Trek Choquequirao to Espiritu Pampa 15D

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Duration: 15 Days / 14 Nights
Availability : Every Day.
Depart: Capuliyoc
Destination: Espiritu Pampa
Min Age : 10
Max People : 12

Choquequirao Trek to Espiritu Pampa Highlights

  • Visit the spectacular Choquequirao ruins and numerous little-known Inca sites and cover the gamut of Incan history.
  • See breathtaking snow-capped peaks on your trek Espiritu Pampa, as well as tropical flora and fauna, and everything in between.
  • To top it all off, you’ll have the satisfaction of a strenuous physical challenge.
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About the Choquequirao Trek to Espiritu Pampa 15 Days

Ever wanted to trek Choquequirao to Espiritu Pampa? One of the most incredible Andean adventures out there, this spectacular 15-day journey will take you through the Apurimac Canyon, over the Vilcabamba mountain range, and down through Andean jungle to some of the most little-visited parts of the Andes.

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You’ll see a stunning array of flora and fauna, including the famous llamas, alpacas and possible even the condors and you´ll visit completely un-touristed Inca ruins typically reserved for the hardy Inca enthusiast or modern-day Indian Jones.

The tour culminates in a stop at Last Capital of the Incas, Espiritu Pampa, a site that still remains covered in vegetation and shrouded in mystery.

This 15D trek Choquequirao to Espiritu Pampa does not include a visit to Machu Picchu. If you’re interested in adding this to your itinerary, check out our Machu Picchu Extensions!

Price

Prices are per person in USD, based on group size. We do not have fixed-date group departures. If you do not want to book a private trek, please see our Trekkers Wanted page for a list of open departures within your dates.

2 people

$3719

4-6 people

$2115

7-8 people

$1899

9-12 people

$1895
WHY BOOK WITH US?

High quality personalized experience

Unique, off-the-beaten track routes

Experienced staff

Verified sustainability practices

$20 of every trek donated to Threads of Peru

Details About the Choquequirao Trek to Espiritu Pampa 15 Days

What is Included?

Accommodation

      • Tent: 2 people in a 4-person tent, allowing for greater comfort and backpack storage!
      • Basic foam mattress. If you would like greater comfort during the trek we can rent you an inflatable mattress. See Optional Extras & Upgrades below.
      • Toilet tent

Meals

      • Dining tent with camp tables and chairs, and kitchen tent for the cook to prepare meals
      • Cook and cooking equipment, plus assistants for larger groups.
      • Meals as indicated in the itinerary. Our professional cooks prepare a combination of traditional Peruvian and Western cuisine. Talk to your guide if you have certain preferences! Vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options available. When served, salads are washed in boiled water.
      • Boiled water to drink on the hike (which you can carry in your own reusable water bottle)
      • Filtered water provided during the drive on the first day

Transport

      • Collection from your hotel on the morning of yourChoquequirao to Espiritu Pampa trek departure
      • Private transport from Cusco to the trailhead and return at the end of the trek

Trekking Team

      • English/Quechua/Spanish speaking professional guide, plus an assistant guide for groups over 8
      • Horses and horsemen, who carry camping equipment, food and kitchen utensils. We provide duffel bags at your briefing for your personal items (up to 10kg/22lbs per person).
      • Tents, sleeping bags and mattresses for our staff to sleep in, plus a budget for their meals

Safety

      • First aid kit including emergency oxygen bottle
      • 1 emergency horse which can be ridden if you are feeling ill or if you are a little slower

Additional inclusions

    • Pre-trek briefing
    • Entry fee to Choquequirao & Vitcos

What is Not Included?

Meals

      • Breakfast on the first morning
      • Dinner on the last night

Equipment

      • Sleeping bags. Available for rent if you don’t have one with you.
      • Additional horses for your personal luggage or to ride

Other

    • Tips for the guide, cook and muleteers
    • Flights to/from Cusco
    • Travel Insurance

Optional Extras & Upgrades

    • 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.

Equipment Available for Rent

      • Extra horse to carry luggage exceeding the allowed 10kg (22lbs) per person
      • Llamas to carry your own things. Note that this traditional Inca beast of burden can only carry about 10kg (22lbs), and will only walk in groups. The cost of hiring llamas includes a small group of 3-4 llamas and a llamero (llama driver)
      • Extra horse for you to ride, and horseman to lead it
      • Sleeping Bag suitable for -5˚C
      • Deluxe sleeping bag suitable for -15˚C
      • Light-weight aluminum walking stick. Two sticks are recommended for tough hikes.
      • Thermarest inflatable mattress
      • Thermarest inflatable pillow

Service Upgrades

      • Single-occupancy tent supplement
      • Comfort Camping Upgrade
      • Upgrade local ground transportation on this trek to private transport for a shorter, more comfortable trip. Contact us for pricing and to reserve this option.

Optional Activities

Important!

    • When calculating the cost of renting equipment, calculate using the length of the entire trip, not just the number of trekking days.
    • Please be careful with rented equipment! You are responsible for the cost of replacement if something is damaged or broken.
    • Any upgrades or trip extensions must be requested at time of booking.

What to Pack

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:

      • A fleece or down jacket is an essential item at this elevation;
      • Hiking trousers with zip off shorts are a good idea, as day time temperatures can be quite warm, yet temperatures plummet as soon as the sun goes down. You can supplement these with leggings or thermals to wear underneath;
      • A rain poncho or waterproof jacket is also important. It can rain or even snow at certain times of the year!;
      • Water-resistant trekking boots are advisable. The trail on this hike can sometimes be muddy and wet, so we also recommend to bring extra socks!;
      • A warm sleeping bag, rated to -15°C (5°F). If you prefer, you can rent one from us;
      • A headlamp or torch;
      • A high factor (SPF) sunscreen, a sun cap and sunglasses. The sun can be really strong, especially in dry season. Sun protection is essential!;
      • A small daypack to carry your necessary items for each day’s hiking.

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.

Available Discounts

  • Students: USD $30 off, in certain circumstances. Please enquire for details about eligibility.
  • Youth 12-17: 5% off. A valid passport must be presented upon booking.
  • Children 5-11 years: 15% off. A valid passport must be presented upon booking.
  • Children 0-4 years: Free. A valid passport must be presented upon booking. Children under 4 will not count towards the total number of guests in a group. Car seats, cribs and other baby needs may not be included and must be discussed in advance. For more information about travelling with infants and toddlers, please see this blog as well as the Age Requirements section of our Booking Conditions.
  • 5% off a day tour listed price when you also book a 3-day or longer trek operated by Apus Peru

Guides & Safety on the Trail

    • Our whole trekking team know the Choquequirao and Espiritu Pampa regions 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!

Trekkers Wanted

    • 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!

Important Info

  • Each guide has their own preferred route and so the route you trek might not correspond exactly to the route described here.
  • The times cited in this itinerary are approximate. Walking times depend on the group, and the guide may change lunch spots and campsites, depending on the progress of the group.
  • If you are short on time and on a budget, this trek can be shortened by approximately two days by taking night buses on Day 1 and Day 9.
  • The 15D Trek Choquequirao to Espiritu Pampa is one of the toughest hikes in the region. It crosses several high passes, as well as the Rio Blanco which does not have a substantial bridge and can be dangerous to cross in periods of heavy rain. This trek should not be attempted by those who do not have some experience in trekking, plus a solid level of fitness!
  • Trek conditions vary according to the season. In the dry season the trail can be dusty; in the wet season it can be slippery and muddy. Apus Peru takes no responsibility for trail conditions, as it is directly related to the weather.
  • We do not recommend this trek during Dec-Mar, inclusive, though this recommendation depends on the actual weather conditions.
  • This is a totally off-the-beaten path trek, and tourist infrastructure is very limited. This is a true adventure and things may not go exactly according to plan! Keep an open mind and let yourself enjoy the cultural differences you may experience. There is always an opportunity to learn something!

Ready to Book?

  • Does this trek sound like just what you were looking for? If you’re ready to book or just want to find out a bit more information, fill out the Inquiry Form in the top right-hand corner of this page to get the ball rolling. You’ll be connected with one of our amazing sales people who will be able to turn your dream of hiking in the Andes into a reality. For more information on the entire booking process, please see our How To Book page.
  • Travel insurance is a must! World Nomads offers travel insurance for adventure activities.

Choquequirao Trek to Espiritu Pampa Itinerary

Day 1Cusco – Capuliyoc – Chiquisca – Santa Rosa

    • Total Walking Distance: 14km
    • Total Walking Time: 6/7h
    • Minimum Altitude: 1550m (5,085 ft) / Maximum Altitude: 2915m (9,563 ft)
    • Altitude of camp: 2095m (6,873 ft)
    • Approx. night temperature: 15°C (59°F)

    We leave Cusco early in the morning to start our Choquequirao to Vilcabamba 9D trek and head towards the Apurimac Canyon, surrounded by breathtaking snow-capped peaks. 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 (2915 m / 9,563ft). When we arrive we’ll have our first views of the incredible Apurimac Valley stretching below, as well as the surrounding mountains Padrayoc and Wayna Cachora.

    Our horsemen will meet us here and we’ll walk about 15 minutes to the Capuliyoc Lookout where we’ll have our lunch. With full bellies, we’re ready to start the steep 3-4 hour descent into the Apurimac Canyon. After passing Chiquisca (1836 m / 6,023ft), we arrive at the roaring Apurimac River (1550m / 5085ft).

    We’ll cross the river and then begin the difficult 2-hour climb to Santa Rosa campsite (2095 m / 6,873ft). This is a less popular camp, making for a typically quiet and restful night under the stars.

Day 2Santa Rosa – Choquequirao Ruins

    • Total Walking Distance: 16km
    • Total Walking Time: 10h
    • Minimum Altitude: 2095m (6,873 ft) / Maximum Altitude: 3110m (10,120 ft)
    • Altitude of camp: 2900m (9,514 ft)
    • Approx. night temperature: 5°C (41°F)

    It’s another early start this morning as we depart early to escape the heat of the canyon. Today, we are continuing upwards towards Maranpata (3110m / 10,120ft). After a good night’s sleep, we should be ready to tackle this tough, 3-hour uphill stretch. A little beyond Maranpata we’ll be treated to our first views of Choquequirao, a nice reward for the morning’s challenge. From here, it’s just another 2 hours over gentle, undulating terrain until we reach the ruins – a welcome change of pace! Stopping first for lunch at the Choquequirao campsite (2900m / 9,514ft), we then head for the site itself where we have the entire afternoon to explore.

    Originally discovered in 1710, Choquequirao was given little importance by European explorers passing through the area until it was rediscovered by Hiram Bingham in 1909. This was largely overshadowed by Bingham’s additional rediscovery of Machu Picchu, and so it wasn’t until the 1970s that the Peruvian government began to excavate at Choquequirao. With only about 30% of the site excavated today, Choquequirao consists of an extensive set of terraces, irrigation channels and various religious and administrative complexes extending over 1800 hectares. And all this set against the dramatic background of the Apurimac Canyon!

    We’ll watch the sunset over the ruins and, with any luck, catch a glimpse of condors soaring through the canyon that surrounds us.

Day 3Choquequirao – Pinchinuyoc – Rio Blanco

    • Total Walking Distance: 14km
    • Total Walking Time: 9h
    • Minimum Altitude: 1800m (5,905 ft) / Maximum Altitude: 3300m (10,826 ft)
    • Altitude of camp: 1800m (5,905 ft)
    • Approx. night temperature: 15°C (59°F)

    Early this morning, we’ll have another chance to wander the ruins at Choquequirao before continuing on to Pinchinuyoc after lunch. This is a 3-hour hike taking us over a ridge and then down towards this other stunning archaeological site. We’ll take a short break here to enjoy the majestic views and then continue our descent for another 1.5 h to the Rio Blanco where we’ll camp for the night. Note: insect repellent is a necessity at Rio Blanco!

Day 4Rio Blanco – Maizal – Pajonal

    • Total Walking Distance: 16km
    • Total Walking Time: 9-10 h
    • Minimum Altitude : 1800m (5,905 ft) / Maximum Altitude: 4150m (13,615 ft)
    • Altitude of camp: 4150m (13,615 ft)
    • Approx. night temperature: -10°C (14°F)

    After a nourishing breakfast, we start a difficult 3-hour climb, zigzagging uphill to Maizal (3000m / 9,842ft), a small, cleared agricultural area on the mountain. Make sure you are physically and mentally prepared before we head out: many people find this to be the hardest section of the entire Choquequirao to Vilcabamba trek!

    We’ll have lunch in Maizal and then climb a further 4- 5 hours uphill through cloud forest to the Victoria Mines, gaining about 2000m in elevation as we go! We’ll take a short rest here and admire the shine of the outcropped rocks illustrating the high concentration of minerals and metals – it’s no wonder this was an ancient mining site!

    We then continue our trek through the puna, treading well-preserved Inca trails with their classic zig-zag shape, before setting up camp for the night at Pajonal (4150m / 13,615ft). From here we can look back over the terrain we’ve just traveled towards the incredible Apurimac Valley. This will be a cold night so make sure you’re prepared to bundle up!

    Between Maizal and Yanama are the recently discovered Coryhuayrachina ruins. We won’t have time to stop and explore them, but we encourage you to read more about this fascinating and little-known Inca history.

Day 5Pajonal – Yanama – Yutuypata

    • Total Walking Distance: 13km
    • Total Walking Time: 6h
    • Minimum Altitude: 3100m (10,170 ft)/ Maximum Altitude: 4150m /(13,615 ft)
    • Altitude of camp: 3700m (12,139 ft)
    • Approx. night temperature: -5°C (23°F)

    After spending the night at this cold, high altitude campsite, we venture higher still, climbing for about an hour to the San Juan Pass (4150m / 13,615ft). From the pass we’ll have spectacular views as we descend for about 2.5h to the charming village of Yanama (3600m / 11,811ft). We’ll have lunch near the village, where some of the horsemen accompanying you on your trip may be from! We always try to hire locals and many come from this community.

    From here, we head into virtually uncharted territory on a route pioneered by Apus Peru that takes us to Vilcabamba, the Last Bastion of the Incas! After lunch, we head down into a valley towards a small river, and then start climbing again on the other side towards Yutuypata where we’ll have beautiful views through the valley. Hiking time to Yutuypata is around 3 hours. Although we are still at high altitude, the valley creates an interesting microclimate, leaving the landscape green and forested with lush vegetation.

Day 6Yutuypata – Quellqua Machay – Inca Machay

    • Total Walking Distance: 17km
    • Total Walking Time: 9h
    • Minimum Altitude: 4000m (13,123 ft) / Maximum Altitude: 4600m (15,091 ft)
    • Altitude of camp: 4000m (13,123 ft)
    • Approx. night temperature: -10°C (14°F)

    We’ll have a relatively easy morning today, walking for about 4 hours through the Quellqua Machay valley over gentle terrain and surrounded by dramatic mountain views until we reach our lunch spot. After lunch, we climb another 2 hours to our highest point along the Choquequirao to Vilcabamba route, the Choquetacarpo Pass (4600m / 15,091ft). Surrounded by craggy mountain peaks, this is a spectacular pass with an incredible view, a definite high point – literally and figuratively! – of the trek.

    At this point, we have the chance to walk an almost perfectly preserved Inca trail. Following in the footsteps of the Inca chaskis or runners, you’ll marvel at the engineering skill of the ancient Incas who created these unique trails. We head down for about a 1.5h over original Inca steps, observing many ancient Inca dwellings along the way. This is an incredible immersion into ancient Incan history as we’ll have constant opportunities to admire their ingenuity. How did they manage to build in such remote places??

    We end our long day at a beautiful, isolated campsite where we will rest our weary legs and absorb the tranquility and awe-inspiring scenery.

Day 7Inca Machay – Huancacalle

    • Total Walking Distance: 17km
    • Total Walking Time: 8-9h
    • Minimum Altitude : 2900m (9,514 ft) / Maximum Altitude: 4000m (13,123 ft)
    • Altitude of camp: 2900m (9,514 ft)
    • Approx. night temperature: 0°C (32°F)

    We continue downwards this morning, following a gentle slope and passing some small roads no longer used for transportation along the way. After about 4 hours, we arrive at the village of Huancacalle (2900m / 9,514ft) where we will have lunch.

    From here, we will climb up to visit the interesting ruins of Vitcos-Rosaspata and Ñustahispana for the afternoon before returning to Huancacalle for the night. The route from Huancacalle to the ruins and back again is around 3.5 hours.

Day 8Huancacalle – Vitcos Rosaspata – Huancacalle

    • Total Walking Distance: 6km
    • Total Walking Time: 3hs
    • Minimum Altitude: 2900m (9,514 ft) / Maximum Altitude: 3100m (10,170 ft)
    • Altitude of camp: 2900m (9,514 ft)
    • Approx. night temperature: 0°C (32°F)

    We’re half way!! Take a moment to congratulate yourself on how far you’ve come on this trek Choquequirao to Espiritu Pampa! Today we’ll take a much-deserved rest to reflect on all we’ve accomplished so far, and prepare ourselves for the rest of the journey. We’ll take a group vote about how we should spend the day, but it may include visiting the interesting ruins of Vitcos Rosaspata and Ñustahispana. We will spend the rest of the day in the hostel in Huancacalle where we can recharge camera batteries, wash dirty clothes and generally rejuvenate ourselves before continuing.

Day 9Huancacalle – Huarina – Puncuyoc (Incahuasi) – Huarina

    • Total Walking Distance: 12km
    • Total Walking Time: 7h
    • Minimum Altitude: 3600m (11,811ft) / Maximum Altitude: 4300m (14,107 ft)
    • Altitude of camp: 3600m (11,811ft)
    • Approx. night temperature: 0°C (32°F)

    After a delicious breakfast this morning, we will take a local transportation to Huarina (2hs drive), from Huarina we will hike up to Puncuyoc to visit the intriguing site of Incahuasi (4300mt /14,107ft), returning to Huarina at the end of the day in about 7h total hiking time. We camp again tonight at Huarina.

Day 10Huarina – Capillayoc lagoon

    • Total Walking Distance: 16km
    • Total Walking Time: 9h
    • Minimum Altitude: 3400m (11,154 ft) / Maximum Altitude: 3950m (12,959 ft)
    • Altitude of camp: 3600ft (11,811ft)
    • Approx. night temperature: -5°C (23°F)

    Today is the most adventurous day of the Vilcabamba Trek to Espiritu Pampa as we hike for about 9h along the mountain ridge, passing beautiful lakes along the way. We will camp in Capillayoc lagoon.

Day 11Capillayoc lagoon - Qollpaqasa – Ututo

    • Total Walking Distance: 18km
    • Total Walking Time: 10hs
    • Minimum Altitude: 3100m (10,170 ft) / Maximum Altitude: 3850m (12,631 ft)
    • Altitude of camp: 3100m (10,170 ft)
    • Approx. night temperature: 5°C (41°F)

    We must be well-rested today in order to face a long day of hiking. We will hike about 10h in total as we journey from Capillayoc lagoon to Qollpaqasa (4h) and then continue on to Ututo (4h), where we will camp for the night.

Day 12 Ututo – Vista Alegre

    • Total Walking Distance: 12km
    • Total Walking Time: 6h
    • Minimum Altitude: 2000m (6,561ft) / Maximum Altitude: 3100m (10,170 ft)
    • Altitude of camp: 2000m (6,561ft)
    • Approx. night temperature : 10°C (50°F)

    Today’s journey will take us through Andean jungle from Ututo to Vista Alegre. We will cross Inca trails and will have the opportunity to see the tunki bird, which is a relative of the famous Peruvian “gallito de las rocas”. We will overnight in Vista Alegre.

Day 13Vista Alegre – Concevidayoc

    • Total Walking Distance: 20km
    • Total Walking Time: 11h
    • Minimum Altitude: 1768m (5,800 ft) / Maximum Altitude: 2000m (6,561 ft)
    • Altitude of camp:
    • Approx. night temperature:

    After breakfast, we will start trekking for 11h descending from Vista Alegre to Concevidayoc. We will admire different types of birds and flora like orchids. We will pass Tunqui Mayo bridge, the Andean community called Urpi Pata and different communities who are engaged in agriculture, raising farm animals and coffee growing.

Day 14Concevidayoc – Espiritu Pampa – Kiteni

    • Total Walking Distance: 7km
    • Total Walking Time: 3h
    • Minimum Altitude: 500m (1,640 ft) / Maximum Altitude: 1400m (4,593 ft)

    After three really long, intense days of hiking we get a well-deserved break! From Concevidayoc we will hike for about 3 hours until we reach Espiritu Pampa (1400m /4593ft). Here we can admire the remains of the archeological site of Espiritu Pampa, the last Inca Capital. We will camp at Espiritu Pampa and spend most of the day here. Espiritu Pampa is an especially intriguing site as most of it remains shrouded in vegetation, adding to its mystique. We will continue the journey back by bus (5h), stopping at Kiteni where we will spend the night in a hostel.

Day 15Kiteni – Quillabamba – Cusco

    Leaving Kiteni we will take a bus to Quillabamba (4h) around 8am, for the final leg of the return journey to Cusco, arriving around 6pm.

    For even more adventure and a chance to see Machu Picchu, don’t forget about our Machu Picchu Extension!

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1 Review
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Vaclava74 from Arabia Saudita

Group Traveller

Excellent 15 days trek in area where we saw seldom any other tourists – especially when we leave Choquequirao and even there we meet only two small group of tourists. After that only people we met on our way were local people. In these 15 days we walked on dusty roads in mountain, we could appreciated old Inca trail – although is more than 500 centuries old I was surprised how preserved it and we went through lush vegetation where we had to find our own way.
As it is quite adventure and long trek there are only few companies who provide this experience. Apus Peru was only one give me a lot time for exploration – and as I am not enthusiastic trekker and my main reason was to spend as much time on historical sites Apus Peru was my first choice and I do not regret at all. You can do this trek in 12 days but you will have only momentary glimpse on these monumental ruins. Especially in Choquequirao you can spend two days and still you will not be bored. Not only that I had enough time to enjoy all these places but my excellent guide were able to answer all my questions. And when was time to refill lost calories our cook was the one on right place. His food was delicious and never boring. Every day started with tea served to tent what was especially in cold mornings in mountains very welcome.
We spent nights in different surrounding – once in back yard so there was opportunity to meet local people, once on river bank so we could wash dust from our out cloths and bodies.
I can recommend this trip to everybody who like adventure and challenges. It is demanding trek but absolutely worth it. Beautiful scenery, minimum people and if you go with Apus Peru more than 100% service.

31 July, 2016