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The Epic Choquequirao Trek: The Real Lost City of the Inca

Choquequirao trek

The Epic Choquequirao Trek: The Real Lost City of the Inca

Which is the most beautiful trekking route in the Cusco region? Choquequirao trek to Machu Picchu is on the very top of the list. This extraordinary 8-day journey into remote region where the Andes meet the Amazon goes through low river valleys, high mountain passes with amazing views of the surrounding snows-capped mountains, and sub-tropical cloudforest. It’s a great opportunity to see the variety of wildlife (Andean condors, even spectacled bear) and vegetation (bromeliads, orchids) that inhabit these environments. The well preserved Inca Trail also leads the trekkers through time into secluded Andean villages and to three archeological sites: Choquequirao, Llactapata, and Machu Picchu. This off-the-beaten-track experience offers the best of Cusco with the bonus of very few visitors on the route all the way before reaching Machu Picchu.

The name of Choquequirao is commonly translated as ‘Cradle of Gold’. What is translated as ‘gold’ also means ‘treasure’. Although the Inca Empire was rich with gold, the treassure of Choquequirao refers to knowledge and wisdom rather than material wealth.

choquequirao trek

Terrain

The total walking distance of the Choquequirao Trek to Machu Picchu is 79 miles (127 kilometers). There are steep stair sections on the route; some parts of the Inca Trail are carved into the cliffs and can only 50 cm wide. The altitude varies from as low as 1500m to as high as 4050m. The Inca paths zigzag up and down the slopes. All of these make hiking this route through the Mountain Range of Willkapampa (also spelled Vilcabamba) quite physically challenging, but the level of trekking difficulty is rewarded with stunning beauty. Due to the remoteness of Choquequirao Archeological Site and the difficulty of the access to it roughly only 15 – 30 people come to discover this fascinating place per day (compared to up to 2500 that Machu Picchu receives daily). It feels that all who come have the ancient Inca City to themselves. This is one of the reasons why National Geographic recommends Choquequirao as a great trekking destination. In fact, about 60 – 70% of the structures are yet to be uncovered.

Cusco Journeys itinerary gives enough time to explore the Choquequirao trek. Our groups visit the site on Day 2 of the 8-day trail, spend the night camping near it, and still have plenty of time to spend inside Choquequirao the next morning.

Choquequirao Trek

Unique Views of Machu Picchu – The Epic Choquequirao Trek: The Real Lost City of the Inca

Llactapata complex is the penultimate Inca Site visited on Day 7 of this long Choquequirao trail. This seven day too rewards the trekkers’ endurance with a truly amazing view of Machu Picchu from the back that few visitors get to see. It means approaching the UNESCO protected citadel from the opposite direction than the Classic Inca Trail route, which tends to be fully booked months in advance.

Llactapata (Town Above or High Town) was first cleaned up in 1989. But it has gained major attention since 2003. The position of Llactapata fits into major geographical and astronomical alignment: Huayna Picchu towards the North, Machu Picchu towards the South, Putucusi Peak towards the East, and Llactapata complex towards the West. Machu Pichu Citadel is also aligned with the Winter Solstice and its original entrace from the Inca Trail – Inti Punku (Sun Gate or Gateway of the Sun) – is aligned with the Summer Solstice.

Safety

In Cusco Journeys safety comes first especially when it comes to challenging terrains of trekking routes like Choquequirao. With each group we provide the corresponding number of guides, wranglers, baggage horses and mules, and emergency horses or mules – should someone feel tired or needed to be evacuated. We also promote responsible tourism. So you can be sure when booking with us you are in the hands of experienced professionals and need not to be worried about your safety or the well-being of our staff.

Extras

For those who choose the private service there is an option of customizing the trip and making a stop near Santa Teresa for the best and safest zipline or a visit to Cocalmayo Hot Springs.

More Choquequirao Options

If you want to escape the crowds that stroll through Machu Picchu every day, Andina Travel also offers circuit 5-day Choquequirao Trek option to visit the Inca City of Choquequirao. Contact us at info@www.cuscojourneys.com to learn about different trips we offer.

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