Travel Tips for Choquequirao Hike

The Choquequirao Trek is a remote hike that takes you to the crown jewel of Incan Architecture. Known as the sister of Machu Picchu, this massive Inca site is three times bigger than its twin, Machu Picchu. Much of it is still covered by the dense jungle, with a lot left to be excavated and explored. When you join the few that have tackled this challenging and isolated trek, you become part of the history of the rediscovery of these ruins. Challenge yourself and explore, as the true story behind this mysterious site is uncovered every single day.

The Choquequirao Trail is not just about the ruins at the end. The true highlight of this trek is the journey, which is simply magical. Find the trailhead in an isolated village, far from any city or town. You immediately follow a narrow path that hugs the mountain sides. The landscape is absolutely stunning and guarantees to take your breath away. Enveloping you along the way is an other worldly contrast of vibrant green mountains, with snow capped mountain tops peaking through soft rings of clouds that caress the summits. This trek gets very little foot traffic because of its remoteness and difficulty. Therefore, the unique flora and fauna found here flourishes in its undisturbed natural environment. The Apumarac River winds its way through the rolling hills, gushing waters downstream. Expect rugged mountains, lush vegetation and crashing waterfalls to accompany you along this beguiling trail off the beaten trek.

Choquequirao with Orange Nation

When trekking with Orange Nation, you get to camp under star studded skies in isolated villages. If the season permits, you can pick your own vegetables like corn for dinner. Embrace the outdoors in comfort and style, sleeping in spacious Eureka tents and indulging in elaborate, delicious and abundant meals. This trail has undulating terrain and requires you to be fit and for you to sufficiently acclimatize to the altitude. The consistent up and downs are demanding on the body, especially the knees. However, all the challenges you are dealt with, are significantly outweighed by the rewards that you are privy to. Finally, on day 3, you get to camp close to the archeological site, giving you sufficient time to extensively explore the ruins. Choquequirao is an image of perfectly structured stone, surrounded by eye catching wild vegetation that’s full of color.

Choquequirao ruins in detail

A fortress, a ceremonial center, a city or the last residence of the Inca, whatever you choose to call it, its definitely worth a visit. Choquequirao translates to “Cradle of gold”. The current accepted theory behind the name is that there were possibly gold mines during Inca times, that they exploited. Unfortunately, around the 1900´s the ruins were thoroughly looted. Because of the large section of this site that still needs to restored and excavated from the dense jungle, its anyone´s guess what treasures still lay await to be discovered. During the Spanish conquest, scholars believe that when the Incas started retreating towards the jungle, they used this Inca site as their last refuge.

Like all Inca cities, it includes a main plaza, royal quarters , a temple for the sun, large buildings called kallankas, storage buildings called collcas, platforms called usnu, barracks for soldiers, a prison, walled-off houses separate from the rest of the site for priests, an administrative center and lots and lots of terraces for agriculture and hillside stabilization.

It is divided into the upper half (hanan) and the lower half (hurin). This is only one of the innumerable examples of the Inca concept of duality. In this case, the hanan (upper part) was more important because that’s where the Inca’s residence was. The residence is easily distinguished by the higher quality of stone work and the channeled water that leads straight to a shower and bath.

The most famous part of the ruins are terraces with white quartz llamas built into the terraced walls. We know that they’re llamas and not alpacas because they’re too skinny to be alpaca and the elevation of the site is too low for alpaca to be happy there. The elevation of Choquequirao is llama territory.

All that’s left to be uncovered

Archeologists theorize that the entire hillside to the right of what has been restored is covered with terraces, houses and other Inca constructions. It will take an extraordinary amount of time and money to fund restoration of all of Choquequirao.

A work in progress

On your way from Marampata to the ruins, you pass the residences of the Ministry of Culture workers who are still busy clearing jungle and maintaining what has been uncovered. They’re interesting people and if you can catch one taking a bit of a break, take the opportunity to ask them about the ruins and their experiences working there. (Sometimes they have cute puppies to play with).

Elevation on the trail:

  • Trailhead at Capuliyoc: 3033 meters / 9,951 feet above sea level
  • Apurimac River at the bridge: 1000 meters / 3,281 feet above sea level
  • Matampata: 2918 meters / 9,574 feet above sea level
  • Choquequirao ruins: 3,104 meters / 10,184 feet above sea level

How to get to Choquequirao

After arriving from Cusco, the only way to reach the trailhead to these ruins is by bus charter or private vehicle. Trekking is the only way to get to Choquequirao, and it’s no simple task. It is recommended that you hire a guide and a few pack mules to carry extra supplies. It takes approximately 2 days of full hiking to get to the archeological site, and 4 days total to complete the trip. The campsites, like the route itself, are well-maintained and equipped with facilities not found on most other Andean trails. The campsites all have running water, showers and toilet blocks, and even small shops selling snacks and drinks.

Best Time to Go

The best time to do the Choquequirao hike is between May and September. This is the dry season in the Andes, and also when the weather is the most predictable. During the rainy season between October and April often the trail is closed because of unsafe trail conditions and torrential weather.

How many days should I hike?

Basically, its 2 days to the ruins and 2 days return on the same route. You have the option of hiking over 4 or 5 days. You will descend and then ascend well over 4,300 meters / 14,100 feet. There is no flat terrain on the route, its constant ascents and descents to the ruins and back.

Breakfast is at Capuliyoc and lunch at Chiquiska, both on the side of the river that’s part of the Apurimac region. Once you cross the bridge over the Apurimac River, you enter the Cusco region. This is significant because the Cusco region has a big budget for supporting tourism, while Apurimac does not. The families in the Cusco region have received solar panels, cooking ranges big enough to cook for large groups and even monthly checks or supplies during the worst of the pandemic. The families in Chiquiska didn’t get anything during 2022.

The first day a is hike from Capuliyoc all the way down to the river,and then a hike up to Santa Rosa.

The second day is all uphill to the village of Marampata.

You spend the entire Day 3 exploring Choquequirao. Its important to note that a rest day doesn’t really exist on this trail. From Marampata to Choquequirao is a steep descent, which becomes a steep ascent on the way back.

The fourth day you walk back down to the Apurimac River before crossing the bridge and hiking up towards Chiquiska.

The fifth day is all uphill but not too far. From Chiquiska you walk to Capuliyoc. The view from Capuliyoc is breathtaking.

Packing List for the Chiquequirao Trek


  • Original Passport – (it has to be the same you have used for booking your trek)
  • Good daypack (30 – 40 L)
  • Personal Water:  2-3L reusable bottles (not disposable)
  • Comfortable hiking boots with ankle support
  • Sleeping bag (can be rented from Orange Nation)
  • Headlamp: essential
  • Toilet paper


As a  Direct Local Tour operator, we provide you with a duffel bag at your briefing and  INCLUDE an extra pack horse which will carry up to 7 kgs or 14 lbs including your 2.5kg sleeping bag, mattress and extra clothing.

  • 2 t-shirts
  • 2 hiking pants at least
  • 4 sets of undergarments
  • 3 sets of hiking socks
  • Bathing suit for the thermal waters
  • Fleece / Thermals
  • Warm clothes
  • Waterproof gloves
  • Comfortable shoes for camp
  • Quickdry towel. We provide small ones, you might prefer something larger
  • Small bottle of soap: we provide warm water each day to wash
  • Battery charger – No electricity along the trek
  • Large plastic bags will be provided at the office — Please ask for them
  • Sleeping bag: It has to be at least -15ºC – This can be rented from us


  • Face moisturizer
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Wet wipes
  • Toothbrush and paste
  • Personal medications
  • First aid kit: band aids, moleskin, etc


We highly recommend a small backpack 30 to 40L. The remainder of your belongings will be in your duffel bag waiting at camp.

  • Water: Please supply your own water until the first lunch spot, then we will provide you with cold boiled water  at every meal time. Please bring your canteens
  • Sun hat
  • Sunscreen
  • Insect repellent
  • Headlamp: essential
  • Wool hat
  • Rain gear
  • Fleece
  • Snacks like chocolate bars, cereal bars or any dry fruits
  • Rain poncho
  • Gloves
  • Camera
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Toilet paper and small plastic bag for waste
  • Extra money for souvenirs, drinks & tips

Choquequirao Hike information has been updated on April 2023.

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Christian B

10/10 Amazing experience

If you’re thinking about which agency to use, look no further- Ray and Jimmy went well above and beyond and made this a memorable, safe, fun, and professional experience.

Ray is the most knowledgeable guide I’ve ever had in any country for any excursion - during both the Short Inka Trail and the actual tour of Machu Picchu, Ray’s expertise shined through in his ability to give us a detailed background on every aspect of the history, climate, nature, flora, animals.. anything!

Likewise, Ray and Jimmy were truly the friendliest, kindest hosts that I could have imagined our group having.

Thank you both so much and I will definitely book with you again if (when) I come back!

Jan 2023 • Friends
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Matt A

Awesome experience!!

Did the 2 day Inca trail with Ray and Jimmy they were great and knowledgeable. Ray not only guided us along trail to Machu Picchu but also was an excellent photographer and taught us the history. It was a group of 10 and we had a great time. Even everything going on in Peru, we always felt in good hands.

Jan 2023 • Friends

Short Inca Trial (2-Day)

This tour was the perfect experience for our (group of 10) short trip to Peru. The trail was sometimes challenging, but the views and history made it all worth it. Ray and Jimmy were our guides and imparted sooo much knowledge about the history of Peru, Inca, and beyond. I would definitely recommend!

Jan 2023 • Friends
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Daniela Rabito

It was perfect! On the first day we had a great time exploring the Sacred Valley and see the main attractions and learn about the history of this beautiful place.

I would definitely recommend the short Inka trail, I think it was the best way to get to know Machu Picchu and the surrounding area. We arrived at Machu Picchu when most of the crowd was gone and it felt really special.

Abril 2023
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Brittany Skulkety

You won’t regret booking with this tour company, especially if Liz Montesinos is your guide. My boyfriend and I did the 4 day Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu and Rainbow Mountain (private) tour. The tour covered everything; from transportation, hotels, meals, tickets and entrance fees, to stops at local places we would’ve never known to go or check out. We did a private tour because for us we felt this would help us get the most out of our time and experience in Peru

Dic 2022
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Best mix of adventure, history and nature: Sacred Valley & Short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

4-day trekking option seemed too intense for us, but we still wanted to experience the entrance to Machu Picchu through the ancient Inka trail, so we opted for Orange Nation’s combination of Sacred Valley & Short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. I couldn’t be more happy about our decision.

Dic 2022
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We booked and paid the deposit to Orange Nation / Sam travel for the 4 day Inca Trail and Machu Pichu trip back in 2019. But we couldn't travel in 2020 and 2021 - but the company honoured our agreement and so we came back in 2022.

Dic 2022
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Brittany Nicole
icono recomment - Orange Nation recommends Orange Nation Peru

You won’t regret booking with this tour company, especially if Liz Montesinos is your guide. My boyfriend and I did the 4 day Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu and Rainbow Mountain (private) tour. The tour covered everything; from transportation, hotels, meals, tickets and entrance fees, to stops at local places we would’ve never known to go or check out. We did a private tour because for us we felt this would help us get the most out of our time and experience in Peru. This tour had so many incredible things and places packed into 4 days.

September 16, 2022
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Ray Besos
icono recomment - Orange Nation recommends Orange Nation Peru

My girl and i did the Machu Pichu trek tour with Orange Nation. It was seriously the most amazing experience that we'll never forget. Gorgeous views! The long trek was worth the amazing view. The tour guide was friendly and very knowledgeable. We considered other tours but chose Orange Nation because we liked the idea of smaller groups and this was definitely worth it. I will be using Orange Nation again next year when I come back to Peru!

November 29, 2018
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Juliet Julz
icono recomment - Orange Nation recommends Orange Nation Peru

Wow, what a wonderful trekking experience! My trip to Peru was amazing thanks to this awesome tour that i took with Orange Nation. I did multiple tours with this company. I'm a solo traveler and everyone in my group was always still friendly and did not make me feel left out. I loved going off the beaten track with this company. It's much better to pay extra to go off the path for the quality experience of this amazing guided tour They definitely helped guide us and gave us a quality experience with a small group and paid special attention to each one of us. I highly recommend using Orange Nation for your next tour in Peru!

November 29, 2018


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Has one of the most outstanding meal services. Our chefs have been highly trained to prepare the best peruavian and International food our treks. You should be prepared to not only have a superb trekking experience, but also a culinary one. "The food has been the highlight for all our hikers"

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