The most complete and challenging adventure in Cusco is, without a doubt, the Cusco-Choquequirao-Machu Picchu trekking route. It is estimated that this little-known hike covers a total of 115 kilometers, taking you through places of incredible scenic beauty. The highlights of this trek are the archaeological complex of Choquequirao, known as the ‘Last Inca Refuge’, and the Inca Citadel of Machu Picchu, one of the Wonders of the World. Join us as we explore this 8-day, 7-night adventure, immersing ourselves in the Incas’ most hidden refuges.
Choquequirao: The Last Inca Refuge
The ruins of Choquequirao, an ancient Inca city, are located among the majestic mountains of the snow-capped Salkantay in Cusco. Discovered by the American explorer Hiram Bingham in 1909, these ruins are considered the ‘Last Inca Refuge’. Although only 30% of this immense site has been excavated, its uncanny resemblance to Machu Picchu makes it a unique tourist attraction. It is called the ‘Sacred Sister of Machu Picchu’ due to its architectural similarity to the Inca Citadel. Reaching Choquequirao involves a challenging 2-day trekking route, crossing rivers, high mountains and impressive landscapes.
Machu Picchu: Wonder of the World
Machu Picchu, located in the eastern part of the central Andes, is an Inca site surrounded by the beauty of the snow-capped Salkantay. Built during the time of Pachacutec in the 15th century, this site was an urban and religious center and residence of the Inca. After being abandoned with the Spanish conquest, it was rediscovered by Hiram Bingham in 1911. Since being chosen as one of the modern Wonders of the World in 2007, it has attracted approximately 1 million visitors annually. Its mysterious stone constructions amidst mountainous landscapes make it one of the most visited destinations on the planet.
Choquequirao and Machu Picchu: Similarities and Differences
Both sites share striking similarities. Choquequirao is known as ‘Machu Picchu’s sacred sister’ due to its location in high mountains, its extensive agricultural sectors and temples dedicated to the sun. Built in the 15th century, they share a similar urban design. Despite the similarities, each site has its own unique history and charm.
|Cradle of gold
|Construction at the time of Pachacútec
|Construction in the time of Tupac Yupanqui
|Located in the district of Aguas Calientes, province of Urubamba.
|Located in the district of Santa Teresa, province of La Convención.
|Height of 2,430 masl
|Height of 3,033 masl
|Function as a citadel, religious precinct and strategic post
|Similar function as a citadel and strategic post
|Area of 5 square kilometers
|Area of 18 square kilometers
|Diverse constructions including terraces, terraces and temples
|Constructions such as the colonial plaza, colcas and terraces
|Entrance with different fees
|Entrance with different rates
|Different schedules and climates
|Different schedules and climates
The Cusco-Choquequirao-Machu Picchu Trekking Route
This trekking route is the most complete and challenging in the ancient ‘Capital of the Incas’. It runs along ancient Inca trails, covering an average of 115 kilometers in 8 days and 7 nights of intense trekking. The main points are Choquequirao and Machu Picchu, reaching heights of up to 5,085 meters above sea level to sites of only 2,000 meters above sea level. Here is a detailed summary of this route little known by tourists.
Day 1: Cusco – Cachora – Rosalina Beach
The adventure begins with a 3-hour bus ride from Cusco to the town of Cachora. After lunch, a 4 to 5 hour hike begins to ‘Playa Rosalina’, where you will camp and have dinner.
Day 2: Rosalina Beach – Marampata – Choquequirao
Leaving early, we walk to the village of Marampata (4 to 5 hours) for lunch. Then, a short route of 1 hour and 30 minutes leads to the archaeological site of Choquequirao. The afternoon is dedicated to explore these Inca constructions.
Day 3: Choquequirao – Rio Blanco – Maizal
The day begins with a demanding climb to the Rio Blanco sector (approximately 3 hours), followed by a lunch break. The hike continues to the Maizal sector, where we camp and have dinner.
Day 4: Maizal – Minas Victoria – Yanama
This day, the ascent to the Yanama pass (also known as the ‘Abra Victoria’) takes about 3 hours. Then, the descent to the Victoria Mines, an abandoned silver mining site, precedes lunch. Finally, we descend to Yanama camp to spend the night.
Day 5: Yanama – Totora – Collpa
A less arduous day. We descend through slopes with abundant flora and fauna. In ‘Totora’, you will have a break for lunch before continuing to Collpa camp, where you will find local products.
Day 6: Collpa – La Playa
One of the most relaxing days. You ascend through a pass and descend to ‘La Playa’ camp, so called because of the refreshing waterfall nearby. The trail passes through coffee and banana plantations.
Day 7: La Playa – Hydroelectric – Aguas Calientes
Early start with a hike to the Hidroeléctrica station, near Machu Picchu (approximately 5 hours). After lunch, you walk along the Vilcanota River for 2 hours until you reach the town of Aguas Calientes, at the foot of the Wonder of the World, where you spend the night.
Day 8: Aguas Calientes – Machu Picchu – Cusco
The last day is reserved for exploring the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu. After an early breakfast, you arrive at the entrance gate. After a guided tour, visitors have free time to enjoy the site on their own. The return to Cusco is by train and then by bus.
The 8-day trek from Choquequirao to Machu Picchu can be done with an organized tour or on your own. Opting for a tour provides security, and if you decide to go on your own, do not forget to buy tickets to Machu Picchu in advance. In addition to this route, there are other famous trekking options in Cusco.
Other alternative trekking routes to Choquequirao
A five-day trekking route in its classic version, covering 70 kilometers on foot to Machu Picchu. It includes visits to the Salkantay pass, the Humantay lagoon and the Cocalmayo hot springs.
A four-day trekking route in its classic version, covering approximately 39 kilometers to Machu Picchu through the Intipunku or Sun Gate. It stands out for following the paths of the Incas, known as qhapac ñan.
A four-day trekking route in its classic version, where adventure sports such as cycling, canoeing, zip-lining and trekking are practiced. It also offers the opportunity to enjoy nature at its best.
With these options, the diversity of landscapes and the historical richness of Cusco unfold before those seeking unforgettable adventures. The Cusco-Choquequirao-Machu Picchu trekking route stands as the most complete, taking you through the majesty of the Inca civilization and the imposing nature of the Andes.