The Classic Choquequirao Trek to Machu Picchu, is one of the most beautiful and spectacular treks in the Cusco region. This Choquequirao trek is an extended version that continues on past Choquequirao to Aguas Calientes and Machu Picchu. This Hike was listed on the National Geographic 2015 best Trips in the world! This challenging Choquequirao hike will be very rewarding to the adventurous trekker. The difficulty of the Choquequirao trek is comparable to the hike to Mount Everest Base Camp.
On this Choquequirao Hike you will see the great Choquequirao ruins and have a real adventure enjoying the spectacular views of snow-capped mountains, great valleys and amazing canyons. You will also see native animals such as Andean Condors and native flora and fauna such as orchids and so much more.
The Inca Emperors frequently chose beautiful locations for their “royal residence.” Machu Picchu was the jewel Pachacutec built, but it was Topa Inca who built the magnificent Choquequirao, on an stunning orchid strewn mountain, 61 miles west of Cusco. It is situated in a cloud forest, a dramatic 1,150 meters (3,772 feet) above the Apurimac River. Choquequirao means Cradle of Gold.
On the 8th day of the Choquequirao trek to Machu Picchu we will arrive in Aguas Calientes, the town at the base of Machu Picchu. Here you will check in to your hotel room at a very nice bed and breakfast. Dinner will be at the best restaurant in Aguas Calientes. The trek is capped off by your visit to Machu Picchu and hike of Huayna Picchu Mountain on the 9th day.
It is a challenging but amazing experience to hike down to the depths of the Apurimac Canyon and then up to the site in the clouds…rewarded at the end with a visit to the magnificent citadel of Machu Picchu.
Minimum altitude: 1,550 m/ 5,117 ft
Maximum altitude: 4,672 m /15,324 ft
Total distance: 93 km/58 miles
Overall trek difficulty: Demanding
You will have a thorough briefing with your guide 1 or 2 days before your Choquequirao trek to Machu Picchu. Your guide will meet you at your hotel and you can take this opportunity to ask questions and make any final preparations.
Day 1: Cusco – Capuliyoc – Chiquisca
We will pick you up early from your hotel and drive for 4 ½ hours in our private transport to Capuliyoc (2,915 meters/9,564 feet). Along the way there are spectacular views of villages, valleys and snow-capped mountains. Once at Capuliyoc, we will have brunch and then meet our horsemen and horses and pack all our equipment onto the horses.
After brunch, we descend for three to four hours to our first campsite at Chiquisca (1,900m/6,270ft), where we will spend the night.
Day 2: Chiquisca – Maranpata – Choquequiraoa
After an early breakfast we descend to the magnificent Apurimac River (1,550 m/5,117 ft) for 1 hour. We will cross the bridge above the Apurimac river and then walk uphill for 5 hours to the rural village of Maranpata (2,850 m/9,350 ft) where we have lunch whilst enjoying the spectacular views of the archaeological site of Choquequirao (3,150 m/10,397 ft).
After lunch we hike for 90 minutes, with gentle up and down segments to our camp. It is a magnificent camp 45 minutes from Choquequirao. We will arrive at the camp around 4 PM. We will relax, have happy hour and then dinner.
Day 3: Full Day Choquequirao Exploration
We will take this day to fully explore the incredible Inca Site of Choquequirao. We will have a guided walking tour. During the tour we will explore all the important sections, such as: palaces, temple, ritual water fountains, amazing Usno (ceremonial platform), agricultural terraces, llama´s section and much more.
Choquequirao, originally discovered in 1710 by a series of European explorers who passed through this area and knew about this site. However, little importance was given to Choquequirao until 1909 when Hiram Bingham, who is credited with the scientific discovery of Machu Picchu, came across the site. This brought more international attention to the site, but even then the site was largely ignored until the 1970´s when the Peruvian government started its excavations. Choquequirao is composed of an amazing and extensive set of terraces and a smaller religious and administrative area with a total area of over 1,800 hectares. There are impressive irrigation channels, and all of this is set in the dramatic setting of the steep Apurimac Canyon.
After a full day, we head back to our second evening’s campsite located just 45 minutes from the Choquequirao ruins, where we will have our dinner.
Day 4: Choquequirao – Maizal
Setting off for a beautiful Choquequirao hike today, we climb over a ridge for around 2 hours to Abra Choquequirao (3,318 m / 10,883 ft). From this vista we will see the Vilcabamba mountain range and the breath taking snow capped Choquetacarpo glacier.
This is followed by a 2 hours descent to the ruins at Pinchinuyoc, We will take a short break at these ruins to admire the majestic views. From there, we will descend to the Rio Blanco (1,990 m/ 6,527 ft), a further 1.5 hours steep descent. Here you can luxuriate in the river and take a bath if you would like. This is where we will have lunch.
Then we will start a difficult climb to a small cleared agricultural area on the mountain, Maizal. For many people, this is the most difficult section of the whole Choquequirao trek to Machu Picchu. The climb is a difficult 3 to 4 hours zig zag uphill. Maizal is located at 3,000m/9,842ft. Maizal is our camp for the night.
Day 5: Maizal – Abra San Juan – Yanama
After breakfast in Maizal we climb 4 to 5 hours uphill through cloud forest to the Victoria Mines. This ascent takes you from an altitude of 3,000 m to 4,000 m! We’ll take a short rest here and admire the shine of the outcropped rocks illustrating the high concentration of minerals and metals, and the reason for the ancient mines. We will then continue our climb to the pass of Abra San Juan (4,130 m/ 13,546 ft). This is our lunch spot. This is also the best place to see Andean condors. We can also see the Vilcabamba Valley, which is the lowest city of the Incas, as well as the Pumasillo glacier.
After lunch as we descend to the charming village of Yanama (4,100 m/13,541ft), a 2 to 3 hour walk. This is our campsite for the night.
Day 6: Yanama to Totora
From Yanama, we begin a 4 to 5 hour ascent. The first 4 hours are gentle and the last hour is steep, to reach the Yanama pass (4,672 m /15,324 ft), the highest point of our Choquequirao trek. We will see many waterfalls on the way up and meet local individuals. At the top we will see Apu Salkantay and part of the Salkantay Trek. We will then descend for two hours and have lunch along the way. After lunch we hike 2 ½ hours downhill to our camp at Totora (3,398 m /11,445 ft).
Day 7: Totora – Lucmabamba
We will begin the day by taking our private van from Totora to Colpapampa. We will hike 5 to 6 hours on gentle up and down segments. We will be hiking through the rain forest, following the path of the Santa Teresa river. We will have the opportunity to see multiple coffee plantations, banana plantations, and fields of passion fruit. Along this path you will also see the most beautiful waterfall along the Choquequirao Hike.
We will reach Lucmabamba, our campsite for the evening, around noon. Here we will relax and enjoy a delicious lunch!
After lunch, we will do an incredible coffee tour at the plantation adjacent to the campsite. We will begin by browsing the fields, learning about the different types of beans, and picking our own beans. There are also several fields of tomatoes and avocados. We will pick vegetables that the chef will use for dinner that night.
After picking our beans, we will roast them and grind them. Finally, we will brew and drink our own coffee! It is a truly unique experience.
Day 8: Lucmabamba – Llactapata Inca Ruins – Hydroelectric – Aguas Calientes
We will wake up early and have breakfast. Today´s hike starts with a moderate 3 ½ hour climb through the rain forest until we reach the Llactapata Inca site (2,700 m/8,856 ft), where we will have a thorough tour. This is the location where you will have your first view of Machu Picchu in the far distance. You will also have a first look at the mountain you will hike tomorrow, Huayna Picchu!
Leaving Llactapata, we begin a 2 ½ hour descent to Hydroelectric, where we will have lunch. At 3 pm we will board the train for a 40 minute trip to Aguas Calientes.
On arrival at Aguas Calientes you will check into your hotel. Dinner will be at the finest restaurant.
Day 9: Aguas Calientes – Machu Picchu – Cusco
You will have breakfast at your hotel before we take a very early bus (5:30am) along the winding road to Machu Picchu to see the magnificent sunrise. Once there you will be given a 2 hour walking tour of the site.
If you have elected to climb Huayna Picchu mountain you will begin the hike at 10 AM. The ticket price for Machu Picchu mountain is included in the price of your Choquequirao trek to Machu Picchu. If you are not climbing the mountain you will have free time to explore Machu Picchu before you return to Aguas Calientes by bus.
When you arrive in Aguas Calientes you will board the expedition train to Ollantaytambo. From Ollantaytambo you will travel by private van to Cusco and we will drop you off at your hotel. Arrival time in Cusco depends on the time of your train ticket.
WHAT’S IN A NAME: Action Peru Treks?
Action is a word we are all familiar with and probably use on a regular basis without too much thought! However, it is worth a look at the dictionary to understand what makes the word Action in our name special.
ACTION: Doing things that require physical movement and energy; something done so as to accomplish a purpose; involved in the activities of a group and organization.