Choquequirao to Vilcabamba trek 8 days (Code CCHV8) - Full Itinerary
All kilometres and altitude gains & loss cited are approximate and considered a guide only.
Day 1 Cusco- Cachora – Chiccisqa
We depart Cusco 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 Ruins
Departing early on the well established trail, 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 Choquequirao – Pinchinuyoc – 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 climb over a ridge and hike to the ruins at Pinchinuyoc, where we will camp the night(2 hrs hiking). 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 – Maizal
If we have camped at Pinchinuyoc, 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 – 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)
We do not visit Coryhuayrachina, but it is still interesting to learn about some of the unknown Inca History in the areas that we are hiking through:
There are spectacular views from the pass as we descend to the charming village of Yanama. (about 2 hours walk). Apus Peru usually uses muleteers from the village of Yanama (therefore providing employment for isolated people) and we camp near the muleteer´s house, and feast on a Pachamanca. Accommodation: Camping at Yanama 4100m
12km 500m descend and ascend 600m in altitude - Mina victoria to Yanama
Day 6 Yanama - Quellqca Machay
We depart at 7am and will walk on the pretty paths along the edge of mountainsides to our lunch spot, which is surrounded by craggy mountains. After lunch we will walk 2 hours more to our campsite of Quellqca Machay. Surrounded by snowcapped peaks, this is a spectacular, yet cold, place to spend the night! Accommodation: Camping at Quellqca Machay
Day 7 Quellqca Machay - Huancacalle
We depart Quellqca Machay at 6am, and after about 4 hours climb will arrive at the Choquecatarpo Pass (4600m), the highest and most spectacular of the passes during the trip. We will have lunch at the Lagunas during the descent and will arrive in the town of Huancacalle (2900m) about 5.30pm. The total walking time for this day is between 8 to 9 hours. Accommodation: Camping Huancacalle
Day 8: Vitcos Rosaspata - Abra de Malaga - Cusco
Departing at around 8am we will visit the interesting ruins of Vitcos-Rosaspata and Nustahispaña, returning to Huncacalle around 11am. From here we will take private transport back to Cusco, passing over the Abra de Malaga. (approximately 8 hours driving).
OPTIONAL ITINERARY, VISITING MACHU PICCHU (Code CCHVMP10)
Day 8 Vitcos Rosaspata - Santa Theresa
Departing at around 8am we will visit the interesting ruins of Vitcos-Rosaspata and Nustahispaña, returning to Huncacalle around 11am. From here will travel to Santa Theresa (via Santa Maria) and then onto La Playa. (You are going in reverse from what people on the Salkantay hike do!) We will camp the night in one of various locations, depending on the options your group has chosen for the next day's activity.
Day 9: Day of options, around Santa Theresa – Aguas Calientes
Today, you have THREE options here, depending on your interest and fitness. You should discuss each with your guide. You should also be aware that Salkantay is the second most touristed route in the Salkantay region and ineveitably this means you will encounter other people (its not a "wilderness" experience).
Important note: The following options are decided by "group majority" - if you are joining a "trekkers wanted" group then the decisions will be made by the group at your briefing or on the trail. An advantage of forming your own, private group, is that you can nominate ahead of time which option you wish to select.
1. Relax option. You will take motorised transport to the campsite outside the village of Santa Theresa (not always a quiet campsite) so that in the evening you can visit the recently reopened hot springs at Colcamayu. UNFORTUNATELY the Colcamayu Hot springs were completely washed away in the flooding of January 2010 and are no longer a camping option. On day 9 you will then take transport to the the impressive Machu Picchu Hydroelectric System where we will have lunch and visit a Inca ruin. After this, we will walk for 2.5 hours more along the train tracks to arrive at the village of Aguas Calientes.
2. Adventurer´s option. We leave early and climb for about three hours through the jungle before descending to the interesting, but largely covered ruins of Llactapacta. Don't let your guide talk you out of this!!! Yes, its three hours climb, but it is also a very interesting introduction to Machu Picchu! Originally discovered by Hiram Bingham at the same time that he discovered Machu Picchu, modern day explorers Vincent Lee and Gary Ziegler recently established that these ruins are much bigger and more important than previously thought. From here we have our first view of Machu Picchu, in the saddle of the mountain opposite. We descend very steeply on a muddy track for two hours to the impressive Machu Picchu Hydroelectric System where we will have lunch and visit a Inca ruin. After this, we will walk for 2.5 hours more along the train tracks to arrive at the village of Aguas Calientes.
3. Thrill seekers option. On day 9 we offer you the chance highest and longest zipline in South America - Cola de Mono. (check out the pics!) After doing 'Cola de Mono' in the morning we will take transport to the Hydroelectric Station . ** Price of Cola de Mono is additional to the cost of your tour ** After this, we will walk for 2.5 hours more along the train tracks to arrive at the village of Aguas Calientes.
We include in the price of your tour a train ticket from the Hydroelectric Station to Aguas Calientes ($18) the train leaves at 7.30pm, and you arrive in Aguas Calientes about one hour later, when you are transferred to your hotel. If you want to walk all the way to Aguas Calientes (ie Machu Picchu) its 2.5 hours more along the train tracks to arrive at the village of Aguas Calientes. Some people like this option, because its the closest you can get to walking to Machu Picch (apart from the actual Inca trail) and its also nice to walk along, looking up at the ruins of Machu Picchu. Other people prefer the train. You need to talk to your guide and decide what is the most appropriate option for you. If you decide to walk along the tracks, your $18 pays for your duffel bags to go on the train.
A soak in the thermal baths in Aguas Calientes are often the perfect respite for aching muscles!!! Apus Peru include a nice celebratory dinnern the price of your tour in Aguas Calientes. Accommodation: Hostel in Aguas Calientes (normally Hostal Payacha)
14 km - Santa Theresa to Aguas Calientes (if the group takes the option to go via Llactapata/Patallacta its 10km extra)
Day 10: Aguas Calientes – Machu Picchu – Cusco
Today we will have a guided visit of the lost city of the Incas, Machu Picchu
Early in the morning (before dawn) we will take a bus up to the ruins of Machu Picchu. (Bus included in price) so that you can appreciate this famous city in the dawn light and before the crowds arrive. You will then have a 2.5 hour guided tour of Machu Picchu with your guide. After your tour you can further explore the ruins by yourself or climb Huayna (Wayna) Picchu for that classic photo of Machu Picchu. (you should pre purchase your ticket for $10 extra so you don’t miss out!)
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.
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 (departs approx 2.30pm) 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.
Itinerary notes - Choquequirao to Vilcambamba 8 days/ or Choquequirao to Vilcabamba with Machu Picchu extension
- 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.
- 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 Vilcabamba 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 upgrade package
** For Prices and detailed description please refer to the Aguas Calientes Upgrades page **
- Night in a 3 star hotel, like Killa Inn, Gringo Bills or La Cabaña or other depending on availability. These are a nice hotels, well decorated, and clean.
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 at the beginning of the trek in private car
- Entry fee to Choquequirao & Vitcos
- English/Quechua/Spanish speaking professional guide (you will have an assistant guide for groups over 6 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
- 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.
- Horses (for equipment and personal items) including horsemen. They carry camping equipment, food and kitchen utensils. We provide duffel bags at your briefing for your personal items (up to 7 kg/15lbs per person).
- 1 emergency horse which can be ridden if you are feeling ill or if are a little slower
- 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
- 3 days extra meals and activities as decided in the itinerary
- Entry fee to Machu Picchu (Huayna Picchu $10 extra)
- Bus up and down from Aguas Calientes - Machu Picchu
- Train or equivalent luggage from Hydroelectric station to Aguas Calientes
- Train ticket (Expedition service) from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo
- Private transport from Ollantaytambo to Cusco.
- Celebratory dinner in Aguas Calientes
- Lunch on the last day is included in this itinerary.
- 1 night accommodation in Aguas Calientes in a basic hotel. This will be a nice, clean and safe hostel with breakfast included and private bathroom. If you wish to upgrade from this hotel, please check out the options listed on our Aguas Calientes accommodation page.
What is not included?
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. Extra socks are a must.
- Sandals or plastic slip on thongs are also good to give your feet a chance to breath in the evenings if you wish to carry them.
- Warm clothes, including jacket, fleeces, gloves, scarf and beanie/touk. Thermal clothing is also recommended, especially for sleeping.
- Sleeping bag (we can hire these to you)
- Torch/ Flashlight and spare batteries
- 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
- Toilet paper, pack in & pack out
- 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) $25.00 per person
- When calculating costs for hire of walking stick, sleeping bag, calculate using the length of the tour. Even though you won’t use the equipment on the final day it will still be ‘on the road’ and ‘occupied.’
- If you hire equipment and break it – you are responsible for price of replacement /or repair. (please do the right thing!)
AVAILABLE DISCOUNTS (these discounts are not cumulative)
- 5% discount on treks only for members of South American Explorers Club (SAE)
- Students: US$ 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.