Choquequirao, the sister city of Machu Picchu, is known as the “Cradle of Gold” in Quechuan, although this is probably not its original name. It is another “Lost City of the Incas” rediscovered late in 20th century. It is located high on a ridge spur almost 1750m above the raging glacier-fed Apurimac River and surrounded by towering Salkantay and Humantay snow-capped peaks. It is also much less visited ‘tourist attraction’, leaving you with more pristine views and exploration opportunities.
Choquequirao was built during the last days of the Incan empire under the government of the Inca Pachacutec. Mostly likely, it’s construction was led by Tupac Inca Yapanqui, probably after the Spanish invasion in 1532. The Incans held strong against the Spanish conquerors for forty years (between 1536 – 1572). The construction of the different levels of temples, palaces, canals and aqueducts is really fantastic. Choquequirao is a city which demonstrates the fascinating example of an elite Incan ceremonial center. A city dedicated to worship “Pachamama” (Andean Mother Earth) “the Apus” (Mountain Gods and Divinities), the river and the elements of nature. Choquequirao finally was burned down and left deserted. This happened probably after the execution of the last Inca, Tupac Amaru I in 1572.
We will also be visiting many other historical sacred sites of the Inca, and even camp on land of local families – sharing lunch with their and learning about their culture and traditions. On this trek, we visit places such as Yanama, Colcapampa, and the Lluskamayo River. On our 6th day, we begin making our way back out of the valley as we head for the highest pass on the trek (4840m / 15879 ft.). Having been trekking through lush valleys up to this point, we will notice the scenery shift to the ‘high puna’ (barren grasslands) as we head for the pass. Once at the pass we’ll have fantastic views of the surrounding mountain
ranges including the mighty Salkantay (6270m / 20570 ft.). When we trek through the village of La Playa, you will have the change to re-stock on esstial items, as well as purchase some locally grown coffee. Here, there is also an option to experience some hot springs that are nearby.
The 9-Day Choquequirao Trek to Machu Picchu is one of the most beautiful and interesting treks offered in the Cusco region. Following little visited pathways, and eventually hooking up with the Inca Trail, with beautiful scenery and visits to the two major Inca sites, this trek truly has it all!
The trek begins following the regular route for Choquequirao but instead of returning the way you came you continue on and eventually joins the last section of the Salkantay trek to arrive at Machu Picchu.
By booking your Choquequirao-Machu Picchu Trek with PumaPath you are choosing the best company to start your journey with!
- Starting Altitude – 2900m / 9515ft.
- Highest Altitude – 4840m / 15,879ft.
- Walking Distance – 100km / 62 miles
- Longest Day – Days 1 and 6, approximately 18km / 11.2 miles
- Overall Difficulty – Difficult
Day 1: Cusco – Cachora – Santa Rosa
Our first day starts out from the village of Cachora, a 4 hour drive from Cusco. Leaving Cachora, the path winds it’s way down in to the Apurimac Valley where we’ll have fantastic views of snow-capped peaks in the distance. After a few hours walking we’ll have our first views of Choquequirao on the far side of the valley. The area around Choquequirao is rich in life and we will see a wide variety of flora and fauna as we make our way down the valley.
Our campsite for the night is at Santa Rosa (2200m / 7215ft.) which is on the other side of the Apurimac River. As the campsite is a little further along the trail than most groups go it is one of the quietest places to camp on the whole trek so we can enjoy the beautiful scenery around us without distraction.
Day 2: Santa Rosa – Choquequirao
This is probably the hardest day of the trek. To get to Choquequirao, we need to make our way back up the opposite side of the Apurimac Valley which involves ascending about 800m, over a
distance of 14km through hot and humid conditions. It’s tough going but the views we get today mixed with the wide variety of flora and fauna you find on this side of the valley make it worth it.Throughout the day we will see a wide variety of bromeliads, orchids and stands of bamboo, and we’ll also hopefully see birds such as Quetzals, Toucans and a variety of hummingbirds. After a five hour walk we’ll arrive to our campsite close to Choquequirao (3050m / 10,005ft.) and settle in for the night. If the weather is clear, the sunsets from here are amazing and we may be lucky enough to spot Condors soaring over the valley below.
Day 3: Choquequirao – Pinchinuyoc
Today you will have a guided tour of Choquequirao and then have some free time to explore by yourself. Choquequirao is one of the most extensive Inca sites to be discovered and a large portion of it has yet to be excavated. After lunch, we’ll set off again on our trek heading for the pass above the city. From the pass we’ll make our way down in to the Rio Blanco valley below and camp at the terraces of Pinchinuyoc (2487m / 8160 ft.).
Day 4: Pinchinuyoc – Maizal
After breakfast, we’ll carry on hiking down into the valley until we reach the river. In the dry season the river is calm and it’s waters are warm so it’s a perfect place to stop and have a refreshing dip to ease your tired muscles. After our swim, we’ll make our way back up the opposite side of the valley heading for our campsite at Maizal (2891m / 9488 ft.).
On this day we’ll see a wide variety of native plants and birds, and have beautiful views of the lush and green Rio Blanco valley. Upon arrival to our campsite at Maizal, you will have the option of visiting a nearby Inca site.
Day 5: Maizal – Yanama
This day’s walk takes us from Maizal to the small community of Yanama. The views are once again amazing and we’ll see a variety of plants and birds, walk along original Incan trails and pass by abandoned gold and silver mines from Peru’s Colonial days.
Our campsite for tonight is at Yanama (3520m / 11549 ft.) where we will stay on the land of one of the local families. After lunch we will have the chance to visit their home and learn about their customs and traditions.
Day 6: Yanama – Colpapampa
From Yanama, we begin making our way back out of the valley as we head for the highest pass on the trek (4840m / 15879 ft.). Having been trekking through lush valleys up to this point, you’ll notice the scenery shift to the ‘high puna’ (barren grasslands) as we head for the pass. Once at the pass we’ll have fantastic views of the surrounding mountain
ranges including the mighty Salkantay (6270m / 20570 ft.).
From the pass, the path leads us back down to warmer climates again and our path will eventually converge with the Salkantay Trek at Colpapampa (2900m / 9514 ft.) where we will camp for the night.
Day 7: Colpapampa – La Playa
Our destination today is the village of La Playa, about 12km down the valley from Colpapampa. Our route takes us along the Lluskamayo River through an area that has various coffee and fruit plantations.
Tonight we will stay at the village of La Playa (2400m / 7874ft.) which is well connected; there are plenty of places where you can buy snacks and refreshments, and try some of the locally grown coffee. If you are interested, there is the option to visit some hot springs that are close by. Let your guide know in advance so that he can organize this for you.
Day 8: La Playa – Llactapata – Aguas Calientes
This is the final stretch of the trek before we reach Aguas Calientes at the base of Machu Picchu. The main focus of today is a visit to the Incan site of Llactapata sat on the mountainside high above. Following an original Incan trail, we’ll arrive to Llactapata by mid morning and enjoy the fantastic views of Machu Picchu that we can see from here.After a tour of Llactapata, in which we’ll learn about the Inca people and their culture, we’ll head back down the mountainside to the Hydroelectric Station from where we’ll catch our train to Aguas Calientes.
Day 9: Machu Picchu!
Waking up early, we’ll take the first bus back up to Machu Picchu to enter the site as it opens. We’ll have a two hour guided tour of the site during which you’ll learn about the Incas and visit all the most important areas of the citadel. After your tour you’ll have free time to explore the site by yourself and, if you have permits, to climb either Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu mountain. In the afternoon you will take the train back to Ollantaytambo from where you will take a bus back to Cusco.
- Ceremony with your tour guide and locals
- Professional English Speaking Tour Guide
- Assistant Tour Guide for groups of 9+
- Mules to carry cooking and camping equipment
- Mules to carry 10kg of your personal belongings
- Pick-up from your hotel
- Transportation by bus to Mollepata
- Return transportation by train and bus to Cusco
- Water (excluding the first 4 hours of the trek when you need to bring your own)
- 8 Breakfasts, 8 Lunches, 8 Afternoon Snacks and 8 Dinners. If you have a dietary request such as vegetarian food please let us know.
- Dining tent with tables and chairs
- 4 man tent for every 2 trekkers
- 3-Star Hotel for final night
- Sleeping mattress, sleeping bag
- Oxygen bottle
- First aid kit
- Entrance to Machu Picchu
- Round-Trip Bus Tickets
- Breakfast on day 1 and lunch and dinner on day 8
- Entrance to Huayna Picchu Mountain
- Tips for staff. Tips are not mandatory but strongly recommonded as a gesture of gratitude.
- Travel Insurance – you are strongly recommended to buy travel insurance for the duration of your trip.
What you need to take:
- Original Passport
- ISIC card (if you are a student and want to qualify for the discount)
- Walking boots
- Waterproof jacket / rain poncho
- Warm jacket
- Hat and gloves
- Comfortable Trousers
- Sun hat
- Sun cream (SPF35 or higher)
- Insect repellant
- Toiletries and hand sanitizer
- Personal medication
- Camera and film
- Torch with spare batteries
At Puma Path, your comfort and safety are of our utmost concern. Therefore, we provide all necessary camping equipment for your trek. Included in prices are: sleeping tent, rollmat and pillow for your comfort. Please feel free to bring your own sleeping bag if you prefer.
Private Service Prices
- 2 participants $ 1150 per person
- 3 – 4 participants $ 1050 per person
- 5 and more $ 100
- Student Discount: US$20 (Requires ISIC Card to qualify)
- Sleeping Bag US$ 45
- Walking Pole US$ 45
- Inflatable Mattress US$45
- Single Tent Supplement US$75
- Mules to carry extra 7kg of personal items US$180
TRAIN TIMES: On the ninth day we will take the 2:55, 4.42 or 6:45PM train from Aguas Calientes to Ollantayatambo and then we will transfer you back to your hotel in Cusco.
HUAYNAPICCHU MOUNTAIN: If you are thinking of climbing Huaynapicchu mountain, you must book it at the same time as your trek. Only 400 people can hike Huaynapicchu per day. You will climb it on your own after the tour of Machu Picchu around 10:00 am. The price is $25 per person.
HORSES OR PORTERS: On this trek we provide horses to carry your food and the camping equipment, but there will be one cook and his assistant, two horses men and one porter who is picking up what other hikers throw away. You will have a personal allowance of 7kg for your gear. This will not be available during the day as the horsemen will be ahead of the group.
OUR GUIDES: Most of our guides began as porters before they went to Cusco University and Institute where they learned about the Incan history. They are always learning in order to be the best guides. They each speak English fluently along with Spanish and Quechuan, the Incan language. They are all able to communicate with natives from around the area and of course will have lots of history to share with you.
OUR FOOD: Definitely one of the highlights of the tour is the food. It is always fresh and most of it is organic. There is always a lot to eat and lots of options including vegetables, meat, chicken, fish and other types of protein and carbohydrates. Everyone sits down to eat together and we go out of our way to accommodate all dietary requirements including vegetarian options and any food allergies. We do not provide any alcoholic drinks on the trek but if you would like you can bring your own.
OUR EQUIPMENT: We provide 4 man tents for only 2 people and foam mattresses for everyone. Our dining equipment includes a spacious dining tent, tables and chairs, plates and utensils. We do NOT supply walking sticks, but they can be rented from Puma Path. We bring an extra blanket for all our hikers for those especially cold nights. Just ask and your guide will provide you with this.
Please note that if you are over 1.95 meters / 6´4″ tall then you won´t be able to rent a sleeping bag in Cusco. In this case it is recommended to bring your own.
WE ARE SUSTAINABLE: We always clean up the trail as we go. We respect the local people, teach them to clean the area, and help the local children. We always take one extra porter who will be walking on the trail just to pick up the bottles and plastic bags thrown away by the people who came before us.
WE ARE RESPONSIBLE: We treat our hikers, porters and all the local people from the villages with the utmost respect. We travel in small groups to give personalized tours to each traveller. We pay good salaries to our porters and follow the porters law. We provide all our porters with their hiking gear such as shoes, pants, jackets, t-shirts, hats, sleeping bags and most importantly, health insurance.
FITNESS: This trek is certainly not easy but you do not need to be an athlete or a trekking expert to complete it. Fitness is naturally important but this is the kind of trek that anyone with a positive attitude and determination can do. Obviously the more fit you are the more you will enjoy the trail and the more chance you will have to take in the scenery and appreciate the Inca ruins dotted along the way. If you do not exercise regularly, it is advisable to do some extra walking or some kind of aerobic activity in the months leading up to your trip.
Many people worry whether they will be able to cope physically but complete failure is rare and would usually only result from severe altitude sickness or a person lacking even a basic level of fitness. People of all ages (from teenagers to pensioners) complete the trek and age itself is no barrier if you are positive minded and live an active lifestyle. Before departing for your tour, we recommend visiting your doctor who will be able to provide you with more information.
STORAGE DURING THE TREK: During the trek your main luggage will be stored in Cuzco and you will receive a small duffel bag at your trail briefing (briefings are normally set for the evening before you start the trek) to pack enough clothes for 3-4 days. Your team of porters will carry these bags together with the food and equipment for the trail. Please note that you will not have access to these items until the end of each day as the porters will always be ahead of the group, you should therefore bring a day pack in which you can carry personal belongings such as your camera, water and sun screen etc. By Peruvian law the duffel bag carried by the porters must not weigh more than 7kg (14pounds). You can either store your luggage at your hotel or you can leave it with us.
BOOKING: Choquequirao to Machu Picchu is available to depart any day of the week as long as we have two people. You still need to book in advance.
Thanks for traveling with Puma Path, 100% local company!