AAPT10  Vilcabamba - Choquequirao Trek          17D/16N


Choquequirao is perhaps one of the best-preserved major Inca ruins in southern Peru and is rivaling in importance with the world-famous Machu Picchu citadel. In fact, until the nineteenth century, it was thought that Choquequirao might be the famous "Lost City of the Incas". It is located in the Vilcabamba Range where trekking is a great opportunity to explore beyond the well-known hiking routes to Machu Picchu. This is a challenging and rewarding adventure: great landscapes, high altitude mountain passes, amazing views, and impressive Inca ruins are waiting for us in the heart of the Andes. The trekking, dominated by the 20,000-feet peaks of Salcantay and Pumasillo, starts from the cloud forest environment below Machu Picchu, crosses the highlands of the Vilcabamba Range, descends down to the spectacular canyon of the Apurimac River, and finally climbs out of this immense valley up to the highlands. The Inca shrines and highways throughout the Vilcabamba, specially Rosaspata and Ñusta Ispana, are exceptionally worth to visit.

Day 1: Lima City.

Arrive in Lima. You will be transferred to a comfortable hotel.

Day 2: Lima – Cusco - Ollantaytambo:

Morning flight to Cusco, the ancient capital of the Inca Empire. Arrival and transport towards Urubamba (2800m), the Incas Sacred Valley. Full day guided tour to explore the major Inca sites of Pisac and Ollantaytambo, important Inca ruins located in the Urubamba Valley. Comfortable hotel accommodations in Ollantaytambo. (B, L).

Day 3: Ollantaytambo – Trekking the Sacred Way to Machu Picchu.

Morning transfer to Ollanta train station. Travel down the impressive gorge of the Vilcanota Range. After one-hour travel, we leave the train at km 104 and cross a suspension bridge to the ruins of Cashapampa. From here, we start to enjoy a beautiful walk gaining elevation until we reach the cloud forests, and a splendid waterfall cascading down amid wild orchids and begonias. Leaving this delightful glade shortly we will reach the lowest terraces of the massive ruins of Wiñay Wayna. Traversing a spectacular section of the trail high above the Vilcanota River, we reach the Gate of the Sun for an unforgettable view from above to Machu Picchu Citadel. Hotel in Aguas Calientes. (B, LB).

Day 4: Machu Picchu - Ollantaytambo.

We can spend the morning exploring the main citadel and perhaps climb to the summit of Huayna Picchu to get a unique view of Machu Picchu and the surrounding mountains. In the afternoon by train, we to return to Ollantaytambo for overnight. Hotel. (B, L)

Day 5: Ollantaytambo - Huancacalle.

In the morning, we drive over the Malaga Pass to the north of Mount Veronica. Descending westward through the cloud forests we cross the Urubamba River and follow it to the south until we reach the valley of the Vilcabamba River. We pass a landscape of small farms of tropical fruits, banana and coffee. Finally, late in the afternoon we reach our camp at Huancacalle. (B, LB, D).

Day 6: Huancacalle - Ñusta Ispana:

Today's trekking takes us up to the Inca ruins of Vitcos and Ñusta Ispana. Vitcos is a classic ceremonial plaza lined with massive Inca stonework that occupies a ridge-top site dominating the surrounding countryside. Continuing from here after a 1-hour trek, we will reach Ñusta Ispana, a much more mystical site. Here we find a granite boulder bordering a fresh water spring, considered by the Incas as a sacred site of unusual power. The natural rock has been carved with delicate niches and it is a beautiful place surrounded by flowers. We continue later on following a paved Inca highway, which takes us to our campsite. (B, LB, D).

Day 7: Choquetacarpo Pass.

After a hearty breakfast, we continue our ascent to Choquetacarpo Pass at 4460 m, located in the heart of the mountain range. The Inca highway in some places is still in good condition. Later on and following a well-preserved paved route, we descend to our campsite at 3800m. (B, LB, D)

Day 8: Choquetacarpo - Paccac.

This day we reach our next pass at 4050m of altitude. To get to this point we climb through dense cloud forests but this effort is rewarded by splendid views. Later on, we cross another ridge and in the afternoon, we reach our camp near Paccac at 3650m. (B, LB, D).

Day 9: Paccac - Yanama.

Enjoy a leisurely morning and in the afternoon after lunch, we head towards the hamlet of Yanama located in the Vilcabamba Range. Camp. (B, L, D).

Day 10: Yanama - Rio Blanco.

Today we have to climb to the Victoria Pass. We follow a beautiful and spectacular trekking descending to the shores of the Rio Blanco. Camp at 1950m of altitude. (B, LB, D).

Day 11: Rio Blanco - Choquequirao.

In the morning a steep, long ascent will take us to the ridge (3150m) located high above the Blanco river shores. After a short descend we finally drop down into the ruins of Choquequirao (3085m). These beautiful ruins, with many terraces and buildings, were originally found covered by dense bush and have recently undergone great deal of restoration work. Camp. (B, LB, D).

Day 12: Choquequirao - Apurimac River.

We will have the morning to explore and enjoy these amazing ruins, rarely visited but perhaps one of the most important in the Peruvian rain forest. After lunch, we start trekking down towards our next camp on the shores of Apurimac River. Camp. (B, L, D).

Day 13: Apurimac River - Cachora.

This day we head towards Cachora Village where we will set up our last camp. This is a long, tiring climb from the Apurimac gorge out to the highlands of Cachora. (B, LB, D).

Day 14: Sayhuite - Cusco.

In the morning, we visit the ritual site of the Incas at Sayhuite. This is a place where we can find carved boulders and irrigation channels. Finally, we meet our vehicle, which will transport us back to Cusco. Hotel. (B, LB).

Day 15: Free day in Cusco.

Perhaps you can visit the nearby Inca Ruins (Sacsayhuaman, Quenko, and Tambo Machay) and enjoy a city tour. Alternatively, just relax and recall the unforgettable highlights of this splendid trek. In the evening, enjoy a farewell dinner in a local restaurant. Hotel. B, D.

Day 16: Cusco - Lima.

Morning flight to Lima. Transfer to the hotel and free afternoon. Perhaps to visit the old Lima and the interesting museums, churches, etc. Hotel. (B)

Day 17: Transfer out. (B).

 Gross Rates per Person in US$:

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Included: All transfers, private transport to/from trek start point, all entrance fees, English speaking trekking guides, noted meals, complete camping equipment (tents for 2 persons, dining tent, kitchen tent, and toilet tent), and complete food services while on the trek, cook, helpers, horses/donkeys for cargo, first aid kit, porters.

Not included: International and domestic flights, airport taxes, extras, personal trekking equipment, tips, return train Ollantaytambo to/from Machu Picchu (Vista Dome: us$ 180.- pp; Expedition: us$150.-), Machu Picchu & Choquequirao Trail entrance fee (us$ 110.- pp – this can be modified).

Grading: Easy – moderate - hard

Personal weight allowance per passenger: 10 kgs (this to be carried by horses)





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