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7-Day Choquequirao to Machu Picchu Trek

Choquequirao to Machu Picchu Trek -- Trip Photo of Peru trek  Peru map

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Day 1 : Drive from Cusco to trailhead at Cachora, hike to Chiquisca, camp overnight.

Visiting: Cusco, Cachora, Chiquisca

The evening prior to your trek, your guide will meet with you for a briefing.

After an early departure from Cusco, we drive on good tarmac road until turning off to the beautiful village of Cachora high above the River Apurimac canyon. Near the road head, we meet our trekking team, have an early lunch and start our 1600m descent into the Apurimac canyon. A short climb follows an extended descent with spectacular views of snow-capped mountains in the distance and the mighty River Apurimac deep in the canyon below. We stop by the small settlement of Chiquisca and set up camp for the night.

Distance & Heights - 10km, all down 2950m to 1550m

  • Meals: LD
  • Budget Lodging: Campsite

Day 2 : Hike to Marampata, camp overnight

Visiting: Chiquiska, Apurimac, Marampata

We continue our descent into the Apurimac canyon, cross the roaring river and climb steeply up, passing the small settlement of Santa Rosa and Maranpata. This is a long tough day requiring an early start but the scenery more than makes up for the hardships endured. We set up base camp just short of the Choquequirao ruins.

Distance & Heights - 12km, down 65m up 1415m

  • Meals: BLD
  • Budget Lodging: Campsite

Day 3 : Explore the archaeological site of Choquequirao, return to Marampata, camp overnight.

Visiting: Choquequirao, Marampata

We arrive early at the amazing ruins of Choquequirao with time to explore and marvel at this dramatic location nearly 1,700m above the roaring Apurimac River. The vast size of these extensive ruins covers an area far bigger than Machu Picchu. There is an enormous curving bank of fine terracing, a chain of ritual baths and a central plaza surrounded by fine ceremonial and high status residential architecture. Large areas still remain covered in the thick cloud forest, giving an insight into how the first explorer’s felt arriving at this deserted city. Its purpose is also still largely unclear; despite being the largest of the outlying sites, it is unmentioned in the chronicles and remained uncharted until the 18th century.

There are several theories behind its mysterious history: one theory claims the stone work is that of en-slaved Chachapoyans from the North – they were supposedly more than happy to burn and leave the site on the downfall of the Incas. Another is that it would have been used as a main highway look-out by the last Incas during their thirty year exiled rule in Vilcabamba. This Inca road would have connected Vilcabamba to the Central Highlands whilst by-passing the Spanish in Cusco. After plenty of time to explore, we return to base camp below to ponder our own theories for the evening.

Distance & Heights – From 0-15km Undulating depending on how extensively you explore.

  • Meals: BLD
  • Budget Lodging: Campsite

Day 4 : Hike to Maizal, camp overnight.

Visiting: Marampata, Maizal

Leaving at the crack of dawn, we bid farewell to Choquequirao, visiting en route another interesting ruin called Picha Unuyoc – the “water shrine”. A short sharp climb is followed by a descent of 1,400m into the Rio Blanco canyon, famous for its nasty biting sand-flies called pumahuacachi by the locals (literally “makes the puma cry”). This is followed by another tough climb of 1,200m up to the small campsite of Maizal at an altitude of 3,000m. This is probably the toughest day of the trip but allowing all day and using the support horses where necessary, it is manageable by fit trekkers.

Distance & Heights – 19km Up 1380m, down 1280m

  • Meals: BLD
  • Budget Lodging: Campsite

Day 5 : Hike to village of Yanama, camp overnight.

Visiting: Maizal, Mina Victoria, Yanama

Starting early again we climb to the Abra San Juan pass which, at 4,000m, affords spectacular views of the Cordillera Vilcabamba mountain range (when not in cloud). We then follow the trail past Corihuayrachina and the interesting old silver mines of Mina Victoria, thought to have been worked for over a thousand years. We camp at the charming Andean village of Yanama.

Distance & Heights – 14km Up 1300, down 550m

  • Meals: BLD
  • Budget Lodging: Campsite

Day 6 : Hike to hydro-electric station, short train ride, overnight in Aguas Calientes

Visiting: Yanama and Aguas Calientes

Today we say goodbye to our team of arrieros, and enjoy a spectacular drive on a brand new road over the Totora pass and down to the small hamlet and Inca terraces at Lucmabamba. Our final day of hiking takes us through the lush vegetation of coffee and tropical fruit plantations, into pristine cloud forest. We follow an ancient Inca Trail to Llactapata, an Inca site that has only recently been excavated. We will also have a truly amazing view of Machu Picchu that few tourists get to see from the back. We descend sharply to the Urubamba valley and the hydroelectric plant train station. From here we have the option to either wait for the short but spectacular train journey, or hike the two-three hours up the railway to the bustling tourist town now known as Machu Picchu Pueblo. Here we check into our hotel and enjoy a shower before heading out to sample one of the many restaurants and bars.

Distance & Heights – 14km Up 800m, down 980m

  • Meals: BL
  • Budget Lodging: Hotel in Aguas Calientes

Day 7 : Tour of Machu Picchu Citadel and train return to Cusco

Visiting: Machu Picchu and return to Cusco

First thing in the morning we head up the hill to the fabled "Lost City of the Incas - Machu Picchu" for a fully guided tour, of the residential, religious and agricultural sectors. There is time afterwards to hike to the sun-gate, Inca Bridge, Watchman’s hut or else just wander through the ruins soaking up the atmosphere. (Please note Huayna Picchu and Machu Picchu Mountain now require an extra, limited-availability permit. Please enquire at time of booking if you require one.) In the afternoon, we board the train for an interesting ride along the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Here our waiting bus whisks us back to Cusco and our hotel.

  • Meals: B

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