November 10 – 19, 2019
Day 397 – 406
After staying in Cusco for more than 10 days, it was time for us to go trekking. Mathilde, Mehran, Aurora and me decided to do the Choquequirao trek. Choquequirao is an archeological site located in the middle of nowhere.
You need to hike 2 days to reach it, and 2 days to come back. It is a nice and more quiet alternative to Machu Picchu since it only received 4000 visitors a year compare to the 2500 visitors a day for the Machu Picchu.
But it is possible to extend this trek to make it a 9 days trek in order to go next to the Machu Picchu. It is a trek only taken by the most courageous since it is a very hard trek with A LOT of hiking up and down.
So that’s what we decided to do. We bought all the food we needed, pack our bag and we were ready. Here is the story of our trek.
Day 1 – Going down the first canyon
17km / – 1500m
Starting from the village of Cachora, we start the trek. The Choquequirao ruins are in the other side of the valley. So the first day is about going down the canyon. 1500m of descent.
Hopefully, the first day is about going down, because our bags are full of food and so heavy. We don’t have much rain, but the descent is a bit steep with 1500m down on 9km.
Arriving at the bottom of the canyon, we camp near the river.
Day 2 – Going up the first Canyon
10km / +1500m
The next day is the opposite of the first day. Everything we went down the last day, we have to hike it up. The path being more and more steep, we now do the 1500m elevation on 7km.
Once at the top, we can see the Choquequirao ruins from the other side. We slowly hike there where a camping site is waiting for us near the ruins.
Day 3 – Visiting the Choquequirao ruins
14km / +1000m / -1400m
We finally arrived at the Choquequirao ruins. We have a much chill since we can visit some part of the ruins without our backpack. We first go to visit the huge terrasses.
But even there it is not a relaxing day. we know how the Inka love to build stuff on very steep mountain. Well, this is the case. The Choquequirao site is huge and we have to hike up and down quite a lot to reach the different parts of the site.
The upper part of the site is composed of ruins of different kinds. Again, there are a lot of different buildings, located in different locations.
The best part about the Choquequirao is that there nearly nobody. We saw maybe 10 persons on the site during the entiere day.
At the end of the day, we hike up the mountain (+400m) to pass on the other side and sleep a bit lower down the second canyon (-900m).
Day 4 – Passing the second canyon
6,5km / +1200m / -600m
Last night, we arrived late in the dark so we couldn’t really see where we were. when we woke up, we realized we slept near Inka terrasses.
We already passed the first canyon and we are now passing the second one, bigger than the first one. We hike down the river about 600m down.
And again, it’s time for hiking up again. And this time it is getting steeper and steeper. We will hike half of the mountain, which is +1200m, but on only 4km !! The first part is also under the sun, with nearly no water nor any shade. We are burning!
We set up the camp halfway though the hiking up, with a lovely view from the nearby snow camp mountain.
Day 5 – Reaching the village of Yanama
9km / +1100m / -600m
We hike this fifth day mostly under the rain. Hopefully, it is a light rain. Hiking in November, at the start of the rainy season, the weather could be worst. So far, it mostly rained during the night, when we are safe under the tent.
We go through a first pass at 4150m on, again, a very steep road. +1100m on 5km. We leave the tropical forest we were in to go on a higher altitude, short trees, cold weather…
After this pass, we go down around 600m until the small village of Yanama.
After 5 days hiking, we nearly used all the food we had, because we finally reach somewhere where we can buy food again. It is easier now because our backpack are now lighter.
Day 6 – Crossing the Yanama-Totora pass
17km / +1100m / -1500m
From Yanama and on a much less steep road, we have to pass the highest point of the trek with a 4660m pass.
The first part of the day, we hike next to a river on a beautiful valley. We slowly can see the far away snow capped mountain getting closer and closer as we hike.
After around 8km, we have to hike the last part to the pass. The weather start to get more and more foggy. Once we reach 4660m, it’s impossible to see anything.
So we slowly go down the 1300m descent to reach the village of Totora where we spend the night.
Day 7 – Go down to Playa
20km / +250m / -1500m
This day is not an easy day, we have to hike a big distance, but at least we are only going down. This day is about following a river to the small village of playa.
We left the higher altitude to go back to the tropical forest. We hike across the trees. We also find nacelles on the way where we take the time to have fun crossing the river on these local transportation.
On this day, we join the route of the Salkantay, another trek going to Machu Picchu. But unlike our trek, the Salkantay trek is very touristy. And we can feel the difference as the prices go up and as the locals are much less friendly.
We reach the small village of playa – touristic hole -to spend the night in a camping.
Day 8 – The Llactapata Mirador
9km / +850m / -100m
Probably one of the most beautiful day of the trek, and one of the most relaxing. We decide to take a small detour to hike up a mountain in order to visit a beautiful viewpoint where you can see the famous Machu Picchu.
The first part of the hike, we walk across banana and coffee plantation.
We hike 800m up to reach this Mirador where we are not disappointed from the view. It is astonishing !
We can see the Machu Picchu from far away. Ok yes, it is not very clear, but it is there !
We pitch the tent and can enjoy the sunset. We then go enjoy a diner at a local guy house before cooking a nice hot chocolate for everybody. Hot chocolate. Such a nice thing to cook when you are hiking.
The best part was the morning where we enjoyed a sunrise without any cloud, before having the best breakfast with view.
Day 9 – Reaching Aguas Calientes
16km / +350m / – 1050m
We hike down the mountain where we spend the night. At the bottom, the finally reach the beginning of the Machu Picchu sanctuary.
The last part of this trek pass by a funny road. To go to Aguas Calientes, you can takr a very expensive train. But the other way is just to walk along the railtrack. A nice experience.
After 12km along the railtrack, we finally arrived at Aguas Calientes. Tired, with a lot of muscleaches. But proud to have accomplished such a challenging trek.
9-days Choquequirao trek