Explore the Lost Cities of the Incas Including Machu Picchu


Perched on a knife-edged promontory at 10,000 feet and ringed by the snow-capped Vilcabamba Mountains is Choquequirao, a true “lost city of the Incas.” For its absolutely stunning location, Choquequirao (“The Cradle of Gold”) is often compared to Machu Picchu, yet this hidden Inca site has no road access, few visitors, and a haunting ambience unmatched at other Inca ruins. First discovered in the 1700s, Choquequirao was not excavated until more than 200 years later. Less than 40% of the ruins have been uncovered, with many of the site’s secrets still undiscovered. In the company of our archaeologist Trip Leader Kevin Floerke, who has done extensive research and excavations in the region, our spectacular and challenging trek brings us from the depths of the canyon carved by the roaring Rio Apurimac to breathtaking Choquequirao, with its stunning plazas and mysterious shrines. Trekking onward, we cross the entire Vilcabamba range through deep-cut valleys and over high passes to the world-renowned Machu Picchu. Kevin has conducted intensive mapping survey of the Inca Road System (which has recently been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site), as well as a study of high altitude ceremonial sites in the cloud forests of the Vilcabamba. Each exhilarating day of hiking will end at our exclusive camps, where we can savor peaceful nights beneath a star-filled sky. Our fitting finale is an overnight at the Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge, right at the ruins of Machu Picchu. This is a true trek into the heart of the Inca Empire. Join us!

Itinerary at a Glance

Days 1-2
Cusco / Saqsayhuaman / Tambo Machay

We meet in Cusco, where we acclimate and enjoy a walking tour of the city, the ceremonial heart of the Inca Empire, and explore the magnificent nearby Inca sites on foot, including Saqsayhuaman, the majestic Inca fortress overlooking Cusco.

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Days 3-6
Cachora / Choquequirao

From the village of San Pedro de Cachora (9,500'), we hike to a lookout where we enjoy our first views down into the deep, forested canyon of the Apurimac River. Descending into the canyon, we cross the river on a footbridge and hike into a cloud forest that leads us to Choquequirao at 10,000 feet. The site is gradually being restored by a team of Peruvian archaeologists, and we’ll explore this extraordinary complex, with its ceremonial buildings and grand staircase.

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Days 7-10
Pincha Unuyoc / Qoriwayrachina / Minas Victoria / Lucmabamba

Climbing to a pass just above Choquequirao, we descend to the Inca site of Pincha Unuyoc, with its fascinating shrine, and trek on to Qoriwayrachina, a site discovered by a WT Trip Leader. We follow an Inca road to Minas Victoria Pass (14,500'), with its soaring condors and stupendous views, and head to picturesque Yanama (12,000'), where we get a glimpse into life in a remote Andean village. A winding trail leads to the windy heights of Puerto Yanama (15,400'), and brings us to the town of Lucmabamba.

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Days 11-13
Machu Picchu / Cusco

A steep hike brings us to a lookout over Santa Teresa Valley where we can see Machu Picchu in the distance. After a short train ride, we spend a day at the renowned site, exploring the reconstructed staircases, altars, temples, and fountains, and enjoying the incredible setting. Our overnight is just steps away from the ruins at the Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge. An afternoon train whisks us to Cusco, and we depart on Day 13.

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Challenging trek to a hidden Incan city that sees few visitors
Camp along remote mountainsides, where we can savor peaceful nights beneath a star-filled sky
Explore the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu with a specialist guide


Length: 13 days
Cost From: $4695  
Arrive: Lima, Peru
Depart: Lima, Peru
Lodging: 4 nights hotels, 8 nights camping
Meals: All meals included except 2 dinners
Activity: Hiking / Trekking
Trip Level:

8-day trek on moderate to strenuous trails, 5-8 hours a day, altitudes between 9,500-14,000 feet