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Choquequirao to Machu Picchu Trek (8D/7N)

Choquequirao to Machu Picchu Trek  (8D/7N)
ITINERARY

Day 1 Start of the Trek
We depart Cusco to Cachora. After breakfast we arrange our equipment on mules and horses and start our trek up to the spectacular and almost forgotten Inca Empire city of Choquequirao. Built atop a mountain high in the Andes, the lost city of Choquequirao is comparable only to Machu Picchu in its beauty, grandeur and architectural accomplishment. The hike on this first day is 8 -10 hours and starts quite flat with views to snow-covered Padrayoc and Wayna Cachora peaks and small farms on the step mountainsides. From the viewpoint of Capuliyoc we descent towards the Apurímac Canyon. The vegetation changes from Agave and Tuna cactus forest to dwarf tree forest. We have lunch at Chiquisqa (1950 meters). From here we continue the descent to the Apurímac River in the impressive Apurimac canyon. After a break near the river we start the steep climb towards Santa Rosa, where we camp at a small sugarcane plantation (2115 meters).

Day 2 Steep trail to the site of Choquequirao
Today is the thoughest day of our hike. After an early breakfast, we continue our hike up to Choquequirao surrounded by breathtaking views at every step through valleys and up mountain sides. The first 2-3 hours are steep, but then it changes between walking flat and climbing the rest of the way with beautiful vegetation with several varieties of orchids. Arriving at the archaeological site Choquequirao we have time to enjoy this majestic place. You can appreciate houses, terraces and other parts of this inca-town. Besides we can see the ruin in the progress of being excavated and finally areas yet to be discovered. Approximately at 4 PM (depending on the weather) we can see with a bit of luck "the flight of the Condors". Tonight we camp beside the ruins.

Day 3 Exploring the Choquequirao ruins
We will have plenty of time at the site to fully explore.

Choquequirao, or "cradle of gold" in Quechua, is located almost 1750m above the raging glacier-fed Apurimac River. The ‘other Machu Picchu,’ Choquequirao has ancient stone walls that protect its two-leveled palaces and temples, systems of fountains, canals and aqueducts that fed the fantastic terraces farmed by the Inca during the Pachacutec government (XV century).

An important religious, political and economic centre as well as a commercial and cultural link between the Coast, the Highlands and the Jungle, Choquequirao is said to have been the place where the last Inca, Tupac Amaru, was raised among Inca Priestesses. We camp another night beside the ruins.

Day 4: Hike through Andean prairie and Dry Forest
We continue trekking past Choquequirao with our team of guides, herdsman and cooks through the Andes following Inca pathways. We gradually ascend and follow the old Inca water canal for a while before we start the 3 hours walk to the Pinchinuyoc archaeological sites found in 1998. First we walk through cloud forest, but then all becomes steep open prairie with open views of mountains and valleys. When we arrive to Pinchinoyoc you’ll feel that these archaeological sites are something very special. All of a sudden they appear in the cloud forest, almost invisible because of the thick layer of mosses and other vegetation that covers it. Then we walk through a dry Andean Highland Forest. Trees and plants here look different to what we have seen before. After a few hours we arrive at the Victoria river where we have a break and you can get a refreshing bath in the cold and clear river water. We cross through the river (since there are no bridges) and then start a long and steep climb to our camp in Maizal. Here we set up our camp. Maizal is probably the campsite with the most beautiful location of all, with views on three valleys and a great snow-capped peak right in front. We sleep high above the river close to the sacred Apus of the Incas.

Day 5 Cloudforest and Andean Puna
We leave our beautiful campsite and walk towards the San Juan pass. Again a long climb, but we walk in a amazingly beautiful area – first with cloud forest and then over Andean Puna with the well known Ichu grass. We rest in a place where metalic shining stones tell about a high concentration of minerals and metals. On our way through the Puna we walk on very well-preserved Inca trails with the classic zigzag. We stop for lunch at the pass at 4000 meters with the view of the mountain Choquetakarpo. After this we start the descent towards Yanama, a small isolated settlement at the bottom of a long valley surrounded by mountains were we camp for the night.

Day 6 Up to the highest pass and descent through grassy fields and bush areas to tropical coffe and banana plantations
We continue from Yanama up through the valley towards the highest point of the trek, The Yanama Pass is 4500 meters high. On the way we have great views on the snow capped Sacsarayoc mountain. Once again we have the chance to see condors. The smooth climb this morning bring us again in new landscapes, wet grass fields under the snowline distinguish from everything else seen on the hike. At the pass we might walk through snow. The descent is a long hike through grassy fields and bush areas and over small wood bridges towards the community of Totora. From here we walk about 2000 meters down to the warmer, more tropical campsite in the village of La Playa. This is approximately seven hours walking. On the way we pass small waterfalls and we can get a refreshing, energizing bath. La Playa is the biggest village on the way, where we can find some small shops to buy fruit and snacks. In this area we can see small plantations of coffee and bananas.

Day 7 Getting closer to Machu Picchu
Today we walk from Playa to the Hydroelectric station at the Urubamba River. In the morning we hike up three hours approximately until the Llactapata archaeological site that is situated behind the Machu Picchu citadel. From here we will see the inca trail and we will walk down to the Valley until we reach the Hidrolectric station. Here we will wait for the train or continue walking to the village of Aguas Calientes where we can shower and relax in the open air hot springs during the afternoon. We spent the night in a hostal in the little town below Machu Picchu.

Day 8 Exploring The Lost City Of the Incas and soak in the hot springs
From Aguas Calientes we hike the last part up the hill to Machu Picchu. We will have about a two hour guided tour in this amazing site. Then you will have plenty of free time to make pictures and explore the site at leisure, you have the chance to hike up to the Sun gate for beautiful panoramic views. In the afternoon we take the bus back to Aguas Calientes where you can have lunch and soak in the hotsprings. Later in the afternoon we take the train back to Cusco.



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