Saturday, March 28, 2015

Peru: Hiking to Choquequirao - Part I

I'd dreamed of going to see Machu Picchu for a long time and I was thrilled to finally start planning that vacation. I got a deal on a flight to Lima and booked another flight to Cusco separately so we could spend some time getting to see Lima. That ended up being a good choice; Lima is a vibrant city with a lot going on and plenty to see. We flew on to Cusco for a night. Again, we wanted to get to see a little bit of that city as well, but more on those places later.
The hike to Choquequirao was planned through a tour company called Bioandean Expeditions and originated in Cusco. I really enjoyed my trip with them. There were some unexpected things: like having to pay a deposit by Western Union then having to pay for the balance of the trip in cash. But ultimately, everything they arranged for us was wonderful and beyond our expectations.
The morning the trip set out, we were picked up early and went on a long 4 hour drive to the small town where our hike began. I know you can do this on your own if you are willing to bring gear like a tent with you and hike it all yourself, but that was a bit much for me. While I may be a seasoned traveler I am not an experienced hiker or camper by any stretch. In fact, this would be my fist camping trip! Let's just say I'm glad I brought bug spray and I was relived to see toilet facilities at the stops on the trail.
Being in the Andes was stunning. As the hike set off, it was a nature trail. But then it exploded into a panorama of jaw dropping scenery.
 Setting off on the hike, you pass a few markers, but those fall off pretty quickly. The trail itself isn't hard to follow though, and it's not overgrown at all. It's mostly loose gravel.

 Mules carried our stuff. We travel very lightly, so they just had our tents and sleeping bags, plus had to carry our food. They also took a few extra pounds from each of us - for me it was about 5 lbs worth of clothes. I carried my camera gear and some other essentials.
 At the start, you pass through some private farms. There are actually a few more local farms spread out on the way to Choquequirao, and meeting the locals can be a really cool experience.

                  There is a road that continues for a few kilometers at the beginning of the trail.

We'd hiked from here and took a pit stop to eat some lunch and admire the view.

The sky opens up and it's stunning.

 The trail is only for mules and people from here on out, and these are one of only a few handrails along the way.

See the rest of our journey -

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