choquequirao inca trekking peru

Inca stonework at Choquequirao

The Incas experimented with all kinds of agricultural terracing and it is still a spectacular sight today.

Photo by Rodrigo Torres / Superstock

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Choquequirao to Machu Picchu

Trek to the Incas’ “Cradle of Gold”
Repertory Trip: No Future Dates Set

Choquequirao to Machu Picchu route-map

Trip Details at-a-Glance

Cost From: TBA  
Length: 17 days
Arrive: Lima, Peru
Depart: Lima, Peru
Lodging: 4 nights hotels, 12 nights full-service camping
Meals: All meals included except 2 lunches and 1 dinner
Activity: Hiking / Trekking, Archaeology, Cultural Adventures
Trip Level: 13-day trek on moderate to steep trails, 6-8 hours a day, altitudes between 10,000-15,000 feet
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Highlights

  • Trek a little-traveled Inca trail across the wild and rugged Vilcabamba range
  • Discover Choquequirao, a mysterious lost city accessible only on foot
  • Explore Machu Picchu and overnight at the Sanctuary Lodge, right at the ruins


Every day brought a challenging hike and even more beautiful vistas or elaborate ruins. I have never seen such majestic mountains, met friendlier people, been more dirty, and had more fun!A. Deimel—Chalfont, PA

Choosing the Right Trip

We work hard to help you choose the right trip for you, paying attention to your individual interests, abilities, and needs. If you have questions about the level of comfort or any of the activities described in this itinerary, please contact us.

References

We are proud to have an exceptionally high rate of repeat travelers. For more information, we would be happy to put you in touch with a client who has traveled with us.

Departure Notes

Once you have signed up on the trip, we send a complete packing list, relevant health information, and required travel documents.

Repertory Trip

This is one of our special Repertory Trips offered every two to five years.  Future dates have not been set for this trip, but you can see the “Itinerary at a Glance” and the “Full Detailed Itinerary” below (there may be small changes to the itinerary for the future departures, and prices will be finalized closer to departure). Contact us to receive early notification of the trip dates. These special trips fill very quickly once the exact dates are set!

Perched on a precipitous ridge 5,000 feet above the roaring Rio Apurimac and ringed by the snow-capped Vilcabamba Mountains, the Choquequirao citadel is a true “lost city of the Incas.” With its absolutely dazzling location, Choquequirao is often compared to Machu Picchu, yet this hidden ancient city has no road access, few visitors, and a haunting ambiance unmatched at other Inca sites. Our spectacular and challenging trek brings us to the breathtaking ruins of Choquequirao, with its mysterious plazas and shrines, and onward across the entire Vilcabamba range through deep-cut canyons and over high passes. Our final campsite offers stunning views of Machu Picchu, and our grand finale is an overnight at the Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge, right at the celebrated ruins.

Itinerary at a Glance

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

Days 1-2
Cusco

With two overnights in the Incas’ storied capital, we explore majestic sites including the great fortress of Saqsayhuaman, the largest and one of the most impressive Inca sites in existence.

Days 3-6
Choquequirao

We trek to the extraordinary complex of Choquequirao, whose name in Quechua means “Cradle of Gold,” set high above the glacier-fed Apurimac. Camping just below the ruins, we explore and scramble around this massive site, with its imposing ceremonial staircase and megalithic terracing. Three times larger than Machu Picchu, Choquequirao still holds many secrets, and archaeologists are just beginning to discover its significance in the Inca realm.

Days 7-14
Ancient Trail toward Machu Picchu

Last refuge of the rebel Incas, the Cordillera Vilcabamba is a striking combination of plunging canyons backed by an immense sweep of 20,000-foot peaks cloaked in perpetual snow. We trek for nine fantastic days toward Machu Picchu, hiking at altitudes between 10,000 and 15,000 feet. En route we see Qoriwayrachina, an archaeological site discovered by WT Trip Leader Peter Frost and his team on an expedition sponsored by the National Geographic Society. As we follow an original Inca route, we contour steep ridges and cross high passes amid some of the most incredible scenery in the Andes. A hike up an ancient Inca trail brings us to our final campsite, a spectacular one with views of legendary Machu Picchu across the valley.

Days 15-17
Machu Picchu / Cusco

We arrive at the stronghold of Machu Picchu, a lost city suspended in time and perched in an impossibly gorgeous setting. In the company of a specialist guide, we explore Machu Picchu’s many beautiful altars, terraces, fountains, and mysterious chambers, with their displays of intricate stonework. Our overnight at the Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge, next to the ruins, gives us a chance to see sunrise on this mystical site. Return to Cusco on Day 16 and depart via Lima on Day 17.

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

Optional Extensions

If you would like to continue your adventure, we offer the following extensions:

What the Trip is Like

This trek is rated Level 6, Very Strenuous. Most hiking is between 10,000 and 14,500 feet. For the most part, you can hike at your own speed. The group will spread out along the trail during our 6-8 hours of hiking. Trail conditions can be primitive, and there is much up-and-down hiking (often 2,000- to 3,000-foot gain or loss in elevation per day). We are in the high Andes, and mountain weather is always fickle, so there will be days when it may be cold. The days can also be brilliantly sunny but nights are always cold at these altitudes. We recommend that you make a special effort to get in top physical condition for the trip.

Explanation of Trip Levels

Casa Andina Private Collection—Cusco

Casa Andina Private Collection—Cusco

Days 1 to 2 (2 nights),
Day 16 (1 night), Cusco, Peru

Just three blocks from the Plaza de Armas in the heart of old Cusco, this charming hotel is a renovated colonial manor house. It features a series ...
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Choquequirao Trek Camps

Choquequirao Trek Camps

Days 3 to 14 (12 nights), Choquequirao, Peru

We make hiking and camping in the Andes as comfortable as it can get! On the trail, you are accompanied by our experienced team of trail guides, and ...
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Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge

Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge

Day 15 (1 night), Machu Picchu Ruins, Peru

You can’t get closer to the Machu Picchu ruins than this! With only 31 rooms, this property is famously set right at the gate of Machu Picchu. ...
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Ramada Costa Del Sol Lima Airport

Ramada Costa Del Sol Lima Airport (Day Room) (Day Room)

Day 17, Lima, Peru

Very conveniently located right across the Lima international airport, this hotel is just a two- minute walk across the street from the terminal, ...
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Extension Accommodations

If you would like to view the accommodations offered with our extensions options:

Note: Listed above are our signature accommodations for this trip. Although it is highly unlikely, we may make substitutions when necessary.

Optional Extensions

If you would like to continue your adventure, we offer the following extensions:

Peru

Amazon Rainforest Extension: Reserva Amazonica

Exploring Waterways and Nature Trails

Cultural Adventures, Wildlife & Natural History
3 days  -  Level 1

Arequipa and Colca Canyon Extension

Colonial Splendor and Natural Wonders

Cultural Adventures, Wildlife & Natural History
4 days  -  Level 2

Lake Titicaca Extension

Mystical Birthplace of the Incas

Archaeology, Cultural Adventures
3 days  -  Level 2

Frieze at the Temple of the Moon, near Trujillo

Sipan and Chan Chan Extension

Ancient Wonders of Northern Peru

Archaeology, Cultural Adventures
4 days  -  Level 1