choquequirao trek to machu picchu

Choquequirao Trek : Complete Travel Guide

Little known Inca ancient site, Choquequirao is an undiscovered gem in the heart of the Peruvian Andes. Twice as big as Machu Picchu the site is yet to be fully uncovered. Embark on a trek to the ancient city of Choquequirao, Inca city hidden for centuries in the Andean mountains. Tour the ruins for a full day and see the different sections of the site, hear the stories of the Inca and think how brilliant were the Inca.


Built in the late 15th century by the Inca, expanded over the next century, Choquequirao is believed to have served as an administrative hub for the region, as well as providing protection for many Inca cities. It is believed to have been a check point or entrance to Vilcabamba and was a vital link between Cusco and the Amazon Jungle. The 16th Century saw the Inca Empire consumed by civil war, which was then exploited by the Spanish Conquistadores when they arrived in the region in the early 1530s. Choquequirao was used as a refuge by the Inca following the destruction of Cusco. I was never discovered by the Spanish following the Inca defeat in 1572, which is why we have a fairly intact site today.

The best time to go

The Choquequirao trek is open most of the year for trekking and there is no bad time to experience this wonderous mountain trek. The high Peruvian Andes have 2 seasons every year, the Wet Season and the Dry Season. The most popular is the dry season which is from May to September, you will find many people on the trek and the weather is dry and cold at night. It is advised to take your wet weather clothes in the dry season as the weather can be unpredictable. The wet season is from October to April and you will experience wet weather, but you will have most of the trail alone. Take your wet weather gear with you for this time of year.

Map Choquequirao

What to see on the Choquequirao Trek?

Apurimac River

The spectacular Apurimac River runs through the Andes. It is one of the main rivers in southern Peru that was considered by the Incas as sacred. Apurimac means “the god who speaks” in Quechua. The river run close to the Choquequirao site and will follow you on the trek. There are many rafting adventures on the Apurimac River starting in Cusco, they are not part of the trek.

The Vilcabamba Mountains

The Cordillera Vilcabamba is a vast mountain chain of striking beauty. It belongs to the longest mountain range in the world – The Andes. The mountain is located in southern Peru in the regions of Cusco and Junín. The range is about 250 km long and is bounded by the deep gorge of the Apurimac River to the southwest, the Urubamba River to the northeast.
The southern part of the range is well known due to the many Inca sites like Machu Picchu, the Inca trail and the Salkantay Mountain.

Choquequirao Ruins.

The Choquequirao ruins are often considered the next Machu Picchu. The ruins are already vast although they are only 30 percent excavated. There are 12 sectors including temples, residences, warehouses, chambers, farming terraces and an elaborate irrigation system that was incredibly sophisticated for the time. The site is also famous for the literally named llama terraces, 24 white llamas carved from stone on the side of the mountain. It is picturesquely located on a narrow ridge in the Vilcabamba range some 3000mt high.


The Choquequirao region is home to a variety of wildlife including spectacled bears, puma, foxes and many types of birds including the humming bird. See the Andean Condor in flight hovering over the mountains. On parts of the trail see domesticated Llamas and Alpacas.


If you are hiking the Choquequirao Trek, you should be in good physical health and have a taste for adventure. The level of enjoyment that you get out of this trek depends on numerous factors, such as the amount of time you have had to properly acclimatize to the altitude before departing, your general fitness level and your previous trekking experience. Before you start your trek, we recommend you arrive to Cusco at least two to three days in advance to help your body acclimate to the high altitude.

Normally the trail is done in 4 or 5 days, hiking through the Andes, the nights are spent camping, in comfortable 4 person tents for 2 people, with warm sleeping bags and foam mattresses. The food is prepared by your own chef and eaten in the dining tent. Each day there will be a variety of Peru and international dishes. Breakfast, Lunch and dinner as well as afternoon tea are included on the trek.

The Choquequirao 4 day Trek is 32 miles (52 kilometers) from start to finish.

The Choquequirao 5 day Trek is 37 miles (55 kilometers)

The Choquequirao 7 day Trek is 47 miles (75 kilometers)

The Choquequirao 9 day Trek is 72 miles (115 kilometers)

You will need to bring your passport or student card ID when doing any treks in Peru.

Choquequirao trek with kids

Taking kids to Choquequirao is a great challenge because it is hard mentally as physically and will depend on their experience level and attitude. Even more, if you are planning Choquequirao-Yanama-Machu Picchu with young children, then please reconsider making an assessment, unless they can ride horseback, but overall the hike is a heavy version for them. The key is acclimatization before starting the trek and a lightweight package.

Packing List

On any trekking holiday there are essential items that you will need to take with you for a comfortable and rewarding journey. Your travel company will supply you with a duffel bag, this is a maximum of 7 kilos. Please remember that your sleeping bag and mat will weigh 3 kilos leaving you 4 kilos for your belongings.

What to put in your DUFFEL BAG?

  • 2 t-shirts
  • 2 hiking pants
  • 4 sets of undergarments
  • 3 sets of hiking socks
  • Fleece/ Thermals
  • Warm clothes, down jacket — 2nd campsite temp around 3º C
  • Waterproof gloves (even if they are ski gloves, take them)
  • Comfortable shoes for camp
  • Quick dry towel. We provide small ones; you might prefer something larger
  • Small bottle of soap: we provide warm water each day to wash
  • Battery Charger: No electricity along the trek
  • Large plastic bags will be provided at the office to line your duffel
  • Sleeping bag: It has to be at least -15ºC – This can be rented from us for $20 USD

What to put in you DAY PACK?

  • Passport or Identification (you will not be allowed to enter the Inca Trail without this)
  • Water: Please supply your own water until the first lunch spot, then we will provide you with cold boiled water at every meal time. Please bring your canteens.
  • Sun hat and sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Insect repellent
  • Headlamp
  • Wool hat and gloves
  • Wet Weather clothes
  • Fleece or warm layer
  • Snacks like chocolate bars, cereal bars or any dry fruits
  • Personal First Aid kit and personal medications
  • Camera
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Toilet paper and small plastic bag for waste
  • Valuables
  • Headlamp

Travel Tips

  • The ruins of Choquequirao are most appealing for those that crave adventure and love pristine natural landscapes!
  • Don’t forget to bring good waterproof gear since depending on the season weather can be quite unpredictable.
  • The altitude of the ruins is also at 2600 meters, so the trek is only recommended for those that consider themselves relatively in shape.

Before the Trek, Adjust to the Altitude

We recommend spending a few days in Cusco before your trek begins to give your body plenty of time to adjust to the high-altitude region. Cusco is a city that resides at 4800 mts above sea level. The highest mountain pass along the Choquequirao Trek is at a soaring 13,830 ft (4,214 m).

Choquequirao not well known but just as beautiful as Machu Picchu. Archeologists are discovering new parts of the Inca city every day. The hike is challenging but is the only way to reach Choquequirao, don’t miss out.

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