Mandy, a member of our reservations staff in Cusco, recently completed in our 8-day Choquequirao-Machu Picchu trek. This is a slightly modified version of our 9-day itinerary, designed for trekkers with a tighter schedule. We asked her to write about her experience, which you can read about below. You can learn about the details of her route, by clicking here: http://www.apusperu.com/treks/choquequirao_machu_picchu.html
My name is Mandy and I am one of the sales staff for Apus Peru. I have lived in Peru on and off for the last 11 years and love trekking, but have only started to get off of the beaten path this year. My first trek for the year was in May when I did a modified (read cheating) version of Salkantay with a friend of mine as my guide. It was sensational! I have hiked the Inca Trail many times as I was formerly a tour leader and it is stunning but very controlled not only by Peruvian authorities but there is only one path, lots of steps and everyone has to take the same route so getting onto Salkantay, which literally means wild or savage mountain, was a great change. Apus Peru then offered me the choice to choose a trek in October so that I would be better able to inform our clients when they write in. Luckily for me I got to choose the 8-day Choquequirao to Machu Picchu trek.
This trek can be done in 7, 8 or 9 days and whichever length you choose, you will love it! From the drive to Cachora through the picturesque Limatambo Valley to get you going, to the lack of tourists that you will see and the challenge and beauty of the hike itself, this is a spectacular route. I was lucky enough to be able to hike with a lovely couple, Alyson and Vincent, my guide Arturo and our three devoted staff, Gregorio our cook and Victor and Gilberto our horsemen or muleteers. My hiking partners and I were a good compliment, they were faster on the ups and I on the downs and given the amount of ups and downs on this trek we balanced each other out well. Our speed was a little slower than the norm but for me it was perfect. There is so much to see, from the incredible and still very mysterious ruins of Choquequirao, which we had all to ourselves for our morning tour to the incredible flora and fauna; which for us included a lone, male deer who seemed as interested in us as we did in him, a couple of condors, a snake (I was a little too slow but Alyson and Arturo saw it), a tarantula, a lizard and thousands of butterflies to the incredible mountain landscapes which varied from lush, green, forested hillsides to raw, barren, glacier covered peaks and moraines that for me it would have been a shame to rush and miss out.
Our staff was amazing. As I said, I have done many organized hikes as a tour leader but the friendliness of our crew, the quality and not to mention the quantity of the food that we received, the gear that we had and the knowledge of Arturo made our hike what it was. Arturo knew not only about archaeological sites but also an incredible amount about the use of the local plants that had been passed on from his grandparents. He chose not to inform in a way that left no doubt but instead to challenge us to think about our own hypothesis when visiting a site. Gregorio produced incredible food for us and often made two different meals as I do not eat red meat and so he would prepare a soy or eggplant version of the main meal so that I was well-fed. He even managed to bake a cake as it was both Victor and Arturo’s birthday during hike. Victor and Gilberto worked tirelessly to ensure our comfort making sure that our camp was set up on time, that there was a hot cup of tea for us in the mornings, that our tents were as dry was possible given the rain that we got every day and that their animals were well-fed and treated.
One of the reasons that I chose to work for Apus Peru was because of their reputation as a responsible operator and it was a treat to get out into the field and to see that they put their money where their mouth is. During my trek I was not only able to learn about the route but also about the quality of service and the treatment of our staff and now I will be able to truthfully inform you about it all when you write. Hopefully we will hear from you soon!