Peru’s mystical Vilcabamba region shelters some of the most fascinating archeological discoveries of the modern age and our hiking adventure, Choquequirao: Trek to the Cradle of Gold, brings you into the very heart of it. Larger than Machu Picchu, Choquequirao has a stunning location, no road access, and relatively few visitors—in fact, in 2006, the number of trekkers to Choquequirao equaled one percent of the visitors to Machu Picchu! Nearly 50 percent of this Choquequirao’s complex has yet to been excavated, adding to the appeal of being among the first to “discover” this lost city of the Incas. Our Trip Leader Kevin Floerke has spent years studying and exploring the Choquequirao region as well as working on nearby sites with National Geographic Explorer Peter Frost (also a WT Trip Leader), and has been bringing WT travelers here since 2016. Here, he reflects on the enriching experience of exploring Choquequirao’s wonder.

Choquequirao Peru
The Waterfall Temple viewed from the trail heading into the site.

For me, visiting Choquequirao is an experience unlike any other. To stand on the ancient ceremonial platform looking across the site at the snow-capped peak of the sacred mountain above, hearing nothing but the wind and the distant roar of the Apurimac River below, is to connect with something fundamentally human.

Choquequirao Peru
The central plaza of Choquequirao viewed from the ceremonial platform above.

It is humbling to think that centuries ago those who built this site would have experienced the same sensations as they held ceremonies dedicated to the mountains and landscape.

Choquequirao Peru
The Waterfall Temple is a series of finely constructed terraces that looks upon the impressive waterfall that runs down the mountain near the site. The terraces disappear into the brush at the bottom of the site, hinting at what may lie unexplored below.

The dense forest skirting the ruins edge add to the feeling that there is still so much to be uncovered here.

Milky way over Choquequirao Peru
The Milky Way over the monumental entryway to the ceremonial platform in the central plaza.

Miles away from the crowds and distractions of the tourist circuit, Choquequirao offers something few places in the world can provide.

—Photos and text by Trip Leader Kevin Floerke, Choquequirao: Trek to the Cradle of Gold.

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