Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Choquequirao - trek it now before the tram!

The national government of Peru recently approved an aerial tramway to the isolated Inca ruins site of Choquequirao. Often referred to as the "sister city" of the far more famous Machu Picchu, Choquequirao sees a fraction of the 1,800 average daily visitors to Machu Picchu. The new 3-mile tram will span the deep canyon of the Apurimac River and will make Choquequirao accessible within 15 minutes from the nearest highway.
From the AP: "The president of the Apurimac state government, Elias Segovia, anticipates the $45 million tramway will bring about 3,000 tourists a day after it opens in late 2015. 'This is going to generate tourist services. It will generate great investment' in hotels, restaurants and other amenities, he says. The idea is to shift some of the tourist burden from Machu Picchu. . ."
While one can argue the pro's and con's of this development, one thing's for certain - now is the time to embark on a trek to Choquequirao! The New York Times outed the little known Inca ruins site in its 2007 travel piece titled "The Other Machu Picchu" and the experience has changed very little in the six years since. It's still only accessible by foot, at least for now!

Tucano Peru offers a 5-day/4-night fully supported trek to Choquequirao, with an optional Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu add-on. For more details, read-on or download the full itinerary here.

Choquequirao in Quechua means “Golden Cradle,” although this is probably not its original name, this mysterious and dazzling place is another “Lost city of the Incas” located high on a ridge spur, almost 1750m above the raging glacier-fed Apurimac River and surrounded by towering snow-capped peaks of the Vilcabamba mountain range. Enjoy a great experience and a new discovery, appreciate the magnificence of Choquequirao with its palaces, temples, two-tier fountain systems, canals, aqueducts, and its lovely terraces “upholstered” with profuse vegetation.

Day 1: Cusco - Limatambo - Curahuasi - Huanipaca - Tambobamba.
Early morning at 07:00hrs, you will be transferred from Cusco to Huanipaca (3150 m/ 10335 f), an area surrounded by mountains and with a great view of the snow-covered peak of Padreyoc (5571 m / 18228 f). We will then descend to the Limatambo valley, where you will visit Tarawasi an archeological site. After continue to the town of Curahuasi, known for its anis tea farming, visit the archaeological site of Saywite a fascinating and unique Inca site. Saywite is a limestone outcropping about four meters in diameter on which the Incas carved a model of their empire, Tawantinsuyo. The stone; where images of flora, fauna, and the topography and customs of the empire of the sun were traced; was used in ceremonies dedicated to the worship of water. Descending to the mountain village of Huanipaca we will arrive at 11:30hrs, where you will meet with the carriers and mules that will walk with you during the whole expedition and enjoy the impressive views of the glacier chain “Sacsarayoc”, located in the region of Vilcabamba “The last shelter of the Incas”. Hike through the communities of Pacobamba for one hour before stopping for lunch. We will then head along a gently descending trail, walking for two to three hours through lush vegetation before arriving to the Tambobamba property (2,000 m /6562f), a very rich cultivating area to Huerto Carmen (orchard) to the ranch Tambobamba that in the colonial times was inhabited by the Spanish landowners. This is our first campsite. Camp.

Meals : Lunch - Tea time - Dinner
Walking Time : 05 hours
Total Distance : 12 km
Level : Moderate
Accommodation : Camp
Maximum altitude : 3150 m.a.s.l. / 10335 ft
Campsite Altitude : 2000 m / 6562 f.
Average Temperature : 08° C - 22°C

Day 2: Tambobamba - San Ignacio -Choquequirao.
After sunrise and breakfast, begin the trek with a gentle descent to the Apurimac River which is also a natural division between the departments of Apurimac and Cusco. After crossing over the bridge, descend for 3 hours to the site of San Ignacio, where you will have an impressive view of the Apurimac Canyon surrounded by sub-tropical vegetation. Here we will take lunch, before beginning the ascent to the ruins of Choquequirao, this path will lead us through a variety of ecosystems and pass through dense cloud forest as we finally arrive at our campsite near Choquequirao. Today we will ascend more than 1200 meters. and after a long and intense hike, we’ll arrive at our campsite. For the anxious and fit trekkers, there will be time in the afternoon to make a first visit to Choquequirao (3033 m / 9951f). Camp

Meals : Breakfast - Lunch - Tea time - Dinner
Walking Time : 07 - 08 hours
Total Distance : 16 km
Level : Demanding
Accommodation : Camp
Maximum altitude : 3033 m.a.s.l / 9951 ft.
Campsite Altitude : 3000 m / 9851f
Average Temperature : 10°C - 24°C

Day 3: Choquequirao Exploring.
This morning after breakfast, we will begin with a visit to the most interesting sections of the archaeological site of Choquequirao. With some luck we can spot condors, these great Andean birds often soar up from the canyon floor in the morning and afternoon thermals, providing visitors on the central plaza of Choquequirao a magnificent show. There is the possibility for the adventurous to discover some newly discovered sections of this magnificent site. In the afternoon, there is time to relax, or we can make our way to other recently cleared sections of the site. Camp

Meals : Breakfast - Lunch - Tea
time - Dinner
Walking Time : 05 hours
Total Distance : 6 km
Level : Demanding
Accommodation : Camp
Maximum altitude : 3033 m.a.s.l. / 9951 ft.
Campsite Altitude : 3000 m / 9841 ft.
Average Temperature : 10°C - 18°C

Day 4: Choquequirao - Marampata -Santa Rosa - Playa Rosalinda.
After an early breakfast we bid farewell to Choquequirao and begin our descent to the town of Marampata (2,850 m / 9350 f), which is a one hour and a half hike; While descending from the Vilcabamba mountains, you will have the opportunity to sight the Condor, the Andean symbol. We will continue onto Raqaypata beside the Chunchullumayo River, which is a 3 hour hike and where Lunch will be served. Along the way, we will observe many orchids and wild flowers as well as many birds as we will finally descend to the bridge that crosses the Apurimac River. As we descend, the heat will become intense, and we will arrive hot and tired at the bridge crossing the river. There, we will be able to bath in order to refresh ourselves. Dinner will be served at the riverside. Here, we have time to relax, and In order to avoid the heat our campsite will be at Playa Rosalina (1550 m /
5085 f). Camp

Meals : Breakfast - Lunch - Dinner
Walking Time : 7 hours
Total Distance : 12 km
Level : Demanding
Accommodation : Camp
Maximum altitude : 2580 m.a.s.l. / 9350 ft.
Campsite altitude : 1550 ma.s.l. / 5085 ft.
Average Temperature : 12°C - 25°C

Day 5: Playa Rosalinda - Chiquisca -Cachora - Cusco.
After breakfast, we will continue our ascent towards Chiquisca (1930 m / 6332 f) where the climate becomes noticeably warmer and the flora and fauna begin to change, Hike through the Capuliyoc Pass (2800 m / 9186 f). It is a 3 hour hike and we have a spectacular view of the Apurimac Canyon and the archaeological complex of Choquequirao. We then continue ascending and finally arrive at the town of Cachora (2850 m / 9350 f), at 12:30hrs, this area is surrounded by mountains and with a great view of the snow-covered peak of Padreyoc (5571 m / 18228 f). Stop for a lunch. Our vehicle will be waiting to take us back to Cusco. On our return, we will have an opportunity to visit The Hot spring Cconoq medicinal and curative water. We'll arrive in Cusco in the late afternoon.

Meals : Breakfast - Lunch
Walking Time : 6 hours
Total Distance : 9 km
Level : Demanding
Driving Time : Cachora - Cusco 3 hours
Maximum altitude : 2580 m.a.s.l. / 9350 ft.
Accomodation : Selected Hotel
Average Temperature : 12°C - 25°C

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