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Get even more off the beaten path on the Huanipaca Choquequirao 4 day hike! Visit Machu Picchu’s “sister city” and then 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.
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.
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 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!
Our 4-day Huanipaca Choquequirao trek begins just like the classic route. We start early from your hotel and head towards Capuliyoc. After about an hour and a half of driving, we will arrive at Tarawasi (2675m / 8776 ft) for a short but interesting visit.
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.
We start early again today on the Huanipaca Choquequirao route, and what a day we have ahead! We head out at 6am and continuing climbing steeply upwards for 3 hours to Marampata. We’ll have a well-deserved break at Marampata (2940m / 9646 ft), then once we get going again, we will have our first glimpses of the spectacular Choquequirao ruins. From this point, it’s another 2 hours of hiking up gentle, undulating terrain until we reach the ruins, a welcome respite compared to what we’ve just accomplished!
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.
We will enjoy a bit of a relaxed morning today, with a later start and more time to spend wandering the Choquequirao ruins. Keep a watchful eye out as you wander because you might just spot a condor soaring on the morning air currents!
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).
On the last day of our Huanipaca Choquequirao route, we start our ascent quite early in the morning in order to avoid the worst of the canyon heat. The first hour of our hike on this Huanipaca detour will be intense! After that, the path will become less steep and more pleasant as we continue our hike through the Tambobamba valley, surrounded by abundant flora and fauna.
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.
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.