Choquequirao 9 Days / 8 Nights
This epic 9-day itinerary take us to a beautiful, remote and largely undiscovered area of the Andes. The ancient archaeological site of Choquequirao is part of the complex system of Andean towns that made up the Inca Empire. Like so many of the towns, it was connected with Machu Picchu by a network of trails, many of which still exist today.
Choquequirao is spectacularly located within the Salkantay mountain range an is surrounded by the majestic snow-capped peaks of Apus of Yanama, Ampay, Choquetarcarpo, Pumasillo and Panta. Over the course of the trek we will climb a number of steep passes, where the views are simply breathtaking but because of this we recommend the trek for people who already have a good level of fitness, and also suggest you take a few days to acclimatize to the altitude in Cusco before joining the trek.
For the first seven days, we will go deep into the Andes, visiting remote villages and ancient ruins that very few tourists in the area get to see. At times our only company on the trek will be the local farmers, or the wild alpacas! Our nights will be spent camping in the most beautiful remote spots under the mesmerizing South American skies.
On the eighth day we take some time to rest in the town of Aguas Calientes, where you can soak your aching muscles in the hot springs from which the town takes its name. But of course we save the best until last, as on the 9th day we make our own pilgrimage to the ancient Citadel of Machu Picchu, recognized all over the planet as one of the new 7 Wonders of the World.
Accompanied by one of our expert guides at all times, and looked after by our professional team of porters and chefs, you can be assured that you are in good hands for this journey of a lifetime.
*Please note that due to inclement weather conditions between December and March, this itinerary is only available from April 1st until November 30th.
We will pick you up from your hotel and transport you 4 hours from Cusco to the town of Cachora. Here, you will have breakfast while we put the equipment on the horses. Already from the village of Cachora, we will begin to take in the beauty of the snow-covered mountain, Padrayoc (18,000 feet or 5,483 meters). We will then hike between 8-10 hours, observing many sites along the way, namely Padrayoc and Wayna Cachora. Our walk will start quite flat with views of snow-covered peaks and small farms. From the viewpoint of Capuliyoc, where we might see condors, we will descend towards the Apurímac Canyon. We will stop for lunch at Chiquisqa at 6,400 feet (1,950 meters). From here, we will continue to descend down the Apurímac Canyon to the Apurímac River at 5,000 feet (1,550 meters). After a short break at the river, we will start a steep climb towards Santa Rosa, where we will camp for the night in a small sugarcane plantation at 7,000 feet (2,115 meters).
On the second day, we will continue our hike up to Choquequirao. The first 2-3 hours will be steep, but then it will level out for a bit until it becomes steep again. We will see beautiful vegetation with a large variety of orchids. After this part of our journey, we will arrive to Choquequirao. We will rest in this beautiful place and your guide will explain the three levels of excavated ruins that boast houses, terraces and other parts of this ancient Inca-town. We will see the ruins in the process of being excavated. At approximately 4pm we will be able to see the Condors fly above our heads.
After breakfast, we will have plenty of time to enjoy the majestic archaeological site before continuing our trek uphill. We will first walk through the cloud forest and then through an open prairie with views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. We will then follow the old water canal for a while before we start the 3-hour walk to the Pinchinuyoc archaeological site found in 1998. When we reach Pinchinoyoc, your guide will explain that the location in the middle of the cloud forest, almost invisible because of the thick layer of moss, which makes this site special. We will camp shortly after in Río Blanco.
After breakfast, we will walk through interesting vegetation known as the Dry Andean Highland Forest. Trees and plants here look different than anything you have probably seen before. We will arrive at the River Victoria after a few hours and take a bath in the cold and clear river water. After our break, we will cross the river and start the long and steep climb to our camp in Maizal, high above the river close to the sacred Apus of the Incas. On the way up, we will catch our breath in the shade. Once we reach Maizal, we will have our lunch and relax for the afternoon. Maizal will prove to be the most beautiful campsite of the entire trek. From here, we will be able to see three valleys and a snow-peaked mountain right across the way.
We will leave our campsite in Maizal and walk towards the San Juan pass. We will have another long climb, but the area is one of the most beautiful of the trek. First, we will walk through a cloud forest and then over Andean Puna with the well-known ichu grass. We will rest at some of the Victoria mines where we will learn about the minerals and metals in the metallic shiny stones. As we continue through the Puna, we will walk on the well-preserved Inca Trails. We will have lunch at the pass at 13,100 feet (4,000 meters) and take in the view of the Choquetakarpo Mountain before we start the descend towards Yanama, a small village at the bottom of a long valley surrounded by mountains.
We will continue from Yanama up through the valley towards the highest point of the tour, the Yanama Pass at 14,800 feet (4,500 meters). Along the way, we will have a good view of the snow capped mountain, Sacsarayoc. Once again, we will have the chance to see condors and the morning’s smooth climb will bring us new landscapes, especially the wet grass fields that are different from every other view on the tour. We might walk through snow along this path before descending through grassy fields, bush areas and crossing small wood/dirt bridges on the way to the community of Totora, where we will spend the night.
We will now walk about 6,600 feet (2,000 meters) down through a variety of vegetation to a warmer camp in the village of La Playa. This part of the trip will take approximately 7 hours. On the way, we will see small waterfalls and take a refreshing natural bath. This area also has an impressive variety of bird life and after a short time walking, it will be obvious that the climate and vegetation have completely changed. You will now be able to see several types of orchids and other recognizable plants. We will be spending the night in La Playa, the largest village along the way, where we can find some small shops to buy snacks. In this area, we will be able to see small coffee and banana plantations.
Today, we will walk through La Playa to the hydroelectric station at the Urubamba River. We will walk uphill for about three hours until we reach the Llactapata archaeological sites that are located behind Machu Picchu. From here, we will see all of Machu Picchu and part of the Inca Trail. We will then continue down to the valley until we reach the hydroelectric station. Here, we will wait for the train or continue walking to Aguas Calientes. We will relax in the afternoon and soak in the medicinal hot springs in Aguas Calientes. We will spend the night in a comfortable hostel.
We will wake up very early to take the bus to the city of Machu Picchu where we will be one of the first visitors of the day to enjoy the magic and mystery of one of the wonders of the world. The tour with your guide will take around 2-3 hours. After, you will have free time to explore the entire city on your own and climb Wayna Picchu. In the afternoon, we will take the bus down to Aguas Calientes to board the train to Cusco.
English-speaking tour guide (additional tour guide for groups of 8 people or more)
Pre-Departure Briefing at your hotel 1 or 2 days before your Choquequirao Trail
Pick up from your hotel and transportation to Soqma village trail head
Four-person tent for every 2 people
Dinning tent with tables and chairs
Horses to carry all the equipment (food, tents, chairs, table, etc)
Horse to transport 8 kg of your personal gear
Duffel bag for your personal gear
Emergency horse in case we need it
4 Breakfasts, 4 lunches, and 4 dinners
Emergency oxygen bottle and medical kit
Vistadome train ticket from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes
Expedition train ticket from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo
One-night hotel accommodation in Aguas Calientes (double room)
Ticket for Huayna Picchu Mountain
Entrance to Machu Picchu
Round trip bus from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu
Sleeping bag (can be rented from us)
Day 1 Breakfast
Day 5 Lunch in Aguas Calientes, after you tour Machu Picchu on your own
Gratuity for the crew (guide, chef, porters, about 10 people total)
What to bring:
Original passport (if you have acquired a new one after you made your booking, bring both)
Down or synthetic feather sleeping bag (can be rented from us)
Clothes (trekking boots, warm fleece jacket, tops, a few t-shirts, socks, sun hat, thermal underwear, light long pants, gloves, poncho, rain jacket)
Toiletries (toilet paper, wet wipes, personal towel)
Sunblock (SPF 35+ recommended)
Sunglasses and sun hat
Trekking poles (recommended especially for the steep descents, can be rented from us)