Known as “The Cradle of Gold”, Choquequirao was the last stronghold of Inca resistance and is considered by some as the “true lost city of the Incas”. This spectacular trek takes its visitors back in time, transforming their view on everything.
Perched on top of a headland, at an elevation of around 10,000 feet (3,100 meters) above sea level and with the Vilcabamba Mountains as backdrop, this huge archaeological complex truly competes with the impressive Machu Picchu. Many even prefer it, as it is possible to enjoy it in relative or even absolute solitude.
The archaeological complex covers an extensive area, but it has only been half uncovered, still hiding many secrets, which makes the experience that much more mystic. The former homes of the noble can be observed on the rims atop the main section, looking out on the common people’s houses, as well as storages and other constructions.
As it has no road access, Choquequirao is still free of massive tourism, but it is necessary to walk there. The good part is that the way itself is outstandingly beautiful. It is a great alternative to the classic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, much less crowded, while also spectacular. While there are different route options, ranging between 4 and 9 days, the most common way to get there is through a four-day trek, starting at the town of Cachora.
This trek is an adventure, truly challenging hikers, both physically and mentally. The route goes down about 4,900 feet (1,500 meters) into the canyon carved by the Apurímac River and then goes back up around 5,900 feet (1,800 meters) on the other side, heading to the Choquequirao complex. So it is recommendable to have some basic trekking experience and allow a few days in Cusco to get acclimated, before starting the trek.
The route is as challenging as it is rewarding. Hikers find undisturbed nature and breathtaking scenery as they wind through some of the most beautiful parts of the Peruvian Andes. Stunning snowcapped mountains and watching the sun rise over the mountains are the perfect prelude to the arrival in Choquequirao. And that thrilling moment when travellers reach one of the greatests Inca bastions is something that gets forever imprinted in their memory. So, in the end, the endeavor is all worth it!!
Some more experienced hikers also choose the longer, nine-day trek, including both Choquequirao and Machu Pichu.
Choquequirao topped the “Best in Travel 2017” list by Lonely Planet: https://www.lonelyplanet.com/best-in-travel/regions
National Geographic also ranked it among the “20 Best Trips 2015”: http://www.nationalgeographic.com/travel/best-trips-2015/
We believe that in order to provide the best experience to travelers, it is important to have all the fronts covered. Our operations team takes care of everything so that passengers can simply walk and enjoy. Having said that, it is important to stretch out that this route is also generally well set-up, with well-maintained campsites and small shops along the trail where to get a snack from to calm that particular craving.
Tips for the Choquequirao trek
- It is important to be in a fairly good physical condition and have some trekking training.
- Good hiking shoes are a must. Trekking socks and walking poles are also a good idea. Temperatures can vary radically, so packing accordingly is advisable. Sunscreen, sunglasses and hat are also a must.
- Allowing some time for acclimation and staying well hydrated is essential for avoiding altitude sickness.
The basic four-day trek
Passengers are driven to the community of Cachora, where the trek starts. From there, the trail goes up to the first mountain pass and then descents to the campsite at Playa Rosalina. The second day has an early start, avoiding the midday heat, going up again to the village of Santa Rosa and continuing to Marampata, where incredible terraced hillsides can be spotted, finally arriving at the gate of Choquequirao. The third day allows some time for exploring the ruins, after which the group heads back up to Playa Rosalina. On the forth day a 19 kilometer ascend to Cachora seals the challenge. Passengers are then driven back to Cuzco. More details: https://www.condortravel.com/en/travel/id7pt6u/choquequirao-cradle-of-gold/