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Choquequirao trek to Machu Picchu


Choquequirao trek to Machu Picchu

Start: Cusco
End: Cusco

Conquer the Apurimac Valley on this picturesque trek to Choquequirao, Peru’s other Lost City

Duration13 days
Start / EndCusco / Cusco
Tour operatorIntrepid Travel


Choquequirao trek to Machu Picchu

13 days·Intrepid Travel
Start: Cusco
End: Cusco


Escape the crowds and delve into the wilds of the Peruvian Andes on this challenging, but deeply rewarding trek to Choquequirao. Believed to be up to three times larger than Machu Picchu (the exact size is unknown as much of it is still covered in jungle), the road to Choquequirao takes you through the scenic Apurimac Valley. Hike steep paths and trails that zigzag through dense cloud forest, d...

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Day 1Cusco
Welcome to Cusco. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 2 pm where you'll meet your tour leader and travel group. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. After this important meeting, get acquainted with this charming city's intriguing blend of Inca and Spanish culture on a guided walking tour with your leader. Check out some of Cusco's main attractions, as well as its lesser-known sights such as the Qoricancha temple, San Pedro market, the main square, the 12 Angled Stone, Regocijo Square and San Blas Square. End the walking tour with a visit to the Chocolate Museum where you get to sample hot chocolate made from local cacao beans. There’s also a small store where you can shop handicrafts and artisanal chocolate products. Don't miss the opportunity to sample mate de coca (coca tea) while here.
Day 2Cusco
Enjoy a free day exploring Cusco and its intriguing mix of Spanish and Inca influences. You may opt to spend more time at the sites your tour leader took you to yesterday. Perhaps revisit the San Blas neighbourhood and spend time browsing its boutique shops and handicrafts made by local artisans, or simply grab a coffee and people-watch in Plaza de Armas. Alternatively, use this day to visit Sacsayhuaman, the remains of an impressive Inca fortress that offers stunning views of the city. Cusco’s buzzing markets offer a tasty (and inexpensive) range of Peruvian eats. Though Mercado San Pedro is larger, the locals tend to prefer Mercado San Blas. We have an early start tomorrow, so it’s a good idea to retreat to the hotel early; however, Cusco has a surprisingly thriving nightlife (due to the large number of travellers who pass through) if you want to head out this evening.
Day 3Trek - Chiquisaca Camp
Today you start your trek! It’s a five-hour drive to Capuliyoc Pass, the start of the Choquequirao Trek, so you need to wake early and be ready to leave the hotel at 5 am. Stop twice along the way to explore two incredible, but seldom-visited Inca archaeological sites: Tarawasi (also known as Rimactambo) and Saywite. Arrive at Capuliyoc around noon and be immediately struck by the spectacular panoramic views of the Apurimac Valley and snow-capped peaks in the distance. Beginning at an altitude of 2915 metres (9560 feet), today's walk is downhill. Descend into the valley through dry forest, taking in the beautiful scenery and wide variety of flora and fauna. Your campsite for the night is at Chiquisaca (1950 metres/6400 feet).
Day 4Trek - Choquequirao camp
Today is one of the longer, more challenging days of the trip, but the awe-inspiring views make it worth it. Start very early and descend to Playa Rosalina. Cross the Apurimac River here and begin the long and steep climb through dusty desert up to the village of Santa Rosa. After a rest stop, continue climbing to a plateau above Maranpata (2920 metres/9580 feet). From here, the path becomes less steep and the hike to Choquequirao camp becomes easier. The landscape transitions to high-altitude forest and the region is home to spectacled bears – you just might catch sight of one as we approach the Inca citadel. Throughout the day, it’s also possible to see toucans, hummingbirds and maybe even a condor.
Day 5Choquequirao Inca Site
Spend most of the day exploring the vast, sprawling ruins of Choquequirao. Meaning ‘cradle of gold’ in Quechua, Choquequirao sits nearly 1600 metres (5250 feet) above the roaring Apurimac River. Significantly larger than Machu Picchu, only about 30 percent of this ancient Inca city has been cleared, but you can clearly see the main square, ceremonial platforms, palaces, terraces, ritual baths and temples dedicated to the sun, moon and earth spirit, Pachamama. Choquequirao is also significantly less visited than the country’s more famous ruins – in fact, it’s not uncommon to have the entire site to explore to yourself. In the afternoon, visit the terraces of Pacchanta.
Day 6Trek - Maizal
In the morning, embark on a short but steep climb to the top of the Choquequirao Pass (3215 metres/10,550 feet) for sweeping views of Choquequirao. You’ll get a real sense of the enormity of the ruins from this vantage point, as well as its isolation. Then begin the descent down the Apurimac Valley. Walk down a dusty road to Pinchinoyoc (2400 metres/7875 feet) where we’ll stop to visit Inca terraces previously covered in vegetation. Then continue descending to the bottom of the valley. There, we cross the Rio Blanco and begin our ascent back up the other side of the valley to Maizal (3000 metres/9840 feet). This is a strenuous day, descending over 1500 metres (4920 feet) and then ascending over 1500 metres over the course of the day.
Day 7Trek - Yanama
Start the day with a five hour, steep, switchback climb up the San Juan Pass (4170 metres/13,680 feet). The climb is challenging, but the reward is panoramic views of the snow-capped Vilcabamba mountain range at the top. Make a stop at the 500-year-old La Victoria silver mine on the way up. After basking in the breath-taking views, descend for about three hours following an old miners track to the camp at Yanama (3400 metres/11,155 feet). In May, this path becomes particularly beautiful as it winds through a landscape filled with wild lupins in bloom. Keep an eye out for Andean condors today, which frequently soar above this stretch.
Day 8Trek - Totora
Journey through stunning landscapes as we climb to the highest point of the trek, the Yanama Pass (4660 metres/15,290 feet), where the magnificent snow-capped Vilcabamba mountain range dominates the skyline. Our gravelly trail follows the river up the valley, then begins to climb to the pass. Afterwards, pass small villages as we descend for about four hours to our camp site for the night, Totora (3,440 metres/11,285 feet).
Day 9Trek - Lucabamba
Continue to descend today as we make our way to the Salcantay Trail, where you’ll begin to notice more trekkers and greener surroundings. We follow a road for a short section, then a gravel path beside the river that runs through a lush cloud forest. You’ll notice lots of fruit trees and coffee plantations along this part of the trek. After about six hours of hiking, we set up camp at a particularly special location – on Inca terraces in the middle of a coffee plantation. If there’s time, you may opt to tour the coffee plantation for a small fee.
Day 10Trek - Aguas Calientes.
Rise early today and follow an original Inca trail that climbs uphill for three hours to the Inca complex, Llactapata. Spend some time exploring the site, then descent for two hours to Santa Teresa, where we stop for lunch. Afterwards, continue the last leg of the trek, crossing the Vilcanota River and finishing at the train station. Enjoy a comfortable train ride to Aguas Calientes and check into a hotel upon arrival for a well-earned shower and rest!
Day 11Machu Picchu - Ollantaytambo
In order to beat the crowds (and queues), rise very early to tour the famous ‘Lost City of the Incas’, Machu Picchu. This fascinating Inca complex is considered one of the architectural and engineering marvels of the ancient world – made only more dramatic by its stunning mountain backdrop. After taking advantage of the seemingly endless photo opportunities, catch an afternoon train to Ollantaytambo where you spend the night.
Day 12Sacred Valley - Cusco
Explore the village of Ollantaytambo this morning and spend time strolling its narrow, cobblestone streets. See the colossal Inca stone terraces carved into the surrounding hillside up close, then continue to Pisac in the Sacred Valley, where you’ll visit the ruins of the Citadel. There’s also time to wander its colourful markets and perhaps shop for local handicrafts and last-minute souvenirs. Afterwards, drive to Cusco, passing gorgeous Andean scenery, old towns and quaint villages along the way. Tonight, you may choose to sample Cusco’s exiting nightlife and celebrate the end of your adventure with fellow travellers.
Day 13Cusco
Bid farewell to Cusco and your fellow travellers. Your Peruvian adventure comes to an end after breakfast.

More info

Trip title

Choquequirao trek to Machu Picchu

Trip code



Validity: 01 Jan 2019 to 31 Dec 2019


Escape the crowds and delve into the wilds of the Peruvian Andes on this challenging, but deeply rewarding trek to Choquequirao. Believed to be up to three times larger than Machu Picchu (the exact size is unknown as much of it is still covered in jungle), the road to Choquequirao takes you through the scenic Apurimac Valley. Hike steep paths and trails that zigzag through dense cloud forest, dust... Read more




Walking & Trekking


Private Vehicle,Train

Physical Rating


Physical preparation

PERU TREKKING: The physical rating on this trip is based on you selecting to trek either the Inca Trail or Quarry Trail. Should you wish to take the train option instead of trekking, please downgrade the physical level to a 2. On Day 2 of the Inca Trail or Quarry Trek you will be walking uphill from 3000 to 4500 metres above sea level before descending steeply through big steps and difficult ter... Read more

Joining point

Hotel Koyllur Inn

Joining point description

Hotel Koyllur Inn is located only three blocks from the main square in Cusco. Free Wi-Fi is accessible throughout the property and services include laundry, safety deposit box, and luggage storage. There is also a restaurant located on the 7th floor where you can enjoy a panoramic view of the city of the Cusco. All rooms are are equipped with private bathrooms.

Finish point

Hotel Koyllur Inn

Finish point instructions

Cusco Airport is located approximately 10 minutes drive from Hotel Koyllur Inn. We are happy to arrange a departure transfer for you at an additional charge. Please ask your booking agent if you would like to add this service and provide your flight details. If you have booked a departure transfer please ask your tour leader to confirm your hotel pick up time. Transfers are scheduled to arrive at... Read more

Important information

PASSPORT DETAILS REQUIRED Full passport details are required at the time of booking in order to purchase Entrance fees to certain sites. Additionally on certain trips it's needed to book bus, train or flight tickets. Delays to provide this information may result in booking fees or changes to your itinerary. NEW TRIP Just as a heads up before you book: this trip is new to our range this year. And ... Read more

Group leader

All Intrepid group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leade... Read more


Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all areas your itinerary covers. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and upd... Read more


It is recommended that you download WhatsApp prior to departure; please validate your phone number before leaving home as you will not be able to do this once you arrive, unless you have international roaming enabled. WhatsApp is usually the preferred method for your leader to be in contact with you and the rest of the group while on tour. It is also good for sharing information and photos with th... Read more


PASSPORT: Your passport details are required to complete your booking. Please ensure the name on your passport matches the name on your booking and airline tickets. As a general rule most countries expect that your passport has a minimum of 6 months' validity remaining. Take a copy of the main passport pages and other important documents with you, and leave another copy at home with family or frie... Read more

Why we love it

The trek through the Apurimac Valley to Choquequirao is challenging at times, but also incredibly beautiful and serene. You won’t find the crowds of the Inca Trail. Instead, see spectacular views the whole way without another trekker in sight

Is this trip right for you

This full-service camping trek is graded as Challenging/Tough (Activity Level 5), with eight days point-to-point walking and full porterage throughout. Please refer to our activity level guidelines. Significantly more strenuous than the classic Inca Trail, this demanding trek takes you up to high altitudes on steep but well-defined trails, mostly following mountain switchbacks as you move from va... Read more


All travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/o... Read more

Food and dietary requirements

While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in this region. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat ... Read more

Money matters

When it comes to money matters on the trip, every traveller is a little different. You know your spending habits better than we do, so please budget a sensible amount for things like drinks, shopping, optional activities, tipping and laundry. It’s always better to bring a little more than you think you’ll need. Also make sure you’ve read your trip details thoroughly so you know what’s included in ... Read more

What to take

Most travellers prefer to take a small to medium wheeled suitcase, which is a great size for the packing capacity in our private vehicles. Whatever you take, be mindful that you will need to be able to carry your own luggage, handle it at airports, take in/out of accommodation and perhaps even walk short distances. Generally speaking, we recommend you pack as lightly as possible. You'll also need ... Read more

A couple of rules

Everyone has the right to feel safe when they travel. We don’t tolerate any form of violence (verbal or physical) or sexual harassment, either between customers or involving our leaders, partners or local people. Sexual relationships between a tour leader and a customer are strictly forbidden. Use or possession of illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. If you choose to consume alcohol... Read more


After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. It allows us to make improvements for future travellers.

Emergency contact

While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential nega... Read more

Responsible travel

We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller. Read more

The Intrepid Foundation

Help us change thousands of lives by creating meaningful work and supporting skills training in communities around the world. The Intrepid Foundation is the not-for-profit for Intrepid Group. We work with local organisations around the world to improve the livelihoods of vulnerable individuals and communities through sustainable travel experiences. With our travellers’ help, we’ve contributed mo... Read more

Accommodation notes

Due to energy supply and timing provisions being limited in some places, please be prepared for some cold showers.

Travel insurance

Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects. When travelling on a trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and th... Read more

Your fellow travellers

As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit... Read more

Itinerary disclaimer

ITINERARY CHANGES: Our itineraries are updated regularly throughout the year based on customer feedback and to reflect the current situation in each destination. The information included in this Essential Trip Information may therefore differ from when you first booked your trip. It is important that you print and review a final copy prior to travel so that you have the latest updates. Due to weat... Read more


Hotel (5 nights),Camping with basic facilities ( 7 nights)
€1,629per person
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May 12
May 24
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