Perched precariously on a remote hilltop, protected by huge canyons and fierce rivers either side, lies the lost Inca city of Choquequirao. This adventurous trek takes you in the footsteps of Hiram Bingham and connects the 3 fantastic Inca sites he discovered over 100 years ago.
Supported by mules you follow old Inca trails to traverse the entire Vilcabamba mountain range from the Apurimac to Urubamba river connecting the stunning sites of Choquequirao, Llactapata and Machu Picchu. From arid canyons and high mountain passes, to the warm moist air of the jungle this 65Km journey is one of the most spectacular and diverse treks in the whole of the Americas.
While altitude is less of an issue than our other treks, as you acclimatise during the trek, there are big climbs and descents so you must be in good physical shape. This is remote, challenging trekking for lovers of true adventure.
Our Ultimate Choquequirao is more than just an alternative to the Inca Trail. This spectacular route takes you off the beaten-track on an incredible adventure through jungle, cloud forest and Incan Ruins to show you some of the best Peru has to offer.
Note: Peru is very strict on passport numbers, which may be required for local transport, permit or entrance bookings. You MUST let us know if these change. A passport change may invalidate your reservation and you may be refused to travel.
- 3n in hotels, 5n fully-serviced camping
- Fully supported trekking – carry only day packs
- 8 Breakfasts, 8 lunches and 6 evening meals (2 nights in Cusco left free so you can decide where you want to eat from the many restaurant options)
- This adventurous trek takes you in the footsteps of Hiram Bingham and connects the 3 fantastic Inca sites he discovered over 100 years ago.
- The Lost City of Choquequirao
- Guided tour of Machu Picchu
- Time to explore historic Cuzco
- Quieter trekking and no permit requirements
- Retrace the footsteps of Hiram Bingham and connect the 3 fantastic Inca sites he discovered over 100 years ago.
- Learn about ancient Incan culture
- Get off-the-beaten-track on this less trodden route
|TRIP START POINT||Cusco, Peru|
|DURATION||9 Days, 6 days trekking|
|TRIP TYPE||Camping trek|
|SEASON||April to October|
|CHALLENGE LEVEL||4/5 – Challenging multi-day camping trek with plenty of climbing. Fully supported, carry only day packs|
Arrive to Cusco & sightseeing
Accommodation: 4* hotel n Cusco
Activities: Sightseeing and acclimatisation
Welcome to Cusco- touch down, collect your luggage and meet your guide, then drive twenty minutes through the colourful South American streets to your hotel.
Meet in the Coffee Museum at 1 pm to enjoy a tasty lunch and learn about the story and people behind this popular drink.
After lunch step out into the Cusco streets and explore with one of our carefully chosen guides. They are not only very knowledgeable but also great fun to be with. You do not want to cram too much in on your first day at altitude, so relax and get used to being up high with a gentle walk around this old Inca capital.
Visit the Plaza de Armas, the Cathedral and the Qoricancha temple of the sun and perhaps take in the sights, sounds and smells of San Pedro food market too. If you normally shop at supermarkets and farmers markets, you are in for a surprise. Stands full of juicy exotic fruits, counters heaving with cow heads and sheep hooves and cheerful local women selling handmade cheeses, local breads, healthy juices and even toad soup.
The evening is free to relax and wander around the UNESCO World Heritage Site city centre.
Drive to Cachora and trek to Chikiska
Accommodation: Camping at Chikiska
Activities: Transfer and trek
You leave Cusco and drive on good tarmac road until turning off to the beautiful village of Cachora. Your trekking team will be waiting for you near the trailhead. After an early lunch you start to descend the switchback trail, 1600m (5250ft) into the Apurimac canyon and the small settlement of Chikiska where you camp for the night.
Trek: Chikiska to Choquequirao
Accommodation: Camping at Choquequirao
After a delicious breakfast, you continue down to cross the roaring Apurimac river. Now it is time to climb past the small communities of Santa Rosa and Maranpata to your camp next to the Choquequirao ruins. The path is good though steep and it can get very hot. This is a long tough day requiring an early start but the scenery more than makes up for the hardships endured.
Trek - Explore Choquequirao
Accommodation: Camping at Choquequirao
Activities: Day Walk and Sightseeing
Explore Choquequirao: A fifteen-minute walk takes you to the main square of the amazing Choquequirao ruins. Perched on a tiny hilltop 1,700m (5580ft) above the Apurimac, the location and views are awe-inspiring. The ruins cover an area far bigger than Machu Picchu. Enormous curving terraces, ritual baths and a fine main plaza are just some of the highlights. Those with the energy can even descend to see the famous white stone llamas laid into the rock.
Choquequirao remains a mystery. It was not mentioned in the Spanish chronicles and although Hiram Bingham visited it before Machu Picchu he failed to realise its importance. Large areas still remain covered in the thick cloud forest, giving you a true Indiana Jones experience. Even today it receives very few visitors, protected by its remote location.
After a great day exploring you return to base camp to relax and ponder upon all that you have learnt and seen.
Trek: Choquequirao to Maizal
Accommodation: Camping at Maizal
Choquequirao to Maizal: You leave early for the short climb to the pass. Then it is downhill 1400m (4600ft) past the recently discovered ruins of Pincha Unuyoc to the Rio Blanco where you can dip your feet in the cool waters. Just beware of the biting sand-flies. Known as “Pumahuacachi”, their name means “makes the puma cry”.
Refreshed, you climb steeply again, 1,200m (3900ft) to the small and beautifully located campsite of Maizal at an altitude of 3,000m (9840ft). This is probably the toughest day of the trip but if you have prepared well and are determined, you will succeed. And the cold beer on arrival will taste even better.
Trek: Maizal to Yanama, drive to Lucmabamba
Accommodation: Camping at Lucmabamba
Activities: Trekking and Transfer
Maizal to Yanama, drive to Lucmabamba: You leave camp behind and climb past old silver mines to the highest pass of the trip. Abra San Juan at 4,000m (13123ft), affords spectacular views of the Cordillera Vilcabamba mountain range. You then take a delightful and at times precipitous path down to the charming Andean village of Yanama. Here you say goodbye to your arrieros and climb aboard the waiting vehicle for the spectacular drive on a brand new road over the Totora pass and down to the small hamlet of Lucmabamba.
Trek: - Lucmabamba to Llactapata to Machu Picchu Pueblo
Accommodation: Hotel at Machu Picchu Pueblo
Activities: Trekking and Transfer
Lucmabamba to Llactapata to Machu Picchu Pueblo: Your final day of hiking: you take a spectacular royal Inca trail up through lush coffee and tropical fruit plantations, into pristine cloud forest. As the path crests the ridge, old Inca walls appear out of the forest and you step into the recently cleared ruins of Llactapata. Hiram Bingham got here too, but the map he drew was so bad, neither he nor anyone else could find the ruins again for 80 years. In the mid-1990’s an Anglo-American team found them once more, totally covered over by thick jungle vines.
Step a few metres further and you will see just why the Incas built here. The view across to Machu Picchu is magnificent. And few tourists have ever seen it from this side. After some time to sit, contemplate the view and watch the Andean Swifts playing overhead, you descend steeply to the Urubamba valley and the hydroelectric plant train station.
From here you have the option to either wait for the short but spectacular train ride or hike two to three hours along the rail-track to the bustling town of Machu Picchu Pueblo and your hotel for the night.
Explore Machu Picchu and return to Cusco
Accommodation: 4* Hotel in Cusco
Activities: Sightseeing (Machu Picchu) and train
Machu Picchu tour and return to Cusco:
This morning you explore the pinnacle of Inca engineering – Machu Picchu.
For years it was lost to the jungle. Rediscovered in 1911 by the Yale professor Hiram Bingham, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983 and one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in 2007, Machu Picchu exceeds all expectations.
This astounding site lies in an even more astonishing location. Perched high on an inaccessible hilltop it is protected by huge cliffs and the raging Urubamba river. Things are slightly easier now than in the time of the Incas and so you start your day with a twenty-minute bus ride up to the site.
Please discuss with your guide exactly what time you wish to visit. The guided tour takes around two hours leaving you a few hours free to wander amongst the old Inca walls and just sit and take in the scale of the place on your own. For those who want to walk a bit more, you could take the hour-long trail up to the Sun Gate, or a shorter trail to visit the Inca Bridge which once spanned a sheer cliff face.
Eventually, the time comes to catch the bus down to Machu Picchu Pueblo and board your train back along the Urubamba River. The scenery is beautiful and the train jolts softly along, allowing you to sit, stare out the window and reflect on a wonderful week.
Activities: Transfer to airport
Free day in Cusco then onward travel: Back once more in the old Inca capital you have time to enjoy all that this city has to offer. Coffee museums, cooking classes, chocolate making, souvenir hunting or even just sitting in one of the many cafes and watching the world go by. The new late flights out of Cusco allow you to really maximise your time and get the most out of this holiday of a lifetime.
If the dates and prices fail to load above, please go to My Grand Adventure, where you will be able to see all available departures.
Want to join one of our open-group adventures, but don’t see any suitable dates that work for you? For most of our trips, you can request new dates and we will set up a new open adventure.
We stay in a 4* hotel in the San Blas neighbourhood of Cusco, a couple of blocks from the central plaza.
For our time in the Sacred Valley we stay at a luxury lodge.
In both Ollantaytambo and Machu Picchu Pueblo we stay in well appointed, and highly rated 3-star hotels.
All groups travel with a local cook team, it is amazing the quality and variety of food they are able to produce in the mountains! They ensure all food on the trek is freshly prepared using local ingredients and that there is plenty for everyone.
A typical menu on this trip would be:
Breakfast: Porridge or cereal, bread with cheese, jam, margarine, tea, coffee, hot chocolate and hot milk.
Lunch: A picnic lunch will be provided for you to carry with you.
Dinner: A hot meal is served every night consisting of soup, traditional or ‘European’ main course and dessert.
Groups will have a mess tent to eat in and be provided with all cutlery and warm water for washing.
In Cusco you will find wide choice if international restaurants providing an excellent rage of food. Coca tea, a local brew thought to combat the effects of altitude, is widely available and well worth trying.
GROUP & LEADER
A qualified, English-speaking, Peruvian leader will accompany your group. He / she will ensure your safety and provide an insight into the culture of the area. On this trip you will be joined by walkers who have booked with other agencies.
On this expedition we will be experiencing all extremes of Peruvian climate, from freezing Altiplano to extremely hot sunshine. During the day hopefully it will be generally sunny enough for shorts and T-shirts, though having a fleece and rain gear handy is advisable. It will get cold higher up, especially in the evenings (as low as -5°C whilst camping) so bring a warm fleece jacket, a good waterproof and some warm clothes including thermal underwear, gloves, scarf and woolly hat as well as one set of smarter clothes for Cusco.
April to October is the driest season and best for trekking. November and December are likely to be wetter but are usually warmer.
WHAT YOU'LL CARRY
This trek is fully supported by a team of mules who will transport your main baggage. You will only need to carry a light daypack. A 35l rucksack is a useful size to comfortably fit in essential items such as water bottle, camera, wet-weather gear and extra layers etc.
Tipping is an accepted part of life in Peru. We generally tip our local trek staff as a group, with the local leader organising the split between cooks, porters and other support staff.
Detailed tipping guidelines will be sent to you before departure, but we would recommend allowing for around £50 per person. Tipping at meals and in hotels is also normal practice.
LANGUAGE & TIMEZONE
Language: Spanish and Quecha are the official languages but your guide and many hoteliers and restaurant owners will also speak English.
To brush up on your Spanish before departing why not try the free duolingo app at: https://www.duolingo.com/.
Local Time: GMT-5 hours.
ALTITUDE & FITNESS
Altitude: High Altitude Sections.
Flying in to Cusco at 3,400m you are likely to feel mild affects of altitude on your first day or two: dull headache, loss of appetite, shortness of breath (especially when climbing stairs!). However these will most likely ease after a day or so as you acclimatise, it is rare for more serious symptoms to occur at this altitude and most customers have no issues acclimatising.
Much of your trek is above 3,000m. This will add to the physical demands of the trek and therefore being in good shape will be extremely beneficial to your enjoyment and chances of success. You will have had several days to acclimatise to these altitudes and your tour leader will ensure a slow ascent, both of which will reduce the likelihood of developing AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness), so although most trekkers may find this physically challenging and some may develop mild AMS symptoms the vast majority of prepared participants are able to complete the route.
Fitness Requirement: Challenging trekking.
The Choquequirao Trek involves trekking over several high passes and involves some long days and very steep descents on old Inca steps – it is recommended that all customers should have some previous trekking experience and should be in reasonable fitness. There are also some exposed sections of trail that trekkers with severe vertigo will not enjoy.
Reasonable fitness would amount to being comfortable hiking consecutive long days (7-8 hours) in the UK hills, or equivalent, with a light pack. E.g. A weekend walking in the Lake District, taking in some high points and peaks with minimal discomfort.
Country specific information and advice is published by Fit For Travel, and useful information about healthcare abroad, including a country-by-country guide of reciprocal health care agreements with the UK, is available from NHS Choices.
The risks to health whilst travelling will vary between individuals and many issues need to be taken into account, e.g. activities abroad, length of stay and general health of the traveller. It is recommended that you consult with your General Practitioner or Practice Nurse 6-8 weeks in advance of travel. They will assess your particular health risks before recommending vaccines and /or antimalarial tablets. This is also a good opportunity to discuss important travel health issues including safe food and water, accidents, sun exposure and insect bites. Many of the problems experienced by travellers cannot be prevented by vaccinations and other preventive measures need to be taken.
We recommend taking your trip itinerary with you to this appointment and highlighting remoteness of trek and level and type of activity, as this may affect the recommendations. e.g. Rabies risk is higher in remote areas where access to appropriate treatment may be delayed, so it is strongly recommended to discuss rabies vaccination with your medical practitioner for all of our trips.
Malaria – The areas this itinerary visits are generally ‘low risk’, as they are above 2,000m. Antimalarial tablets are not usually recommended for ‘low risk’ areas, however, they can be considered for certain travellers who may be at higher risk. It is important to always consult a medical practitioner for recommendations on anti-malarial precautions.
ZIKA – There have been cases of ZIKA virus reported in Peru. ZIKA is most commonly spread by mosquitoes, so strict mosquito bite avoidance measures are recommended ( more information provided in your pre-departure information).
- Pregnant women are advised to postpone non-essential travel to countries or areas with High risk of ZIKV transmission.
- Pregnant women are advised to consider postponing non-essential travel to countries or areas with Moderate risk of ZIKV transmission.
British nationals don’t need a visa to travel if the purpose of the visit is tourism.
On arrival, you’re normally given permission to stay for up to 183 days.
Double check the period of time you’ve been granted. If you overstay, you’ll need to pay a fine. In the worst case scenario you could be held in detention.
Your passport should be valid for the duration of your stay in Peru.
For more information please see https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/peru/entry-requirements.
Customers of different nationalities need to check with their own embassy.
The currency in Peru is the Nuevo Sol (PEN). ATMs and change bureaux are available in the arrivals hall at the airport and in Cusco. You may like to bring USD cash with you, ensuring you have some small denomination notes, as these can also be used directly. However you will get change in Sols.
You must make sure any USD are in good condition, as notes with minor tears or in poor condition will not be accepted by money exchanges.
FLIGHTS & ARRIVAL
The starting point of this itinerary is Cusco Airport.
International flights will usually fly in to Lima, the capital of Peru. From there a connecting flight to Cusco can be made.
If you book a LAND ONLY package you will need to get to Cusco Airport, where you will be met and transferred to your hotel.
If you book a FLIGHT INCLUSIVE package we will book your flights for you. We will contact you to confirm the best departure airport, timings and final price of your flight. Please note flight prices are dependent on availability and any price listed on our website is an estimate of the flight cost from London. You will be advised of the final flight cost before committing to pay for it. Most flights are non-refundable and need to be paid for upfront before they can be booked (due to the flight terms of the airlines).
Please do not make any non-refundable travel arrangements or flight bookings until your booking has been confirmed (by email from us) and your trip is guaranteed to run. Note: the automated booking response does not constitute these confirmations.
IT FOR ME?
In order to fully enjoy your trip it is very important that you choose the right trip for you and fully understand what it involves.
There are risks inherent in travelling in Peru, as indeed there are in most of the trips that we provide. Many of the activities we offer also involve a significant level of effort on your part. After all, it is called Adventure Travel for a reason.
It is really important that you read both the trip notes and FAQ information on our website, to enable you to choose the best trip for you. Once you have read them both, please make sure you ask if there is anything you do not understand. We classify this trip as:
- Trek ‘Moderate’… This trek is mostly aimed at experienced trekkers – But if you are ‘fit’ (What does that mean? In this case – that you do regular exercise – walk/cycle/jog/squash/ etc) and have an ‘adventurous’ disposition, then you might consider this too! As an experienced trekker you will know that this type of trip will involve some sweating and breathing hard! It will involve steep up and down. There may be sections of rough trail that falling off is not an option! The days are likely to be long, remote and even arduous at times. Make sure you are comfortable with this description (and the remainder of the trip notes), if at all unsure, then drop us an email asking for more clarification. We want you to book the perfect trip for you!