This trek is perfect for those who wish to combine remote high-mountain hiking with archaeological exploration. The sheer diversity of terrain you will experience on this route will provide a feast for your eyes, and the remoteness and rarefied atmospheres will nourish your soul. You’ll see fantastic rock formations, deep, colorful canyons, flutes of glacial ice, and nebulous cloud forests during this incredible eight-day trek, culminating with a visit to the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu.
The route starts at the famous citadel of Choquequirao, passes through the Apurimac Canyon and the Cordillera Vilcabamba, and finally reaches the ancient complex of Machu Picchu.
We invite you to check out the full itinerary for a preview of the incredible discoveries you’ll make along the way. Don’t forget to check our tips on the left-hand side of the page. They will advise you on how to prepare for this intense, life-elevating experience.
See you on the trail!
8 days / 7 nights
March – November
Last Monday of every month
In the morning we will be leaving from Cusco headed due north on the main highway to Antapampa, a fertile agricultural valley. Once we begin to descend into Limatambo, we’ll visit the Inca site of Tarawasi, with some beautifully precise Inca geometry found in its structures and stone walls. The road continues until we reach the Apurimac River, an impressive gorge, where we can observe the frothy river winding below. We will drive past the village of Curawasi and on to the Sayhuite archaeological site. Among its features is an enormous monolithic rock carved with various geometrical and animal figures. Some archaeologists consider it to have been a kind of engineering map that showed the extensive hydraulic systems and irrigation channels used to convey water in the area.
A small side road over a ridge brings us down to the village of Cachora, and onto the roadhead where we start today’s hike. Here we will meet the rest of our field crew. We will begin trekking along the mountain’s edge. At Capuliyoc, we’ll attain our first view of the Apurimac Canyon with the snow-capped peaks of Nevado Padreyoc front and center, and Nevado Qoriwayrachina to the left. We begin our descent and make camp at a cozy site on the riverside at Chikiska, at 1850 masl (6069 fasl).
(L / D)
Driving distance: 165 km (102.5 mi) – Time: 4 hours
Trekking distance: 18.4 km (11.4 mi) – Time: 6 hours
We get up with the sunrise, and after a hearty breakfast, begin the day’s trek, crossing the river over a footbridge. From here an uphill walk of half a day brings us to a small meadow where we’ll enjoy a picnic lunch. As we ascend the steep trail, we will be confronted with panoramic views, sheer drops, and the beauty of the Apurimac Canyon. The afternoon hike is less steep as we approach the hanging valley through verdant misty forest to the site of Choquequirao. We’ll set up camp on the level ground at the section known as Marampampa, as we begin our explorations of this isolated Inca site and the surrounding cloud forest. We can also visit the Choquequirao main plaza, which features a network of terraces with Llama Figures called ¨the Llamas of the Sun.” We will camp at available campsites.
(B / L / D)
Trekking distance: 12.8 km (8 mi) – Time: 8 hours
We will spend this entire day exploring the various archaeological sites located at different points on the hillside overlooking the Apurimac River. We begin by passing alongside the stream of Chunchumayo, with spectacular views of the other side of the canyon. We will have a chance to explore some of the restored buildings: these include storage facilities, living quarters, a garrison, and impressive ceremonial sites. The very first written reports of a visit to this complex date from 1768 by the explorer Cosme Bueno. He was followed by a variety of explorers, scientists, and treasure hunters through 1909, when Hiram Bingham also visited the area, even before his historic re-discovery of Machu Picchu.
We will have time to wander through this extended settlement, spending most of the day marveling at the different buildings. In the afternoon, we’ll pack our equipment and move to the next campsite. We’ll begin our ascent from our campsite to the Pass of Choquequirao (3250 m / 10,660 ft), finally entering the moist cloud forest where we’ll find Polyepis trees, bromeliads, and epiphytic plants including exotic, colorful orchids, and bright green ferns. We’ll descend to Pinchiunuyoc, a terraced agricultural complex that supplied Choquequirao with agricultural products and prepare our camp for the evening.
(B / L / D)
Trekking distance: 1.8 km (1.1 mi) – Time: 2.5 hours
We continue our descent to the gushing Yuracmayo River, finally arriving at and crossing the riverbed. Now, we begin our ascent to Maizal, a vista point with panoramic views of the Yurahmayo and Yanama gorges, as they join together and rush towards the Apurimac Canyon. The landscape in front of us sweeps out to the Cordillera Vilcabamba range, from where the Inca staged a rebellion after the Spanish conquest. At this natural west-facing viewpoint, we can observe a beautiful sunset before getting settled for the evening.
(B / L / D)
Trekking distance: 5 km (3.1 mi) – Time: 6 hours
The trail ascends steeply towards Mina Victoria, once an Inca mine, and later a colonial copper mine. We’ll hike along Qoriwayrachina Hill, a ruin that was used as a way station for travelers during the time of the Inca, where fairly recent excavations have taken place. Once over the pass (3900 m / 12, 792 ft), we’ll enjoy a hearty lunch and begin our descent to the village of Yanama, with panoramic views of Mt. Pumasillo in the distance. This night we will camp at Yanama.
(B / L / D)
Trekking distance: 10 km (6.21 mi) – Time: 7 hours
Recently a road has been built that can accommodate four-wheel-drive vehicles. We will trek along a trail skirting this narrow road. Heading up the Yanama Valley, past fields of native farmers going about their chores, we reach the trailhead below the Quiswar Pass (4180 m / 13,710 ft). Depending on the road conditions, a vehicle will pick us up along this trail. Crossing over the pass, we’ll marvel at the majestic views of Mt. Salkantay and Mt. Humantay, in the distance. Descending to the valley of Totora below, we’ll reach Hornopampa and then continue to our next campsite in the region near Lucmabamba. We will begin to notice signs of other humans in the area, as we pass small settlements of farmers growing coffee and tropical fruits.
(B / L / D)
Trekking distance: 9 km (5.6 mi) – Time: 7 hours
Driving distance: 60 km (37.3 mi) – Time: 2:30 hours
Traversing dense cloud forest with a chance to hear myriad birdcalls and observe a great diversity of flora, we’ll pass the pre-Inca site of Paltallacta, with its symmetrical Inca terracing and ancient stonework. From here we’ll attain a magnificent view of Machu Picchu’s northern face. We will now descend to the Urubamba Valley, with a chance for a refreshing dip in the Aobamba River, meandering along the path to the hydroelectric plant. In the afternoon, we’ll board the train to Machu Picchu village, where we will spend the night at a local hotel.
(B / L)
Trekking distance: 10 km (6.2 mi) – Time: 7 hours
Train ride: 8 km (5 mi) – Time: 45 minutes
After an early breakfast, we’ll hop on board the bus up to the ruins, a half-hour ascending ride. Your English-speaking guide will accompany you as you explore the breath-taking ruins and learn about the various structures and buildings, and the lifestyles of its former inhabitants. You’ll be immersed in the sheer beauty of the complex and its verdant surroundings, as you breathe in the rarefied air of the cloud forest. Return to the village below in the afternoon, where you’ll board a train back to Cusco or Ollantaytambo. (Hotel overnight and dinner on your own).
(B / L)
Trekking distance: visit Machu Picchu – Time: 3 hours
Bus ride to Machu Picchu (RT): 12.4 km (7.7 mi) – Time: 1 hour
Train ride: 43 km (27 mi) – Time: 1:45 hours
Driving distance Ollantaytambo to Cusco: 79 km (49 mi) – Time: 2 hours
End of services
B- Breakfast / BL- Box Lunch / L- Lunch / D- Dinner
– Professional bilingual guide
– Train from Hidroeléctrica to Machu Picchu Village and from Machu Picchu Village to Cusco
– Bus ticket Machu Picchu – Machu Picchu Village (round trip)
– Double occupancy tents with Thermarest sleeping pads
– Hotel in Machu Picchu Village
– Guided tour in Machu Picchu
– Lunch in Machu Picchu Village on day 8
– All meals during trek
– Non-alcoholic drinks
– Kitchen and dining tents
– Cook and field staff
– Horses and drivers
– Entrance tickets
– Solar energy lamps
– Eco toilets
– Adequate garbage disposal
– First aid kit and oxygen tank
– Personal travel insurance
– Dinner in Machu Picchu Village on Day 7
– Laundry service
– Airline tickets
– Sleeping bags (rent available)
– Personal gear
– Alcoholic beverages
– Additional services
– Regular and long wicking first layer for cold weather, like polyester, nylon, or merino wool
– Short-sleeved shirts or t-shirts, breathable fabrics, like nylon and polyester
– Light-colored long-sleeved shirts or t-shirts
– QuickDry Pants, trekking pants, and shorts
– Insulated long-sleeve jacket (fleece, synthetic, down, merino wool)
– Liner gloves
– Light cap and beany
– Rain jacket (in the rainy season, bring rain pants)
– Breathable sports socks or hiking socks
– Warm socks for nights
– Multifunctional headwear (e.g. Buff)
– Waterproof and breathable hiking boots
– Comfortable and lightweight shoes for campsite
– Sleeping Bag (0°/32° to -15°/ 5°) (rent available)
– Day Pack (preferably with rain cover)
– Trekking Poles (available to rent)
– Waterproof duffle bag
– Microfiber towel
– Sunblock, lip balm, and insect repellent
– Reusable water bottle or vacuum bottle
– Portable Power Bank (to charge lamps, etc)
– Personal First Aid Kit (recommended)
Personal First-Aid Kit: On each trip we carry a medical kit, but we suggest you bring a small personal First-Aid Kit for bruises and blisters. Knee and ankle braces are sometimes useful especially if you suffer from weak knees or ankles. Include any special medication your doctor might suggest for you.
|START DATE||END DATE||DETAILS||STATUS|
|30/03/2020||06/04/2020||Choquequirao Trek to Machu Picchu||Two more to open|
|27/04/2020||04/05/2020||Choquequirao Trek to Machu Picchu||Two more to open|
|25/05/2020||01/06/2020||Choquequirao Trek to Machu Picchu||Two more to open|
|29/06/2020||06/07/2020||Choquequirao Trek to Machu Picchu||Two more to open|
|27/07/2020||03/08/2020||Choquequirao Trek to Machu Picchu||Two more to open|
|31/08/2020||07/09/2020||Choquequirao Trek to Machu Picchu||Two more to open|
|28/09/2020||05/10/2020||Choquequirao Trek to Machu Picchu||Two more to open|
|26/10/2020||02/11/2020||Choquequirao Trek to Machu Picchu||Two more to open|
|30/11/2020||07/12/2020||Choquequirao Trek to Machu Picchu||Two more to open|