What IS Choquequirao?
This ‘lost city’ of Choquequirao (meaning ‘cradle of gold’) was discovered in the 18th century by a French explorer. It fascinated many 19th century explorers and was also visited by Hiram Bingham prior to his discovery of Machu Picchu.
Grandiose and mysterious, this abandoned city has lots of parallels with Machu Picchu and there are a variety of theories about its function and purpose. It´s only relatively recently, however, that COPESCO (the official body responsible for tourism in Peru) has partially uncovered the site and there still remains a lot more to be discovered.
Choquequirao was built during the last days of the Inca Empire – under the governments of the Incas Pachacutec (around 1490) and Tupac Yapanqui, and probably also even after the Spanish invasion in 1532. For almost 40 years the Inca's held ground against the Spanish conquerors (between 1536 - 1572) and even during this period of oppression the construction of temples, palaces, canals and aqueducts they did nor cease . Choquequirao is an inspiring example of an elite Inca ceremonial center, probably a city dedicated to worship the Pachamama (the Andean concept of “Mother Earth”), the “Apus” (mountain gods and divinities) and the elements of nature.
Choquequirao was eventually burned down and abandoned. This happened probably after the execution of the last Inca Tupac Amaru I, in 1572. By this time the plaster covering the walls carbonized and disappeared for the most part. At the east side of the complex more than 110 farming terraces with houses and squares are being revealed. At the west side another 170 terraces are hidden and covered by the forest, and in some of these terraces we can now see clear symmetrical llama forms. It´s estimated that only 25% of this town has been revealed so far, which would make Choquequirao the largest Inca town – much larger than Macchu Pichu.
It´s existence was first mentioned in 1710. The first drawings of the structure of the ruins were made in1836 by the Frenchmen Léonce Angrand and Eugine Sartigues. Only in 1986 a proper structured plan was made up by Roberto Samanez and Julinho Zapata for the official restoration and conservation of Choquequiraw. In 1993 the archeologists Percy Paz and Eulogio Auca brought Choquequirao under the COPESCO Plan, which turned the site into a major tourist attraction.
Lying in a cloud forest, a dramatic 1150 meters above the Apurimac River and surrounded by the fascinating landscape of the Vilcabamba mountain range, Choquequirao has everything to offer an adventure trekker. Due to its remote location few tourists have visited this site so far. Fortunately, COPESCO have now also constructed a footbridge over the Apurimac River, below the site – making it more accessible.
It is a challenging but truly rewarding hike down to the depths of the Apurimac Canyon and then up to the site – in the clouds!
| SAP Adventures Quick View
- Day 1: Cusco - Cachora- Santa Rosa
- Day 2: Santa Rosa – Choquequirao
- Day 3: Choquequirao – Chikisca
- Day 4: Chikisca – Cachora – Cusco
- Difficulty of trek: Moderate to difficult
- Length of trek: 4 Days / 3 Nights
- Start point: Cusco
- End point: Cusco
- Type of trek: Archaeological, Cultural, Camping, Ecological, Hiking
Day 1.- We pick you up from your hotel at about 8am and travel by bus for about 4 hours to the small village of Cachora where we will meet our horsemen and mules. We begin our trek along the edge of the Apurimac canyon and follow the trail, enjoying the dramatic landscapes and a variety of plant and animal life along the way until we reach our campsite at ‘Santa Rosa’ (1650m).
Day 2.- We get up early, have breakfast and begin our walk by crossing the Apurimac River and then descending to the lowest point on the trail. Following this, we have a steep ascent through a thick cloud forest heading towards Choquequirao. We will have lunch and then time to relax and enjoy the archeological zone, plants, animals (hopefully condors!) and views of nearby canyons and snow-capped mountains (Soray – 5428m and Tuncarway 5910m). We will camp in Choquequirao itself (3033m).
More or less 5 hours walking this day.
Day 3.- This day we will have an early breakfast followed by a 3-hour guided tour around Choquequiraw and free time for you to explore and take pictures at your own pace. After this, we descend to our last campsite in ‘Chiquiska'. More or less 6 hours trekking.
Day 4.- We wake to the sound of birds chirping and a beautiful scenery before us. We walk to Cachora (6 hours more or less) and from there take a bus back to Cusco to arrive there at about 8pm.
- 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.
- If required, riding horses or horses to carry luggage can be arranged at a reasonable daily rate.
- Average group size 4 people, maximum group 10 people. Will depart any day with two people.
What's Included at The Choquequirao Trail?
- 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 (cachora)
- Entry fee to choquequirao
- English/Quechua/Spanish speaking professional guide (you will have an assistant guide for groups over 8 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) for $5 per day.
- Cook and Cooking equipment (Assistants are provided for larger groups)
- Toilet tent
- Meals as indicated 3 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 3 afternoon snacks (hot drinks, biscuits and popcorn) and 4 dinners (breakfast on day 1 and dinner and lunch in Aguas Calientes on the last day are not included) (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.
- Hot coca tea every morning in your tent for a gentle and fortifying wake up!
- Hot water every morning and evening for washing purposes, and boiled purified water to fill in your water bottle every morning.
- 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 5 kg per person). If you wish to take more, you can hire an extra mule at a cost of $10 per day.
- 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, sleeping bags & mattresses plus a budget for their meals.
- First aid kit including emergency oxygen bottle - but not blister treatments as known in western countries.
- 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)
- 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)
Optional Extras We Can Hire The Following To You.
- Sleeping Bag suitable for -5deg. ($4.00 per day)
- Deluxe Sleeping Bag suitable for -10deg. ($6.00 per day)
- Walking stick lightweight aluminum ($1.00 per day)
- Inflatable mattress (eg. Thermarest) ($5.00 per day)
- Two sticks are recommended for tough hikes.
- Porter - $25.00 per day Most people carry their own day pack with up to 5-10kg of their things - a change of clothes and wet weather gear etc. However, if you think that you will have much luggage and you want a very light day pack (eg. just camera and water) then its advisable that you hire an extra porter. ($100 for the whole trek, including the porter wages, food, and Inca Trail entry permit).
Available Discounts (These Discounts Are Not Cumulative)
- 5% discount for members of South American Explorers Club (SAE)
- Students: US$ 10.00 (students require a valid International Student Identity Card and must be below 26 years of age. Please beware that Youth Travel Cards are not valid)
- Teenagers: US$ 10.00 (up to 15 years of age, passport copy required for all bookings)
- Children: US$ 10.00 (up to 10 years of age, passport copy required for all bookings)
To Make A Booking
- You 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 page payment & booking