The hills above the Sacred Valley are filled with Inca sites and small communities that are rarely visited by tourists. This Quillarumiyoq Trek offers the adventurous traveler a peek at these hidden riches, as well as the opportunity to hike and camp in the high Andes.
The itinerary below is a sample. Hiking times are an average and will vary depending on the group. Additionally, lunch and camp sites may change to meet the needs of the group and conditions.
The day before the trek, your guide will meet you at your hotel for an in-depth briefing. This provides an opportunity to ask questions and do any last-minute shopping before leaving Cusco.
Leaving early in the morning we travel by private van from Cusco and cross the broad Anta valley. In this quintessential agricultural region we see small villages of adobe houses with thatched or red tiled roofs, fields of grain, and herds of cattle. Leaving the main road, we visit the Incan archaeological site of Quillarumiyoc (Temple of the Moon).
This religious center contains walls, buildings, fountains, and its centerpiece, the Moonstone. A limestone boulder with a base relief of the moon that is found only here, the Moonstone is still used by shamans to honor the moon. We have breakfast near the site and, if lucky, talk to the archeologists who are studying it. From Quillarumiyoc we travel past small villages and old Inca terraces through the town of Huarocondo to the trailhead, where we meet our wranglers and pack animals. From the trailhead it is a 2-hour walk gradually uphill to the archaeological site of Huata. . We will explore the site and have our lunch, after which we continue to the village of Huata and camp near the school. 4 hours walking, 3400-?m
After a delicious breakfast we begin a four hour climb to the highest point on our trek at 4500m. Along the way we pass a few small settlements where the residents raise potatoes and herd llamas and sheep. From here there are excellent panoramic views of the surrounding mountains, including Salkantay, Ausangate and Wacaywillka (Veronica). After a rest to enjoy the view we will continue to our campsite at Chancachuco, where we will stay near a local family. 5 hours walking, ?-4500-3800m
We spend much of the first part of the day in the narrow, fern-draped Punku Punku canyon, following an Inca canal that carried water to the quarry. Climbing out of the ravine, we have lunch on a ridge overlooking the Sacred Valley and Ollantaytambo before continuing to the quarry of Cachiqata. Here the huge blocks of pink rhyolite were cut before being taken down the mountainside and across the Rio Urubamba for use at the site at Ollantaytambo. After marveling at the feet of engineering and man-power that went into extracting and moving the stones, we then descend into the valley, cross the Urubamba, and enter the Inca town of Ollantaytambo. After a brief exploration, we return to Cusco by private transportation. 6 hours walking, 3800-2900m
Instead of returning to Cusco on day 3, this gives you the opportunity to explore further the town of Ollantaytambo. After spending the night in a local hostel, we will more thoroughly tour the town and archaeological site. The town has been continuously occupied since the Inca time and has much of its original streets, traditional houses, canals, and walls. The huge ruins above the town include administrative and ceremonial areas, as well as terraces and springs. After seeing the town, you can return to Cusco or catch the train to Machu Picchu.
For more information on trekking with Apu Andino, see Trekking with Apu Andino.
Much of this trek is isolated and away from tourist infrastructure. Temperatures and weather can vary, from hot and humid to below freezing. Trekkers should be prepared for changes to the itinerary and to meet unexpected challenges with an open-mind and sense of adventure.