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CHOQUEQUIRAO - MACHUPICCHU TREKKING 4D / 3N

Choquequirao TrekChoquequirao sits in the saddle of a high Andean ridge, 3000m./10,000 ft. above sea level and 1,500m./5,000 ft. above the roaring waters of the Apurimac River. Ringed by spectacular snow-capped peaks and flanked by plunging, thickly forested slopes, the city is an inspiring example of an elite Inca ceremonial center, dedicated to the worship of the mountain gods, the river and the elements of nature. Choquequirao has been called “Machu Picchu’s sacred sister”, because of the striking similarities of design and ceremonial architecture to its famous counterpart above the Urubamba Gorge. Yet it remains an enigmatic place whose history is a matter of speculation. One theory of its origins holds that it was a royal estate built for Topa Inca, perhaps in an attempt to rival his father Pachacuti’s spectacular domain at Machu Picchu. For centuries Choquequirao lay shrouded in obscurity, protected by its remoteness.

Unlike Machu Picchu, people knew it was there – it was first mentioned in a Spanish document of 1710, later visited by various explorers and treasure hunters, and roughly surveyed in the 19th century by the French consul in Lima, Leonce Angrand. Finally, in 1909, the explorer Hiram Bingham –the future scientific discoverer of Machu Picchu -- explored and mapped the site.

Today we can trek to Choquequirao through a modern footbridge across the Apurimac River. The journey is as awe-inspiring as ever, taking us through an astounding range of ecological zones, from Andean farming valleys, descending through a hot and arid canyon environment featuring kapok trees, cactus and agaves, and climbing again to a region of lush cloud forest, beneath the dizzying snowcaps of the Cordillera Vilcabamba.

From an environmental point of view, the principal value of this ecosystem is the role played by the exuberant forests higher up in the mountains in maintaining the equilibrium of the water system of the region, taking rainwater and conducting it - without causing erosion - to the river Apurimac. If these were to disappear, many species of unique flora and fauna virtually unknown to science would go with them. Above all, however, an irreversible process of environmental deterioration would have begun and this would have devastating consequences for man, such as the destruction of roads and crops, flooding and landslides.

At present the main thread to this natural sanctuary is that of forest fires. Started by farmers in neighboring highland areas, seasonal burning - intended to renew natural pastures - spread out of control, helped by the fragility of the vegetation, to the lower slopes leading to the heart of the mountain forest. The FIRES destroy everything in their path, enormous areas of virgin forest until they are extinguished by the rain. In recent years fires have been of such magnitude that the devastation has even reached the boundary of the nearby Sanctuary of Machu Picchu.

DAY 1: CUSCO – CACHORA – SANTA ROSA

choquequirao trekWe leave from Cusco at 4:00 am in the morning. Arriving at Cachora town at 6:30 in the morning where we will have our breakfast. Here after we arrange the equipment on mules and horses. From that place we can observe the majestic Padrayoc snow-covered peaks, it is 5482 m.a.s.l. The hike on this first day is 21.70 km of distance. On the way we will observe Padrayoc and Wayna Cachora snow-covered peaks, we can appreciate the beautiful change of the landscape from precipices to snowy mountains.
We have our lunch in a place called Playa Rosalina at 1:00 pm. On the way we will observe Apurimac canyon with its impressive depth and in Santa Rosa we will set up our campsite.

The approximate time of the hike is about 10 h. On this day we will pass the small settlements: La Colmena (2870m.a.s.l.),

La Aguada (2915m.a.s.l.), Capuliyoc (2915 m.a.s.l.) impressive look out point where we can see all Apurimac Valley, Huayhuacalle (2970m.a.s.l.), Tinajayoc (2630 m.a.s.l.), Mirador (2370 m.a.s.l.), Cocamasana (2330m.a.s.l.), Torowisqana (2285 m.a.s.l.), Chiquiska (1950 m.a.s.l.) grove place where we can find water, Playa Rosalina (camp in 1550 m.a.s.l.), La Huerta (2705 m.a.s.l.) and finally we arrive in Santa Rosa (2115 m.a.s.l.).

DAY 2: CHOQUEQUIRAO – RAQAYPATA

choquequirao trekEarly morning (5:00 am) after breakfast, we continue our hike going up to Choquequirao. We will arrive to the archaeological place Choquequirao after 5 hours. Good time to enjoy that majestic place. We will observe the three levels of the excavated ruin, where we can appreciate houses, terraces and other parts of this late Inca-town, like the ruin in progress of excavation and finally areas unexplored that can tell us about this last refuge of the oppressed inca empire. Approximately at 3 o'clock in the afternoon (depends of the weather) we can appreciate "the flight of the Condors".

Choquequirao is considered as "The Last Refuge of the Inca Empire". The oldest reports assign to Juan Arias Diaz as one of the first persons that explored the zone in 1710. Our bilingual guide will explain the history and importance of the site after the Spanish arrived to Peru. We will have our lunch and dinner in Raqaypata (2910 m.a.s.l.).

DAY 3: RAQAYPATA - CHIQUISKA

After an early breakfast we pack and start walking back to Chiquiska. On the way we can observe again Apurimac canyon . Here we may be lucky to appreciate the flight of the Condors, the exuberant vegetation and its variety of flowers and orchids.
The time of the hike is about 10h. Altitude: 3033-1950 m.a.s.l. Passing the same small settlements as on the way up. We will stop in Playa Rosalina where we will have our lunch and after that we'll continue to Chiquiska. Here we will spend the night on our campsite.

DAY 4: CHIQUISKA - CACHORA – CUSCO

Early morning after breakfast (5:00 am), we continue to arrive to Cachora town. On the hike we can appreciate again the majestic Padrayoc snow-covered peak that decorate to Apurimac canyon.

The time of hike to arrive to Cachora is about 7 hours. In the way back to Cusco we make a stop in Cconoc and enjoy of the hot natural springs Showers are available the same time we can see native product of the area.

We will arrive to Cusco approximately at 10 pm.

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