At first glance Cachoro looks pretty bleak.
The draw for tourists is not the town of Cachoro but the Inca ruin of Choquequirao, a mere 19 mile trek that may be the most grueling hike I've ever been on. The hike starts at just under 10,000 feet, descends almost 4500 feet in a 5 mile stretch and then ascends 4500 feet in the next 5 miles. It isn't just the elevation change but the steepness of the trail and the altitude that combine to make this a difficult hike. The total distance from Cachoro to Choquequirao is just 19 miles but the 4500 foot ascent is covered in one day and then the return trip descent in another day. I never thought going downhill could be as hard as up but my legs were shaking by the time I got down to the river and crossed the bridge. And then it was up 1500 feet before reaching the campsite and another 3000 the next morning.
There is a very productive garden at 9700 feet with fruit trees that provides quite a diversity of foodstuff plus chickens, pigs, and guinea pigs to provide protein. We spent the second night there after the big ascent before heading to the ruins the following morning.
In the first photo in the following slideshow, you will see some terraces down the side of the mountain. These terraces at one point ascended to the summit interspersed with housing and workshops which still exist under the brush. The terraces then descended down the other side of the mountain--the site is incredibly extensive but no longer being cleared. Like Machu Picchu, there is a lot left to know about Choquequirao. The stonework is not nearly as good as other Inca structures leading some to surmise that it was built in a hurry. It was also not found by the Spanish and no one knows why it was deserted. A unique feature among all of the Inca sites uncovered so far are llama images embedded in the terrace walls.