Choquequirao Trek: Alternative route to Machu Picchu, 7 days from Cusco

Juventino, your IFMGA-certified guide, will lead this 7-day expedition along the Choquequirao Trek, a wonderful, fascinating and beautiful path through the Andes which finishes at the world-famous Machu Picchu, and which provides truly unforgettable scenery, and a snapshot in to the history and tradition of the Inca’s.

 
 

Details

 

Trip Duration

7 days

Mountain Range

Andes

People per Guide

Trip Level

Intermediate

Offer Period

Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec

Type of Trip

Private

Highlights

 
  • Visit the ancient ruins of both Choquequirao and Machu Picchu!

  • See some of the most diverse flora and fauna in the world

  • Trek through and past snow-capped mountains, rivers, lakes and forests

  • Learn about the history, customs and traditions of the Inca people

 

The Choquequirao Trek to Machu Picchu is an astonishingly spectacular alternative to the over-populated Inca Trail, and I will lead you along this path over the course of 7 magnificent days, as we discover the many villages, towns, mountains, rivers, valleys and animals along the way that make for such a rich and diverse adventure, with Machu Picchu and Choquequirao the centerpieces.

The Choquequirao Trek is perhaps the best alternative to the Inca Trail, as not only is there less people on this path but there is a visit to the ruins the path is named after, Choquequirao. This lesser-known area is equally as awe-inspiring and breath-taking as Machu Picchu, without the overcrowding and in more of an untouched condition.

We pick you up from your hotel in Cusco on the first morning, and from there we drive to the starting point at Cachora.

The first three days are dedicated to heading towards Choquequirao via forestry. Choquequirao is considered the sister city of Machu Picchu due to its similar looks and feel, and the sunset and sunrise which we will bear witness to are truly special sights.

From here the aim is to trek towards Machu Picchu through some astounding scenery, with a myriad of mesmerizing rivers and waterways providing ample opportunity to cool off, and the variety of animals, especially birds, giving us a nice distraction.

Along the way we will be able to stop off at historical sites, and also meet local people who are fiercely proud of their culture, and learn about the customs and traditions of one of the worlds oldest civilizations that still thrive here.

The last few days are spent reaching our final destination of Macchu Pichu, via the large village of La Playa, and we spend the final day admiring, exploring and basking in the glory of Macchu Pichu, a just reward for 7 days of witnessing some of the best natural scenery in the world.

Explore one of the most diverse natural areas on earth and see the ruins of Machu Picchu and Choquequirao, all in one trek – book now to experience!

For those who want an alternative route to Machu Picchu and the Cusco region, check out our 5-day Lares Trek to Machu Picchu, here!

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Price includes

 
  • Guiding fee
  • Accommodation
  • Transportation from your hotel/airport (if in area) to the start of the trip and back
  • Transport during the trip
  • Permit and entrance fees
  • Group porters (transport of tents, cooking equipment, etc. for the group)
  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
 Price does not include: - Sleeping bag - Lunch on the last day in Machu Picchu - Extra night at Aguas Calientes - Inflatable mattresses - Trekking poles
 

Itinerary

 
  • Day 1Cusco - Cachora - Playa Rosalina (Apurimac River)

    We will start our lives anew after this trek! Your hotel in Cusco or the Sacred Valley provides breakfast, and then we will pick you up you and start the 5-hour car journey to the travelers crossing Cachora. Once there, we will meet the rest of team (horsemen, cooks, etc.). We then begin trekking uphill, crossing through the pass of Capuliyoc where we might see condors flying overhead! We will have a great view of the Apurimac Canyon and experience the valley’s lush microclimate. At our stopping point, we can see the location of Choquequirao from afar. Finally, we descend through a cactus forest to La Playa Rosalina on the banks of the Apurimac River, the main tributary of the Amazon River. Along the river, there is another microclimate. This first night, we will camp at La Playa Rosalina (1550 MASL – 5085 FASL).

  • Day 2Playa Rosalina- Maranpata - Choquequirao (Golden Cradle)

    After a hearty breakfast, you will be given a bag of snacks to nibble on throughout the day. The first part of our day consists of a 4-hour ascent on a long, narrow trail. Our adventure starts by crossing by cable car over the wild river which is surrounded by dense vegetation with several varieties of orchids. Halfway up, we stop for lunch at Maranpata, where we have our first main view of the Choquequirao complex. We then continue hiking 2 more hours to Choquequirao (Golden Cradle), which is considered the sister city of Machu Picchu because of its several similarities. It sits 1500 meters/4921 feet above the Apurimac Canyon, and Machu Picchu sits above the Urubamba Canyon. In the afternoon, you will have free time to take in the sunset views of the canyon – it is spectacular! Here, it is also possible to see Andean condors soaring in the mountains. We will camp near Choquequirao (3050 MASL – 10006 FASL).

  • Day 3Choquequirao - Choquequirao Pass - Rio Blanco - Maizal

    Before breakfast, we recommend going to appreciate the magnificent sunrise from this picturesque spot! We will have breakfast at 6 AM. We start today’s trek passing through and exploring the Choquequirao ruins. We hike uphill through cloud forest, mountains, and valleys to reach the Choquequirao pass. After 5 hours trekking, the trail continues through agricultural terraces called Pinchinoyoc which means “water jumping forward” (2750 MASL – 9022 FASL). There we will see different species of birds, varieties of orchids, and local coca plantations. We will have our lunch near the Rio Blanco. We use the break here to take a refreshing dip in the cold, clear river water if you would like. We cross the river by walking because there are no bridges. On the other side, we start the long, steep climb to our camp in Maizal high over the river and closer to the sacred Apus of the Incas. This climb takes about 3 hours. This is the most challenging day. We will camp at 3000 MASL – 9842 FASL.

  • Day 4Maizal - Minas Victoria - Yamana

    Waking up on the hillside with the sounds of the forest and birds is a truly great experience! Recharging our energy with a good breakfast and following the trail upward, the landscape is lush green vegetation. If we keep up our motivation and the gods give us a clear sky, we will be able to just sit and appreciate the snow-capped mountains around us. The uphill climb today is around 7 hours to the summit, and this trail is historically important due to some archaeological remains and Inca channels along the way. We will pass by the impressive Incan mines called Minas Victoria, from which silver used to be extracted. and head toward the Victoria Pass (4200 MASL – 13773 FASL). This is a long climb, but we will walk through an absolutely breath-taking area, first with cloud forest and then over the Andean Puna with its well-known Ichu grass. As we approach the top, we can appreciate original paved Inca trails. We will have lunch on the pass with views of the mountains Choquetakarpo and Pedrayoc. While we have lunch, we will hopefully be able to appreciate the flight of the condors, depending on the climate. Finally, we will descend to our campsite at Yamana, a small village settlement at the bottom of a long valley surrounded by mountains (3800 MASL – 12467 FASL).

  • Day 5Yamana - Mountain Range - Totora

    The native community of Yamana surrounds the base camp. We begin another long day with the big smiles of local children, the sun is shining on camp ground, the noise of a grand waterfall, and breakfast on a table outside to appreciate everything around us. We then start hiking uphill to the highest pass in this trek (5 hours). This is Yamana pass (4700 MASL – 15419 FASL). During the day, it is common to observe the Andean farmers growing potatoes in their fields and possibly even some frozen potatoes. Again, the view will be amazing from here as we will be surrounded by the mountain ranges of Saqsarayoc and Pedreyoc. Once again, we have the chance to see condors flying about, and this morning’s smooth climb brings us through new landscapes – especially the wet grass fields under the snowline and water stream. In the pass, we may be walking through snow in a new entrance to the Santa Teresa Valley. Here, we can observe one of the Incan Gods – Salkantay Mountain. Afterward, we descend on a long, foggy path through grassy fields and bush areas, crossing bridges on the way to the community of Totora. We will spend the night in tents, surrounded by native people and indescribable natural beauty!

  • Day 6Cloud Forest - La Playa - Aguas Calientes

    Today’s trek is more downhill, continuing along the original Inca trail in the forest to appreciate the depth of the jungle. Hiking will take 10 hours as we head back into the heat of the jungle to harvest some fruit as we descend to the Totora River. We will observe wildlife, such as hummingbirds, woodpeckers, and many species of orchids and begonias. We then take a trail on the left side of the Santa Teresa River where we will see small plantations of bananas, passion fruit, and coffee (which you can taste if you would like!). On the way, we will stop at small waterfalls along the way for refreshment. The climate and vegetation are very different here than on the other days of our trek. La Playa is the biggest village on the way as well first place with electricity, and here we will have lunch. There are also small shops here to buy snacks and water or use the restrooms. After lunch, we will drive a small van to Hidroelectrica for about 1 hour passing by Santa Teresa. We cross the river of Vilcanota and will have an excellent view of Machu Picchu and the Aobamba canyon from a different angle; another Inca trail can be seen here, as well. From Hidroelectrica, we hiking to Aguas Calientes for 3 hours. This last part of the trek is flat and surrounded by the mountains which house Machu Picchu. If you are tired, there is an optional train ride to Aguas Calientes (US $ 32.00) There is also the option to visit the hot springs in Aguas Calientes. We will spend the night in a hostel in town, which will have hot water, wi-fi, and comfortable beds for you.

  • Day 7Aguas Calientes - Machu Picchu - Cusco

    Today’s Highlights: Your excitement for our rendezvous at Machu Picchu will rise as we are hiking early in the morning through the forest to reach the site before most other tourists – even the Inca Trail trekkers!! You will have plenty of time to explore this truly magnificent World Wonder while you enjoy the beautiful sunrise from this once-in-a-lifetime viewpoint. Your group will learn about this mystical place in a two-hour guided tour of the ruins. Afterwards, you can opt to climb Huayna Picchu or Machupicchu Mountain (if you have pre-booked tickets) or walk to the Sun Gate or Inca Bridge (without extra tickets).

 
 

Other details

 
Skill level required

Intermediate

Fitness level required

Fit

Meeting point

Your hotel in Cusco

Accommodation

Tent accommodation for 5 nights, hostel accommodation for 1 night in Aguas Calientes

More info

Professional, bilingual guide (Spanish and English)

 

About the Guide

 
 

IFMGA/UIAGM mountain guide from Peru.

He was born in 1960 in Huaraz / Peru. With his 15th Age he learned the world of trekking and mountaineering know by he accompanied his father on trips with his clients.

To this day he is still working as a mountain guide and tour operator. For many years he was able to acquire a lot of knowledge about the mountains, making it one of the most experienced certified mountain guides.

He runs a family travel agency based in Huaraz, which was founded by his father, and is now managed by Juventino and his son, Eric.

 
 

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