Inca Rivers Trek, Peru

By Justin Walker and Lauren Smith | February 11, 2015

See this classic country without the crowds

FOR THOSE KEEN to avoid the crowds of the Inca Trail, while still enjoying some amazing Inca ruins and Peruvian history and culture, the nine-day Inca Rivers trek is a must-do.

Starting at a heady 2600m at Cachora, the track soon heads further up – and then down; each day you can expect to ascend and then descend anywhere from 500 to 1000m in altitude – over the course of the nine days, before reaching the final destination of Macchu Picchu.

The track’s final destination is, of course, well worth the nine days’ effort, but it is the daily highlights of this trek that make it a worthy Top 10 inclusion.

Most notably, on the third day, hikers reach the ruins of Choquequirao, estimated to be only 30 per cent uncovered by archaeologists but, once fully cleared, it is claimed this site will be both more complete and larger than Macchu Picchu itself.

Other highlights over the nine days include first descending, then crossing and ascending, two massive river valleys – the Apurimac and the Rio Blanco, where you can camp by the river. The condor is prevalent in these high mountains so there’s a good chance of spotting both juveniles and adults soaring above on the thermal air currents. The reclusive spectacled bear makes its home here in the high peaks as well, as do jaguar at the lower elevations.

Due to its proximity to the equator, even at high altitudes (the trek reaches a high point of 4660m), the track is often shrouded in lush jungle and rainforest. The campsites along the way are near very small villages/settlements, and you’ll also become used to seeing Inca stonework daily along the track on each day.

The Inca Rivers Trail can be trekked independently, but the best option is to book a guided trek with an operator such as World Expeditions. The company includes the necessary amount of acclimatisation days pre-trek on its Inca River adventure, and the guides are exceptional in regards to both their experience at high-altitude trekking and knowledge of Peru’s culture and history.

The Inca Rivers Trail offers the best of all worlds: a final destination recognised as one of the world’s wonders; the relatively unknown, but amazing, archaeological discovery that is Choquequirao; the strong Peruvian culture; and the fact that you will rarely see anyone but your own group trekking the trail. Perfect!


For the full story, check out the Mar/Apr 2015 issue of Australian Geographic Adventure.

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