Trek through the deep Apurímac Canyon, along narrow and winding paths with views of majestic snowy peaks and striking precipices and everchanging landscapes. Along the way remnants of Inca paths will prepare you for the most extraordinary Inca sites, the lost cities of Choquequirao (Aymara for "Cradle of Gold") and Machu Picchu (Quechua for "Old Peak"), nestled in the high jungle of the Andes.
We'll pick you up at your hotel or hostel at the agreed-upon hour and head to the town of San Pedro de Cachora (28masl) in Abancay Province by car. After about 3½ hours we will reach our hike's starting point, Cachora, where we will accomodate our camping equipment and food supplies on the mules.
At around 11am we'll begin our hike. It will take us about 2½ hours to reach our lunch site Capuliyoc (2750masl), 11.5km away. After resting and enjoying a well-earned lunch we will descend 8km in a zigzag manner to our first campsite. As we descend we'll enjoy impressive views of Apurimac Canyon, especially at Cocamazana looking-point, from where you'll also be able to get a good view of our campsite and Choquequirao. From Cocamazana to the campsite, Chikisca (1900masl) the trail will flatten out, though there will still be a slight descent. At Chikisca we'll set up camp, take showers, have dinner and spend the night.
We'll have an early breakfast and then set off downhill to the hike's lowpoint, the Apurimac River (1850masl), fed by glacial water runoff from the peaks. After crossing the bridge we will hike up to our lunch site, Marampata. From the river to our campsite, Choquequirao Camp on the outskirts of the Archeological site, it will take about 5 hours.
The area surrounding Choquequirao, with the roaring Apurímac river below, ringed by snowy peaks and flanked by thick forest pushing up along the eastern slopes of a great mountain range, is one of the most diverse, with wildlife composed principally of Peru's bright national bird, the cock of the rocks, as well as vizcachas, condors, foxes, skunks, pumas, hummingbirds, and bears. These animals have adapted to the strong sun of the daytime and the cold frosts of the night. During the cold stretches, ichu prairie grass abounds, and in warmer stretches orchids.
After breakfast we'll explore the lower part of the Choquequirao site, the agricultural terraces, before continuing the hike behind the mountain. We'll descend to the Choquequirao Archeological site to visit the famous ruins, the remains of one of the last bastions of resistance for the Incas. (Manco Inca retreated here after the Spanish took Cusco.) It is also thought to have been the place where the last Inca, Tupac Amaru, was raised among Inca Priestesses.
Only about 30% (1810ha) of the site has been unearthed and restored, and yet it already provides a wealth of insight into the Inca world. You'll see Inca houses, storehouses, fortresses fountains and canals, temples, the main plaza and ceremonial platform, Andean terraces
We'll have lunch at River Blanco and then ascend to our camp for the night, Maizal.
Today we'll climb to the San Juan Pass. After lunch, we'll descend, passing the Victoria Mineshafts, where we'll be able to see the silver particles. After lunch we will descend into the Yanama River Valley, with its greenery and waterfalls, where we will make camp.
After breakfast we will hike up to Yanama Pass (4300masl). As we cross the pass you'll get an unbeatable view of the Corihuaynachina glacier.
We will then descend towards the Totora Valley where we will have lunch and will be able to see different communities along the trail. We'll continue the descent until the Collpapampa Valley, where the ridge of the jungle begins, for our camp.
During today's hike we'll descend through abruptly changing landscape and vegetation. You will see various coffee and fruit plantations (bananas, oranges, lemons, etc.) and will have the option to bathe and soothe your muscles in one of the natural hot springs found along today's trail. Tonight's camp will be Zahuayaco, often simple referred to as La Playa, The Beach, thanks to its tropical climate and riverside location. It is here that we will say goodbye to our muleteer, who will not be continuing with us beyond this point.
After breakfast we will catch a local microbus to Santa Teresa, where where we'll walk about 50min to the Vilcanota River, from where we'll take a truck to the Hydroelectric. We'll have lunch here before catching the train to Machu Picchu Pueblo, colloquially now as Aguas Calientes. We'll have dinner in a local restaurant in this small but colorful town, where we will also spend the night.
We'll have an early breakfast, around 4am, and set off for Machu Picchu in order to beat the crowds who'll arrive with the day's first trains and watch the sun rise over the imposing ruins. You'll have a 2 hour guided visit wherein the guide will explain to you the history and significance of some of the most beautiful structures of this mysterious site, culminating at the Intihuatana solar clock at the Sun Temple. Then you'll have free time to explore on your own and take all of the photographs you desire before we return to Aguas Calientes, where you'll have time for lunch before we catch the evening train back to Cusco.
* Can be Rented in Cusco
The climate can change rapidly, so you must prepare for different conditions.Night and early morning temperatures can be frigid, necesitating warm clothing and rain gear.