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Choquequirao Trek

5 days

Choquequirao Trek

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.

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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

Meals: Breakfast


  • 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
  • Inflatable mattress
  • 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)
  • First-aid kit

Not included

  • Sleeping bag (available for hire at an additional cost)
  • Travel insurance
  • Meals not included in the itinerary
  • Tips for guides
  • Tips for staff


  • Passport
  • A daypack
  • Warm clothes (for the Andean highlands)
  • Rain jacket
  • Long sleeved shirts (cotton)
  • Shorts for walking (optional)
  • Hiking boots
  • Swimming gear and sandals
  • Cap and sunglasses
  • Walking poles (optional)
  • Insect repellent
  • Sun block 
  • Water bottle for the first day (we will refill your bottle with boiled water during the trek)
  • Binoculars for bird watching enthusiasts
  • Flashlight
  • Digital camera

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).

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+51 984 948 057
Andean Adventures Peru
Urb. Lucrepata E-13, Cusco, Peru
Telephone: (+51 84) 229911 / (+51 84) 263498