Choquequirao Trek

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Choquequirao Trek
Peru

The Choquequirao Trek is an Inca trail located in the Apurimac valleys of the Andes, Peru.

It is approximately a 58 kilometre return route, depending on which trail you take. It can also be part of a route onwards to Machu Picchu.

Choquequirao is an ancient Incan city. Larger than Machu Picchu, much of Choquequirao is still hidden amongst the jungle. This makes it an exciting trek for any keen explorer!

While this is a tough trek at altitude, the stunning scenery and natural landscape make it worthwhile.

This is a remote trek compared to treks that go to Machu Picchu, but in the near future things are set to change. Plans have been made to construct a chairlift to take tourists to the lost city of Choquequirao. Once built, it is estimated that more tourists will visit. Construction has not yet commenced, so if you want an authentic taste of back country Peru, make this hike a priority.

Highlights
  • Peruvian wilderness
  • Views of the Andes mountain range
  • Ancient Inca heritage
  • Small villages
  • Exploring the ruins at Choquequirao
  • The achievement of completing the trek
Walk Map
About the route

The Choquequirao Trek takes you on a descent through the steep Apurimac Valley and up the other side.

There are three routes to Choquequirao, starting at Cachora, Huanipaca and Yanama.

The trail from Cachora is the most popular as the inclines are less steep, there are campsites and small places to buy food.

If you want to continue your trek to Machu Picchu, you need to take the trail towards Yanama after visiting Choquequirao.

If you are looking to explore an Inca trail that is less known to tourists, then this is for you. You can experience the Peruvian wilderness and awe-inspiring scenery, and feel as if it is just you and the trail.

When you arrive at Choquequiro, you will also be able to explore the well-preserved ruins without seeing many other tourists.

  • Travel

The trailheads are outside of the city of Cusco.

If you are flying to Peru, the main international airport is Lima. From Lima, you can get a domestic flight to Cusco, the duration is about an hour.

Buses travel between Lima to Cusco, the travel time is around 20 hours due to the terrain. If you do want to travel by bus, it is worth paying a little extra for upgraded buses where you can enjoy reclining seats.

From Cusco, buses go close to Cachora and Huanipaca, where you can pick up the trail.

The trailhead is approximately a three hour walk from Cachora. You can add this to your hike, or get a bus or taxi.

  • Length

The Choquequirao Trek is about 58 kilometres in length and is usually completed over 3-5 days.

  • Grade and difficulty of the walk

This trek is graded at 4-5.

While the trail is well-marked, it is challenging with long, steep climbs and descents in places.

You should be fit enough for multi-day treks on steep terrain. There may also be sheer drops to watch out for.

This trek is at altitude. This can make physical activity feel harder and you may find yourself breathless with exertion.

If you choose the Yanama route, the highest point is at Yanama Pass at 4668 metres elevation. Becoming acclimatised to the altitude before embarking on this trek is essential. To do this, you can spend some time in Cusco, and do shorter, day hikes.

  • Experience

To enjoy this trek, having hiking experience is a must. You will need to hike for several hours per day on challenging terrain, while camping at night.

While there are small places you can stop to get food supplies, you will have to carry most of it with you. You will also need to carry camping equipment.

Water is available from campsites and streams, but it must be purified before drinking. Boiling water at altitude is does not guarantee its safe, as water boils at a lower temperature. Use purification tablets instead.

The path is well-marked, so finding the way is easy. However, it is always a good idea to carry a map and compass with you.

If you feel that you have the required fitness level, but lack hiking experience, then having a guided tour might be an option.

  • Permits

You do not need a permit to hike the trail, however fees apply if you want to enter the site at Choquequirao.

  • Guided or Self-Guided

You can hike this trail guided or self-guided.

The benefits of having a guide is that transport can be arranged to get to the trailheads, as well as having mules to help carry your supplies. A guide will be knowledgeable about the area, and be able to give you information that you might not learn otherwise.

Guided tours can be tough if you are on a budget, so if you are an experienced hiker then self-guided may be a better option. The trail is well-marked, so you can feel confident on the route. You can also set your own itinerary and spend as long as you like staying at the campsites.

If you opt for a self-guided trek, you can rent a mule in Cachora to help bear the load of your pack.

best time to walk

The best time to walk this trail is in spring and autumn.

The summer months are warm, but bring more rain in the mountains. Winter brings cold temperatures that can make camping a challenge.

The months of April and May give you the best of both the warmer temperatures before the rainy season begins. In September and October, the temperature are pleasant for hiking.

A typical itinerary would be:

Day 1:
Cachora to Santa Rosa campsite – 24 kilometres

Day 2:
Santa Rosa campsite to Choquequirao and campsite – 7 kilometres

Day 3:
Choquequiro to Santa Rosa campsite – 7 kilometres, or to Playa Rosalina – 11 kilometres

Day 4:
Playa Rosalina to Cachora – 20 kilometres, or 9 kilometres with a bus or taxi.

Accommodation

Camping is the only option for accommodation along this trail.

The main campsites have facilities such as toilets, showers and cooking areas. These are at Colmena, Chiquisca, Playa Rosalina, Santa Rosa Baja and Alta, and Marampata.

There is basic hotel accommodation in Cachora.

What to do

Take in the wonder of the surroundings. This is an incredibly beautiful place to go trekking.

Due to the elevation differences, there are a diverse range of wildlife and plants that thrive in these valleys at different altitudes. Keep a look out for hummingbirds, toucans and condors, as well as mammals such as foxes, Peruvian spectacled bears, and elusive pumas and tigrillos quetzals.

Further your hike by using the Yanama trail to visit Machu Picchu.

 

Published: January 10, 2020 Modified: January 20, 2020

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At a glance
Skills RequiredHiking
Difficulty 4/5
Starts at Cachora 03110, Peru
Finishes at Cachora 03110, Peru
Length of route 58 Km
Average time to complete 3 - 5 Days
Possible to complete sub-sectionsNo
Highest point 4668 metres
Permit requiredNo
Equipment neededCamping equipment, food supplies, Poles if preferred, Trekking gear, walking boots
Countries visited Peru