometers (13.5 miles) in approximately 10 hours. The journey is quite flat at first, with beautiful views of the snow-capped peaks and small farms we leave behind in the valley. Later, we’ll see the Padrayoc and Wayna Cachora mountains, and we’ll get to admire the beautiful landscape dotted with cliffs and beautiful snow-capped mountains, a gift bestowed upon us by our journey. From the Capuliyoc lookout point we will begin our descent to the Apurimac canyon. From here we will continue our descent to the Apurimac River (1550 meters (5085 feet) above sea level), located within its namesake canyon. After a short rest stop at the river, we’ll begin the steep climb to Santa Rosa, where we’ll set up camp at a small sugar cane plantation (2115 meters (6939 feet) above sea level). Dinner at the campsite.

Day 2: Santa Rosa-Choquequirao-Raqaypata
Very early in the morning, after breakfast, we continue our trek to Choquequirao. The climb is very steep for the first 2 to 3 hours, but then the path will be flatter and more enjoyable, surrounded by beautiful vegetation, including a wide variety of orchids. After a trek of approximately 5 hours, we arrive at the Choquequirao archaeological complex. After a good lunch and a short rest, we’ll walk to the main center of Choquequirao, where we will enjoy the majesty of this location and observe the three levels of excavation which have been completed here. We’ll then set up camp in Raqaypata (2910 meters (9547 feet) above sea level).

Day 3: Raqaypata-Pinchinoyoc
After breakfast, we’ll have a good amount of time to enjoy the archaeological complex. We will be able to view the house, terraces, and other parts of this impressive Inca citadel. We’ll also have a chance to check out the progress of the excavations, as well as some unexplored areas. After lunch, we will walk through Choquequirao to get to our next campsite. We’ll follow the old water canal before starting a 3-hour trek to the ruins of Pinchinuyoc, discovered in 1998. Then we will walk through a cloud forest until we reach an open meadow with amazing views of the mountain and the Pinchinoyoc valley. The Pinchinoyoc ruins are very special indeed, since they appear before you suddenly, and are almost invisible in the cloud forest, as they are covered by a thick layer of moss and vegetation. We’ll spend the night here, on an old Inca terrace.

Day 4: Pinchinoyoc-Maizal
This morning we will walk through an area of interesting vegetation known as the Andean Dry Forest, in which the trees and plants look totally different to what we have seen in previous days. After a few hours of trekking, we will arrive at the Victoria River, and will use this opportunity to rest and enjoy a refreshing bath in the river’s cold, clear waters. We then cross the river by walking through it, and start a long and steep climb to Maizal, the place where we will camp tonight, high up from the river close to the sacred Apu of the Incas. During our ascent, we’ll rest by the shadow of some small trees and other plants we find along the way.  We’ll have lunch in Maizal and then enjoy a well-deserved time of rest. Maizal is perhaps the most beautiful place where we’ll set up camp on our entire trip. From here we can see the three valleys and a spectacular snow-capped peak. It’s a great place to relax and ponder.

Day 5: Maizal-Yanama
We leave behind our campsite at Maizal and head to Paso San Juan. Once again we have a long trek ahead of us, this time in a beautiful and impressive area: first through the cloud forest, and then over the Andean Puna grassland, where we find the well-known ichu grass. We’ll rest near the Victoria mines, where the shine on the rocks gives away the high concentration of minerals and metals that exist in the area. In our trek through the Puna, we’ll walk over the well-preserved Inca Trails, with their classical zig-zag shape. We’ll then have lunch at 4000 meters (13123 feet) above sea level, in a spot with an amazing view of the Choquetakarpo mountain, and then we begin our descent to Yanama, a small settlement in a valley surrounded by mountains. We’ll set up camp and eat dinner at Yanama.

Day 6: Yanama-Totora
From Yanama, we continue trekking through the valley until we reach the highest point of our journey, the Yanama Pass, at 4500 meters (14764 feet) above sea level. Along the way we’ll enjoy a spectacular view of the Sacsarayoc mountain, and we’ll have the opportunity to watch condors flying. We may need to walk on snow, and the descent will be a long trek on fields of grass. On the way to the town of Tora, we’ll pass through areas full of trees, and we’ll cross small wooden bridges. Overnight in Tora.

Day 7: Totora-Playa
We’ll descend 200 meters (656 feet) through changing vegetation, to a warmer campsite in the town of La Playa. This journey requires approximately 7 hours of walking. On the way, we’ll see several small waterfalls in which we can take a refreshing shower. As the climate and vegetation start changing, we’ll have the chance to see a wide variety of birds and orchids. La Playa is the largest town on the route. Here we can see coffee and banana plantations. Camp set-up and dinner at La Playa.

Day 8: Playa-Llactapata-Aguas Calientes
This day, we’ll go from the town of La Playa to the hydroelectric plant in the Urubamba River. In the morning, we’ll start our journey on a recently-opened stretch of the Inca Trails. This trail was originally used to transport agricultural products to the town of Machu Picchu, Then we suddenly hit a dense forest, full of trees covered with a thick layer of moss. We then see Machu Picchu for the first time, on a mountain far from the valley. After 10 minutes of trekking we reach Llactapata, where we have lunch and enjoy a relaxing time of rest. From here there is a beautiful view of Machu Picchu and the mountains. We then walk along the river to the Urubamba hydroelectric plant. There we can visit the Intihuatana while we wait for the train to Aguas Calientes. Upon arrival in Aguas Calientes, we’ll be assisted and accompanied to our chosen hotel.

Day 9: Aguas Calientes-Machu Picchu-Aguas Calientes
Today we’ll take the bus from Aguas Calientes to the entrance to Machu Picchu. We’ll start our visit from the most important areas of the archaeological site and our guide will speak to us about the importance of this citadel as a religious and astronomical center. We’ll spend the rest of the day in this amazing place, and we’ll also have the chance to scale Wayna Picchu or visit the Temple of the Moon*. At the scheduled time, we will meet in Aguas Calientes to take the return train. Upon arrival, a private vehicle will be waiting to take us to our hotel in Cusco. Note: This schedule is for reference only and may be subject to change. *Admittance to Huayna Picchu is limited to a maximum number of persons per day, therefore an admission ticket must be purchased in advance.

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