It’s been my dream to complete a hardcore multi day hiking trip without a guide and in the Sacred Valley we had a chance to go on one (a nice Couchsurfing friend lent us his tent, yes, it happened again)! From this picture guide you’ll learn how to do the amazing Choquequirao trek in 4 days.

What is Choquequirao?

Choquequirao is a lesser known and much-much less popular Inca archaeological site at a setting similar to Machu Picchu, except that the ruins are more sporadically spread within the site, requiring a little bit of hiking to go from one ruin to the other. The hike itself is a demanding one, just like the famous Inca Trail where visitors can reach Machu Picchu. 

Currently it’s possible to reach the site only by hiking half a day down the hill until the Apurimac river canyon, then a full day up the hill. With the way back, it makes a complete trip of at least 4 days.

Choquequirao (the name means the “cradle of gold” in Quechua) is at a unique geographical place: it’s where the edge of the jungle (ceja de selva) and the subandean forest meet.

Our downhill hike was therefore on a dry, stony path with cactus and other bush-sized vegetation only, while on the other side of the valley there is more precipitation all year round, so we encountered a completely different scenery: wild, dense rain forest with trees, creepers, colourful flowers, moss on all forest floors.

The archaeological site is huge, with temples, ceremonial baths, houses and agricultural terraces. Excavations are still ongoing – so far only 30-40% has been brought to air.

How to Get to Choquequirao?

The region has been planning to build a cable car(similar to La Paz’s) from the nearest town to the ruins, with the overt aim to take away tourist traffic from Machu Picchu. However, this plan has been so far prevented by protesting locals because the cable car – coming up on the other side of the hill – would take away business from the people of Marampata (the only pueblo along the hike). It would also definitely make Choquequirao crowded.

Another question is what solution they would offer to not-so-fit tourists for the hiking sections within the site. I’m afraid that, as in most of the situations, the decision is just a matter of money.

Nevertheless, Choquequirao is a killer hike right now (and until further notice) but it gave me that awe feeling of walking among ruins that are preserved from the past, something that the tourist machine that is Machu Picchu couldn’t.

Curious about Machu Picchu? Read our article about it.

Many travel blogs have written comprehensive guides about the hike (check those of Worldly Adventurer and Travel Outlandish), so I won’t bore our readers, but rather post our pictures of these beautiful and demanding few days.

Choquequirao peru hike valley viewpoint
The whole route lies in front of us: down until the eyes can see in the Apurimac river canyon, and up the hill to the clouds.

Hike to Choquequirao

Choquequirao peru hike valley path
A nice stroll in the beginning…

Marampata: the inhabitants of the only pueblo along the hike live by harsh conditions. There’s no electricity nor hot water in the houses, so using solar panels is essential. They cultivate as many crops as possible but have to pay expensive money for transporting goods from the nearby town. Their primary (maybe only?) income source is tourism, that’s why they protest with all the tools they have against the planned cable car.

Choquequirao peru Marampata village mountain
Marampata, nested up the mountain

Choquequirao peru camping mountain

The archaeological site has its own camping to use for free. We stayed 2 nights to be able to explore the whole site in peace. It was really cold at night at 3050 m!

Choquequirao peru forest trees
Exciting dense vegetation of sub-andes forest area
Choquequirao peru ruins wall trees
Arriving at the site… there was no one but a stone wall to welcome us and lead the way.

The site of Choquequirao

Choquequirao peru ruins forest mountain
The main site (called Main Square) is peeking out of the clouds. You see that there’s absolutely no one?!
Choquequirao peru ruins forest mountain2
Majestic mountains and waterfall with Inca ruins and agricultural terraces. This was my favourite place to sit and just wonder.
Choquequirao peru ruins mountain
More of the same place, just turned my head (and the camera) a bit more.
Choquequirao peru hike bridge river
After a crazy way down we reached the bridge!
Choquequirao peru hike path
One of the rare straight sections (didn’t last for long) on the side of ceja de selva

Would you take up the challenge of this 4-day trek? What do you think would be the most difficult for you? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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Who am I?

Anna is a world citizen, an avid traveller, a passionate environmentalist and a digital nomad. Writing about her year backpacking through South America, she tries to encourage everyone to discover this beautiful continent as a traveller or a digital nomad and pass on her love for responsible travel.

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    1. If Ms B isn’t a big walker, Choquequirao would be hard to manage. On the other hand, I don’t want to sound like “Limited offer, buy now!” but Peru’s tourism is developing fast. Gentrifying, even. So the adventure won’t be the same in a few years’ time for sure.
      Thanks for your visit Stefan!

  1. Thank you for sharing this blog! It is a fantastic introduction to this amazing trek. I agree! Sooner rather than later is the time to appreciate this trek to the full, once they build the cable car, this will dramatically increase the visitors to the area and take away the “undescovered” remoteness of this spectacular hike. A decent, responsible company will provide you with an emergency mule for any difficult sections , plus there is an option to do this trek over 5 days too, which takes the hike at a much more leasurely pace 🙂 I am waiting for the quarantine to finish here in Peru to get back to trekking in this stunning region! I suppose they can’t build the cable car at least for now, which is the positive news!
    Thank you for your amazing photos! 🙌

    1. The talks over the Choquequirao cable car are as scary as those about the Machu Picchu airport. They will be as many reasons to prefer Northern Peru, in my opinion. Thanks for your lovely visit, Claire!

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