If you have a passion for trekking in unspoiled territory, the ruins of ancient civilizations and natural beauty, then Peru’s Choquequirao, an Incan site, may be your next great adventure. It’s a remote location in the Peruvian Andes, located not far from the well known and well travelled Machu Picchu. Choquequirao means ‘cradle of gold’.
To give you an idea of how less travelled this destination is, it draws 30 visitors a day during peak season. By comparison, Machu Picchu draws 3.000 people a day. The archaeological dig at Choquequirao is only 30-40% complete and experts now believe they are uncovering a settlement larger than Machu Picchu.
There’s good reason for Choquequirao’s smaller numbers. The site is a two day, 28 km trek from Cachora, 161 km west of Cusco. While the trail is not long at 28 km, it is strenuous. Choquequirao is 3000 meters (about 10,000ft) above sea level, which means you will be moving pretty slowly. Expect distances to take you twice as long as they normally would. Expect shortness of breath. The climb is often pretty much straight up. It is very hot during the day and very cold at night. Often trekkers choose to hike in the coolness of the night as the trail is well marked.
The journey to Choquequirao can completed without an organized tour. Most visitors, however, do choose organized tours because they include guides, camping equipment, mules to carry gear and a cook. Sharing the experience with fellow travellers and guides telling you local lore contribute to the richness of the experience. The people of the region are very poor so engaging them in tourism contributes significantly to the local economy.
There are plans to build a tram to the site. This would reduce the journey from two days to a 15 minute ride. Construction is planned for 2016, although the date has been pushed back twice. The time to go is now, if you value remote and unspoiled.
If you go, plan on two days getting to the site, two days exploring the ancient settlement and two days for the return trip. You want to pack as light as possible. The altitude will make everything seem twice as heavy. Water is readily available along the trail, as is food. Bring insect repellant.
If you think this might be the perfect adventure for you, come in and talk to us about your plans. We’ve got some great lightweight gear and clothing that are made for this adventure. This ‘cradle of gold’ may not be remote much longer. Now is the time to go. You’ll be richly rewarded.