Choquequirao, Inca Ruins rivaling in beauty and importance with the world famous Machu Picchu, is located high on a ridge spur almost 1800mts above the raging glacier-fed Apurimac River, and surrounded by the beautiful towering Salcantay and Humantay snow-capped peaks.
It was probably built by Tupac Inca Yupanqui after the Spanish invasion in 1532 and during the last days of the Inca Empire in the government of the Inca Pachaqutek, and probably was finally burned down and left deserted after the execution of the last Inca Tupac Amaru I in 1572.
Choquequirao is an amazing example of an elite Inca ceremonial center, a city dedicated to worship the “Pachamama”, the Andean mother earth, and “the Apus”, the mountain gods and divinities, the rivers, and nature elements. The different levels of temples, palaces, canals, agricultural areas and aqueducts are fantastic, and giving a vivid example of the amazing Inca building techniques.
Choquequirao means "Cradle of Gold" in Quechua "Inca´s language" and it was in 1710 when the existence of Choquequirao was first mentioned. The first drawings of the ruins structure were made about 1836 by the Frenchmen Léonce Angrand and later on by Eugene Sartigues. it was officially rediscovered in the 20th century and it was found that the plaster covering the walls carbonized and disappeared for the most part. At the east side of the complex more than 110 terraces with houses and squares are being revealed. At the west side another 170 terraces are still hidden and covered by the forest, and in some of these terraces can be seen now an amazing in straight-line white color llamas in symmetrical order. Until nowadays, only 30% is put to overdraft and conserved, and right now Choquequirao is the largest Inca-town of the American continent and much larger than Machu Picchu.
Starting from Cusco at about 6:00 am in the morning, we make a 4 hour drive to Cachora town on the way on enjoying the amazing Limatambo Canyon and views of the snow-capped Salcantay and Humantay Mountains. In Cachora, we meet our expedition crew (as arrieros) and then we start the first part of our hike (about 3 hours) towards Capulichayok pass (2915m) from where we have our first beautiful views of the Apurimac valley stretching below. From here, we can also observe the snow-capped peaks of Padreyoc and Wayna Cachora. We then descend toward Coca Masana (2330m) where the climate becomes noticeably warmer and the flora and fauna begin to change. Finally, we will arrive to our camp at the place known as Chikiska at 1950m. Here we will set up camp and spend the night. B, LB, D.
After breakfast we will trek down (aprox. 1:30 h) to the shores of the Apurimac River, to the place known as Playa (Beach) Rosalina at 1500m, where we will cross a typical holding bridge then cross a cactus forest of agaves and exotic local fruit trees. Then we start a hard 4-5 hours gradual climb of 1400 meters from the shores of the Apurimac River to the place known as Maranpata at 2800m where we set up our camp. On route, you will also see a variety of plants and flowers while enjoying the views of the surrounding mountains and the deep Apurimac canyon. Camp. B, LB, D.
Today we enjoy a full day visiting the amazing Choquequirao complex. We will visit Choquequirao main plaza surrounded by exquisite Inca architecture buildings, among those the stone altar called Ushnu, which was used by priests to offer open ceremonies to the Apus. The sun, the moon, and the Pachamama “mother nature” rooms and buildings in a very fine Inca style and the mysterious llama designs constructed in the walls of the terraces with white stones. With luck at this point, we can see a majestic flying of a condor around this sacred geography. Return to our camp at Maranpata. B, LB, D.
Today we have an early breakfast at 06:30 a.m. and then we start trekking downhill for approximately 3 hours to the place known as Playa San Ignacio (1750m) on the shores of Apurimac River. Here we cross another hanging bridge and then we start our climb (1:30 - 2 hours) up to Hacienda San Ignacio where we have lunch. Then we start to make our last 2-3 hours trek towards our camp at the picturesque village of Tambobamba (2500m) where we will have our last night camping surrounded by lush vegetation. B, LB, D.
Today we make an early depart at 07:30 a.m. and after a 2-3 hours gentle climb we arrive to Wanipaca town. The last part of our hike (2 hours) goes through warm valley vegetation until we reach the point where our transport will be waiting to take us back to Cusco. If desired and after 2 hours drive we can stop at Qonoq hot springs where you can soak and relax at the warm water pools. A further 3-hour drive will take us back to the city of Cusco. B, LB.
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