Difference between revisions of "Choquequirao"
Revision as of 11:17, 22 October 2010
Cachora is the most popular starting point for travelers who want to see the amazing newly-rediscovered Incan site, Choquequirao. Guides and mules for the trip may be found in Cachora. Start out early from Cachora to make it to camp before nightfall and take in all the views as the sun goes down over the Andean Valley. The first day is around a seven hour hike and 1,500 meters elevation change down the mountain. There are multiple campsites, all well marked, with running water and bathrooms. The running water comes from rivers and is then syphoned up the other side. On the second day, finish the hike down the valley to the river if you haven´t already done so and you´ll reach the fabulous amenities that include a much needed cold shower. There is a high-bridge for crossing the river, then get ready for an intense hike up the other side. Carrying my backpack I was reduced to a staggering slow 500 Metres per hour as opposed to my usual 4KM per hour on relatively flat ground. About 1,800 meters up, Choquequirao awaits.
Constant switchbacks and mule droppings torment you as you struggle up the hill, trying to finish before the sun rises above the valley around 11 o'clock. It is possible to hike at night as the path is easy to follow and the sun can be incredibly hot on the way up the mountain, but you'll need good light for the uneven path.
There are generally only a few tourists each day entering Choquequirao, the park workers are quite helpful in giving directions, the park itself is quite difficult to navigate with some paths somewhat overgrown. Much of the site is rebuilt, the original large stones have crumbled into smaller pieces so it´s easy to spot the original work and the reconstructed sections. In the plaza principal concrete beams have been used on one of the buildings and in other places crumbling ruins are marked with numbers so if they should fall they will be able to reconstructured correctly.
The trail is a round trip to Huanipaca but most people go in and out from Cachora as this is the best maintained and serviced trail, there are several places to buy water and even Inca Kola, we were also able to buy eggs and potatoes along our journey. Another option is to continue onto Santa Teresa or Machu Picchu, but you're going to need plenty of food - a mule is strongly suggested for this tough 5-6 day journey.
Steep, rugged mountains.
Flora and fauna
Coral Snakes, Peruvian Mountain Spiders.
Due to the altitude, it's hot in the sun and cold at night (sometimes below 0°C). The air is dry on north side of the mountains, humid on south sides and in cloud forest.
There are three trails leading to Choquequirao, one from Cachora, Huanicapa and one from Yanama. Take the bus from Cusco to Abancay and get off at the turn off for Cachora or Huanicapa, the roads leading to these towns are about 2km apart. Buses leave for Abancay from Cusco at 5:00am, you need to take a taxi from the main road to the town you intend to hike from. Taxis often wait for the people from the bus, except on Sunday when you might have to wait an hour. The trail from Huanicapa is shorter, steeper and lacks the amenities that the trail from Cachora offers. The trail from Cachora has several sources of drinkable water, campsites, showers, toilets and at least one place where you can buy Inca Kola. Hiking in from Yanama you would need to start in Mollepata, Santa Teresa or Machu Picchu Pueblo, these are very long and difficult hikes.
There is an S/.36.00 soles fee (March 2008) that someone will collect from you.
Total time with a 15kg pack, no guide, no mules: 5 days. Excellent scenery and a great alternative to the Inca trail at Machu Picchu.
You will need at least one full day at the site, it is difficult to navigate and the chances are your body will be aching. I carried about 12 to 15kg's and I spent 2 days hiking in, 2 days at the site and 2 days hiking out. I think sustained permanent injuries to both my knees on this hike, 8 months later they are still sore. I suggest carrying as little as possible, hike in the cool of the night and drink from the streams rather than carrying liters of water. Of course it is recommended that water be treated with iodine pills, UV light, or a water filter before consumption. These things are far lighter than the bottles of water themselves.
The locals are helpful but only speak Spanish and/or Quechua. The site is an active digging site, their are archaeologists working there, some of whom are American.
There is very little to buy along the way, almost no food is for sale, water and softdrinks are available in a few locations during your journey, unless you plan on carrying a lot of water just drink from the taps - it usually comes from small mountain rivers, so treatment makes generally sense but is not always strictly required.
A local entrepreneur has wisely opened a shop with Gatorade and snacks about 10 minutes before you find another shop. Apologize to the nice lady for having already bought your snacks at the first store. Just past a gate is the top and you are rewarded with the first views of the Incan site and a nice bench to eat lunch at. Hike another hour or so and stake out your campsite. Explore the lower site that day and then see the rest of the sites on the following day. Unless you are in great shape, the relaxing day of exploring the site is necessary and must be done to truly enjoy the Site. In every camp site along the way locals have set up shop , so you can buy water , soda, rice , snacks , eggs and fruit
Fresh water from the mountain streams.
You can camp near the entrance of the ruins or at several sites nearby and there are designated campsites on the way to the ruins. The main camp site are state of the art newly built with flush toilet with doors , cold water shower, benches and a kitchen area
No permits are needed .
The area it self is isolated but many hikers do this , about 30 a day so its safe enough , the last recorded robbery was according to the tourist info in 2000.
There are three trails out from Choquequirao. They go to Cachora, Huanicapa and Yanama.