Situated above the stormy, glacier-fed Apurimac river, encircled by frost-topped summits, sitting on a tall ridge Choquequirao is a distant and hardly visited "Lost City of the Incas". The meaning of the name in Quechua is "cradle of Gold" and is considered as the place where the last Inca rulers went after losing the city of Cusco during the Spanish conquest.
The ruins were first visited and accounted to the western world during the 18th century. Hiram Bingham also visited the site in 1910 before his rediscovery of Machu Picchu in 1911. The site is relatively detached, though recently there was a footpath built over the Apurimac river to make it more accessible to the ruins. However, the ruins of Choquequirao are still not visited much, although, with new regulations on the Inca Trail, Choquequirao is fated to substitute the conventional trek as the heavyweight hikers alternate.
Day 01: Cusco - Cachora - Coca Masana - Playa Rosalina
Day 02: Rosalina Beach - Choquequirao
Day 03: Choquequirao - Raqaypata
Day 04: Raqaypata - Coca Masana
Day 05: Coca Masana - Cachora - Cusco
Crew: Salkantay Trek Machu representatives in Cusco, a professional bilingual Tour Guide, a Cook, and horses
Accommodation: Campsites (4 nights),
Meals: 5x breakfast, 4x lunch (extra box lunch for the last day), 4x dinner, 4x afternoon tea
Transportation: Transportation by private van
Camping equipment: You can view our camping equipment.
You will leave the Incan capital of Cusco at 4 in the morning when pick you up for a wonderful five hour drive northwest across the country of the Anta Plateau to the authentic little town of Chachora (2,892m/9,488ft), the starting point of the hike in our private transport, which offers great views of the glacial mountains of Salkantay, Humantay, Pitusiray, Chicon and Veronica. It is a 150 kilometer drive and the last 10 are on a dirt road. Along the way there are fabulous views of villages, valleys and frost-topped mountains. During the course we descend into the town of Limatambo where the archaeological remains of Tarawasi are. From here we continue to the little village of Cora Wasi where the Saiwite Stone is. We ascend through abundant open lands and fruit farms before making a final declination to the village of Cachora.
Here many of the locals work as mule drivers to add to their earnings. There you will meet the expedition help team including the horsemen (arrieros) and horses and we pack your equipment on to the mules and the horses.
From here we take our daypacks and start our trek along the edge of the mountains through this magical and historically abounding lands, gradually its a two hour hike to Capuliyoc (2,915m), from where you will appreciate the first exquisite vistas of the Apurimac Valley and river extending below, as well as the glacial-topped summits of Padrayoc and Wayna Cachora (3033m), the wooded hills on the other side of the canyon and the area of Choquequirao. You will then start a slow descent to Coca Masana, into the canyon (2,330m7/644ft), where we hike through a drier land superabound with cacti which contrasts with the green slants of the other side of the canyon. The weather becomes considerably hotter and the plants and animals are different. Don't forget to bring a high deet mosquito repellent for this area. Finally you reach the next campsite at Playa Rosalina (Rosalina Beach) (1,550m), near the stormy Apurimac River (whose Quechua native name means "Great Speaker of God"), known for its class five rafting rapids where you will set up camp and spend the night. Your guide will present this astonishing Inca land to you.
Walking poles or wooden sticks are recommended for today. (Lunch and dinner)
Optional: Visit to the Saywite Stone, a limestome outcrop, about 4 metrs diameter which the Incas chiseled into a 3 dimensional image of the domain of their sovereignty, Tawantisuyo. The stone is carved with pictures of flowers, animals and land of their empire and was used in rituals that had to do with the worship of water.
This is the most difficult of the 5 days. After an early breakfast a severe steep path waits for us and after about five hours of trekking we reach Raqaypata next to the Chunchullomayo River where you we stop for a late lunch and a greatly merited break. The afternoon trek is not as steep as the morning and along the way we see an array of orchids and wild flowers as well as a variet of bird species. After hiking 2 hours more we reach the archaeological site of Choquequirao, in time to appreciate the sunset and maybe see condors flying closeby. We set up camp just outside the ruins in the cloud forest. (Breakfast, lunch and dinner)
Today is devoted to investigating the marvellous ruins of Choquequirao, considered the other Machu Picchu where the last Inca Tupac Amaru was raised among Inca preistesses. The guide will tell you all about its history and the value of this site and then you will have free time to explore the many areas of the complex. Late in the afternoon start the return hike and camp the night at Raqaypata. (Breakfast, lunch and dinner)
After breakfast, continue the return hike with a steep plunge towards the Apurimac River where you stop for lunch. In the afternoon a four hour ascent to the final campsite at Coca Masana. (Breakfast, lunch and dinner)
The last day of hiking. You will observe the canyon that forms the Apurimac River. You will then take a new path that traverses the throat of the canyon with an extraordinary vista of Wayna Qalli towards the canyon, thought of as the most impressive in South America. Reach Cachora with a return bus to Cusco.
Meal budget: Please allow USD 20-50 for meals not included.
Single room: Please note that if you have booked the "Single room" option for this trek, you receive your own single tent for all nights.
Local flights: No local flights are included in the trek´s price!
A lot of people include the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in their “Things to do”, although what most people don’t know is that there are various Inca Trails Trips to Machu Picchu to pick from in the Cusco region.
You have to take into account that usually you will need to book in very advanced the Inca Trail, and in case it is fully booked, we recommend other best alternatives:
Hiking pants and T-shirts are recommended during the day, complemented by sweaters, fleeces and waterproof jackets. It is very convenient to have light raingear available in the daypack (rain poncho or jacket and/or rain pants) as the weather changes easily and rains can suddenly occur. At night, warm clothing is required, down jackets can be useful, otherwise a fleece and a jacket. During the second and five day (if sunny) and in Machu Picchu, convertible hiking pants are useful, as can be switched into shorts if necessary. Machu Picchu has a warm climate, getting only cold at night. The rest of necessary implements are included in the “What we recommend that you bring” list.