Travel ▻ South America ▻ Peru8-Day Choquequirao to Machu Picchu Trek
8-Day Choquequirao to Machu Picchu Trek

8-Day Choquequirao to Machu Picchu Trek

8 days

8-Day Choquequirao to Machu Picchu Trek
from $1550 USD

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This program has you trekking through the Apurimac river canyon, up into the amazing ruins of Choquequirao, through the Cordillera Vilcabamba to finally reach Machu Picchu from its south side. This unique program is perfect for those who want to combine archaeology and mountains. Some of the trail is following the footsteps of Hiram Bingham!

Way off the beaten track, Choquequirao (the "Cradle of Gold") is an amazingly preserved Inca outpost. Only accessible by a tough trek, it is comparable in size to Machu Picchu and dramatically located on a promontory nearly 1,700m above the roaring Apurimac River. Our eight-day mule supported hike to Choquequirao and beyond takes in high passes, perfectly preserved Inca Trails and awesome Andean peaks, and ends with a spectacular and rarely seen view of Machu Picchu, complete with a fully guided tour of these incredible ruins.

This is a long, spectacular and strenuous hike crossing the entire Vilcabamba mountain range from the Apurimac to the Urubamba watershed. It is approximately 75km long with almost 5,000m of both ascent and descent, passes up to 4,100m and river crossings as low as 1,450m.

This is your chance to be amongst one of the few adventurers to visit this incredible site and complete this rewarding trek to Machu Picchu.

Set departures dates for the 8-day trek are the last Monday of the month, April through October. Prices are for set departures; contact us for private treks, to start on any date.


Day 1: Drive from Cusco to trailhead at Capuliyoc, hike to Chikisca, camp overnight (LD)

In the morning we will be leaving from Cusco headed due north on the main highway to Antapampa, a fertile agricultural valley. Once we begin to descend into Limatambo, we'll visit the Inca site of Tarawasi, with some beautifully precise Inca geometry found in its structures and stone walls. The road continues until we reach the Apurimac River, an impressive gorge, where we can observe the frothy river winding below. We will drive past the village of Curawasi and on to the Sayhuite archaeological site. Among its features is an enormous monolithic rock carved with various geometrical and animal figures. Some archaeologists consider it to have been a kind of engineering map that showed the extensive hydraulic systems and irrigation channels used to convey water in the area.

A small side road over a ridge brings us down to the village of Capuliyoc, and onto the roadhead where we start today's hike. Here we will meet the rest of our field crew and we'll attain our first view of the Apurimac Canyon with the snow-capped peaks of Nevado Padreyoc front and center, and Nevado Qoriwayrachina to the left. We begin our descent and make camp at a cozy site on the riverside at Chikisca, at 1850 masl (6069 fasl).

Driving distance: 175 km (108.8 mi) - Time: 4:30 hours Trekking distance: 7.4 km (4.6 mi) - Time: 3 hours

Meals included: Lunch, Dinner
Budget Accommodations: Camping on Trek

Day 2: Hike to Marampata, camp overnight (BLD)

We get up with the sunrise, and after a hearty breakfast, begin the day's trek, crossing the river over a footbridge. From here an uphill walk of half a day brings us to a small meadow where we'll enjoy a picnic lunch. As we ascend the steep trail, we will be confronted with panoramic views, sheer drops, and the beauty of the Apurimac Canyon. The afternoon hike is less steep as we approach the hanging valley through verdant misty forest to the site of Choquequirao. We'll set up camp on the level ground at the section known as Marampata, as we begin our explorations of this isolated Inca site and the surrounding cloud forest. We can also visit the Choquequirao main plaza, which features a network of terraces with Llama Figures called ̈the Llamas of the Sun." We will camp at available campsites.

Trekking distance: 12.8 km (8 mi) - Time: 8 hours

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Budget Accommodations: Camping on Trek

Day 3: Explore the archaeological site of Choquequirao, continue to Pinchiunuyoc, camp overnight.

We will spend this entire day exploring the various archaeological sites located at different points on the hillside overlooking the Apurimac River. We begin by passing alongside the stream of Chunchumayo, with spectacular views of the other side of the canyon. We will have a chance to explore some of the restored buildings: these include storage facilities, living quarters, a garrison, and impressive ceremonial sites. The very first written reports of a visit to this complex date from 1768 by the explorer Cosme Bueno. He was followed by a variety of explorers, scientists, and treasure hunters through 1909, when Hiram Bingham also visited the area, even before his historic re- discovery of Machu Picchu.

We will have time to wander through this extended settlement, spending most of the day marveling at the different buildings. In the afternoon, we'll pack our equipment and move to the next campsite. We'll begin our ascent from our campsite to the Pass of Choquequirao (3250 m / 10,660 ft), finally entering the moist cloud forest where we'll find Polyepis trees, bromeliads, and epiphytic plants including exotic, colorful orchids, and bright green ferns. We'll descend to Pinchiunuyoc, a terraced agricultural complex that supplied Choquequirao with agricultural products and prepare our camp for the evening.

Trekking distance: 1.8 km (1.1 mi) - Time: 2:30 hours

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Budget Accommodations: Camping on Trek

Day 4: Hike to Maizal, camp overnight (BLD)

We continue our descent to the gushing Yuracmayo River, finally arriving at and crossing the riverbed. Now, we begin our ascent to Maizal, a vista point with panoramic views of the Yurahmayo and Yanama gorges, as they join together and rush towards the Apurimac Canyon. The landscape in front of us sweeps out to the Cordillera Vilcabamba range, from where the Inca staged a rebellion after the Spanish conquest. At this natural west-facing viewpoint, we can observe a beautiful sunset before getting settled for the evening.

Trekking distance: 5 km (3.1 mi) - Time: 6 hours

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Budget Accommodations: Camping on Trek

Day 5: Hike to village of Yanama, camp overnight (BLD)

The trail ascends steeply towards Mina Victoria, once an Inca mine, and later a colonial copper mine. We'll hike along Qoriwayrachina Hill, a ruin that was used as a way station for travelers during the time of the Inca, where fairly recent excavations have taken place. Once over the pass (3900 m / 12, 792 ft), we'll enjoy a hearty lunch and begin our descent to the village of Yanama, with panoramic views of Mt. Pumasillo in the distance. This night we will camp at Yanama.

Trekking distance: 10 km (6.2 mi) - Time: 7 hours

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Budget Accommodations: Camping on Trek

Day 6: Hike to Lucmabamba via Hornopampa, camp overnight (BLD)

Recently a road has been built that can accommodate four-wheel-drive vehicles. We will trek along a trail skirting this narrow road. Heading up the Yanama Valley, past fields of native farmers going about their chores, we reach the trailhead below the Quiswar Pass (4180 m / 13,710 ft). Depending on the road conditions, a vehicle will pick us up along this trail. Crossing over the pass, we'll marvel at the majestic views of Mt. Salkantay and Mt. Humantay, in the distance. Descending to the valley of Totora below, we'll reach Hornopampa and then continue to our next campsite in the region near Lucmabamba. We will begin to notice signs of other humans in the area, as we pass small settlements of farmers growing coffee and tropical fruits.

Trekking distance: 9 km (5.6 mi) - Time: 7 hours
Driving distance: 60 km (37.3 mi) - Time: 2:30 hours

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch
Budget Accommodations: Camping on Trek

Day 7: Hike to Hydroelectric plant, train to Aguas Calientes, overnight hotel (BL)

Traversing dense cloud forest with a chance to hear myriad birdcalls and observe a great diversity of flora, we'll pass the pre-Inca site of Paltallacta, with its symmetrical Inca terracing and ancient stonework. From here we'll attain a magnificent view of Machu Picchu's northern face. We will now descend to the Urubamba Valley, with a chance for a refreshing dip in the Aobamba River, meandering along the path to the hydroelectric plant. In the afternoon, we'll board the train, for a short ride to Machu Picchu village, where we will spend the night at a local hotel.

Trekking distance: 10 km (6.2 mi) - Time: 7 hours
Train ride: 8 km (5 mi) - Time: 45 minutes

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 8: Tour of Machu Picchu, option to Climb Huayna Picchu, train return to Cusco (BL)

After an early breakfast, we'll hop on board the shuttle bus up to the ruins, a half-hour ascending ride. Your trek guide will accompany you as you explore the breath-taking ruins and learn about the various structures and buildings, and the lifestyles of its former inhabitants. You'll be immersed in the sheer beauty of the complex and its verdant surroundings, as you breathe in the rarefied air of the cloud forest. You will have an option to climb Huayna Picchu at 10 a.m. (ticket not included and must be purchased at least 90 days prior to your trip.)

Return to the village below in the afternoon, where you'll board a train back to Cusco or Ollantaytambo. (Hotel overnight and dinner on your own).

Trekking distance: visit Machu Picchu - Time: 3 hours
Bus ride to Machu Picchu (RT): 12.4 km (7.7 mi) - Time: 1 hour
Train ride: 43 km (27 mi) - Time: 1:45 hours
Driving distance Ollantaytambo to Cusco: 79 km (49 mi) - Time: 2 hours

Meals included: Breakfast


8-Day Choquequirao to Machu Picchu Trek
from $1550 USD
*** Contact Us for other itinerary and lodging options! ***

NOTE: Prices are per person in U.S. dollars based on double/triple occupancy. All quotations are based on the current rates of park fees, VAT, other government taxes, and current exchange rates. Should any of these be increased or a new tax introduced, these increases will be added on even if your trip has already been paid for.

  • All accommodations per itinerary
  • All meals per itinerary (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
  • All tours and entrance fees per itinerary (unless listed as excluded)
  • All transportation and transfers per itinerary
  • Pre-trek briefing with guide for the trek
  • Transportation by vehicle to start of the trek
  • Bi-lingual guide on the trek, who will handle the first aid kit
  • Two-man tents including sleeping pads
  • Pack animals and mule handler
  • Cook and kitchen crew
  • Commissary gear
  • All meals during the trek
  • Portable toilet
  • Entrance fee and guided tour of Choquequirao ruins
  • Train ride from Hydroelectra Station to Aguas Calientes
  • Shuttle, entrance and guided tour of Machu Picchu
  • Overnight accommodation in Aguas Calientes (budget 3-star hotel)
  • Expedition train return to Cusco
  • International and domestic flights
  • Meals not listed
  • Beverages and alcohol
  • Tips for guides, drivers, hotel staff
  • Optional tours
  • Single room supplement
  • Personal expenses (visas, airport taxes, Internet, etc.)
  • Tips for your guide, driver, cook, crew, muleteer
  • Ticket to climb Huayna Picchu (add US$30 per person)
  • Hotels in Cusco
  • Dinner in Aguas Calientes
  • Ticket to climb Huayna Picchu (ticket must be purchased at least 90 days prior to your travel; added US$30 per person)
  • Personal gear (sleeping bag, pack, clothes, etc)
  • Personal expenses (alcoholic beverages, laundry, insurance, internet)
  • International and domestic flights
  • Additional pre- and post-trek tours
  • Single supplement is US$175 per person

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