This is a truly unique sojourn through the south part of the Cordillera of the Andes. You will be trekking through the Vilcabamba mountain range located in the department of Cusco and visit two ancient and remote cities from the Incas times. Explore the different ecosystems and experience the biodiversity of one of the longest mountain range in the world.
Choquequirao is one of the largest of abandoned Inca cities.it was probably built by the Inca Tupac Yupanqui from 1471 to 1500 after his father Pachacutek.it was probably built as a political, social, military and religious retreat and center during the expansion of this Inca king and refuge of the last Incas. To reach it requires an extraordinary hike through the Andes in the Vilcabamba mountain range with the incredible Canyon view of a mighty river called Apurimac (one of the main heat water sources of the Amazon River).
Difficulty of the trek: moderate to difficult, good physical conditions.
Day 1: Distance: 10km, Altitude: 2915 to 1800mts, hours 5, 6, camping 1800mts
Day 2: Distance: 14km, Altitude: 1800 to 3033mts, hours 7 camping at 3055mts
Day 3: Distance: 6km, Altitude: 3033 to 3055mts, hours 7, camping 3055mts
Day 4: Distance: 12km, Altitude: 3033mtrs to 3055 mts, hours 8 camping 2200mts
Day 5: Distance: 19km, Altitude: 2200 to 3900mts, hours 8, and camping 2200mts
Day 6: Distance: 38km, hike and car, Altitude: 2200 to 4400mts, hours 8, and camping 1950mts
Day 7: Distance: 11km, Altitude: 1950 to 3000 mts, hours 8, and camping 2060mts
Day 8: Distance: 8km, Altitude: 2450 to 3100mts, hours 8, Cusco 3300mts
Ecosystems: Scrub bush vegetation, Andean semi dry forest, cloud forest, inter Andean valleys. Grass land, alpine, glaciers.
Highlights: Some Inca remains. High biodiversity, flora, fauna. Ancient Inca road, sacred mountains, amazing landscape.
Climate: The temperature varies in between below ºC to 2ºC,morning ,night to 20ºC,middle day to 25ºC day. Mountain weather, sunny to cloudy, windy.
The Inca road system called Capac Ñan (beautiful road or Great Inca road) it was the most extensive and complex ancient system in the new world. It is believed that this main road built it by the Incas was the main net work system that connected the four cardinal points in this part of the world. This sacred road was also part of the Inca empire high way of the Tawantinsuyo( the empire of the four corners).Chinchaysuyo(the north region,Contisuyo( the south region),Collasuyo (the west region) and then the Antisuyo( the east region )ending in the jungles of the unexplored Amazon
It use to run from south to north and from west to the east parts of the Andes with several primary and secondary roads that were connecting several sacred places, Inca cities, shires and administrative places as well military stations.All of them with great scale, beauty and functions, providing also all kind of sources for the people, helping the redistribution and spreading around the messages of the Incas, carried by Inca runners who where coming from the capital Cusco. The Capac ñan was a great web and work system with all the communication well organize with imperials and government messages and member in duty, used by the Inca people .In this way the Incas achieve a well organize empire and only with one language, one religion and one culture ,The Inca culture.
The Capac ñan covered a distance of over 40 thousand kilometers of primary and secundary roads made it by the Incas or added to their sistem from preInca civilizations and over 3000 kilometers long in a territory filled with one of the longest mountain range called the Andes over 9000 kilometers long, one of the densest jungle in the world the Amazon and one of the dries places in the world the dessert of Peru and Atacama. With elevations in between 100 to 5000 mts providing access to different ecosystem and territory estimates in over 5,000,000 square kilometers of territory, where the Incas built and crossed mountains valleys rivers and glaciers. The main road of the Incas was also beginning in the great capital of the Inca empire Cusco or Qosqo (navel of the world).According with the evidence found in this capital .There was the four main roads beginning in the sacred plaza of Aukaipata in the heart of the Inca capital city and used to go to the four directions of the empire ending in the places like the jungle and the high plateau of the Andes. Others covering valleys and then deserts ending close to the ocean.
It went in to places like Ecuador and Colombia in the north .as well to places like Bolivia, Argentina and the deserts of Atacama in between Peru and Chile. To access to those Inca roads it was mandatory to get permissions because many of f those Inca roads were used by members of the high classes and soldiers as well many representers of the government in duty. In some bridges taxes where charged as well many messagers were running through stations to deliver the messages that were connecting the different places.
The most spectacular and scenery road is found near Cusco that connects some sacred cities like Machu picchu, Choquequirao, Vilcabamba, Vitcos, Espiritu pampa.as well Sacred mountains called Apus like the Mythic Ausangante (6384 mts) and the Salcantay (6221mts).Finally some of those Inca trails are connecting communities in the area of Lares and the sacred valley ending some of the in the jungles of the department of Cusco.
DAY 1 – Trekking, Cachora, Capulichayoc, Chikiska
We depart from Cusco early in the morning and drive northeast for about 4 hours, 153 kilometers, into the department of Apurimac. This picturesque area is good to see the two mountain ranges Vilcabamba,west and Urubamba east with two soources of the Amazon .The Mythi Urubamba and Apurímac canyons.It was also an historical place for the Incas and the Chancas and the sacred Apurímac River. After stopping for photos, we continue to the town of Cachora at 2900 meters, where we will begin preparations. From here we drive 30 minutes, enjoying views of the snow-capped Padreyoc at 5771 meters. Our lunch spot will be at Capulichayoc at 2915 meters.Here we will see some native species such as the “Prunus Capuli” tree.Is also the begining of the hike and trail down and to the Apurímac Canyon and the Inca remains of Choquequirao, “Cradle of Gold”.
Mainly downhill,zigzagging,stairs and gravel on moderate to difficult trails, to our camp at Chiquisca.There is an Inca militar station on the left side of the canyon ,probably used to control the River and canyon from the Chancas enemies of the Incas from the Apurimac region. We will see one ecosystem called the “Andean semidry forest” with native species of scrub bush vegetation with Chilca bush “Bacharis Peruviana”, “Schinus Molle” trees and Tara “Caesalpina Spinosa” trees that are used for medicinal purposes in the area. We may see hummingbirds and if we are lucky, the Andean Condor “Vulture Gryphus” and Black chested Buzzard Eagles “Geranoaetus Melanoleucus” and Falcons flying above the Apurimac River canyon.
DAY 2 – Chiquiska, Santa Rosa, Marampata,Choquequirao
Today we’re off to an early start to climb up and out of the gorge of the Apurimac River. After about an hour hike we will arrive at Rosalina beach, where we can enjoy an early bath in the river. About 2 hours of hiking gradually upwards is the village of Santa Rosa, at 2115 meters, where we have a break and enjoy some of the local moonshine, made from sugar cane. We then continue upward on a zigzagging trail of moderate to difficult climbing, through the Andean dry forest then the scrub bush vegetation of the Andean semi-dry forest.This second climb will take about 2 more hours to arrive at marampata village. In this native ecosystem we will see several species of bromeliads and the tree cactus, “Neoraimondia”, the prickly pear cactus, “Opuntia”, the Condon columnar cactus, “Pilosocereus Tweedyanus”, a tree from the acacia family called “Willka Acacia Macrocantha”, also hummingbirds and finches. Once we reach the little village of Maranpata at 2910 meters, we will have lunch. A 2 hour-hike afternoon hike takes us through the cloud forest with species of birch family, Aliso “Alnus Jorullensis”, our national flower, Kantu “Cantua Buxifolia”, and many bromeliads and orchids. We will arrive at Choquequirao “Cradle of Gold”, at 3033 meters, for sunset and a short exploration.
DAY 3 – Choquequirao full day
Today we will be up in time for sunrise. After breakfast we take a wonderful hike into the city of Choquequirao “Cradle of Gold”, at 3055 meters. This Inca city is poised several thousand feet above the inner Gorge of the Apurímac River. The views to the south, east and west span great distances and areas, a strategic location at the entrance to the Vilcabamba Mountain Range. It was built by the last Incas of the Empire, probably as a political,social and religious city retreat and also a point of control of the different ecological floors from the regions of southern Perú specially the entrance of Vilcabamba region and mountain range.
Beautiful buildings were built at Choquequirao that were occupied by royalty, nobility and important people and their entourages. These were religious retreats, plazas,palaces, ceremonial places, astronomical observatories and they also served as military stations, store houses, granaries, and terraces for farming, all connected by Inca roads. Construction included existing rock, the small valley itself, and the mountain. Fine masonry and well carved, well-polished stonework, all assembled without mortar. The work was done by laborers from elsewhere who used ramps, rollers, and manpower.
Today we have time for both an extended tour and brief explorations. return to the camp.over night in Choquequirao.
DAY 4 – Choquequirao Maizal,
Today’s early start is framed with the view of part of the Vilcabamba range. massive glaciers and cordillera is visible while we descend from the choquequirao past (3050 mtrs) down to the botom of the valley.As well we will see glaciers like the Pumasillo, at approximately 19,000 feet. This glacier was of great importance in the irrigation and water supply of water for the area, flowing. After 45 minutes to the past of choquequiraw remains we will go down for 3 hours un till we reach lunch close to the river called Amaru then we go up to maizal village about two hours where we will camp. This is a grassland area with a prevalence of Graminae such as Andean Ichu “Stipa” and the Andean bush called “Chilca Bacharis Latifolia” and “Lanceolata”.
DAY 5 – Maizal,Yanama village
After breakfast we enjoy the beginning of the day with a beautiful view of the Vilcabamba Mountain Range.Today’s early start is framed with the view of the glacier called Korihuayrachina, at approximately 19,000 feet. This glacier was of great importance in the irrigation and water supply of water for the area, flowing through Inca aqueducts.. We start our hike up though varied inter-Andean valleys and then some semicloud forest, with the objective of reaching our first high mountain pass:Silver mines pass Pass at an altitude of 14,000 feet probably about 3 hours with original Inca stone work in the trail. We will stop there to celebrate this worthy achievement and to take pictures before descending to the lunch spot. Following our rest and refreshment we continue our hike down to the village of Yanama,another 3 hours enjoying the incredible view of one othe Pumasillo Glacier, looming close by at an altitude of 19,000 feets. We will have time to relax at camp and bathe in the river. We may see Andean birds, “Fringillidae”, perhaps the Rufus Collared Sparrow “Zonotrichia Capensis” and the “Plumbeous Sierra Finch “Phygilus Unicolor”. There will be great star-gazing after dark tonight.
DAY 6 – Yanama pass Totora, Collpapampa, Lucmabamaba
Morning drive in a truck with the view of the beautiful Salkantay peak first thing in the morning heralds a lovely day. We continue driving through different valleys, where we will occasionally encounter some native scrub bush vegetation and bird life, typical of the Andean semi dry forest. We will stop for lunch near the river to refresh then continue the spectacular hike in the afternoon to the camp in lucmabamba. The views will be spectacular where two rushing rivers meet to form the Santa Teresa River, which is one of the smaller tributaries of the Urbamba River, one of the main sources of the great Amazon River. We also will stop near the hot springs for a great water massage and bath. We are likely to see native flora and fauna such as Bromeliads and other Bromelaceae “Puya Densiflora” and the Collared Warbling Finch “Poopiza Hispaniolensis”. Our camp is in the vicinity of the Santa Teresa River. Today’s we will drive for 3 hours and then hike for 4 hours .
DAY 7 – Lucmabamba,aguas calientes
We begin today’s hike on an original Royal Inca Road, probably used to connect the cities of Vilcabamba, Choquequiraw, and other sites with the sacred city of Machu Picchu. Eight Inca roads that connect to this citadel. After following a coffee plantation, we climb up in the Lucmabamba Mountain through the cloud forest on an incredible Inca Road. On this journey we will find some plant species native to the cloud forest. The Bromeliad called Maguey plants “Furcraea Andina” was used by the Incas to make rope and cables for their famous suspension bridges and for the transportation of rocks. When we reach the summit of this ridge, we shall come upon at least 3 different Inca Roads, which in time have become trails. We will choose the one that will lead us to the city of Patacllacta, a ceremonial and astronomical retreat. Here we will explore and have a view of Machu Picchu from a distance. After a light lunch, we descend into the valley of Aobamba on a dirt trail where we will see the White Collar Swift “Streptoprocne Zonaris”. Down in the bottom of the valley, it is hot and there will be time for a swim in the nearby river. After a refreshing bath we continue for 10 minutes more to the train stop on the Urubamba River. The train will carry us to the town of Aguas Calientes in the district of Machu Picchu, where we will lodge overnight.
DAY 8 – Machu picchu full day
Today we begin at sunrise, taking a 20 minute bus ride up to Machu Picchu. After the necessary preparations we embark on a tour that will take about two hours.
Machu Picchu is situated at the beginning, or “eye brow”, of the cloud forest. This allowed access to different altitudes, each with unique ecological conditions. The crops found at Machu Picchu include different varieties of corn, chilies, quinoa, tomatoes, trees, potatoes, suggesting that this was a good place to acclimate and domesticate species from the high and low jungles that later would be successfully introduced into the hanging valleys and elsewhere.
This small valley was suitable for the building of temples and astronomical observatories,, plazas, streets, utilitarian and functional buildings,
ceremonial places, granaries, store houses and terraces for agriculture, Inca roads.
By analysis of soil, seeds, wood, and bones, Carbon Dating situates Incas in the area during the mid-1400s to mid-1500s. Machu Picchu was built by the Inca number 9 who named it “Pachacutek” or “Cusi Yupanqui”. Throughout the site, there is fine masonry and beautiful stonework, all of which is done without mortar. Construction used outside sources for laborers and two large granite quarries nearby. It is believed that the site was occupied by royalty and dignitaries, and that it was visited by the Inca and his entourage or royal court. Even though it was never quite completed, local scholars and historians believe that within a mere 100 years Machu Picchu was built, inhabited, and abandoned.
Several roads connect to bring pilgrims and essential supplies to Machu Picchu, the site of temples and astronomical observatories dedicated to the sun, moon, stars, the universe, the mother earth “Pachamama” and the creator “Wiracocha”.
Afterwards we have the choice either to hike mountains of Machupicchu, or the Sun Gate or Huayna Picchu, each is about 3 hours of hiking, round trip. We will enjoy one last view of Machu Picchu before taking the train back to Cusco, where we will have our farewell dinner.
We Provide and Include: Itinerary transport roundtrip from Cusco-Licensed, Bilingual, history and naturalist Tour Guides-All Itinerary Meals, including vegetarian & snacks, Safety orientation and Equipment for optional activities-First Aid kit and Oxygen-Tour specific Sleeping bags, air mattresses and Expedition grade tents-Dining tent, Cook & Services-Horses,Mules for tour outfitting, Horse wrangler staff, and emergency or back-up horse-Ecological, portable toilets-All Entrance Tickets-Bus up and down for Machu Picchu-Pre-purchased Return Train connections to Cusco.optional hikes in Machu picchu and Huayna picchu mountains and the Intipunku Inca trail.
We can recommend the best and more comfortable hotels or we can take care of the reservations for you.
For adjusting to tour altitude, we suggest one day tours like the Sacred Valley hike,one day River Rafting before the Apurímac River and the City Tour of Cusco hike. As Guides we offer 100% Gauranteed Information, for your sensibilities – about the best specific hotel rooms and services around Peru, like extra windows and other amenities.
What to bring
This is a list designed to advise you what equipment is appropriate to bring according to the weather conditions predominating at the time of your trip:
Jeans and other pants are good as well.as well any clothes that cover the request of being water proof or resistance to water or cold are fine as long they are resistance to the conditions are fine.
- Flashlights (at least one headlamp among them).
- Sun Block; Insect Repellent.
- Towels (Small; cotton and hygienic).
- Rain Gear (Pants and Jacket)
- A couple of pairs of socks, perhaps even an extra pair.
- One pair of trousers for the evening plus two more pairs for trail use (zipp-offs).
- Sandals for River OR DRYSHOES.ASWELL use or CAMP OR HOTEL use (Teva types).
- Low ankle height hiking shoes or regular hiking boots (check the season).
- Reading material.
- Binoculars (always useful regardless of season and activity).
- Bathing Suit.
- Water Bottle (I liter capacity).
- Good Sun glasses, perhaps two sets.
- A bandana for neck protection.
- A couple of sets of underwear (perhaps an extra pair).
- Camera and plenty of film.
- Passport (plus a couple of Xerox copies).