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Choquequirao trek Peru / Hiking Guide

Guide to Choquequirao trek Peru

Choquequirao trek Perú is known as the Jewel of the Andes and is one of the most amazing places where the Incas lived. Choquequirao is in a remote area, so you have to go on one of Peru’s easier treks to get there. However, the amazing Choquequirao ruins at the end make it all worth it.


This Choquequirao trek guide will tell you about the history of the site, which is just as important, if not more important, than the more famous Machu Picchu ruins, and show you why it’s worth the trek. Fill out our Traveller Form if you want to add this amazing hike and historical ruins to your itinerary.


Choquequirao Summary

On this Choquequirao trek Peru, you’ll go through the semi-tropical Andean forests and leave the Andean altiplano for the high jungle. You’ll end up at the amazing Choqeuquirao Ruins. Because it is so far away and you have to walk for two days to get there, only a small percentage of the people who go to Machu Picchu also go to this site. Most of the time, there is no one else there. But only about 8,000 people go there every year, compared to the almost one million people who go to Machu Picchu every year.


This guide will help you plan and get ready for your trip to the beautiful Choquequirao ruins, so that you know everything you need to know before making the hard trek. Among the ruins are the well-known llama rocks, which have ancient designs you can’t find anywhere else in Inca architecture. It’s not clear why the Incas only did this here, but experts think it might have been a tradition from the Chachapoyas, who lived here before the Incas. If you do this hike, you’ll be one of the few people to have seen these mysterious terraces.


History of Choquequirao

Choquequirao, whose name in the native Quechua language means “Golden Cradle,” is thought to have been the political and military center of the Vilcabamba area. During the last years of its life, Choquequirao was the Incas’ main point of defense as they fled from their strongholds in Cusco and the Sacred Valley into the jungle to fight off the Spanish.


The Choquequirao trek is also known and well-known for being the “sister city of Machu Pichu.” Also, the ancient city is surrounded by two very different environments: the Andes and the Amazon. This makes it one of the most interesting ruins in all of Peru. It is thought that Choquequirao was built around the year 1536. Experts also think that the city was one of the last places the Incas could go after the Spaniards took over.


How to go to Choquequirao

After getting to Cusco, the only way to get to the start of the trail to these ruins is by a private or chartered bus. Choquequirao can only be reached by trekking, which is not an easy task. You should hire a guide and a few pack mules to help you carry extra supplies. To get to the archeological site, it takes about 2 days of full hiking, and the whole trip takes about 4 days. As with the trail itself, the campsites are well kept and have amenities that you won’t find on most other Andean trails. All of the campsites have running water, showers, bathrooms, and even small stores where you can buy snacks and drinks.



When it’s best time to go to Choquequirao Peru?

The Choquequirao trek is best done between May and September. This is the dry season in the Andes, and it’s also when the weather is most predictable. From October to April, when it rains a lot, the trail is often closed because it is too dangerous, and the weather is so bad.


Choquequirao Trek  Peru Difficulty

Most hikers are not up for the trip to Choquequirao. The trail goes up steeply from the valley floor to the top of the mountains, where Choquequirao is hidden by high cloud forests. With such a steep incline, the trail makes a lot of turns that go back and forth. However, the incline still wears on hikers. The last part of the trail that leads to the stone gates of Choquequirao is level, which is good news.


Even though the trip is hard, you’ll know it was worth it the moment you step onto the site’s fully restored central plaza for the first time. There’s also a good chance that you’ll be the only person at the Choquequirao ruins.



Guided Trekking versus. Independent Trekking:


With a lot of planning, you can do the Choquequirao trek Peru without a guide. But you should definitely book a trail guide to make sure you have a safe way to get to the trailhead and back. With a guide, you’ll also learn more about how the Incas used to live and why the ruins were built the way they were. The Choquequirao Trekking package from Magical Peru Expeditions also comes with things like:


Private transport to and from the trailhead (English Speaking Guide)

Cooks and Kitchen Tools

All Trek Snacks Meals

Tents to cook, eat, and go to the bathroom

Tents for Two

Mule-handlers & Mules

First-aid kit and a bottle of emergency oxygen


Altitude Sickness

Altitude sickness (AMS) is a serious problem that can happen when you work too hard at a high altitude. At 8,000 feet, 20% of people get it, and 40% of people get it at 10,000 feet. On the Choquequirao trek, you are likely to get some kind of altitude sickness because you will be as high as 10,100 ft above sea level. Because of this, it is important to get used to the altitude correctly, take your time on the trail, and take steps to deal with symptoms.


To avoid acute mountain sickness, you should spend 48 to 72 hours getting used to the altitude in the Andes, eat a light but high-calorie diet, stay hydrated, avoid smoking and alcohol, start your hike slowly, and stop when you need to. You can also talk to your doctor to get a recommendation for medicine to help with altitude sickness. People in the Andes have used chewing coca leaves, drinking coca tea, or eating coca candies for a long time as a traditional way to treat AMS.


Travel Tips

Choquequirao’s ruins are most appealing to people who want to try new things and enjoy beautiful natural scenery.

Don’t forget to bring good waterproof gear, since the weather can change a lot from season to season.

The ruins are also 2600 meters above sea level, so the trek is only recommended for people who are in a fair amount of shape.


Packing List for Choquequirao Trek Peru

This list goes from most important to least important. Also, don’t forget to talk to a travel agent to find out more about what to bring.



Choquequirao Permits

Permits can be picked up at the entrance in Capuliyoq hamlet and punched at the park station before getting close to Choquequirao. There’s no need to book ahead because it doesn’t get as busy as Machu Picchu. Choquequirao permits cost about 60 soles for adults, 30 soles for college students, and 25 soles for children.


Choquequirao 5 day or Choquequirao 4 day hike

The main difference between a 5-day choquequirao hike and a 4-day choquequiro trek is that on a 5-day hike, you move at a much slower pace and can camp at the base of Choquequirao for what is called “sunset and sunrise.” In order to see the Choquequirao before it gets dark on a 4-day hike, you will have to re-evaluate your physical strength and start very early on the second day. If you go with a responsible tour company, they will give you a mule in case you need one on the hard parts.


Choquequirao trek to Machu Picchu

There is a way to get from Choquequirao to Machu Picchu that goes through other valleys and mountain passes, but it takes longer. At the very least, it will take 9 days to get to Machu Picchu. If you have time and want to spice up your trip to Peru, take the Choquequirao trek to the Machu Picchu sanctuary.


You might be thinking about hiking backwards from Machu Picchu to Choquequirao and ending at Cachora. This is not a common way to hike, and you should be aware of the steep 1,500-meter climb from Chikisca camp to Capuliyoq hamlet on the last day of a week-long hike.


Choquequirao’s weather

Choquequirao is on the edge of the Amazon basin, where there are trees, and the weather changes quickly. Moving clouds come up from the valley and cover Choquequirao. During the rainy season, however, it rains hard, so any rain or bad weather will pass quickly when it’s not the rainy season.


The temperature ranges from about 50 °F (10 °C) to 68 °F (20 °C), and it can get as low as 5 °C (41 °F) at higher elevations in the early morning.


Choquequirao Hotels and Camping Areas

When going to Choquequirao trek Peru, there are two ways to spend the night:


#1: Set up the tents at the camping sites and pay about 5 soles per tent. These spots are shared with other tourists who are traveling with tour operators. They all use the same bathrooms and showers with cold water. Not all of the sites have water that comes out of the tap.


#2: Check Capuliyoq site, Chikisca, and Maranpata for lodges or guest houses. You can talk to them right away. These are the only places where you can stay in a lodge, though there may be a few rooms available at the Chikisqa site.


The terrain and surface of the Choquequirao trail

So, tell me about the Choquequirao trail. The trail is not paved, and it has some steps, some rocky parts, and a hard dirt path that is not wet or slippery (unless it rains for hours). Instead of trail runners, bring a good pair of boots with you. The hardest parts of the hike are the steep ups and downs and the fact that you have to leave the same way you came in.


Choquequirao Cable Car

Since 2011, Cusco’s tourism industry has wanted to build the Choquequirao cable car. But, as of today, not even one cubic meter of dirt has been moved from where the cable car stations are supposed to be. If it finally starts, which seems likely to be in 2022, Peru’s first aerial tramway will be one of the world’s longest and deepest cable cars, running over 4,500 feet above the Apurimac river. An investment of US$ 260 million is being set aside for the building of the Choquequierao cable car.


At the same time, only a few tourists hike the Choquequirao trail. However, it is one of the best ways to see Choquequirao in its natural state, before the cable cars and the crowds of people who are sure to come in the future.


When was discovered Choquequirao?

Since the last people left the Choquequirao site, neither Spanish soldiers nor priests have been able to find it or even know about it. Then, after many years, the once well-preserved plaza and buildings were covered by thick vegetation. It was like a lost city, but the native people who lived in the Cachora colonial village knew that on the other side of the canyon there were ruins from years ago.


Under Spanish rule, it wasn’t important to recover Choquequirao. Instead, the few outsiders who did reach Choquequirao, like the Spanish explorer and mineral prospector Juan Arias Daz, and others stole from the site. In 1909, Professor Hiram Bingham from Yale University went to the site with the help of a church from Abancay city. They told the outside world about the archaeological thefts and broken pieces of pottery. They also told the magazines and journals what was going on. There, the Choquequirao site became well-known in the field of archeology. Major excavations continued in 1970 and 2004, and there is still a lot more to find in Choquequirao today.


Trekking choquequirao solo

Unlike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, where you need a guide, you don’t need one to hike to Choquequirao. The path is well marked, so it’s hard to get lost on the steep, dangerous slopes of the Apurimac valley. But I think you should be honest with yourself about your fitness level, your physical endurance, and the weather before you go it alone.


Should I hire a mule, and where can I find one?

If you are going on your own, you should hire a mule and muleteer to carry your food and camping gear. How you feel about walking with a 50 or 55 lt backpack will help you decide whether or not to bring one. Try to bring only the most important things, and if you need food, you can find ready-made meals at campsites like Chikisca or Santa Rosa Baja.


Choquequirao Trek Peru


Where do I sleep and where can I camp?

You can set up your tents and wait for the next day at both free and paid camping spots. Most of the time, these spots are shared with other tourists who are traveling with tour operators. A tent at Capeing costs about 5 soles. The campground at the base of Choquequirao is free, and the entrance fee covers it. All of the other campgrounds are private.


On camping grounds, you can find cold water showers, tap water (though not always), a toilet, and a guest house in Maranpata or Capuliyoq if the campground gets muddy or you make a last-minute decision. Not all campsites, though, have showers.


Is there a store nearby?

There are small stores where you can buy things you need for hiking, like water, sugary drinks, sodas, and Gatorade. And kitchens (restaurants) where people from the hamlet cook food at the campsites.


Can I find guide services in Cachora?

Yes, get to Cachora the day before the hike starts and ask around the hotel and restaurants. They will suggest someone as a last-minute guide. And if you think you’ll need a mule driver, the old people can do the job because tourism is their main source of income. You can set up a budget for the rest of the hike and meet the next morning at a place you’ve already decided on. Guides and travel agencies aren’t always reliable, and you won’t find one right after the other in Cusco. You can rent gear in Cachora, but it’s better to do so in Cusco.