Move over Machu Picchu – this epic trek takes you to the real ‘lost city’ of the Incas, surrounded by dense cloud forest deep in the Andes.
Take your boots further with a challenging 8-day hike, moving through high altitudes, over mega mountain passes and along a quiet trail leading to the well-preserved Inca city ruins of Choquequirao. The site is three times larger than Machu Picchu, and you’re given a full day to explore. Think secluded and not for the faint-hearted.
At a glance
Number of ruins
Peak time to trek
Our Choquequirao Trail tours
Highlights of the Choquequirao Trail
Explore the vast Choquequirao ruins
Explore a seldom-seen side of the Inca civilisation – the sprawling ruins of Choquequirao. Quieter and far bigger than its glamorous counterpart Machu Picchu, this ‘Cradle of Gold’ is made up of ceremonial platforms, palaces, terraces, ritual baths and temples dedicated to the sun, moon and earth spirit, Pachamama.
Camp at a beautiful terraced coffee plantation
Rest your head in a particularly special location – on Inca terraces in the middle of an Andean coffee plantation. There may even be time for a tour of the plantation for a small fee – a rare chance to get behind the scenes and see how this local operation plies their trade in these spectacular hills.
Marvel at Llactapata
Before the triumphant home stretch of the Choquequirao Trail, take a detour to the impressive Llactapata ruins. It’s chance to not only explore some beautiful lined terraces and 16th-century housing structures, but also get a taste of what the Classic Inca Trail is all about.
Soak up next-level views from Yanama Pass
Traverse the breathtaking Yanama Pass, the highest point of the Choquequirao Trail. From 4660 metres (15,290 feet) above sea level, take in the splendour of southern Peru’s famous mountain scenery – namely, the snow-dusted Vilcabamba range.
Why choose Intrepid
All our guides are certified local tour guides and trained in-house on Intrepid Safety Policies. Each trekking guide also receives exclusive Intrepid training, provided by mountain rescue experts in the field.
All our guides and trek leaders have been trained by medical specialists in handling altitude illness and are proficient in first aid. Our team carries oxygen cylinders on all treks for emergency use.
Our team members live and work in the Andean region, which means revenue from all our treks benefit the local economy.
We take care of the details, so you can focus more on enjoying the journey. Our tours include all meals, with essential camping equipment and the option to hire additional hiking equipment if needed.
Rainforest Alliance tick of approval
We are proud to have the tick of approval from the Rainforest Alliance indicating that we meet and operate at the highest standards in environmental, social and economic sustainability
We strive to use travel as a force for good. That’s why we choose to give back to the communities we visit, carbon offset all our trips and take our social and environmental responsibilities seriously. We’ve been officially certified as the world’s largest travel B Corp, which means when you choose Intrepid Travel, you can rest assured you’re travelling to improve the planet.
Meet our team
Maritza, operations manager
"I am passionate about empowering local Indigenous communities, especially women, and am also a committed defender of Mother Earth, known in the Andes as Pachamama. I have also worked tirelessly with local communities and governments to help improve the sustainability of treks in the Cusco region".
“It will be a pleasure to share our traditions and beliefs, take you to the most amazing sites and, most importantly, interact with the locals! Get ready for a behind-the-scenes tour where we’ll visit hole-in-the-wall restaurants and find the best picarones (Andean doughnuts). I’ll be waiting for you here, in my beloved Peru."
Fernando, general manager
"I like working for Intrepid because their social and environmental philosophy isn’t just a slogan to sell more trips, they really do care about it. I have changed my life in so many aspects due to all the learning coming from Intrepid, from recycling to accepting myself, and being proud for who I am."
"I started working with Intrepid in 2014 and now I'm 61 years old. I'm very happy to be working with Intrepid because each porter's treatment is better than other tour operators in Peru. Because of this job (which includes fair pay), I can provide a better education for my children".
"I come from Huilloc Community in Ollantaytambo town in the Sacred Valley (Cusco), and I started working as a porter on the Inca Trail in 2021. I love walking the Inca Trail and I'm very happy to be working for Intrepid as my income enables me to provide a better education for my 7 children".
"I'm from the Community of Kalla Rayan (Calca town) in the Sacred Valley, and I'm 53 years old. I've worked as a porter for Intrepid since 2009, mainly because I love it and we have very good working conditions. Thanks to my job, I've saved money to spend on my wife and better education for my children".
Peru is a year-round destination, although most people plan to trek during the dry season, running from April to October. The mid-year months, June and July, are the most popular and therefore the most crowded times of year to visit. Low cloud cover in these winter months also means cold nights on the trail, so bring some thermal wear for a good night’s sleep.
The high season for trekking in Peru runs over the drier months, from April to October. In saying this, you’ll most likely have trail all to yourself, even during the high season in Peru.
From November to March is the wet season – this is when the temperature rises and the region receives heavy rainfall. Weather can be unpredictable year-round, however (this is the Andes, after all), so be prepared for wet conditions.
No permits are required for the Choquequirao Trek.
The Choquequirao Trek takes you up and down through high altitudes each day, with the highest pass reached at 4660 m (15,288 ft)
The Choquequirao Trek requires a reasonable level of fitness. It’s 103 km (64 mi) long with steep mountain passes and high altitudes, so please come prepared. Each day generally consists of 7–10 hours of walking (uphill and downhill), with stops for snacks and lunch. Accommodation on the trek is camping for seven nights. Double tents (twin-share) and foam camping mats will be provided. The horsemen will set up the tents while the cook prepares meals.
Each day generally consists of 7–10 hours of walking (uphill and downhill), with stops for snacks and lunch.
The Inca Trail is a 4 day/3 night 43 km trek that leads you to the Sun Gate at Machu Picchu. By comparison, on the Choquequirao Trek you hike 103 km over 8 days. You will spend 7 nights camping, and a night at a hotel in the gateway town of Aguas Calientes. The following day you will catch a bus to explore Machu Picchu. Permits are not required for the Choquequirao Trek.
The trek itself does not lead to Machu Picchu, but you’ll have a full day afterwards to explore the Inca site. On the last day of your trek, you will spend the night in a hotel in Aguas Calientes and rise early the next morning to take a 30-minute bus ride to the entrance of Machu Picchu. Once you arrive, your local guide will share the history of the site, with plenty of time left to explore at your own pace (a good opportunity to take the 2-hour return walk up to the Sun Gate, or take it all in next to a grazing llama on the terrace).
Current regulations of Machu Picchu allow visitors to explore the ruins in one of two timeslots: morning or afternoon. You can choose one of three designated circuits, to be followed in one direction only. On completion of your chosen circuit, you'll need to leave the site; exploring the ruins afterwards on your own is currently not allowed. Tours usually last for 1.5-2 hours.
Arriving via bus, you'll have time to explore the upper section (Sun Gate and Inka Bridge). Then your guided tour of Machu Picchu will run from 10 am until 12:30 pm.
Depending on what time of year you visit Peru; the temperature can vary. Peru has two seasons (the wet and dry). The dry season (winter) runs from May to September with warm days and cold nights. It’s important to pack thermals and warm clothing for the evening. During the day, it can get very hot and there may be mosquitos along the trail – please bring mosquito repellent.
Most people can start to feel the effects of altitude at over 2000 m (6561 ft) regardless of age, gender or fitness level. While our leaders have basic first aid training and are aware of the closest medical facilities, it is very important that you make yourself aware of the cause and effects of travelling at altitude, monitor your health and seek assistance accordingly.
It’s important to take it easy, drink plenty of water and speak to your leader at once if you feel unwell.
We recommend seeing your doctor if you have any health concerns before undertaking the trip. Particularly if you have a pre-existing medical condition or are taking any medication.
Accommodation on the Choquequirao Trek is camping (7 nights). Double tents (twin-share) and foam camping mats are provided. The porters set up the tents while the cook prepares meals at the end of each day on the trek. One night will spent in a hotel in Aguas Calientes the night before visiting Machu Picchu.
While you're away from Cusco, the bulk of your luggage will be stored at your hotel. The evening before you leave Cusco you'll receive a small duffle bag to carry your clothes and essentials (10 kg) for the duration of the trek. Your team of horsemen will carry these bags for you – together with the food and equipment for the trail. Keep in mind that you won't have access to these items until the end of each day, as the horsemen will always be ahead of the group.
All meals are provided on our camping trips, and we often cook the region's specialities so you don't miss out. Please let us know before your trip starts if you have any dietary requirements.
Boiled water will be supplied daily. You should be carrying at least 2 litres of water daily while trekking. Depending on whether you have a hydration bladder in your bag or not we recommend bringing two (1 litre) bottles that can be refilled on the trail with boiled water.
Yes, you can bring your own walking stick or hiking poles. Alternatively, you can hire a pair of hiking poles for around USD 32 for 8 days.
We recommend you carry the below suggested amounts with you during the trek, and that you carry small bills as this makes splitting the tip an easier process. On the last day of the trek, the tipping will be broken down into envelopes – one per porter, assistant guides and guide.
Choquequirao Trek: the suggested total tipping amount per person is PEN 280 (or PEN 320 per person for a group of 6 people or less). In addition, it is recommended to tip the guide USD 3–4 per person per day.
There are no toilet blocks on the Choquequirao Trek. When we set up camp, we provide a camping toilet tent. Think a 1sqm tent with a small portable chemical toilet in it. It’s nothing to write home about, but it’s decent! And most importantly, it’s all carried down the mountain by the porters. You will need to pack a torch for venturing out if nature calls at night, and bring some toilet paper. You’ll also want to take a bottle of hand sanitiser. There is a flushing toilet and cold shower available only at the Choquequirao camp on the second day of hiking.
You will find a complete list of what to pack for this trip under ‘What to take’ in your trip notes. However, it’s worth stressing that we recommend taking hiking poles on this trip – particularly for the downhill sections of days 2 and 3. If you intend to use hiking poles, you can bring your own from home or ask your tour leader about renting them in Cusco.
While there are no permit requirements for the Choquequirao Trek, we run small groups averaging 16 people. So to secure a place on the tour, we recommend booking at least a few months in advance – remembering the most popular times to visit Peru is June and July.
After spending the day exploring Machu Picchu, you will take a train and bus back to Cusco via the Sacred Valley, arriving in the evening.
Yes, but of course it will depend on your level of disability, fitness and what support will be available to you. Contact us to discuss your circumstances and we can assess it from there.
Life on the trail
While the Choquequirao Trek is a big undertaking, the views are what you would expect (and more) when you’re travelling through the Andes. You’ll camp for seven nights with the support of your expert trek leader and team of horsemen, and our chef prepares wholesome meals to enjoy each night. On the last day, you’ll stay overnight in a hotel (where you can have a well-deserved rest and shower) in the gateway town of Aguas Calientes – before spending a day at Machu Picchu. You’ll return to Cusco in the late afternoon to relax and kick back after a mammoth journey. Check out the gallery below for a preview of what life on the trail looks like.
Intrepid Travel is committed to ensuring the environmental sustainability of the amazing destinations we visit and we take our social responsibilities very seriously. In Peru, we have committed to paying our porters and guides a fair wage and supplying them with the necessary equipment and resources to undertake their work safely. We also support several community initiatives aimed at promoting the long-term sustainability of the region's environment and preserving the traditional cultures of its communities.
Read more about the Choquequirao Trail
Sep 05, 2018
A hiker’s rundown of the 8-day...
You definitely want to have a good pair of hiking boots for this one.
Aug 28, 2018
A brief history of Choquequirao: Peru...
Looks like Machu Picchu's got some ancient competition.
Sep 12, 2018
Answering the big questions about...
Get away from the crowds of Machu Picchu on this little-known trek to an ancient...
Feb 09, 2020
What I learned about myself trekking...
Some of my friends threw big birthday parties when they reached the impressive...