“The most challenging and enjoyable trek I have ever experienced, with a staff we could trust absolutely” - Tim, UK. Choquequirao to Machu Picchu, April 2011

Giving back

Trek with us and $20 of your trek price is donated to generate a sustainable trekking industry in the Andes, and the NGO: ThreadsofPeru.com

“Fabulous! He is a creative cook, and the food was always great! He was also extremely courteous.” Jane, U.S.A. Choquequirao – Vilcabamba – Machu Picchu, May 2011.

off the beaten track in peru - apus peru adventure travel specialists

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off the beaten track in peru - apus peru adventure travel specialists

off the beaten track in peru - apus peru adventure travel specialists

The Apus Peru staff in a group shot on a sunny day.

Vilcabamba Range Grande Traverse 15 days

This is a truly extraordinary hike through the spectacular Cordillera Vilcabamba... you begin through tough but awesome crossing of the apurimac canyon to the beautifully located city of Choquequirao. Onwards you hike through some of the most little visited parts of the Andes before arriving in Vilcabamba. After resting you will continue downwards into the high jungle and the final city of the Incas - Espiritu Pampa.

Along the way you will vist a range of little known ruins, usually only visited by Inca enthusiasts or modern day explorers.

This tour is offered with a Machu Picchu extension!

Choquequiro to Espirtu Pampa trek - at a glance

> View Full Itinerary

Highlight: Visiting the mystical ruins of Choquequirao and then continuing on down to the high jungle at Espirtu Pampa. This adventure traverses a wonderful landscape that is, as yet, untouristed.

Location: Departs from Cachora (4 hours from Cusco, Peru)

Duration: 15 days/14 nights is ideal. With Machu Picchu extension 17 days/16 nights.

Level: Difficult - this is a remote and challenging trek. Recommended for fit, experienced people only

Adventure Rating: Very adventurous trekking - you will see few other visitors (if any) on the route.

Inka Trail alternative: Yes, if combined with Machu Picchu.

Departure Dates: NOT OFFERING IN 2013. NOT RECOMMENDED in December, January or February (weather conditions).

Combos & Upgrades: Combine with one of our tours for a complete Peru experience, try Comfort Camping or choose an Aguas Calientes upgrade.

Trekkers Wanted: If you wish to join a group tour, please see Trekkers Wanted.You can also form your own tour to be advertised on this page. Maximum group size 10.



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Choquequirao to Espirtu Pampa 15 days - Full 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 Ruins

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 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 - Huancacalle

Rest day. During the day (according to the group's wishes) we will visit the interesting ruins of Vitcos-Rosaspata and Nustahispaña. We will spend the rest of the day in the hostal in Huancacalle where we can recharge camera batteries, wash dirty clothes and generally rejuventate ourselves before continuing.

Day 9: Huancacalle - Yupanqa - Puncuyoc

Take taxi or local transport to the village of Yupanqa. Begin the hike from Yupanqa toward an unforgettable site of the Incas, Puncuyoc. Arrive at campsite at head of Rio Upamayo approximately 3pm. Accommodation: Camping

Day 10: Puncuyoc

Depart campsite for Puncuyoc. At around 10:00am the group wiill arrive in the archaelogical ruins. After a visit to the ruins, descend to campsite where you will have lunch. Head off cross country.

Day 11: Vista Alegre

departure from campsite and hike cross country through wild and uninhabited landscapes until you reach the stones of the Inca trail. Continue to Vista Alegre, which will take us 8 hours of walking. We will cross bridges and we will even see some inca trails, here we will stay for the night (1,550 meters above sea level.).

Day 12: Vista Alegre - Concevidayoc

We will hike from Vista Alegre to Concevidayoc (8 hours of hiking). We will cross Inca trails and will have the opportunity to s ee the Tunki bird, which is family of "gallito de las rocas". In Concevidayoc we will overnight (1,420 meters above sea level.)

Day 13: Concevidayoc - Espirtu Pampa

From Concevidayoc we will hike in 3 hours to EspirituPampa. Here we can admire the remains of the archeological site Espiritu Pampa the last Inca Capital. We will camp at Espirtu Pampa and spend most of the day there. (1,200 meters above sea level). This place is still covered by vegetation, just a small part has been cleaned by INC.

Day 14: Espirtu Pampa - Chuanquiri - Siete Tinajas

After breakfast we will hike from Espiritu Pampa to Chuanquiri, which will take us around 5 hours. We will enjoy a lot of different landscapes and a huge diversity of flora and fauna in this tropical area, which is located at 800 meters above sea level. The lunch will be in Chuanquiri. Afterwards we will go by car to the seven Tinajas (6 hours of travelling) where we will stay for the night.

Day 15: Siete Tinajas - Quillabamba - Cusco

After visiting the Siete Tinajas we will visit Quillabamba, a high jungle town. We will then take the bus back to Cusco, an eight hour journey.
*this tour can be shortened by approximately two days if you take night buses in place of Day One and Day nine, if you are on a budget and short of time.

*If you would like a little more luxury, and also to shorten the itinerary, you can take private transport on days 1 & 9, but more cost is involved.


OPTIONAL ITINERARY, Choquequirao to Espirtu Pampa to Machu Picchu, one of the ultimate and most adventurous treks in the Andes.

Day 15 Siete Tinajas - Santa Theresa

Departing at around 8am we will visit Quillabamba.. 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 depending on the options your group has chosen for the next day's activity.

We will climb for about 3 hours before descending to the interesting, but largely covered ruins of Llactapacta. Orginally 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. We camp at the ruins of Llactapacta with a view of Machu Picchu.

Day 16:  Day of options, around Santa Theresa – Aguas Calientes

On day 8, 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 8 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 4 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 17:  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.
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 (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 to Espiritu Pampa

  • 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 Vilcanbamba Range Grande Traverse 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.

Aguas Calientes upgrade package (optional) $115 per person on twin share basis  This price doesn’t change depending on the number of people in the group. This package includes.

  • Night in a 3 star hotel, like Killa Inn or La Cabaña.  These are a nice hotels, well decorated, and clean.

  • 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 train rather than Expedition train, which gives you the opportunity for a more varied timetable and to return in a nicer train, with big windows in the roof.

Practical Information

What's included?

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

Extension inclusions

  • 3 days extra meals and activities as decided in the itinerary
  • Entry to Machu Picchu
  • 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?

  • Breakfast on the first morning.
  • Dinner on the last night.
  • Entrance to the thermal springs
  • Entry to Huayna Picchu ($15)
  • Sleeping bags - If you haven't got a sleeping bag or you don't want the hassle of bringing one all the way to Peru with you, then we have sleeping bags for hire.
  • Tips for the guide, cook and porters
  • Additional horses for passengers luggage.
  • Extra activities (ie Cola de Mono zipline)

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)

optional extras

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)


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.