BootsnAll Travel Network



Blisters and aches and no regrets

It’s hard to walk 40 miles in 4 days, visit a remote set of Inca ruins, and then come back and bang out a quick, snappy blog post.  So tonight it’s the Cliff’s Notes version.  My trek to Choquequirao was successful.  Me and my merry band of mules made it there and back, and what a journey it was.

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It was 33 km there and 33 back.  And day two goes down as one of the toughest physical experiences of my life.  We descended to the bottom of a river gorge, and then climbed 5000 feet over the course of 5 1/2 miles.  That is pretty damn steep!  The photo below captures that mountain side.  About three quarters of the way up, it took everything I had to simply put one foot in front of the other.

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For me, one of the lasting visuals from this trek is from our 2nd night camping.   As I sat there — deep in Andes mountains, with not a single light for miles and miles — I found myself staring at the clearest night time sky I’ve ever seen.  The moon and stars were like spotlights, and the clouds were literally 300 yards above us, just beyond the ridge line of the mountain.  It was absolutely stunning.

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The next morning I finally arrived at my destination: the Choquequirao ruins.  Choquequirao is far bigger than Machu Picchu, but the mind-boggling aspect of this site is the fact that it’s still only about 35% uncovered.  The best illustration of that is the photo below.  You can see a block of terraces that’s been uncovered.  Well the entire side of that mountain is terraced.  The ENTIRE side.  All that greenery is covering Inca ruins.  Same story on the other side of the mountain.

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Speaking of the other side, the Incas did a clever job of creating Llamas in the hillside terraces.

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It has an even greater impact when you step back a bit.

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Many people say this is the golden age in terms of visiting Choquequirao.  On the day I was there, only 19 people visited the site.  Most of the time I couldn’t see another tourist anywhere.  Someday they’ll have the entire site excavated, and there will probably be a train running thousands of tourists there everyday — just like Machu Picchu.  There’s no road to Choquequirao.  And my guide said he estimates that only about 10 percent of the tourist population is fit enough to make the trek.  I’m glad I had this opportunity.

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On the final day of the trek, it was surreal looking back at all the ground we’d covered.  I’m not much of a hiker.  Every time I go hiking I enjoy it, but this was way beyond anything I’d ever attempted.  And I’d venture to say once was enough.

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8 responses to “Blisters and aches and no regrets”

  1. dad says:

    Matthew,

    The whole “HIKE” was very impressive. You have to wonder how they did a lot of what you have photographed. No back hoe or bob cat loaders to help.

    I did notice in the photo with you in it, you are usually standing tall but in this one you were leaning on the wall. Shows how much we get out of shape. LOL, I hope the altitude has not caused you as big a problem as some people have.

    Well keep up the good work, enjoy, be safe.

    Be Careful,

    Love

    Dad

  2. Lynda says:

    This is an amazing journal of your travels. Your 5 day trek sounds wondrous but grueling, so I’m glad you returned to base well and able to tell your tale.
    It sounds like your planning for this part of the trip was very detailed and thorough, and really paid off with a very positive experience for you.
    You’ve turned into a very intrepid traveler, but I hope that Mars or the moon are not on your Bucket List.
    I hope your last couple of days are great, and that you have an easy trip home to Portland.
    Lynda

  3. Rich says:

    I really enjoy reading your travel narrative and the pictures are great. A couple of thoughts …

    All those mules for your luggage? I didn’t think you traveled so heavy!

    Speaking as Sid’s dad, I’m sure glad you listed her before the ceviche!

    Rich

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