Take on the Choquequirao trek,  an awe-inspiring hike to one of Peru’s hidden Inca gems.

Few walkers take this Choquequirao tour to a dazzling Inca city, the ‘new’ and hidden Machu Picchu.

Live the explorer’s dream by hiking through deserted tracks to this Inca site that was covered by dense forest for many years.

Only now are Choquequirao’s treasures being revealed to trekkers keen to explore not only the ruins but also the spirituality of this special site.

More on Choquequirao trek

The dramatically situated ruins, according to the historians, were the refuge for the last Inca rebels of Vilcabamba.

To reach them, we pass through a range of vegetation types and temperatures, with a variety of views to match.

Because the only way to get to the ruins is by foot, if we are lucky, we will be the only people visiting Choquequirao’s ruins, which are still being uncovered.

We offer this 5-day tour plus a longer trek which takes you through Choquequirao and all the way to Machu Picchu – incredible!

 

 

More on Choquequirao tour

Choquequirao, a Quechua name meaning “Cradle of Gold”, formed part of the complex system of Andean towns in the Vilcabamba Valley.

In the time of the Incas, it was united and in communication with Machu Picchu by a complex network of trails.

The ruins are dramatically situated on the spur of the mountain range of Salkantay at 3,035m/9,957ft. It is surrounded by the snow capped peaks of Yanama, Ampay, Choquetacarpo, Pumasillo and Panta.

This is an archaeological site not to miss, especially if you want to see amazing Inca ruins while staying away from the group tours at Machu Picchu.



Trip Highlights

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  • Incredible hike on deserted tracks to ruins almost no one has visited.

  • Release your inner explorer and feel the spirituality of remote Choquequirao, far from the crowds at Machu Picchu.

  • Fully supported hike with expert guides who will deepen your understanding of the importance of Choquequirao.

  • Wonderful Andean views of ice-clad mountains and green valleys.

Choquequirao was fabulous, remote , a real sense of achievement having trekked in, the guide was really informative and there was a spiritual feel to it.

P. Conlen, Choquequirao trek

Full Itinerary

Day 1: Drive Cusco to Cachora, visit Sayhuite and Tarahuasi en route, camp (L,D)

We pick you up from your hotel early and depart Cusco.  Our private vehicle will take you to the town of Cachora. En route, we visit the archaeological sites of Sayhuite and Tarahuasi.

Sayhuite features a large and intricately sculpted boulder with more than 200 figures carved into it, from jaguars to lizards to plants. Tarahuasi displays fine Inca stonework within the construction of its walls.

We overnight at San Pedro de Cachora (2,875m/9,432ft), population 3,500, which has great views of Mount Padrilloq (6,000m/19,685ft), and prepare for our trek.

Day 2: Trek Cachora to Playa Santa Rosa, camp (B,L,D)

We pack up and load up our donkeys and set off today. Today’s route will be a descent of one side of the Apurimac Canyon, crossing the Apurimac river, and then climbing part of the opposite side which leads to Choquequirao.

After setting off through agricultural land, some 2-3 hours later we reach Capilliyoc (10km) from where you can just about make out Choquequirao in the distance.

The continuing descent takes us through the impressive Apurimac Canyon until we reach the Apurimac River, on whose higher reaches we run a fabulous 3-day white water rafting trip. Cover up here as the flies can leave sore bites.

A bridge takes us across the river, where our ascent to the Santa Rosa begins. It is a steep, zig-zagging switch back pass and it can get warm in the canyon.

After a couple of hours of ascent, we reach Santa Rosa and set up camp.

Day 3: Trek Santa Rosa to Choquequirao (B,L,D)

In the morning we ascend for another couple of hours to Maraupata (now 25km from Cachora), which marks the end of our ascent. We start to get our first glimpses of the Choquequirao ruins as we walk for about 90mins-2 hours along relatively flat ground through orchids, bromeliads and lichens.

We set up camp at a site about 20 minutes walk away from the ruins, which are nestled above us, ready to explore them the next day.

Day 4: Tour of Choquequirao, trek back to Playa Santa Rosa (B,L,D)

Today we tour this marvellous archaeological compound, with its spectacular terraces, plazas, and ceremonial squares. There are great views over the Apurimac gorge and in the distance you can see the snow-capped peaks of Ampay, Panta and Quishuar.

Condors can be seen in this area, and occasionally the spectacled bear has been seen by those working on clearing the ruins.

After lunch we head back to our second campsite at Santa Rosa.

Day 5: Trek Santa Rosa to Cachora, drive back Cusco, ends (B,L)

We head back to Cachora, and board our bus and head back to Cusco, where we arrive in the evening and transfer you to your hotel.


Prices From $587 / £498 per person

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What's Included?

Transfer from hotel in bus to Cachora, tents, foam mat, dining tent with tables and chairs, kitchen tent, toilet tent, English-speaking professional guide, cook and cooking equipment, horsemen and horses (to carry tents, food, cooking equipment), accommodation for guides, cook and horsemen, meals as listed plus snacks, first-aid kit including emergency oxygen bottle, entry fee to Choquequirao ruins.

What's Not Included?

Breakfast on the first day, dinner on the last day, tips, sleeping bag, items of a personal nature, Sayhuite and Tarahuasi entrance fees (20 soles), flights


Accommodation

Camping with dining tent and toilet tent.

Tour Staff

All guides are certified, bilingual, English-speaking guides who have worked with us for many years.

Cooks, mule drivers and additional staff are all from the local, nearby communities and we have worked with them for a long time.


Meals

Vegetarians and many other dietary requirements are catered for without problems. Please let us know in advance of any requirements you have.

You wake early, usually around 07.00. Breakfast is served in a dining tent, and consists of hot drinks, porridge, toast, jams and bread, and your guide will explain the day’s trekking plans.

Lunch is usually around 13.00 and can feature soups, meats, salads and fish, with vegetarian options and hot drinks too.

The campsites are comfortable and around 17.00 hot drinks, popcorn and other snacks are served to help you recover energy.

Dinner is served around 19.30, and will feature pasta, mashed potatoes, meat, fish or vegetarian options, followed by hot drinks and a pudding.

Activity Level

We have classified this as a moderate trek, and you need to be in good physical shape for it.

You hike 4-8 hours a day on consecutive days, over rugged mountain trails at elevation.

Although the altitude is not as high as on some other treks, the walk down into the valley and then back up the other side is long and can be hot in the sun.

Pre-trip preparation should include challenging cardiovascular exercise (including regular hikes on varied terrain) and a healthy, balanced diet.

Well-worn hiking boots and additional acclimatisation nights in Cusco (3-4) before the trek are both highly recommended.

All guests are encouraged to hike at their own pace, taking breaks whenever needed, to ensure a successful and enjoyable trek for all.

Most people go to bed fairly early after a long day trekking, to recover energy for the morning.

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Practical Information

Introduction to Peru

Peru is the perfect holiday destination for adventure travellers that want an amazing variety of activity, geography and cultural travel experiences.

The breadth of travel experiences in Peru is breathtaking – from trekking in the Andes to Machu Picchu to the tropical jungle of the Amazon, and plenty in between.

The people of Peru make it a special destination too, with its colourful and traditional street life and friendly locals.

Kit list

Good kit is vital for every trip.

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Overview

When planning for the varied climatic conditions encountered, layering is the most practical and versatile clothing system.  It’s worth remembering that our clothing keeps us warm by retaining and isolating the heat we ourselves create.

To best maintain body heat, several layers of lightweight, warm and quick-drying clothing are far more efficient than one or two thick layers. Layers should have the following qualities:

 

  1. Breathability (able to wick away the humidity produced by sweat):
  2. Isolation (able to keep in the warm air our body produces); and
  3. Impermeability (able to impede the passing of wind and water).

 

First (base) layer: This layer wicks the sweat away from our skin, thus helping keep the body dry and warm. To this end, synthetic fabrics such as polypropylene should be used.

Mid layers: These isolating layers should also be synthetic (e.g. the known polar linings such as polartec or windblock, which are light and insulate twice as well as wool). Very important layers for retaining body heat.

Outer layer / shell: Finally, the vital layer which protects us from climatic adversities. A breathable, wind-proof and waterproof anorak, such as Goretex.

Give plenty of thought to kit selection, and try to keep weight down.

We also carry an extensive first aid kit & oxygen on all trips, but these are generally for emergencies only.

Below is a more detailed kit list.

 

Detailed kit list

  • 2 pairs synthetic inner socks (e.g. polypropylene, thermastat, coolmax) and 2 pairs thick loop-stitch/wool socks for cold.
  • Trekking boots – should be well broken-in, waterproof and provide good ankle support.
  • Trainers/sandals for city-wear, evenings at lower camps & river crossings.
  • Base layer leggings (1 pair).
  • Thick fleece leggings (or salopettes) (1 pair).
  • Goretex-type over-trousers (or salopettes) (1 pair).
  • Trekking trousers (2 pairs).
  • Shorts – wear sparingly in early stages at altitude, as sun burns.
  • Thermal base layer shirts (2).
  • Microfleece mid-layer shirt (1).
  • Shirt/t-shirt 1 or 2 for lower altitudes. Long-sleeved, collared shirt protects against sun
  • Fleece jacket or similar (1).
  • Warm jacket (down or synthetic). For camp and upper slopes.
  • Waterproof Goretex-type jacket.
  • Broad-brimmed sunhat, essential.
  • Warm hat, fleece or wool. (N.B. Up to 30% of body heat can be lost through the head).
  • Sunglasses with UV filter.
  • Scarf for cold.
  • Bandanna – to protect neck from strong sun.
  • Light inner gloves
  • Warm gloves, e.g. fleece, and outer waterproof gloves or mittens (1 pair)
  • Mittens allow you to keep the fingers together, and better conserve heat (though they also make it difficult to perform certain tasks).
  • Daypack (at least 30 litres). Comfortable and with waterproof lining or cover.
  • Large rucksack or suitcase.
  • Pair of telescopic trekking poles (can be rented).
  • Duffel bag or large rucksack for extra clothing, carried by horse/mule/porter while you are trekking.
  • Sleeping bag (3-4 season, can be rented).
  • Water bottle (2 litres approx.) & purification tablets.
  • Personal first-aid kit to include: painkillers, plasters (band-aids), moleskin, anti-biotic cream, general antibiotics (ask your GP), after-bite (tiger balm), anti-diarrhoea tablets, throat lozenges, re-hydration salts & personal medication.
  • Insect repellent.
  • Towel & wash-kit.
  • Wet Wipes/antiseptic hand-wash cream.
  • Toilet paper (1)
  • Sunscreen (factor 30+) and lip salve.
  • Head-lamp (plus spare bulb and batteries).
  • Penknife.
  • Travel alarm clock.
  • Plastic bags – ‘Zip-loc’ & tough bin liners.
  • Camera and film / memory cards (take at least twice the amount you think you will need!). Print & slide film is available locally. Polarising filter is recommended for SLR cameras.
  • Book, e-book, mp3 player/ipod or other for free time.
  • Binoculars.
  • Spanish/English phrasebook.
  • Extra snacks i.e. cereal bars or favourite chocolate bars.

All other non-personal trekking camping gear e.g. tents, cutlery etc is provided.

 

Miscellaneous others

  • Money belt.
  • Passport.
  • U.S. dollars cash, mixed-denomination notes, undamaged and unmarked.
  • ATM cash/credit card.
  • Any inoculation certificates.
  • Personal & medical insurance certificates.
  • Presents e.g. Postcards from home.
  • Comfortable clothes for travel, smart clothes for night life.

Quick facts about Peru

 

Official name: Republic of Peru

Country population: 27,083,000

Capital city: Lima (8.1 million)

Largest cities: Lima, Arequipa, Trujillo, Chiclayo

Languages: Spanish (official), Quechua (official), Aymará

Latitude/Longitude: 10º S, 76º W

Official currency: New Sol

Major industries: copper, gold, zinc, textiles, chemicals, pharmaceuticals

Time zone: GMT-5

Altitude

Being at altitude, especially in the tropics, is usually a pleasure as it isn’t so hot, there are few insects and the air is clear.

However, when gaining altitude, air pressure drops and the amount of oxygen reaching the lungs is reduced. Although we build plenty of acclimatisation time into our itineraries, certain ill-effects are possible. Nevertheless, all of these can be minimised or prevented if care is taken.

On reaching heights above 2,500m (approx. 8,200 ft), especially when ascent has been straight from sea level, heart pounding, mild headache and shortness of breath are normal, especially on exertion.

Acute mountain sickness (AMS) is a syndrome known locally as soroche, whose symptoms can include of bad headache, dizziness and nausea).

To avoid AMS, you should:

  • Rest for a few hours on arrival at altitude and take it easy for the first couple of days. Note: you may feel fine on arrival and tempted to exert yourself as normal. Don’t be fooled: you might be benefiting from oxygen brought in your blood from sea level.
  • Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration (altitude is a diuretic). Coca tea (mate de coca) helps alleviate symptoms.
  • Eat light meals, with high carbohydrate and low fat and protein content. Dine early, allowing digestion time pre-sleep.
  • Avoid over-exposure to the strong highland sun (UV rays are very powerful) – especially in the early stages – making sure you wear a broad brimmed sunhat. Apply lip-salve to prevent chapped lips.
  • Avoid or minimise consumption of cigarettes and alcohol. Avoid sleeping pills.
  • If you do get AMS: Rest, take non-aspirin painkillers (for headache) and coca tea. Symptoms should subside after a day or two.
  • Pregnant women, people with a history of heart, lung, kidney or blood disease or blood pressure problems, should consult their doctor before traveling to high altitude.

Tipping

Tipping is entirely voluntary and how much you give depends on how you feel about the service you have received.

For background, Peru has a minimum salary of 550 Nuevo Soles (US$170) monthly for a 6 day 48 hour week. However in many of the lower paid jobs (eg waiters, porters etc) this is not always enforced.

This is a rough guideline, based on an approx. rate of USD 1 = Peruvian Soles 3.

  • Airport porters: Minimum 2-5 Soles per bag – compulsory.
  • Hotel staff: 2-3 Soles per bag / per breakfast.
  • Transfer drivers: Generally not expected.
  • Drivers: 10-60 Soles per day total from the group.
  • Specialist guides (incl. Inca Trail guides): US$20-60 per day total from the group.
  • Assistant guides: US$10-30 per day total from the group
  • Group Inca trail support staff: 100-300 Soles per client, pooled and divided
  • Other treks support staff: 25-50 Soles per client per day, pooled and divided
  • Tour leaders: US$10-60 per day total from the group.
  • Restaurants: 5-15% for adequate to excellent food and service

 

Inca Trail (if applicable)

If you are hiking the Inca Trail, you will be supported by a full crew of cooks, porters, waiters etc, and it is a little more complicated to organise in terms of tipping.

We recommend that each client contributes 100-300soles (30-90US) into a pot and following the advice of the guide divide it out between the crew of cooks, waiters and porters.

For tipping the actual Inca Trail guides and assistants we recommend following the advice for specialist guides above.

Travel Insurance

It is a condition of booking any of our holidays that you have comprehensive travel insurance to cover you for trip cancellation (by you), activities involved and destination. This cover should include repatriation costs, air ambulance and helicopter rescue.

We work with Travel Nomads, who offer insurance solutions to people in more than 140 countries across the world.

Should you decide not to purchase this insurance, you must provide us with details of your alternative insurance with or before your final payment.

And lastly...

Many of our tours travel through remote areas.

We believe our clients should be aware that the remoteness of some of our tours so very special could also cause certain problems.

Thus, whilst we endeavour to minimise the chances of anything unexpected happening, it has to be noted that no itinerary can or should be rigidly adhered to.

This is the very nature of adventure travel and we expect our clients to be prepared for delays and slight alterations in our programmed events.

Also, shared tours may include travellers from all over the world whose native language is not English.

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