Remember when I said I was going to keep these Peru posts to 10(ish) photos? Ha! Weeding through these photos to choose less than a dozen is downright painful. I'm keeping this one to 13, but I can't guarantee I can hold back on posting more in the future....
After a few days in Cuzco we piled into a van, along with two guides, two cooks, and the driver (that makes ten of us and all our stuff for eight days!) and drove to Cachora. It's a little less than six miles as the crow flies to Choquequirao, but it would take us two days and around 20 miles to get there. From those Incan ruins we continued up and over the Andes.
We started our trek, clean and excited, along a dirt road that turned into a trail. We walked past little subsistence farms and gazed over corn fields growing on steep terraces across the canyon. The Vilcabamba Range rose up, snow covered.
We stopped for lunch a steep ridge and dined on what would be the first of many amazing meals. As we took our time on the trail, our cook Domingo, sprinted ahead with a full backpack to get our lunch ready. I've never been on a trip where someone else cooked for me, and it was amazing. Almost as amazing as the food, was the view of Choquequirao and the Andean condor that flew right over our heads.
Choquequirao is a ruined Inca city, similar in structure and architecture to Machu Picchu. The ruins are buildings and terraces at levels above and below Sunch'u Pata, the truncated hill top. But, more on that later.
After lunch we started downhill toward the Apurimac River. It's about 3/4 of a mile straight down, but much longer on the switchbacks. Even though my quads were fried by the time we got down to the river, it was worth it to see the amazing mountain views.
We camped at Playa Rosalina, right next to the roaring Apurimac River. After dinner, Domingo, also a shaman, made an offering to Pachamama (Mother Earth) to ensure we'd have a good trip. He laid down a circle of coca leaves, then added sweets, pretend money, figurines, food, and more. We each chose three perfect coca leaves to represent father, mother, and children and blew on them three times. We made wishes for friends/community, family, and ourselves before adding them to the offering. Domingo put the carefully wrapped offering into the fire and we all watched its smoke float into the sky.
Spoiler alert: The offering worked--we had a great trip.
Plan your own trip
Are you reading along and thinking, "I want to go on a trip like this!"? Call my friend Felicia at Bella Treks, she'll set you up. And it's not just Peru, she goes all over South America, Morocco, Yellowstone, and a ton of other places.