It’s been my dream to complete a hardcore multi day hiking trip without a guide and in the Sacred Valley we had a chance to go on one (a nice Couchsurfing friend lent us his tent, yes, it happened again)! From this picture guide you’ll learn how to do the amazing Choquequirao trek in 4 days.
What is Choquequirao?
Choquequirao is a lesser known and much-much less popular Inca archaeological site at a setting similar to Machu Picchu, except that the ruins are more sporadically spread within the site, requiring a little bit of hiking to go from one ruin to the other. The hike itself is a demanding one, just like the famous Inca Trail where visitors can reach Machu Picchu.
Currently it’s possible to reach the site only by hiking half a day down the hill until the Apurimac river canyon, then a full day up the hill. With the way back, it makes a complete trip of at least 4 days.
Choquequirao (the name means the “cradle of gold” in Quechua) is at a unique geographical place: it’s where the edge of the jungle (ceja de selva) and the subandean forest meet.
Our downhill hike was therefore on a dry, stony path with cactus and other bush-sized vegetation only, while on the other side of the valley there is more precipitation all year round, so we encountered a completely different scenery: wild, dense rain forest with trees, creepers, colourful flowers, moss on all forest floors.
The archaeological site is huge, with temples, ceremonial baths, houses and agricultural terraces. Excavations are still ongoing – so far only 30-40% has been brought to air.
How to Get to Choquequirao?
The region has been planning to build a cable car(similar to La Paz’s) from the nearest town to the ruins, with the overt aim to take away tourist traffic from Machu Picchu. However, this plan has been so far prevented by protesting locals because the cable car – coming up on the other side of the hill – would take away business from the people of Marampata (the only pueblo along the hike). It would also definitely make Choquequirao crowded.
Another question is what solution they would offer to not-so-fit tourists for the hiking sections within the site. I’m afraid that, as in most of the situations, the decision is just a matter of money.
Nevertheless, Choquequirao is a killer hike right now (and until further notice) but it gave me that awe feeling of walking among ruins that are preserved from the past, something that the tourist machine that is Machu Picchu couldn’t.
Curious about Machu Picchu? Read our article about it.
Many travel blogs have written comprehensive guides about the hike (check those of Worldly Adventurer and Travel Outlandish), so I won’t bore our readers, but rather post our pictures of these beautiful and demanding few days.
Hike to Choquequirao
Marampata: the inhabitants of the only pueblo along the hike live by harsh conditions. There’s no electricity nor hot water in the houses, so using solar panels is essential. They cultivate as many crops as possible but have to pay expensive money for transporting goods from the nearby town. Their primary (maybe only?) income source is tourism, that’s why they protest with all the tools they have against the planned cable car.
The archaeological site has its own camping to use for free. We stayed 2 nights to be able to explore the whole site in peace. It was really cold at night at 3050 m!