The famous Choquequirao Trek to Machu Picchu is one of the most challenging and spectacular hikes in the region, combining two of the most famous Inca cities, Choquequirao and Machu Picchu. If you have limited time and don’t mind taking ground transport during one leg of the trip, then this 7-day Choquequirao Trek to Machu Picchu is right for you. For those with a little more time on their hands, we also offer an 8-day and a 9-day version of this route, each with slight variations to the itinerary.
This challenging, Choquequirao trek to Machu Picchu covers some amazing, little visited landscapes, plunging river gorges, high mountain views, as well as remote villages. And of course, the two big highlights of this route are the incredible Inca ruins at Choquequirao and Machu Picchu.
See What To Bring for our comprehensive recommendations on what to pack for your trek. Note: 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. For more great suggestions, check out our blog about How to Prepare for a Trek in Peru.
We will meet our muleteers here and walk about 15 minutes to have our lunch at the Capuliyoc lookout point. From here, we descend steeply 3-4h into the Apurimac Canyon, taking in the spectacular views until we reach Chiccisqa (1836m / 6,023ft), with breathtaking drops on either side. An hour beyond Chiccisqa, we arrive at the roaring Apurimac River (1550m / 5,085ft).
From the river, we begin to climb to the Santa Rosa Campsite (2095m / 6,873ft). This is a tough 2h climb but makes the next day easier! As the campsite is further along than the most popular camp, it is often quiet and you can soak up the stars.
Total Walking Distance – 14 km
Total Walking Time – 6-7h
Minimum Altitude – 1550m / 5,085 ft / Maximum Altitude – 2915m / 9,563ft
Altitude of camp – 2095m / 6,873ft
Approx. night temperature – 15°C
Only around 30% of the Inca remains of Choquequirao have been excavated. What can be seen today, however, is most impressive and very much worth the challenging trek to get there! The stonework in Choquequirao is not as sophisticated as that found in Machu Picchu, because the stone found here is very difficult to carve, but the buildings are impressive and suggest a site of high status. Choquequirao evokes a sense of awe simply because of the site’s surrounding beauty and isolation.
Spending the afternoon exploring the ruins, we will watch the sunset and keep our fingers crossed for the chance to see condors soaring through the sky!
Total Walking Distance – 16 km
Total Walking Time – 10 h
Minimum Altitude – 2095m / 6,873ft / Maximum Altitude – 3110m / 10,120ft
Altitude of camp – 2900m / 9,514ft
Approx. night temperature – 5°C
Choquequirao is composed of an amazing and extensive set of terraces and a smaller religious and administrative area with a total area of over 1800 hectares. There are impressive irrigation channels and all of this set in the dramatic setting of the steep Apurimac Canyon.
We will take our lunch within the ruins today to allow for more exploration time. After our guided visit we climb over a ridge for about 1 hour and then descend for 3h to the ruins at Pinchinuyoc. We will take a short break at these ruins to admire the majestic views. From here, we will descend to the Rio Blanco, a further 1.5 hours steep descent. We camp tonight at Rio Blanco – insect repellent is a must!
Total Walking Distance – 14km
Total Walking Time – 9h
Minimum Altitude –1800m / 5,905ft / Maximum Altitude – 3300m /10,826ft
Altitude of camp – 1800m / 5,905ft
Approx. night temperature – 15°C
After our lunch in Maizal, we climb a further 4-5 hours uphill through cloud forest to the Victoria Mines, an incredible and breathtaking 2000m elevation gain! We’ll take a short rest here and admire the shine of the outcropped rocks illustrating the high concentration of minerals and metals and the reason for the ancient mines.
In our trek through the puna, we’ll walk over well-preserved Inca trails, with their classical zig-zag shape before setting up camp for the night at Pajonal (4150m / 13,615ft). Pajonal affords stunning views of the trail where we have just walked, back towards the amazing Apurimac valley. Due to the altitude of the camp, this will be a cold night. The newly discovered Coryhuayrachina ruins are between Yanama and Maizal. Though we do not visit Coryhuayrachina, it is still interesting to learn about some of the little-known Inca history in the areas that we are hiking through.
Total Walking Distance – 16km
Total Walking Time – 9-10 h
Minimum Altitude – 1800m / 5,905ft / Maximum Altitude – 4150m / 13,615ft
Altitude of camp – 4150m / 13,615ft
Approx. night temperature – -10°C
After lunch, we will say farewell to our muleteers, some of whom may be from Yanama itself, and your group will be met by a vehicle which will transfer you to the high jungle village of Lucmabamba (2100m / 6,889ft), about a 3h drive. You will enjoy the warm high jungle climate and different atmosphere! Once we arrive at Lucmabamba, a local coffee grower will provide us with a coffee making demonstration and you will have the chance to learn more about the coffee growing process.
We will camp the night at Lucmabamba (2100m / 6,889ft) Note, your campsite altitude tonight is half of what it was the night before! 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 here.
Total Walking Distance – 5km
Total Walking Time – 2.5-3h
Minimum Altitude – 2100m / 6,889ft / Maximum Altitude – 4130m /13,549ft
Altitude of camp – 2100m / 6,889 ft
Approx. night temperature – 15°C
After this visit, we descend very steeply on a muddy track for two hours to the impressive Machu Picchu Hydroelectric Station where we will have lunch and if you have the strength you can visit Intihuatana (Inca ruin).
We will board the train at the Hydroelectric Station in the mid-afternoon, arriving in Aguas Calientes about an hour later. After checking into our accommodations, we will enjoy a celebratory dinner before having an early night in preparation for the next day’s visit to Machu Picchu.
Total Walking Distance – 12km
Total Walking Time – 6h
Minimum Altitude – 1800m / 5,905ft / Maximum Altitude –2800m / 9,186ft
We will take a bus in the pre-dawn hours up to the ruins of Machu Picchu so that you can appreciate this famous city in the dawn light and before the crowds arrive. Your 4h visit to Machu Picchu can be spent exploring some of the alternative routes, like the Inca Bridge, after which 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.
After visiting Machu Picchu, you can take the bus back down to Aguas Calientes (or walk down!). From there, we return to Cusco in the afternoon by the Expedition (tourist class) train from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo, where our driver will meet us and transfer you directly back to your hotel in Cusco. Total travel time is about 4 hours from Aguas Calientes to Cusco.
Apus Peru made our trek the experience of a lifetime. We had an awesome time on this trek. It was NOT easy and I would say it was the toughest trek we have ever done. However the views were awesome and the treking company made the trip, a trip of a lifetime. Apus was well equipped and experienced and we attentive to all our needs. The food was awesome, the tents were in excellent condition and the crew was outstanding. Well done Apus!!