Choquequirao is a historical Incan site located in southern Peru. The buildings and ruins of Choquequirao can be found on the truncated hill of Sunch’u Pata, and the site is often compared to Machu Picchu because of its architecture and overall structure.
The word ‘Choquequirao’ is actually Quechua for ‘Cradle of Gold’, and historians believe that it was the Vilcabamba region’s military capital during the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire.
If you’re interested in visiting Choquequirao, we encourage you to do so (You might also want to check out The Complete Guide On How To Get To Machu Picchu). Getting to see an ancient site like this is an incredible privilege and learning experience, but getting there isn’t as easy as one might assume.
In this guide, we’ll be walking you through how to get to Choquequirao. We will discuss the landmarks you’ll pass through on the way, how to plan for your trip, and what you need to know before you set off.
Traveling To Choquequirao: A Summary
Making the journey to Choquequirao is definitely a rewarding experience, but it’s not an easy one. That’s because the only way to reach Choquequirao is to trek the entire way up the trail.
You will have to trek for 2 days to reach the archeological site itself, and the whole trip will take you a total of 4 days.
Bear in mind that you will need a good level of fitness and plenty of hiking experience to safely take on the trek to Choquequirao. This is not a suitable hike for beginners, or even for average hikers. The trail is very steep and zigzags for most of the way.
While you technically can trek to Choquequirao unguided, this is not recommended. Independent trekking in this area comes with an increased risk of getting lost or injured, whereas if you book a guided trekking package, you can benefit from included tents, meals, and first-aid.
Choquequirao Trek Itinerary
On day 1 of your trek, you’ll be traveling from Cusco to Chikisca. You will need to get up early and load your mules in San Pedro with the help of your guide.
At this point, you will participate in the tradition of watering the ground with chicha (a type of beer) in exchange for the Andean gods’ blessing on your journey.
Follow the Choquequirao trail until it reaches a ridge overlooking the Apurimac River, and continue to follow the trail into the forest until you notice the ground leveling out.
From here, you can see the Vilcabamba mountains, and you can catch your breath at this point before continuing your journey downward into the valley, where you’ll make camp.
Your journey on day 2 will start in Huancacalle and take you to Ututo. Thankfully, your hike will start on a downward slope that takes you to the Apurimac River, but at this point, you will need to start trekking upward all the way to Marampata.
From there, you will make your way back down to the valley, where the archeological site is located. We recommend spending the rest of the day enjoying the site before settling down for the night to prepare for the second half of your journey.
The first part of day 3 is dedicated to exploring the sites on the outskirts of Choquequirao. From the Urin Sector to the Priests’ House, there’s plenty to see, so make sure to take it all in.
When you’re ready to continue your trek, you should walk in the direction of San Ignacio, which will involve crossing the river and climbing up to the next campsite.
On day 4, you will travel back to Cusco by following the trail through Tambobamba River valley, which takes you through a mango forest where you can observe a lot of wildlife.
Finally, you will reach Huanipaca, and from here, you can catch a ride all the way back to Cusco.
Planning Your Trip To Choquequirao
Trekking to and from Choquequirao is a huge undertaking, so you’ll need to do a lot of planning before you set off:
What To Pack
The following items are essential for your trip to Choquequirao:
- Large but lightweight backpack
- Toiletries and sanitary items
- Hiking-appropriate clothing and footwear
- Sleeping bag
- Mosquito repellant
- Sun cream
- Water bottles / a camelback
When To Go
We recommend planning your Choquequirao trek in the 5-month period from May to September.
This is because the Andes are dry during this time of the year, so you won’t have to deal with the rainfall between October and early Spring, which can make the trails very unsafe.
As we mentioned earlier, trekking to Choquequirao is not a trip for the faint of heart, and it’s definitely not something you should do if you aren’t in good health and physical condition.
Not only is the exertion of the hike quite intense, but you will also have to deal with the effects of mountain sickness, also known as altitude sickness.
Altitude sickness can make you very unwell, so you’ll need to do whatever you can to make yourself as immune to it as possible before you set off.
That includes eating enough healthy food, hydrating yourself regularly, and avoiding alcohol and other drugs for at least 72 hours before you start your journey.
If you have any concerns about your health, or haven’t had a checkup in a while, we recommend making an appointment with your doctor to make sure that all is well before you commit to the trek.
If you’re in good health, are an experienced hiker, and love learning more about ancient history, the trek to Choquequirao could be one of the best experiences of your life.
It’s best to make the trip between May and September for optimal weather conditions.
Allow 4 days for the trip, and book a guided trek in advance to ensure that you’re in safe hands throughout. Pack the essentials ahead of time and follow our instructions for minimizing altitude sickness starting 72 hours before the start of your journey.
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