Beyond the Inca Trail sits the Choquequirao Trek in south Peru, leading travellers through the Andean Mountains to an ancient city with sections still being excavated by archaeologists.
There’s a lot to learn about Peru’s well-preserved ruins that were a key agricultural hub located between the cloud forests of the Amazon and the old Inca capital of Cusco.
Where is Choquequirao?
The name translates to ‘Cradle of Gold’ in the local language, Quechua. Found in the Andean highlands, it takes two days of hiking to access the ruins in the south of Peru. Built in the late-15th century, just like Machu Picchu, the site was never found by the Spanish conquistadors, and is an impressive example of Inca architecture.
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How long is the Choquequirao Trek?
The Choquequirao Trek can only be described as untamed and remote, with only about 5000 trekkers a year taking it on – the Inca Trail gets this many hikers within a month! The trek is about 103 kilometres (64 miles) long, with steep inclines over mountain passes and high altitudes; the highest pass being 4660 metres (15,288 feet). It requires a good level of fitness, and is not for the faint hearted.
What will I see along the trail?
Hiking through a secluded (and pretty amazing) part of Peru, you are likely to see birds such as condors (sacred to Peruvians) and hummingbirds, butterflies of all sizes, wild orchids consisting of colours you may not even know existed, and (if you’re lucky) a sighting of a spectacled bear. You’ll also get those ‘top of the world’ views of snow-capped mountains, the opportunity to visit small villages and explore ancient ruins, including the main site of Choquequirao, which needs a full day on its own to explore.
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What do you mean when you say it’s not for the faint-hearted?
The Choquequirao Trek takes eight days to complete, and the highest pass is even higher than Dead Woman’s Pass on the Inca Trail (which is 4215 metres, compared to Choquequiaro’s 4660 metres). You’ll be camping for seven nights, with the support of your guide and well-equipped team who help to set up tents and prepare meals.
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On this trek you are accompanied by horses to help lighten the load and provide some relief if you need help getting along the trail. Each day takes between 7-10 hours of uphill and downhill hiking, with small breaks for snacks and lunch. The bonus is there are no permits required for the Choquequirao Trek.
Has all this talk of hiking got you thinking about your next trip? Take a look at our trekking tours in Peru.
Images by Maritza Chacacanta, except the feature image by obscur via Shutterstock.