Choquequirao Trek to Machu Picchu
Two nights before your departure
Day 1: Cusco- Cachora – Chiquisqa
We depart Cusco at early in a private car for a 4 hour drive to the charming village of Cachora, situated on the edge of the Apurimac canyon and surrounded by impressive snowcapped peaks. After lunch, it is a 2 hour hike to Capuliyoc (2915 metres/ 9561 feet) from where we have our first beautiful views of the Apurimac valley stretching below as well as the snow-capped peaks of Padrayoc and Wayna Cachora. Our total hiking time today is about five hours. Accommodation: Camping at Chiquisqa 1950 m
16 km descending 1200m in altitude - Cachora to Chiquisca
Day 2: Chiquisqa – Choquequirao Inca site
Departing early, we descend to the magnificent Apurimac River (1550 metres/ 5084 feet) before beginning our climb to Santa Rosa and then onto Maranpata where we will have lunch. The climb from the river takes about 4 hours and is tough. From our lunch spot we can see the ruins of Choquequirao, from here we have two hours more hike to the ruins. (3110 metres/ 10120 feet) We will spend the late evening in the ruins, where we will watch the sunset and have the chance to see condors. Accommodation: Camping at Choquequirao campsite 3033m
13 km ascending 1600 m in altitude -Chiquisca to Choquequirao.
Day 3: Choquequirao – Pinchinuyoc – Rio Blanco
We have a chance to more fully explore the ruins and have a little rest in the morning. Inthe afternoon we will climb over a ridge and hike to the ruins at Pinchinuyoc, where we will camp the night(2 hrs hiking). This is definately the easiest day of the trip! Accommodation: Camping at Pinchinuyoc about 3000m/ or depending on the group at Rio Blanco, a further 1.5 to 2 hours descent.
10 km descending 1450 m in altitude – Choquequirao to Rio Blanco.
Day 4: Rio Blanco – Maizal
If we have camped at Pinchinuyoc, after 2 hours of walking, we will arrive at the canyon of the Rio Blanco (1990 metres/6527 feet) where will have a rest before starting a difficult climb to our campsite of Maizal. The climb is 3- 4 hours. Accommodation: Camping at Maizal 3000m
8km ascend 2000 m in altitude – Rio Blanco to Mina Victoria.
Day 5: Maizal – Yanama
We depart at 7am, and walk uphill for about 3 hours through semi-jungle, to the Victoria Mines. We visit the ancient mines and some Inca Ruins before climbing an hour more to the pass of Abra Victoria. (4130 metres/ 13 546 feet). The newly discovered Coryhuayrachina ruins are between Yanama and Maizal and we do follow well constructed inca steps at an area that we call "Mina Victoria" (we started calling it this because that's what the muleeteers called it).
There are spectacular views from the pass as we descend to the charming village of Yanama. (about 2 hours walk). Apus Peru usually uses muleteers from the village of Yanama (therefore providing employment for isolated people) and we camp near the muleteer´s house, and feast on a Pachamanca. Accommodation: Camping at Yanama 4100m
12km 500m descend and ascend 600m in altitude - Mina victoria to Yanama.
Day 6: Yanama to Totora / Colpapampa
A day of mountain peaks. In this day we walk for seven hours, preferably rising early to appreciate the chain of snowpeaks that we can see from here. We lightly ascend to the second pass which is the highest of our trek at 4850 metres/ 15908 feet. After the pass we descend for three hours to the Valley of Totora, where will spend the night. Accommodation: Camping at Totora about 3900m
18km 700 m ascend and descend 1900m in altitude - Yanama to Colpapampa.
Day 7: Colpapampa to Lucmabamba
Today we also walk for seven hours, but the whole day is descending and we can easily notice the changing scenery and different varieties of plants typical of the high jungle - known in Spanish as the "eyebrow of the jungle". Accommodation: Camping at La Playa, Santa Theresa, or Lucmabamba 2125m
Please note that from Day 7 onwards, you will be joining the more touristed Salkantay trek. If you are a "purist" who prefers solo hiking experiences please consider that you will be joining the heavily touristed Salkantay trek. However, if you want to take the Choquequirao - Machu Picchu route you have to join the Salkantay trek at some point. Otherwise you might like to consider the Choquequirao to Vilcabamba trek which is rarely done but does not end at Machu Picchu. OR you could do Choquequirao to Vilcabamba trek and then do a Machu Picchu extension (10 days in total). Ultimately, as you get closer to Machu picchu there are going to be more tourists.
16 km 800 m descend in altitude Colpapamapa to La playa (or Lucumabamba) or Colcamayu
Camping options Day 7:
Remember that Salkantay is a popular route that suffers from degredation and is currently un-regulated. This night´s camping offers a number of options, which you should talk to your guide about. These options are linked to the group´s wishes, and also what you plan to do the next day. ie: La Playa is NOT a remote campsite - for those that want to get away from the crowds you should talk to your guide about camping at Lucmabamba. Santa Theresa is also not a remote campsite and can have parties, but is a good location depending on your activities the next day. If you plan on doing the Cola de Mono, then Cola de Mono has lovely camping options.
Day 8: Day of options, around Santa Teresa –
On day 8, you have THREE options here, depending on your interest and fitness. You should discuss each with your guide. You should also be aware that Salkantay is the second most touristed route in the Salkantay region and ineveitably this means you will encounter other people (its not a "wilderness" experience).
Important note: The following options are decided by "group majority" - if you are joining a "trekkers wanted" group then the decisions will be made by the group at your briefing or on the trail. An advantage of forming your own, private group, is that you can nominate ahead of time which option you wish to select.
1. Relax option. You will take motorised transport to the campsite outside the village of Santa Theresa (not always a quiet campsite) so that in the evening you can visit the recently reopened hot springs at Colcamayu. UNFORTUNATELY the Colcamayu Hot springs were completely washed away in the flooding of January 2010 and are no longer a camping option. On day 8 you will then take transport to the the impressive Machu Picchu Hydroelectric System where we will have lunch and visit a Inca ruin. After this, we will walk for 2.5 hours more along the train tracks to arrive at the village of Aguas Calientes.
2. Adventurer´s option. We leave early and climb for about three hours through the jungle before descending to the interesting, but largely covered ruins of Llactapacta. Don't let your guide talk you out of this!!! Yes, its three hours climb, but it is also a very interesting introduction to Machu Picchu! Originally discovered by Hiram Bingham at the same time that he discovered Machu Picchu, modern day explorers Vincent Lee and Gary Ziegler recently established that these ruins are much bigger and more important than previously thought. From here we have our first view of Machu Picchu, in the saddle of the mountain opposite. We descend very steeply on a muddy track for two hours to the impressive Machu Picchu Hydroelectric System where we will have lunch and visit a Inca ruin. After this, we will walk for 2.5 hours more along the train tracks to arrive at the village of Aguas Calientes.
3. Thrill seekers option. On day 8 we offer you the chance highest and longest zipline in South America - Cola de Mono. (check out the pics!) After doing 'Cola de Mono' in the morning we will take transport to the Hydroelectric Station . ** Price of Cola de Mono is additional to the cost of your tour ** After this, we will walk for 2.5 hours more along the train tracks to arrive at the village of Aguas Calientes.
We include in the price of your tour a train ticket from the Hydroelectric Station to Aguas Calientes ($18) the train leaves at 7.30pm, and you arrive in Aguas Calientes about one hour later, when you are transferred to your hotel. If you want to walk all the way to Aguas Calientes (ie Machu Picchu) its 2.5 hours more along the train tracks to arrive at the village of Aguas Calientes. Some people like this option, because its the closest you can get to walking to Machu Picch (apart from the actual Inca trail) and its also nice to walk along, looking up at the ruins of Machu Picchu. Other people prefer the train. You need to talk to your guide and decide what is the most appropriate option for you. If you decide to walk along the tracks, your $18 pays for your duffel bags to go on the train.
A soak in the thermal baths in Aguas Calientes are often the perfect respite for aching muscles!!! Apus Peru include a nice celebratory dinnern the price of your tour in Aguas Calientes. Accommodation: Hostel in Aguas Calientes (normally Hostal Payacha)
14 km - Santa Theresa to Aguas Calientes (if the group takes the option to go via Llactapata/Patallacta its 10km extra)
Day 9: Aguas Calientes – Machu Picchu – Cusco
Today we will have a guided visit of the lost city of the Incas, Machu Picchu
Early in the morning (before dawn) we will take a bus up to the ruins of Machu Picchu. (Bus included in price) so that you can appreciate this famous city in the dawn light and before the crowds arrive. You will then have a 2.5 hour guided tour of Machu Picchu with your guide. After your tour you can further explore the ruins by yourself or climb Huayna (Wayna) Picchu for that classic photo of Machu Picchu. (you should pre purchase your ticket for $10 extra so you don't miss out!)
If you don't get to do Huayna Picchu, other options are:
Inti Punku (gate of the sun) this is the location where the classic inca trail arrives.
Machu Picchu Mountain.
We highly recommend walking down from Machu Picchu to get a feeling for the vegetation and also the audacity of its builders. Its a 1.5 hour walk back to the village of Aguas Calientes. We return to Cusco in the afternoon by the backpacker train (departs approx 2.30pm) and are met by a driver at Ollantaytambo who will transfer you directly back to your hotel. You will arrive in Cusco approximately 4 hours after your train's departure from Aguas Calientes.
Itinerary notes - Choquequirao to Machu Picchu trek 9 days