16 Day Discovering Last Capital of the Incas
Designed for seasoned trekkers looking to venture off the beaten path, this extraordinary trek through the Vilcabamba range is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. Extremely isolated and fairly unknown, this region was once the retreat of the glorious Inca Empire.
Forced to retreat by the Spanish, the Incas sought refuge in these wild and impenetrable lands, building impressive strongholds, fortresses, and sacred sites in the desolate mountains. As you hike along the remote trails of the Vilcabamba cordillera, you’ll pass by incredible sites that could rival the ingenuity and beauty of Machu Picchu itself.
This epic Peru trek takes you through this mountainous wilderness, along ancient pathways and through traditional communities, crossing a variety of ecological zones, and visiting some of the most important archaeological sites of the Incas’ final days.
Much of this region is largely unexplored and virtually unvisited by outsiders. On this exciting adventure, you’ll trek through virgin territory in the footsteps of the Incas. To support you on this demanding but rewarding experience, you’ll be accompanied by a team of expert guides, chefs and porters who are on hand to guarantee life long memories of Andean exploration.
After an 8:00am pickup from your hotel, we’ll make our way to Limatambo and enjoy a guided tour at Tarawasi – an archaeological center dedicated to the life and agriculture of the region. Along the way, we will pass through the towns of Conoc, Crahuasi, and Saywite (Ceremonial Stone). From Saywite, we’ll begin our descent to Cachora, which will be our campsite for the evening and the starting point of our hike on day two
Day 2 is an arduous ascent as we climb from 1,500m (4,921ft) up to Choquequirao, which is at 3,000m (9,843ft). Along the way, we’ll pass through the towns of Santa Rosa and Marampata before arriving at our campsite in Raqaypata and the nearbyruins of Choquequirao.
After a guided tour of the Choquequirao archeological complex, we’ll hike to the Choquequirao Pass (3,300m / 10,827ft) and later descend to Pinchiunuyuc, where we’ll have lunch before continuing our descent to Rio Banco at 1,800m (5,906ft). We’ll make camp along the river for the evening.
Day 4 is a difficult ascent to approximately 4,000m (13,123ft) where we will find the Victoria Mine near San Juan Pass, a mine abandoned shortly after the colonial period. From the mine, we will be able to catch a glimpse of the Apurimac Canyon – one of Peru’s many geographic marvels.
On day 5, we will ascend to Victoria Pass and gaze upon the snowy summits of Salkantay, Corihuaynachina, and Humantay mountains. We’ll pass along patches of agricultural landscape before arriving at our campsite near the local high school at Yanama, situated in a picturesque valley at 3,400m (11,155ft).
Having camped for the night in the village of Yanama, we’ll begin our trek again with an ascent to the Choquetakarpo Pass 4600 meters (15091 feet) via a trail blanketed with vegetation and then changing to mountain tundra. Later, we will descend to Kelkamachay and make camp for the evening.
On Day 7, we will hike along the Kalkamachay Valley, where we can view the Vilcabamba mountain range and the imposing peak of Choquetacarpo Mountain directly in front of us. From the path we’ll also see the Vilcabamba Trail as we make our way to an altitude of between 3,500–3,800m (11,483–12,467ft). We will arrive in Kollpaq in the early evening and make camp.
After a nourishing breakfast, Day 8 begins with beautiful vistas of inter-Andean valleys. We’ll descend to Huancacalle, an important location in this region because it represents the starting point of the Vilcabamba trailhead. In our case, it will also serve as the base camp for our return trip to the Vilcabamba Valley.
On Day 9, we’ll visit Vitcos, a site found on the upper portion of Huancacalle. From here, we will be able to view the entire Chaullay Valley and the Vilcabamba River below. After another hour of trekking, we’ll arrive at Ñustahispanan, where we’ll enjoy a guided tour before returning to base camp.
On Day 10, we’ll trek to the archaeological center at the summit of Rosapata, where we will be able to view Pucyura’s snowy peak along the adjacent sierra. Later, we’ll visit Nusta hisp’anan (Yurac Rumi) while enjoying the beautiful countryside along the way. In the evening, we’ll make our way to Qollpaq’sa, where we’ll make camp for the night.
We’ll begin Day 11 by making our way to the Maukachaka region and then pass through Pampaconas before descending to Ututo, where we’ll make camp and take the opportunity to do some fishing.
Day 12 marks the beginning of our return descent. We will begin to see the vegetation of the temperate jungle while viewing the Pampaconas River below. We’ll enjoy lunch on the shores of the river, and after a short rest, continue our trek to Vista Alegre where we’ll make camp for the evening.
After breakfast on Day 13, we’ll trek into the Vilcabamba Valley, and in the heat we’ll make the ascent to Cruz Q’asa, a popular site from which we can appreciate abundant flora and fauna — for example, the Gallitos de las Rocas (Cocks of the Rock). Hiking across the valley, we’ll arrive at Tunkimayu before hiking to Concebidayoc.
On Day 14, we’ll make our way to the east in the direction of the Pampaconas River, whose rapids will direct us to Espiritu Pampa. Renowned as a natural scenic lookout, the base of the Espiritu Pampas mountain range forms a triangle with the Pampaconas and Chomtabamba rivers. From here, we’ll be able to view the Andes sierra and Rumichaca – a marvelous stone bridge dating from the Inca period. After a guided visit of the site, we’ll make camp for the night.
Day 15 is our last day of hiking. We’ll enter tropical and humid climate as we move along the Valley of Espiritu Pampa before arriving in Chiwankiri, the site of our last evening in the outdoors.
Our return on Day 16 will be by private van. Our trip will take us through the city of Kiteni, the Lares Valley, Amparaes, and Calca. Finally, we’ll make the steep ascent to the city of Cuzco.
- Transportation in and out: Cusco – Limatambo / Chiwankiri – Cusco
- Guide: Professional English and Spanish speaking guide; 2 guides for groups over 12 people
- Cook: In charge of meal preparation
- Horsemen and horses: Carry tents, cooking equipment and also carry backpacks, sleeping bags and mattresses (Max. 15 kilos/ 33 lbs per person)
- Emergency Horse: Just in case someone needs help
- Meals: 15 Breakfasts/16 Lunches/15 Dinners/Snacks and afternoon tea
- Equipment: tents ( 2 people in each 3-person-capacity ), Therm-a-rest sleeping pad, dinner tent, special biodegradable bathroom tent, kitchen tent, shower tent, tables and chairs, table settings, first aid kit, including emergency oxygen bottle.
- International and domestic flights and taxes
- Travel Insurance (compulsory)