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Choquequirao trek KANDOO | Choquequirao trek The Cradle of Gold
Kandoo Adventures: June 1st 2020

Plan your trek on the Choquequirao trail

Kandoo's View

Choquequirao, meaning Cradle of Gold, is an Incan City built during the late 15th and early 16th century. It is thought that Pachacuti, the Incan Emperor responsible for commissioning Machu Picchu, founded Choquequirao, which was then passed on to his son, Tupaq Inka Yupanki, who then extended and remodelled it.

Restoration of the site began in the 1970s and still continues today. As of 2014, nearly 50% of the site had been excavated. Choquequirao is located at 3,050 meters above sea level in the Cuzco region of the Province La Convención.

For now though the site remains largely hidden from tourist hordes, and provides a unique and quiet experience for rugged trekkers willing to hit the trail.

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Detailed itinerary

Day 1Arrival

The Kandoo team will meet you at Cuzco airport and transfer you to your pre-trek hotel. Later you will attend a pre-trek briefing with your Lead Guide to prepare you for the challenge ahead.

Day 2Acclimatisation day in Cuzco

The city of Cuzco sits at an altitude of 3400m and is a great place to acclimatise before you start your Choquequirao trek. You’ll have plenty of time to explore this charming city and soak up the local atmosphere.

Day 3From Cuzco to Chiquiska

The trek starts with a 4-5 hour drive to Capuliyuc (2,800m) where we meet our muleteer team and have lunch. In the afternoon we’ll begin our trek by hiking for 3-4 hours down into the Apurimac Canyon to our first campsite at Chiquiska at 1835m. The path is straightforward with a few switchbacks and downhill all the way, and there are fantastic views of the surrounding snow peaks and Choquequirao in the far distance.

  • Elevation: From 3400 metres to 1835 metres
  • Trekking distance: 8 kilometres
  • Trek time: 3 to 4 hours
Day 4From Chiquiska to Choquequirao

We will wake early and descend from Chiquiska further into the valley for about 1 hour before crossing the Apurimac River. Once we have crossed the River we begin a two-hour ascent to Santa Rosa, a small campsite where we can rest and refill water bottles. From Santa Rosa we continue ascending, first to Marampata (2,913m / 9,560ft) where we will have lunch, and then onto our campsite just below Choquequirao (2,950m / 9,680ft). The trek between Santa Rosa and Choquequirao takes between 4-5 hours and is pretty tough. There are bathrooms and cold-water showers at the Choquequirao campsite.

  • Elevation: From 1835 metres to 3035 metres
  • Trekking distance: 15 kilometres
  • Trek time: 8 to 10 hours
Day 5Choquequirao - Full day at the ruins

It is a short walk of around 45 mins to Choquequirao. The archaeological complex is large and can take a full day to explore properly. Archeologists have divided the site into 12 sections. You will be given a guided tour of the Citadel, visiting the ceremonial centre, main platform and the lower plaza. Excavation of the site continues to unearth new archaeological surprises, some totally unique to this site. Large areas still remain covered in cloud forest, giving an insight into how the 18th century explorers found the site. Towards dusk we might get lucky and spot condors that frequent this part of the region.

Day 6From Choquequirao to Maizal

Today we climb back up to Choquequirao and may have the site to ourselves this early in the morning. We then continue with a gradual hike up and over the Choquequirao Pass at 3,300m, followed by a descent into the deep Rio Blanco Valley. At the foot of the valley is the Rio Blanco river where we will take a break. We end the day with a tough, steep three hour climb through cloud forest to our campsite at Maizal.

  • Elevation: From 3035 metres to 3000 metres
  • Trekking distance: 15 kilometres
  • Trek time: 8 to 10 hours
  • Highest point: 3300 metres (Choquequirao Pass)
Day 7From Maizal to Yanama

Day 7 starts with a long climb up to the Victoria Pass (4,200m) where we will see original paved Inca Trails. We will have spectacular views of the peaks of the Cordillera Vilcabamba, including Sacsarayoc, Pumasillo and Choquetecarpo. Once over the pass we descend into the Rio Yanama valley towards the small village of Yanama (3,500m), where we will camp for the night.

  • Elevation: From 3000 metres to 3500 metres
  • Trekking distance: 11 kilometres
  • Trek time: 6 to 7 hours
  • Highest point: 4200 metres (Victoria Pass)
Day 8From Yanama to Totora

We start the day with a climb up to the Yanama Pass (4,668m) – the highest point on the trek. From the pass spectacular views of Sacsayraoc peak dominate, and once we’ve crossed the pass, the largest peak in the area, Salkantay comes into view. From the pass the trail descends to the small village of Totora.

  • Elevation: From 3500 metres to 3400 metres
  • Trekking distance: 19 kilometres
  • Trek time: 8 to 10 hours
  • Highest point: 4669 metres (Yanama Pass)
Day 9From Totora to Lucmabamba

We start the long, winding descent of nearly 2,000 m to the Totora River. Trekking poles to reduce the impact of the descent on your knees come in handy throughout this day. We follow the Rio Santa Teresa for around 6-7 hours, trekking through cloud forest with a huge variety of butterflies, birdlife and vegetation. We will camp on the outskirts of Lucmabamba village. This campsite is located in a coffee farm and you will be able to taste the best coffee in Peru! There is also an option to visit the hot springs in Cocalmayo.

  • Elevation: From 3400 metres to 2100 metres
  • Trekking distance: 23 kilometres
  • Trek time: 8 to 10 hours
Day 10From Lucmabamba to Aguas Calientes

From Lucamabamba the trail ascends for four hours through coffee and fruit plantations and cloud forest to a newly discovered Inca site called Llactapata. We will have an amazing view of Machu Picchu that very few visitors see before the trail descends for two hours into the Urubamba Valley to the Hydroelectric Station where we catch the train to Aguas Calientes. You will overnight in a hotel in Aguas Calientes and have a chance to swim in the town’s famous hot springs, although these are often over-crowded with tourists and trekkers.

  • Elevation: From 2100 metres to 2050 metres
  • Trekking distance: 22 kilometres
  • Trek time: 8 to 9 hours
Day 11Tour of the ruins at Machu Picchu

Today, you will be given a guided tour of the Lost City of the Incas which will last for around 2½ to 3 hours. There is an option to climb Huayna Picchu, the famous mountain behind the ruins, but you will need to book a permit with us in advance. In the afternoon, we will catch the train from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo, where you will be met by our driver who will transfer you to your hotel in Cuzco.

Day 12Depart Cuzco

We will collect you from your hotel and transfer you to Cuzco Airport for your departing flight.

Availability and prices

Last Updated June 1 2020
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Arrival: May 11 2021
Days: 12
Price: £1899 $2465 €0
Comment: Minimum 2 people
Arrival: June 15 2021
Days: 12
Price: £1899 $2465 €0
Comment: Minimum 2 people
Arrival: July 16 2021
Days: 12
Price: £1899 $2465 €0
Comment: Minimum 2 people
Arrival: August 18 2021
Days: 12
Price: £1899 $2465 €0
Comment: Minimum 2 people
Arrival: September 16 2021
Days: 12
Price: £1899 $2465 €0
Comment: Minimum 2 people

Frequently asked questions

The questions and answers below specifically relate to the Choquequirao trail. For more general questions about trekking to Machu Picchu see here.


The Choquequirao Trek is considered to be a fairly challenging trek. There is a 1,800 meter climb to start proceedings, however, with porters or pack horses, the climb is not too difficult. Altitude is generally not a problem on this trek, but a good level of fitness is required.


The Choquequirao Trek is 40 miles in length or 64 kilometres.


Beautiful sub-tropic jungle and mountain scenery. The highlight though is the Choquequirao ruins themselves that rival that of Machu Picchu!


No Permit is required for the Choquequirao Trek


Although not busy, we recommend booking at least 1 month in advance.


The high season is from May to September during the dry season. The trek is rarely busy throughout the year, even in peak season.

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