12 day trek Choquequirao, Salkantay and Inca Trail to Machu Picchu hike - (Code CCHSIT12) detailed Itinerary
All kilometres and altitude gains & loss cited are approximate and considered a guide only.
Day 1: Cusco - Cachora - Chiccisqa
We depart Cusco at early in a private car for a 4 hour drive to the charming village of Cachora, situated on the edge of the Apurimac canyon and surrounded by impressive snowcapped peaks. After lunch, it is a 2 hour hike to Capuliyoc (2915 metres/ 9561 feet) from where we have our first beautiful views of the Apurimac valley stretching below as well as the snow-capped peaks of Padrayoc and Wayna Cachora. Our total hiking time today is about five hours. Accommodation: Camping at Chiccisqa 1950 m
16 km descending 1200m in altitude - Cachora to chikisca
Day 2: Chiccisqa - Choquequirao
Departing early, we descend to the magnificent Apurimac River (1550 metres/ 5084 feet) before beginning our climb to Santa Rosa and then onto Maranpata where we will have lunch. The climb from the river takes about 4 hours and is tough. From our lunch spot we can see the ruins of Choquequirao, from here we have two hours more hike to the ruins. (3110 metres/ 10120 feet) We will spend the late evening in the ruins, where we will watch the sunset and have the chance to see condors. Accommodation: Camping at Choquequirao campsite 3033m
13 km ascending 1600 m in altitude -Chikisca to Choquequirao
Day 3: Choequequirao to Rio Blanco
We have a chance to more fully explore the ruins and have a little rest in the morning. In the afternoon we will climbing over a ridge hike to the ruins Pinchinuyoc, where we will camp the night. This is definately the easiest day of the trip! Accommodation: Camping at Pinchinuyoc about 3000m/ or depending on the group at Rio Blanco, a further 1.5 to 2 hours descent.
10 km descending 1450 m in altitude – Choquequirao to Rio Blanco
Day 4: Rio Blanco to Maizal
After 2 hours of walking, we will arrive at the canyon of the Rio Blanco (1990 metres/6527 feet) where will have a rest before starting a difficult climb to our campsite of Maizal. The climb is 3- 4 hours. Accommodation: Camping at Maizal 3000m
8km ascend 2000 m in altitude – Rio Blanco to Mina Victoria
Day 5 : Maizal to Yanama
We depart at 7am, and walk uphill for about 3 hours through semi-jungle, to the Victoria Mines. We visit the ancient mines and some Inca Ruins before climbing an hour more to the pass of Abra Victoria. (4130 metres/ 13 546 feet). The newly discovered Coryhuayrachina ruins are between Yanama and Maizal and we do follow well constructed inca steps at an area that we call "Mina Victoria" (we started calling it this because that's what the muleeteers called it)
the newly discovered ruins of Coryhuarachina are nearby
There are spectacular views from the pass as we descend to the charming village of Yanama. (about 2 hours walk). Accommodation: Camping at Yanama 4100m
12km 500m descend and ascend 600m in altitude - Mina victoria to Yanama
Day 6: Yanama to Colpapampa
A day of mountain peaks. In this day we walk for seven hours, preferably rising early to appreciate the chain of snowpeaks that we can see from here. We lightly ascend to the second pass which is the highest of our trek at 4850 metres/ 15908 feet. After the pass we descend for three hours to the Valley of Totora, where will spend the night. Accommodation: Camping at Totora about 3900m or Colpampa
18km 700 m ascend and descend 1900m in altitude - Yanama to Colpapampa
Day 7: Colpapampa to Ichupata
A day of botany and glaciers. Today´s hike is mostly up, as we will climb from Totora or Colpampa, upwards, to the Salkantay pass (4600m). You will clearly note the changing scenery as you pass through different varieties of plants typical of the high jungle - known in Spanish as the "eyebrow of the jungle". You finally arrive at the pass after 5 hours of hiking. This is the second highest point of the trip. (4,600 metres/13451) All day you will have been going “against the flow” as this is a popular trekking route, but in reverse. So expect to meet a lot of people along the trail during this day. From the pass you will descend about 2hours to Salkantaypampa (4100m) where the group may camp, depending on how well you have progressed during the day. You might continue onwards to Ichupata.
18km 1700m ascend, and descend 500m Colpapampa to Ichupata
Day 8: Ichupata – Pampacahuana. 14 km. Approx.
Alter a cold night, we continue our hike to start the 3-4-hour steep climb towards the Incachiriasca pass (4850m/15908ft), the equal highest of the entire route, offering impressive views of the Salkantay snow peak. After a celebratory rest on the pass we will then descend towards our lunch spot at Sisaypampa, a flat area from which one can observe the Salkantay´s neighboring valleys (it is possible that you will see condors in this area). After lunch we continue towards the Pampacahuana community, located next to an original Inca canal, where we set our second camp and spend the night.
Day 9: Pampacahuana – Ayapata. 12 km. Approx.
In the morning you will see that the valley begins to narrow and the river becomes a canal. The Incas frequently cut canals through valleys to increase the agricultural land. From Pampachuana it's a 3 hours hike down the narrow, steep valley to the Inca fortress of Inkaracay (also known as Paucarcancha). This is a site well worth exploring and little known to the vast majority of visitors to Peru.
It's about another ½ to 1 hours walk down to the small village of Wayllabamba which is the point that we join the Traditional (or Classic) Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. As mules are not allowed on the Traditional Inca Trail, at this point we say goodbye to our mules and muleteers and welcome our porters who will accompany us for the next few days
In the afternoon, we leave Wayllabamba behind to start our way up the Warmihuañusca mountain pass (Dead Woman’s pass) through an abrupt and steep ascent that stretches for 9 km. We only climb part way up the pass, stopping at Ayapata, where we camp and spend the night. (also known as Yuncachimpa)
Day 10: Ayapata to Chaquicocha
Today we continue our trek up to the highest point in the Inca Trail (but not on this trek), reaching the mountain pass of Abra Warmihuañusca (4200m/13776ft) after about 2 hours. Immediately after the pass, we descend into the Pacaymayo valley (3600m/11808ft), from which we then continue to climb to the second pass, the Abra Runkurakay (3970m/13022ft), stopping halfway to visit the very impressive archaeological complex Runkurakay. This site, located at 3800m/12464ft, consists of a small oval structure that is believed to have served the purpose of a watchtower. After going over the pass, we descend towards Yanacocha (Black Lagoon) and enter the cloud forest to finally arrive at Sayacmarca (3624m/11887ft). This is a beautiful complex made up of a semicircular construction. Only 20 minutes away is Chaquicocha – 3400m (dry lake in Quechua), where we will camp.
Day 11: Chaquicocha to Wiñaywayna
After breakfast we have an easy climb, to arrive at the third pass, the Abra de Phuyupatamarca (3700m/12136ft). Phuyupatamarca is one of the most complete and best-preserved archaeological complexes along the Inca Trail to Machupicchu, and is located on the highest point of a mountain. Curiously, Phyupatamarca means ¨town over the clouds¨. From here we also have impressive views of the Urubamba River valley. We descend by stone to Wiñaywayna (2650m/8692ft). At this campsite we will find a lodge with a restaurant, bar and bathrooms with hot showers. The campsite has the same name as the complex located only five minutes away from the lodge. Wiñaywayna is an impressive complex made up of an agricultural center with numerous terraces, a religious sector and an urban sector – even if you are tired and enjoying the relative luxury of this campsite, don’t miss this archaelogical complex!
Day 12: Wiñaywayna to Machupicchu
On this last day we get up at 4.00 am to leave Wiñaywayna at approx. 5am and climb to the Intipunku, or the Sun Gate. This will take an hour of hiking along a trail of flat stones on the edges of cliffs in highland jungle. From this fabulous spot, we may see the sunrise over Machu Picchu. From Intipunku we descend into Machupicchu, and 40 minutes later we enter this famous city. We then descend to the control point where we register ourselves and leave our backpacks. We immediately begin a complete guided tour Machu Picchu that will take approximately two hours.
After your tour you can further explore the ruins by yourself or climb Huayna (Wayna)Picchu for that classic photo of Machu Picchu. You need to buy the Huayna Picchu entry separately. Also try to fit in a visit to the Temple of the Moon or Uyna Huayna Picchu while visiting Huayna Picchu.
Normally, during high season those people who climb Huayna picchu spend a extra day at the ruins just to get in the queue for the mountain and then spend a good amount of time on this classic mountain. If you don't get to do Huayna Picchu, other options are:
- Inti Punku (gate of the sun) this is the location where the classic inca trail arrives.
- Inca Bridge
- Machu Picchu mountain.
We highly recommend walking down from Machu Picchu to get a feeling for the vegetation and also the audacity of its builders. Its a 1.5 hour walk back to the village of Aguas Calientes. We return to Cusco in the afternoon by the backpacker train (leaves either at 2.30pm or 6pm) and are met by a driver at Ollantaytambo who will transfer you directly back to your hotel. You will arrive in Cusco approximately 4 hours after your train's departure from Aguas Calientes.
MPORTANT – government regulations will not allow reservations to be made unless accompanied by full passport details of the client and full payment of the entrance fee to the Machu Picchu Sanctuary. This is to assist in the 500 people a day rule. Therefore to guarantee your place on the inca trail trek or tour you must provide a scanned copy of your passport and a non refundable deposit. Your reservation will only be confirmed when we have your entrance ticket in our hands. In case of passport number change this information must be relayed to us or you will lose your booking. Original passport must be carried on trail.
Itinerary notes - Choquequirao, Salkantay, and Inca Trail to Machu Picchu 12 days
- The times cited in this itinerary are approximate. Walking times depend on the group and the guide can change lunch spots and campsites, depending on the progress of the group. Each guide has their own preferred route and it might not correspond exactly to the route described here.
- Allocations or Itinerary are subject to change depending on time of booking and campsites provided by INC (institution that runs the Inca Trail).
The above trek itinerary is our preferred option for this route. However campsites used during the Inca Trail section of the trek are subject to change depending on availability of spaces as issued by the Ministry of Culture, which are responsible for allocating the campsites to the authorised trekking companies. This is of particular importance for the last campsite, as WiñayWayna is the closest campsite to Machu Picchu, only being 2 hours trekking from the famous Inti Punku. (Sun Gate) However there is not enough space at Wiñay Wayna for all the Inca Trail groups. The next nearest campsite is Phuyupatamarca which is a 5 hour trek to Machu Picchu. When we buy the trek permits for the group we are allocated the campsites by the government.
If having WiñayWayna as your final night campsite is important to you - we strongly recommend that you book your Inca Trail tour as soon as you can. As a “rough guide”, of the 500 permits issued each day, the last 200 permits will be allocated to trekkers who will camp at Phuyupatamarca. As its actually to do with campsite allocation, not number of trekkers, we say “last 200 permits” as a guide, rather than a fixed rule. However, if you are booking last minute, you might expect that you will camp at Phuyupatamarca. The plus side is that it’s a relatively untouristed campsite!
- Trek conditions vary according to the season. ie in the dry season the trail can be dusty, in the wet season it can be slippery and muddy. During the shoulder seasons the conditions depend on prior weather. Apus Peru takes no responsibility for trail conditions, as it is directly related to the weather.
- This is an adventurous trip. You should be sure to bring an open mind, flexibility and a sense of humor. Most of all you should be prepared to go with the flow. Also, we do not recommend this trek for "first time" trekkers or campers.
- The Choquequirao to Machu Picchu trek is an adventurous trek, crossing several high passes and the Rio Blanco which does not have a substantial bridge and can be dangerous to cross in periods of heavy rain. We do not recommend this trek during December, January, February, and March but this recommendation depends on the current weather conditions.
- This region is not frequently visited by tourists, therefore tourist infrastructure is limited.Visitors should be aware that things change, or may not go to plan. This is all part of the adventure!
- Considering an extra night in Aguas Calientes? (Please check out linked page) We can change the date of your train ticket to the following day. Hotels costs and costs associated with returning to Machu Picchu the following day are additional to trek costs. Please also note that your entry ticket to Machu Picchu is valid for one day only, if you wish to visit the ruins on a second consecutive day you will need to purchase the ticket again.
- To cross the Apurimac River you will take an oroya, or small cable car as there is currently no bridge. For more information please read this article in our blog, http://apusperublog.wordpress.com/2012/05/24/choquequirao-trek-now-open/
Aguas Calientes Extra Day Upgrade Package (optional)
With hikes that trek the traditional Inca Trail, the standard package has clients returning to Cusco at the end of the trek, and they don't spend a night in Aguas Calientes. This package provides clients the opportunity to stay in Aguas Calientes for an extra night, visit Machu Picchu for a second day and then return to Cusco by the comfortable Vistadome/Executive Class train.
** For Prices and detailed information please refer to the Aguas Calientes Upgrades page **
** The difference between the Standard option, and the Comfort Plus option, is the standard of the hotel.
- Standard Option includes - a night 3 star hotel, like La Cabaña (standard), Inti Inn (standard), Gringo Bills (Jnr Suite), Rupa Wasi (Suite). These are a nice hotels, with a little more character tha the average Aguas Calientes Hotel - well decorated, and clean.
- Comfort Plus Option includes - a night in higher price range 3 star hotel, like El Mapi or Taypikala. Both are new hotels with careful attention to detail.
Both packages include the same meals and trains.
- Second day's entry to Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu, valued at $60
- bus up and down to ruins on extra day, valued at $18
- Dinner at one of Aguas Calientes “best” restaurants, like Indio Feliz or Tree House restaurant!
- Buffet lunch at Tinkuy Restaurant, located in the Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge.
- With limited eating choices at Machu Picchu hunger tends to send clients to Aguas Calientes; by including the buffet lunch we find that clients can visit Machu Picchu early, then go to the buffet to try lots of different Peruvian (and Western) dishes, and then rest and go back for a second look at Machu Picchu.
- Return in Vistadome/ Executive Class train rather than Expedition/ Tourist Class train, which gives you the opportunity for a more varied timetable and to return in a nicer train, with big windows in the roof.
For complete facts about many aspects of Apus Peru tours, check out our FAQs page!
- Pre trek briefing
- Collection from your hotel in the morning of trek departure.
- Transport from Cusco to the trailhead
- Inca Trail Permit (includes entry to Machu Picchu, but not to Huayna Picchu) Huayna Picchu $60 extra.
- English/Quechua/Spanish speaking professional guide (you will have an assistant guide for groups over 8 people).
- Tents - 2 people in a 4 person tent which allows for greater comfort, and also storage of backpacks.
- Basic foam mattress. If you require greater comfort during the trek we can hire you an inflatable mattress (eg. Thermarest) .
- Cook and Cooking equipment (Assistants are provided for larger groups)
- Toilet tent is included for first 6 days of trek. Toilet tent is NOT included the Inca Trail part of the route, because we use facilities provided by the Ministry of Culture.
- Meals as indicated in the itinerary (optional vegetarian food). Our professional cooks prepare meals that incorporate elements of the western diet and also traditional Peruvian delicacies. (Please communicate with your guide/cook during the trek if you have a preference for certain types of dishes). Salads, if served, are washed in boiled water.
- Porters (for equipment and personal items) They carry camping equipment, food and kitchen utensils. We provide duffel bags at your briefing for your personal items (up to 7 kg per person). If you wish to take more, you can hire a porter, please contact us for costs. Mules are used for the first 8 days of this trip.
- 1 emergency horse which can be ridden if you are feeling ill or if are a little slower ONLY for first 8 days
- Dining tent with camp tables and chairs & Kitchen tent for the cook to prepare meals
- Tents for our staff to sleep in
- First aid kit including emergency oxygen bottle
- Bus down from Aguas Calientes - Machu Picchu
- Train ticket (Expedition service) from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo
- Private transport from Ollantaytambo to Cusco.
- Lunch on the last day is included in this itinerary.
What is not included?
- Breakfast on the first morning.
- Dinner on the last night.
- Entrance to the thermal springs
- Entry to Huayna Picchu ($60)
- Tips for the guide, cook and porters
You should bring:
- A light day pack with a change of clothes for the whole period of the trek - prepare for a vast range of changes in temperature
- Rain gear (jacket and pants if available) or rain poncho. Plastic ponchos can be bought for about $1 in Cusco .
- Strong footwear, waterproof trekking boots recommended.
- Warm clothes, including jacket, fleeces, gloves, scarf and beanie/touk. Thermal clothing is also recommended, especially for sleeping.
- Camera, films and batteries (batteries consume more quickly under cold conditions)
- Hat or cap to protect you from the sun, rain and cold
- Sun block
- After-sun cream or hydrating cream for face and body
- Insect repellent - minimum recommended 20% DEET - although no malaria risk has been reported
- Snacks: biscuits, energy bars, chocolate, raw fruits, muesli, etc.
- Non-disposable canteen (Nalgene type) and water for the first morning.
- We advise you to bring water sterilizing tablets in case you collect water from streams.
- Your own medical kit with any special medications that you might require, paracetamol, second skin for blisters etc.
- Small towel or sarong
- Bathers/swimsuit (if you intend on swimming in hot springs )
- Cash - sufficient for snacks, tips and souvenirs.
- Original passport & ISIC (International Student Identity Card) if you have one.
- Walking sticks or poles (we can hire these to you. Please note poles with metal tips cannot be carried into Machu Picchu and should be left at your hotel on the final day)
- Binoculars (if you have them)
We can hire the following to you - please contact your Travel Consultant / or our booking forms for the current rates.
- Extra mule to carry YOUR things
- Extra riding mule and muleteer to lead it
- Sleeping Bag suitable for – 10deg
- Deluxe Sleeping Bag suitable for -15deg.
- Walking stick lightweight aluminum - Two sticks are recommended for tough hikes.
- Thermarest inflatable mattress -
- Thermarest Inflatable pillow
- Comforting Camping trek upgrade - bigger tents, camp beds, includes sleeping bag, thermarest, and walking stick.
- Single tent supplement (ie you don’t want to share a tent)
- When calculating costs for hire of walking stick, sleeping bag, calculate using the length of the tour. Even though you won’t use the equipment on the final day it will still be ‘on the road’ and ‘occupied.’
- If you hire equipment and break it – you are responsible for price of replacement /or repair. (please do the right thing!)
AVAILABLE DISCOUNTS (these discounts are not cumulative)
- 5% discount on treks only for members of South American Explorers Club (SAE)
- Students: US$ 30.00 (students require a valid International Student Identity Card. Please beware that Youth Travel Cards are not valid)
- Teenagers: US$ 20.00 (up to 15 years of age, passport copy required for all bookings)
- Children: US$ 45.00 (up to 10 years of age, passport copy required for all bookings)
TO MAKE A BOOKING
Please visit our Make a Booking page.
You will need to email us to check availability, receive booking forms and then make your deposit. For our payment conditions and booking please refer to our Make a Booking page
* For organisational reasons, we require one week to organise your booking, prior to departure.