The Huanipaca Choquequirao 4-day trek is a great way to visit Machu Picchu’s “sister city”. Get even more off the beaten path as you take an adventurous detour via Huanipaca instead of following the same route back to the Choquequirao trailhead.
Classic Choquequirao trekking is a circuit: you walk the same trail to the ruins and then back again. If you want to do something a bit different, then the Huanipaca detour might be the best Choquequirao hike for you.
Read more: Why You Should Trek to Choquequirao Now
Days 1 & 2 follow the classic Choquequirao trail, but then take a detour down a different path to the Apurimac River via Huanipaca on Day 3. On Day 4, continue climbing until you reach Villa de los Loros, where our private transport is waiting to take you back to Cusco.
This alternative Choquequirao route offers something different and a break from the monotony of going there and back on the same path. This is still a very challenging hike, though the last two days on the Huanipaca Choquequirao alternative are slightly shorter than the classic route.
Important Note: The Huanipaca alternative route includes a steep downhill section that is prone to rock slides and washouts, especially during the rainy season. For this reason, the route can be closed for periods of time. Send us an enquiry to find out if the Huanipaca route is currently open. We also reserve the right to follow the Classic Choquequirao circuit at any point, if necessary for safety reasons.
The Choquequirao ruins are a major highlight, plus a unique detour via Huanipaca make this a special trekking experience. Lots of opportunities to see Andean wildlife as well, including the Andean cock-of-the-rock or tunqui, condors and more. And of course, the stunning scenery of the Apurimac canyon!
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.
Tarawasi comes from the words tara and wasi, in Quechua. Tara is a type of local tree, and wasi means “house,” so Tarawasi means “the house of the Tara tree”. Tara produces large bean pods that turn orange when ripe. The seeds inside are used as a natural dye, and also have medicinal purposes.
Leaving Tarawasi, we continue another 3 hours until we arrive at Capuliyoc (2970m / 9744ft). Here we’ll have our first breathtaking views of the Apurimac Valley below, as well as the impressive Padreyoc and Huayna Cachora peaks.
We meet our arrieros (muleteers) here and after a short 15 minute walk, we’ll stop to have our lunch at the Capuliyoc lookout point. Refueled and refreshed, we’re ready to start the steep 4 hour descent into the Apurimac Canyon until we reach Chiquisca (1950m / 6397ft), with incredible drop-offs at our sides. After another hour of hiking, we reach the roaring Apurimac River (1520m / 4986ft) where we’ll begin the climb to the Santa Rosa campsite (2095m / 6873ft). This is a tough, 2-hour climb but you’ll be thankful for it the next day! This campsite is further along the trail than the most popular camp, making for a more restful evening where you can soak up the stars.
Total Walking Distance – 12.2 km
Total Walking Time – 6-7h
Minimum Altitude – 1520m / 4986ft / Maximum Altitude – 2970m / 9744ft
Altitude of camp – 2095m / 6973ft
Approx. night temperature – 8°C
We will have lunch at the Choquequirao trek campsite (2900m / 9514 ft) nearest to the ruins. Then, we head to the Choquequirao ruins (3050m / 10,007 ft) where we will spend the afternoon. Only about 30% of these Inca ruins have yet been excavated; the rest remains shrouded in mystery. We will be able to watch the sunset from the ruins and keep our fingers crossed for the chance to see condors. We camp tonight at Choquequirao campsite.
Total Walking Distance – 9.3 km
Total Walking Time – 5-6h
Minimum Altitude – 2095m / 6873ft / Maximum Altitude – 3050m / 10,007 ft
Altitude of camp – 2900m / 9514 ft
Approx. night temperature – 5°C
The afternoon is where our Huanipaca Choquequirao trek deviates from the classic route. We will take a different path back, walking down towards the Apurimac river below the ruins. As we walk along the Huanipaca detour, we’ll have a unique opportunity to spot the Andean cock-of-the-rock (rupicola peruviana), Peru’s national bird, which also goes by the local name tunqui.
We will continue to head downhill for about 3h, covering a distance of 6km, until we reach the river. At the river, we will walk across a suspension bridge at a place known as San Ignacio beach (1470m / 4822 ft).
Once on the other side of the river, we begin to climb again. We will walk uphill for about an hour and a half until we reach San Ignacio campsite where we will spend the night (1850m/6069 ft).
Total Walking Distance – 9km
Total Walking Time – 4.5-5h
Minimum Altitude – 1487m / 4822ft / Maximum Altitude – 3000mt / 9843ft
Altitude of camp – 1850m/6069 ft
Approx. night temperature – -3°C
Finally we arrive at Villa de los Loros (2550m / 8366 ft), also known as Tambobamba, where the trail ends and the road begins. There is a lovely inn here where we will rest and have lunch. Then it’s time to head back! Our private vehicle will be waiting to take us back to Cusco, about a 4.5h journey.
Total Walking Distance – 8km
Total Walking Time – 4-5h
Minimum Altitude – 1850m/6069 ft / Maximum Altitude – 2550m/8366 ft
Brilliant experience, however logistics needed improvement.
Herbert was very friendly, knowledgeable and catered really well for all the group. Excellent guide.
Great hike ending at the site. Best we have done in Peru! Exploring the site with only 6 people was a great experience.
A late departure and other delays en route meant that we arrived late at some campsites and lunch spots. Overall the plan/schedule could have been explained much clearer and the logistics implemented better.