Trek to the ruins of one of Peru’s most remarkable Inca sites. Choquequirao is as impressively located as its more famous sister city Machu Picchu, but this route through the remote Vilcabamba triangle is less well-known than the Inca Trail. This is a fascinating trek through spectacular scenery and a vivid regional history.The ruins of Machu Picchu are situated on the eastern slopes of the Cordillera Vilcabamba, while Choquequirao is located on the western slopes at about the same parallel, forming what could almost be described as their mirror image. Both citadels are located half-way up steep, densely-forested mountain slopes, overlooking two of the region’s major rivers. The approach to Choquequirao involves a steep descent from over 3000 meters to the Apurímac River at 1200 meters, followed by an even steeper ascent to the ruins. The site is perched a magnificent 1600 meters (one mile) above the river, surrounded by densely-forested mountain slopes, beneath huge, snow-capped peaks.
Day 1: Cusco / Cachora / Apurímac River
From Cusco we will travel by road to the typical Andean village of Cachora, where many local residents supplement their incomes by working as mule drivers or porters for those who come to trek to Choquequirao.
During the drive from Cusco there will be time to stop and visit the Saywite stone, a limestone outcrop around four meters in diameter which the Incas carved into a 3-dimensional representation of the territory of their empire, Tawantinsuyo. The stone is carved with images of the flora, fauna and geography of the empire and was employed in ceremonies associated with the worship of water.
From Cusco it is a 150 kilometer drive to Cachora along an asphalted road, with the final 10 kilometers to the village completed via a dirt road. Cachora is situated at an altitude of 2892 meters (9488 feet), and it is here that our trek will begin, as we hike along a gradually descending trail for just over 2 hours to the pass at Capuliyoc (2987 meters / 9800 feet), from where there are fine views of the Apurímac River and the forested slopes on the other side of the canyon.
It is at this pass that our steep descent into the canyon begins, as we trek through a semi-arid landscape dominated by cacti, contrasting with the verdant slopes of the other side of the canyon. After around three and a half hours we will arrive at our first campsite, at 1465 meters (4806 feet), on the bank close to the racing waters of the Apurímac River.
Distance by road: Cusco – Cachora 160 kilometers / 99.4 miles (asphalted road: 150 kilometers / 93.2 miles); 3-4 hours
Trekking distance: 9 kilometers / 5.6 miles (gradual ascent); 9.50 kilometers / 5.9 miles (steep descent); 6.5 – 7 hours
Altitudes: Cusco: 3400 meters / 11,154.8 feet; Saywite: 3620 meters / 11,877 feet; Cachora: 2892 meters / 9488 feet; Highest pass: 2987 meters / 9800 feet; Campsite: 1465 meters / 4806 feet
Meals: Lunch, dinner
Day 2: Apurímac River / Choquequirao.
Today we will set off just after dawn, crossing the bridge over the Apurímac River (1475 meters / 4839 feet) and beginning the climb to Choquequirao. This is a tough day’s trekking, but our efforts will be rewarded by imposing scenery as we hike through a forest inhabited by many bird species. We will climb through this cloud forest ecosystem to our second campsite at 2870 meters (9416 feet), and in the afternoon there will be time to visit the extensive Inca agricultural terraces of Phaqchayoc.
Trekking distance: 7 kilometers / 4.3 miles (steep ascent); 3.5 kilometers / 2.2 miles (gradual ascent); 7 hours
Altitudes: Apurímac River: 1475 meters / 4839 feet; Choquequirao campsite: 2870 meters / 9416 feet; Choquequirao ruins: 3040 meters / 9974 feet
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner
Day 3: Choquequirao
You will have the entire day free to explore the Choquequirao Archaeological Park, both accompanied by our guide and independently. This Inca city is composed of administrative, residential and religious sectors, a ceremonial platform (known in Quechua as an usnu), a main square and a series of buildings originally used to store harvests. With luck, from the ceremonial platform we may see a condor or two, as they often take advantage of thermal currents to soar above the Apurímac canyon.
Altitudes: Choquequirao campsite: 2870 meters / 9416 feet; Choquequirao ruins: 3040 meters / 9974 feet
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner
Day 4: Choquequirao / Apurímac River
After exploring Choquequirao and the surrounding cloud forest we will begin our descent from the ruins to the Apurímac, where those who wish will have time to refresh themselves in the cold waters of the river.
Trekking distance: 3.5 kilometers / 2.2 miles (gradual descent); 7 kilometers / 4.3 miles (steep descent); 6 hours
Altitudes: Choquequirao campsite: 2870 meters / 9416 feet; Apurímac River: 1475 meters / 4839 feet; Campsite (Apurímac River): 1465 meters / 4806 feet
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner
Day 5: Apurímac River / Cachora / Cusco
After breakfast we will cross the Apurímac River once again and begin the ascent towards Cachora, passing through semi-arid landscape and contemplating the forests on the other side of the canyon and the snow-capped peaks above them, while stopping often to rest and take photographs. Finally, with the river far below us once more, we will hike through the farmland around the village of Cachora, where our bus will be waiting to take us back to Cusco.
Distance by road: Cachora – Cusco: 160 kilometers / 99.4 miles (asphalted road: 150 kilometers / 93.2 miles); 3-4 hours
Trekking distance: 9.50 kilometers / 5.9 miles (steep ascent); 9 kilometers / 5.6 miles (gradual ascent); 7-8 hours
Altitudes: Campsite: 1465 meters / 4806 feet; Cachora: 2892 meters / 9488 feet; Cusco: 3400 meters / 11,154 feet
All necessary land transport (private vehicle)
Entrance fee to Choquequirao
English speaking tour guide
Camp cook, pack animals and mule drivers, camp assistant(s). Mules carry up to 8 kg of the passengers’ personal gear.
Camping equipment: Two-person tents, kitchen and/or dining tent, and toilet tent
Food: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner as described in the itinerary
Snacks in the morning, including fruits, chocolate, candies, etc
Hot drinks in the afternoon (tea or coffee)
WHAT TO BRING
Warm clothes (for the Andean highlands)
Long sleeved shirts (cotton)
Shorts for walking (optional)
Swimming gear and sandals
Cap and sunglasses
Walking poles (optional)
Water bottle for the first day (we will refill your bottle with boiled water during the trek)
Binoculars for bird watching enthusiasts
Important detail: Participants must be in good physical condition to be part of this adventure (try to train by walking each day for at least two weeks before departure).
Sleeping bag (available for hire at an additional cost)
Meals not included in the itinerary
Tips for guides
Tips for staff
Private Service Prices 2016
1 person : US$1450.00 per person
2 people : US$950.00 per person
3 people: US$900.00 per person
4 people : US$850.00 per person
5 people : US$800.00 per person
6+ people : US$750.00 per person
Optional Machupicchu extention
STUDENT DISCOUNT: $35 off per personStudent Discounts apply to anyone who has a valid GREEN ISIC card at the time of the trek or is 16 years old or younger. For those using an ISIC card to receive the discount, we do need to see a copy of the card at booking. For those booking children 16 years old or younger, we need a copy of their passport at booking time. Please send all to firstname.lastname@example.org
Under 15 years will pay as student: US$35.00
Under 7 years Discount: US$50.00
ADDITIONAL ITEMS:As you see in our Additional Items under Trip Overview, there are several optional upgrades you can include in this trip. Below is a quick list of prices, but check our Overview section for more details.
Huaynapicchu: $65 per person
Vistadome Train (One Way): $80 per person
Vistadome Train (One Way): $65 per person