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The 8 day Choquequirao Adventure to Machu Picchu is one of the most challenging and spectacular hikes in the region. Get off the beaten track and witness plunging river gorges, high mountain views, and remote villages.
This is a difficult trek and should only be attempted by those with high levels of fitness and who have spent at least 3 days acclimatizing at high altitude. Read more about Altitude Acclimatization.
Not for the faint hearted! Our 8 day Choquequirao Adventure trek is a fabulous trek for those with the strength and courage for a real adventurous challenge. This challenging version of Choquequirao covers some amazing, little-visited landscapes as you hike to the Cradle of Gold (Choquequirao) and from there to Machu Picchu.
Our unique itinerary follows the same route as the 7 day Choquequirao & Machu Picchu Trek, with an exciting detour on Day 6 via the Qhiswa Pass. This is a physically challenging day chock-full of jaw-dropping scenery and utter isolation. You will not see any other hikers on this part of the route! The adventure is rounded out by a visit to the unbeatable Machu Picchu on the last day.
The Choquequirao 8 Day Adventure to Machu Picchu is one of the most challenging and spectacular hikes in the region, one that really gets you off the beaten track. This trek should only be attempted by those with high levels of fitness and who have spent at least 3 days acclimatizing at high altitude prior to beginning the trek.
If you are deciding between doing the 7-day or 8-day Choquequirao-Machu Picchu treks, Day 6 is the real deal breaker. Have a careful read of the itinerary for this day and make sure it is right for you. If you are unsure, please ask one of our Trek Experts!
We offer you the opportunity to personalize your trek and make your experience more comfortable through our Optional Extras and Upgrades. All options are available during the reservation process; please ask your sales consultant for more information.
It gets hot in the Apurimac Canyon!
Although there will be plenty of cold nights along the trail, you should also be prepared to de-layer when we climb down towards Apurimac river.
We recommend that you bring the following items with you:
For our full packing list for treks in the Andes, see What to Bring.
Our blog How to Prepare for a Trek in Peru will also give you some great tips for how to get ready for your trek, before you even leave home.
Our whole trekking team is very familiar to the area and know the Choquequirao region like the back of their hand! They are some of the warmest, endearing and wonderful people you are ever likely to meet.
Our guides are all licensed and receive regular training. They share their experience, professionalism, knowledge and enthusiasm with our passengers on every trek.
Get to know our team!
Want to join a trek? Ready to confirm a departure date of your own, but interested in having others join you? Then Trekkers Wanted is for you! Our innovative Trekkers Wanted system matches people up who are interested in hiking the same trek, bringing costs down and multiplying the fun for everyone!
Read More about Trekkers Wanted, post your trek or search for confirmed departures!
To start off our Choqequirao to Machu Picchu Adventure, we leave Cusco early and begin the drive towards the Apurimac Canyon. After about an hour and a half of driving, we will have a short stop at Tarawasi (2675m / 8776 ft).
Tarawasi gets its name from two Quechua words: tara, a type tree native to the Andes (latin name: caesalpina espinosa), and wasi, which means “house”. So Tarawasi is “the house of the Tara tree”. Tara is a multipurpose tree that produces large bean pods that turn orange when ripe. The seeds inside are used as a natural dye, and also have medicinal purposes.
Tarawasi is a ceremonial centre that dates to Incan times. One of the most striking features of this archaeological site is the presence of an usnu, a ceremonial structure where ritual offerings would be prepared.
Leaving Tarawasi behind, we continue another 3h to Capuliyoc (2970 m / 9744 ft) where we will have our first glimpse of the stunning Apurimac Valley and the snow-capped peaks of Padreyoc and Huayna Cachora.
In Capuliyoc, we meet our muleteers and walk for about 15 minutes until we reach our lunch spot at the Capuliyoc lookout. After lunch, we’ll start a steep 3-4h descent into the Apurimac Canyon, taking in the spectacular views as we go. We pass Chiquisca (1836m / 6023 ft) and after another hour, arrive at the roaring Apurimac River (1520m / 4986 ft).
After crossing the river, we begin the tough, 2h climb up to the Santa Rosa Campsite (2095m / 6873 ft). As the campsite is further along than the most popular camp, it is often quiet and you can soak up the stars in restful tranquility.
This day is flexible and so the route you trek might not correspond exactly to the route described here. Walking times depend on the time of departure and on the nature of the group. The guide may change lunch spots and campsites, depending on the progress of the group.
Please take note that there might be biting insects on the trail, thus repellent will be needed! It can get very hot on the trail (not just in the canyon!), going up to 30-35ºC (86ºF – 95ºF). It can get as hot as 40ºC (104ºF) in the canyon.
We start early again today, and head off around 6am towards Marampata. The climb from Santa Rosa to Marampata (2940m / 9646 ft) is a tough, 3h uphill stretch. As we continue on, we’ll soon have our first views of Choquequirao, and then it’s just another 2h until we reach the ruins. This stretch will be a welcome respite, hiking over gently undulating terrain. We’ll have lunch at the Choquequirao campsite (2900m / 9514 ft) before heading to the site itself in the afternoon.
With only about 30% of the site excavated today, Choquequirao remains somewhat shrouded in mystery. The complex consists of an extensive set of terraces, irrigation channels and various religious and administrative buildings extending over 1800 hectares. And all this set against the dramatic background of the Apurimac Canyon!
Spending the afternoon exploring the ruins, we will watch the sunset and keep our fingers crossed for the chance to see condors!
Today we have the whole morning to explore the enigmatic Choquequirao site. Although discovered in 1710 and known to several early European explorers, little importance was historically given to Choquequirao. The site was even visited by Hiram Bingham at the same time as he rediscovered Machu Picchu, but nevertheless Choquequirao remained in the shadow of that of Inca Citadel, largely ignored until the Peruvian government began excavations in the 1970s.
After our guided, visit we climb over a ridge for around 1 hour and then descend about 3h to the ruins at Pinchiunuyoc. We will take a short break at these ruins to admire the majestic views, and then we continue descending another 1.5-2h until we reach Rio Blanco (1880m / 6167 ft), our campsite for the night. Make sure you have insect repellent with you – it is a necessity when camping at Rio Blanco!
After a good night’s rest and a hearty breakfast, we’re ready to tackle what for many is the hardest section of the Choquequirao to Machu Picchu Adventure trek: a difficult, 3-4h zig-zag uphill climb to a cleared agricultural area on the side of the mountain known as Maizal (3000m / 9843 ft).
After our lunch in Maizal, we climb another 4-5h uphill through the cloud forest to the Victoria Mines. We’ll take a short rest here and admire the outcropping of rocks, shining with their rich mineral content. It’s no wonder this was a mine in ancient times!
We continue our trek over the puna, along well-preserved, zig-zagging Inca trails, until we reach our campsite at Pajonal (4000m / 13,123 ft). Here we’ll be treated to incredible views of the journey we’ve just completed, looking back over the amazing Apurimac Valley. Due to the altitude, it will be a cold night!
Although we don’t have time to visit it, it’s interesting to note the newly discovered Coryhuayrachina ruins, located between Maizal and Yanama. Read more about the little-known Inca history of Coryhuayrachina in this great blog by Gary Ziegler!
We wake early and climb for an hour to the Victoria Pass, also known as the San Juan Pass (4150 m / 13,615 ft), where we’ll be treated to spectacular views. From here, we descend about 2.5h to the charming village of Yanama (3700m / 12,139 ft). Yanama is one of the villages from where Apus Peru hires muleteers. We will have lunch and spend the night here.
Today is the day that puts the “adventure” into the Choquequirao to Machu Picchu Adventure trek! We will depart at about 5;30 am as we have a very challenging 22km trek ahead of us and a breathtaking – literally! – peak altitude of 4785m (15,698 ft). The way is narrow, the terrain slippery and rocky; this is the makeshift path we’ll be following for about 9-10h total. Our efforts will be rewarded, though, with some of the most spectacular scenery on the route!
Important: You must have the physical strength and endurance to handle this day, as there is no access to bring an emergency horse with us.
The views are stunning with breathtaking glaciers, cloud-enveloped mountains, and a real sense of Andean isolation. We will not see another soul along this section, although we may be fortunate enough to spot a condor, or even a deer, along with plenty of bird-life.
After a long day trekking, a vehicle will meet us at Totora and transfer us to Lucmabamba which is about a 2 hour drive. We will arrive late, and camp for the night at Lucmabamba.
Please note that some private transport on the road is lower quality than in Cusco.
You can also choose to spend the night in a homestay in Lucmabamba. Spend the night with a local coffee-growing family and enjoy a hot shower and a comfortable bed! There is an extra cost for this option. Read more about our homestay options.
Tonnes of great options today for the adventurous! You will pick your option as a group, either at your briefing or on the trail. Note that this will not be a wilderness experience, and you can expect to encounter other people no matter what you do.
1. Relax & Unwind
This morning, we travel by vehicle to the busy Santa Teresa campsite where you will have some free time and a chance to visit the nearby Colcamayu hot springs. After this, we will travel to the impressive Machu Picchu Hydroelectric Station where we will have lunch and visit another Inca ruin. We will then walk for another 2.5 hours along the train tracks to arrive at the village of Aguas Calientes. Here, enjoy a celebratory dinner with your group before turning in at your Standard Aguas Calientes hotel. Aguas Calientes Hotel Upgrades also available.
2. For the Adventurous
We leave early and climb for about three hours through the jungle before descending to the interesting, but largely covered ruins of Llactapacta. Don’t let your guide talk you out of this! Yes, it’s a three hour climb, but it is also a very interesting introduction to Machu Picchu!
Originally discovered by Hiram Bingham at the same time that he re-discovered Machu Picchu, modern day explorers Vincent Lee and Gary Ziegler recently established that these ruins are much bigger and more important than previously thought. From here we have our first view of Machu Picchu, in the saddle of the mountain opposite. We descend very steeply on a muddy track for two hours to the impressive Machu Picchu Hydroelectric Station where we will have lunch and visit another Inca ruin. After this, we will walk for another 2.5 hours along the train tracks to arrive at the village of Aguas Calientes.
Note: If you prefer not to walk 2.5h to Aguas Calientes from the Machu Picchu Hydroelectric Station, you also have the option of taking the train (included in the price of your trek).
Today we achieve what for many is a lifelong dream: a visit to the Imperial Inca City of Machu Picchu! In the pre-dawn hours, we’ll take the bus up to the site to enjoy the ruins at sunrise. Your guide will give you a 2-3h walking tour of the historic citadel.
If you’re feeling adventurous you may wish to hike Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain, but take note: this requires an extra permit, and they can sell out well in advance! Be sure to tell us at booking if you would like to add one of these hikes. For more tips on what to see, check out our Visiting Machu Picchu page.
Want more time to explore? Consider our Extra Day Upgrades!
We return to Cusco in the afternoon by Expedition (tourist class) train from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo, where our driver will meet us and will transfer you directly back to your hotel in Cusco. Total travel time is about 4 hours from Aguas Calientes to Cusco.
Our family of 4 were very well looked after on this amazing trek. If you are fit, it is NOT as hard as described and the excellent Apus guides and team look after you better than any other trekking expedition that I’ve been on. Congratulation to them and to Apus who are a very high quality organisation and can be trusted.
5 of us did the Choquequirao 8 day trek and I cannot rate Apus Peru highly enough for organization and execution of this trip from the transport, the guide, food and crew who helped us (ranging in age from 41-58) over some exhausting mountain passes (15,700ft) and down glacier fed river valleys (4,500ft). The patience and care shown before and during our trek was very much appreciated especially when we learned that the horsemen they employ from one of the remote villages we passed through can do the trek in half the time it takes us and they would stay with the slowest member of our party and encourage them through the toughest parts.
In the horsemen’s town of Yanama we played an impromptu game of soccer with the local kids which ended up being the highlight of our trip for all of us. Learning about their village and what it takes to live there gave us a true appreciation for their smiling efforts every day. The food was AMAZING and if I have one reservation it was that we felt like there was a ton of food left over and we weren’t quite sure if this was finished off by the crew (hopefully!).
I would highly recommend Apus Peru and this grueling 8 day trek to understand what the region is like and see some of the more remote ruins without the thousands of tourists and the Disney World atmosphere of Machu Picchu.