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.
We offer the Choquequirao trek as a private only tour. No open groups.
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.
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.
The trek starts with a 4-5 hour drive to Cachora (2,900m / 9,514ft). On the way we stop briefly at Sayhuite, an incredible boulder carved by the Incas, before continuing on to Cachora where we meet our support team and mules. We then begin our trek to our first campsite, Chiquisca (1,835m / 6,020ft). The trail to Chiquisca involves a two-hour hike through the Apurimac Valley to Capuliyoc (2,915m / 9,560ft), and then a steep three-hour descent to the campsite.
4-5 hour drive, 5-6 hour trek
We will wake early and descend from Chiquisca 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.
7-8 hour trek
The archaeological complex of Choquequirao 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. Towards dusk we might get lucky and spot condors that frequent this part of the region.
Today starts early with a gradual hike up and over a pass at 3,300m, and then a descent into the Rio Bianco Valley (1,910m / 6,270ft). At the foot of the valley is the river Rio Bianco where trekkers can swim before a tough and steep three-hour hike up to Maizal (3,000m / 9,840ft).
7-8 hour trek
Day 7 starts with a long climb up to the Victoria Pass (4,200m / 13,780ft) where we will see original paved Inca Trails. Once over the pass we descend down towards the small village of Yanama (3,800m / 12,470ft), where we will camp for the night.
6-7 hour trek
We start the day with a climb up to the Yanama Pass (4,668m / 15,315ft) – the highest point on the trek. From the pass the trail descends to another small village called Totora (4,100m / 13,450ft). We will camp here – the highest point you will sleep on the trail. Thankfully you should be well acclimatised by this point.
6-7 hour trek
We start the long, winding descent of nearly 2,000m to the Totora River. Trekking poles to reduce the impact of the descent on your knees come in handy throughout this day. From the river the trail ascends slightly to the village and campsite at La Playa (2,400m / 7,870ft).
6-7 hour trek
From La Playa we hike to Lucma, from where the trail ascends for three hours to a newly discovered Inca site called Llactapata. The trail then descends for two hours to the Hydroelectric Station where you catch the train to Aguas Calientes (2,040m / 6,690ft). 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.
7-8 hour trek, 1 hour train
Today, you will be given a guided tour of the Lost City of the Incas and then have time to explore the ancient ruins for yourself. There is an option to climb Huayna Picchu, the famous mountain behind the ruins. 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.
We will collect you from your hotel and transfer you to Cuzco Airport for your departing flight.
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.