Experience the Beauty of the Andes with Choquequirao Trekking!

Explore the Majestic Choquequirao Archaeological Park in Cusco

Choquequirao sits high in the Peruvian Andes, a hidden gem for those seeking adventure. Its name means “Cradle of Gold” in Spanish. This Inca city is thought to have been their last refuge as they battled for control. Recognized as a National Heritage Site of Peru, it was also named the “Best in Travel” by “Lonely Planet” in 2017. With a rising interest and plans to boost tourism, Choquequirao might soon stand next to the famed Machu Picchu, welcoming explorers to an off-the-beaten Inca path. Capture the grandeur of Choquequirao’s terraced structures, with the backdrop of the Andean mountain range.

Key Takeaways

  • Choquequirao is a lesser-known Inca city in southern Peru, but it is believed to have been the last bastion of the Inca civilization.
  • The site was recently declared the “Best in Travel” by Lonely Planet in 2017, and there are plans to increase tourism in the area.
  • Choquequirao is located in the Cusco region and offers a more off-the-beaten-path and less crowded alternative to the famous Machu Picchu.
  • The Choquequirao Trek is a challenging hike that can last between 4 to 9 days, with a descent of 1,500m and an ascent of 1,800m.
  • Choquequirao features impressive Inca architecture and engineering, as well as a rich cultural and historical significance.

Choquequirao Archaeological Park in Cusco: An Overview

Choquequirao is found in Santa Teresa, La Convención, in the Cusco region. It sits near the Quriwayrachina peak. The site’s average height is 3,050 meters. It towers above the Apurímac river canyon.

Location and Altitude

At 3,050 meters, Choquequirao offers a magnificent view over the Apurímac canyon. Its mountainside position has allowed it to grow large. It covers an 18 km2 area with a complex of 1,800 hectares.

The Meaning of “Choquequirao”

The name “Choquequirao” comes from Aymara and Quechua words. “Chuqui” means “gold,” and “k’iraw” means “cradle.” This name, “Cradle of Gold,” honors the Inca’s skilled work and the area’s riches.

Brief History

Choquequirao showcases the Inca’s advanced building and irrigation techniques. It was a busy spot for farming and grew the most coca in the region. Before the Inca took over, it was home to groups like the Antis and Pilcozones. It became key during Pachacuti’s rule, the ninth Inca king. It is said to have been constructed roughly in 1536.

Today, we can see just 40% of Choquequirao. But, its size and position suggest it was vital. It might have been a last stronghold for the Inca. It controlled routes to cities like Cusco and the Sacred Valley. Also, it was a place where Andean regions met to trade. This and its farming, including coca production, show its historical value.

Getting to Choquequirao

Today, you can reach Choquequirao only by hiking, which takes about 3 days. Choquequirao gets just 15 to 20 visitors daily, far fewer than Machu Picchu’s 3,300. The journey there lasts 4 to 9 days, presenting various challenges compared to other treks in Peru.

The Classic Route

The Classic Route takes 4 days and starts and ends in Cachora, totaling 24 km on the first day. You’ll walk 7 km on the second day, 11 km on the third, and either 20 km or 9 km on the last day.

Huanipaca Route

The quickest path, the Huanipaca Route, is a four-day journey from Cachora to Huanipaca.

Mollepata Route

The Mollepata Route begins in Mollepata, a 3-hour drive from Cusco, and takes about five days.

Choquequirao Trek to Machu Picchu

You can also trek from Choquequirao to Machu Picchu, a journey of 51.6 miles that lasts 7 to 9 days.

The Classic Choquequirao Trek: A Detailed Itinerary

The Classic Choquequirao Trek is a 4-day hike starting and ending in Cachora. This journey includes a tough hike with a 1,500m drop and then an 1,800m climb. It’s harder than many other treks in Peru.

Day 1: Cusco to Chikiska

Day 1 begins with a 3-hour drive from Cusco to Capuliyoc. Then, there’s a 6-hour hike down into the Apurimac Canyon to Chikiska’s campsite. The trek on this day totals 11.8 miles (19 km). It reaches a height of 9,514 feet (2,900 m) and takes about 6 hours.

Day 2: Chikiska to Marampata

On Day 2, a long 8-hour hike to Marampata awaits, with breathtaking canyon and mountain views. This stretch is 8.7 miles-long (14 km). It climbs up to 10,100 feet (3,075 m). It’s a tough walk that takes 8 hours.

Day 3: Exploring Choquequirao

Day 3 has hikers at the Choquequirao site before returning to Marampata. This leg is 5.6 miles long (9 km) and rises to 10,100 feet (3,075 m). It’s a 5-hour journey with a demanding incline.

Day 4: Marampata to Coca Masana

Day 4 is a 4-hour trip down to Coca Masana, heading uphill to Capuliyoc. On Day 5, it’s back to Cusco. This day’s trek is 5 miles long (8 km) and reaches 10,100 feet (3,075 m). It lasts 5 hours, offering a moderate challenge.

Day 5: Chikiska to Cusco.

Choquequirao Trek: Difficulty and Campsites

The Choquequirao Trek is one of Peru’s toughest treks. It starts with a steep descent, then an even tougher climb out. This journey challenges hikers with up to 10,100 feet (3,075m) high on day two. Yet, it rewards the brave with amazing views.

This trek has several campsites like Chikiska and Marampata. These sites have the basics like showers and shops. It’s best to go with a guide because this path is hard. A guide will make sure you stay safe and enjoy the adventure.

The Choquequirao trek is for those with good fitness. With altitudes at 2600 meters, it’s no easy stroll. To prepare, spend a few days in the Andes, eat well, keep drinking, and maybe get altitude meds. These steps will help you have a great time while staying safe.

Choquequirao Trek ItineraryDistanceMaximum AltitudeDuration
Day 111.8 miles (19 km)9,514 feet (2,900 m)Approximately 6 hours
Day 28.7 miles (14 km)10,100 feet (3,075 m)Approximately 8 hours
Day 35.6 miles (9 km)10,100 feet (3,075 m)Approximately 5 hours
Day 45 miles (8 km)10,100 feet (3,075 m)Approximately 5 hours

Weather and Best Time to Visit

Choquequirao’s weather varies, with days between 10°C to 20°C. Nights can be as cold as 5°C. The dry season, from April to October, is perfect for visiting. Trails are safer and it rains less. On the flip side, the rainy period (December to March) makes the path more perilous. It’s best to avoid trekking then.

The city of Cusco acts as a starting point for Choquequirao and has a cool, subtropical climate. Its dry season, from May to November, is an ideal time to stop by. The weather is warm, perfect for exploring. However, from December to April, it rains often, transforming the landscapes. This is good for greenery but not ideal for long hikes.

Choquequirao Trekking
SeasonsChoquequirao TemperaturesCusco Conditions
Dry Season (April to October)Daytime: 25°C
Nighttime: 4°C
Average: 14°C
Warm, sunny days, ideal for outdoor activities
Rainy Season (November to March)Daytime: 23°C
Nighttime: 6°C
Lush landscapes, more rain, fewer tourists

Choquequirao shines in the dry season, April to October. This time is perfect for trekking, with the sun out and clear paths. You can see more wildlife and enjoy the citadel fully. Yet, the dry season has its downsides like less water and colder nights.

Don’t miss the many events in Cusco, such as the Inti Raymi Festival, the Holy Week, and the city’s founding celebrations. These add cultural depth to your trip but might draw in more tourists.

For both Choquequirao and Cusco, the dry season is highly recommended, from April to October. It offers the best conditions for hiking and discovering the area’s culture.

A panoramic view of Choquequirao in the midst of the rainy season, with dark clouds looming over the mountains in the distance. The vegetation surrounding the ruins is lush and vibrant, with drops of rain clinging to leaves and branches. The misty rain creates a serene and mystical atmosphere, adding to the park’s already magical ambiance.

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Attractions and Highlights of Choquequirao

Choquequirao is known as the “Cradle of Gold.” It’s divided into 12 sectors, each offering something special. Notable places include the Hanan Temple, the Warehouses or Qolqas, the Main Plaza, the Gates, and the Ushno.

The Hanan Temple

In its northern area, Choquequirao holds the Hanan Temple. This spot is rich with temples, enclosures, water channels, and more. It even features a staggered waterfall.

Warehouses or Qolqas

Choquequirao’s Warehouses were used for storing food. They’re big, with two sections, and have detailed designs. Inside, there are platforms and corridors.

The Main Plaza

Considered a key part, the Main Plaza at Choquequirao has nine structures. These include Kallankas, the Main Temple, Sunturwasi, and terraces.

The Gates

Choquequirao has four impressive trapezoidal gates. These gates, in the Main Plaza’s south, had double frames. They were important in Inca religious practices.

The Ushno

The Ushno is a special platform at Choquequirao. It has three terraces for rituals, sacrifices, and studying the stars. It was a key place for Inca life.

Inca Architecture and Engineering Marvels

Choquequirao shows how amazing the Inca were at building and engineering. They made everything fit perfectly, from the stone blocks to the water systems. This site’s buildings shimmer in a golden light thanks to the special rocks they used. The Inca knew how to work with their environment, placing buildings to use nature well.

The farming sections at Choquequirao are bigger than Machu Picchu’s. This shows their great skills in agriculture and defense. The big plaza was a social hub, proving the Incas’ ability to organize. Choquequirao helped protect the Inca Empire from the Spanish.

A new cable car project could make Choquequirao easier to visit while keeping its value. Keeping Choquequirao true to its origins but accessible is key.

The Inca taught us how to build against earthquakes, which helps many places today. Their farming steps made growing food easier and stopped landslides. Even now, their design style guides modern architects to use nature and simple shapes.

Andean Culture and History

Choquequirao has a rich history that predates the Inca empire. It was first home to groups like the Antis and Pilcozones. Then, under Inca rule, it became vital. It controlled places like Cusco and the Sacred Valley. Its location made it a key trade and cultural spot, linking the jungle and the Andes. The Inca’s smart farming and its coca supply show how crucial it was in andean culture and inca history.

Choquequirao is in the cusco region, an area inhabited before the Inca period. Covering an impressive 6 km2 and sitting at 1,500 m (4,921 ft) on average, it was a key part of the Inca Empire. It shows off the Incas’ skill in building and their strong bond with the land and its people.

Responsible Tourism in Choquequirao

Choquequirao is seeing more tourists than before. This means it’s very important to travel there wisely. The Peruvian government recognizes this site as very special. It’s a National Heritage Site. This title means the area is well-protected and they’re working hard to keep its history and culture alive.

If you’re planning a trip, remember to be careful. Always think about the impact you’re making. The goal is to travel without leaving any marks. Show the environment respect. Also, help the people and companies in the area. At the site, efforts are ongoing to keep it in good shape. As more people come, this gets more and more important.

Peru Safari is at the forefront of this effort. They are all about responsible and sustainable travel. Their trips are designed to be very light on the environment. They want to make sure the place is better after they leave. Their way includes thinking ahead, using strong paths, and not leaving any trash behind. They care about animals and being polite to everyone around.

Their tours are also quite different. They like to keep the groups small and on foot. This is better for the area and gives jobs to local people. Community involvement is key for them. They make sure local folks benefit and are part of the plan. They’ve even set up camps in ways that don’t hurt the wild places. Plus, they want to teach others about the area’s culture, story, and nature.

When you visit Choquequirao, Peru Safari asks you to be a good visitor. Follow their advice on how to treat wildlife and act according to local ways. It’s good to stay at places that care about the land and use things that aren’t bad for it. They’ve stopped using throwaway plastic in their trips. They like things you can use many times.

Boo A trek to Choquequirao

A group of hikers taking a break on a scenic overlook, with Choquequirao ruins visible in the distance. The hikers are looking at a map and discussing their route, highlighting the importance of planning and preparation for responsible tourism. The surrounding landscape is lush and vibrant, emphasizing the beauty and unique natural environment of the area.

More and more people are visiting Choquequirao. So, keeping it safe and well is everyone’s job. Tourists and companies must work to protect this special, ancient place properly.

Choquequirao vs. Machu Picchu

Both are amazing Inca ruins, but they are quite different. Machu Picchu gets about 3,300 visitors daily, yet Choquequirao only sees 15 to 20 people daily. This makes Choquequirao a if you prefer fewer crowds and an authentic Inca experience. It’s thought to be the last Inca stronghold, offering a peek into the empire’s final days. Plus, the journey to Choquequirao is tougher than the Inca Trail, perfect for adventurers.

Choquequirao is found 98km west of Cusco, set in the Vilcabamba range. In contrast, Machu Picchu is easier to reach, with Aguas Calientes nearby for a cozy stay. The best time for Choquequirao is between May and November, offering clear views and dry weather to avoid mudslides. Machu Picchu can be visited all year, with April to May and September to November being better months.

Machu Picchu draws more visitors than Choquequirao. You can reach it by train or tough trekking routes. But Choquequirao is only accessible by walking, ensuring a peaceful visit. The hike to Choquequirao involves going down and up the Apurimac River valley, making it quite a physical challenge.

Even though Machu Picchu is celebrated as a world wonder, Choquequirao is larger, offering more to explore. For Choquequirao, don’t forget essential hiking gear, sturdy shoes, warm clothing, and bug spray. Kuoda excels in planning trips that fit your exploration desires at both sites.

ChoquequiraoMachu Picchu
Less crowded, with an average of 15-20 visitors per dayHeavily visited, with around 3,300 visitors per day
Believed to be the last bastion of the Inca civilizationOne of the seven wonders of the world
Challenging trek, only accessible on footCan be accessed by train and challenging treks
Best hiking months are from May to NovemberBest months to visit are April to May and September to November
Bigger in size, providing more corners to exploreHas various attractions, including the Sacred Square and the Temple of the 3 Windows
Located 98km west of Cusco, in the Vilcabamba rangeOffers more comfortable accommodation options in Aguas Calientes

In summary, both Choquequirao and Machu Picchu offer unique adventures. Choquequirao is ideal for those who want an off-the-beaten-path experience. The difficult trek, its secluded location, and historical importance make it a great choice for adventure lovers. Nonetheless, Machu Picchu is a renowned location with its attractions and various ways to get there.

Guided Tours or Independent Trekking

When visiting the Choquequirao Archaeological Park, you can choose a guided choquequirao tours or go on an choquequirao independent trekking journey. Guided tours include several things like transport from Cusco, a guide, and a place to stay before the trip. They also give you a mule with a muleteer, camping gear, and food. This choice means you don’t have to worry about planning, and you get to learn a lot from the locals.

Independent trekking means you plan everything yourself. This offers more freedom and a chance for a very real adventure. You must be ready with your gear, food, and know-how to read maps for this tough peruvian trekking tours trip. The trek to Choquequirao can take between 4 to 9 days. It starts with a long descent into the valley, and then a hard climb. It’s one of the toughest hiking in peru trips you can take.

Both options have good points, and your choice will depend on what you like and how much experience you have. No matter which you pick, your trip to Choquequirao will be amazing. It will show you the incredible legacy of the Inca civilization.

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Choquequirao is a special Inca site deep in the Peruvian Andes. It lies high at 3,050 m (10,000 ft) over the Apurímac river canyon. Here, the Incas showed their amazing skill in building and engineering. Only 40% of the ruins can be seen now, offering a peek into the Inca’s unknown past, before the Spanish arrived.

Getting to Choquequirao is an exciting journey. The trek is 27 km long on the opening day and climbs to 3,033 m.a.s.l.. The adventure lasts about 4 days with daily distances between 20 km to 27 km. It’s a calm and quiet trek, different from the busy Machu Picchu.

Exploring Choquequirao is a great idea, alone or with a guide. It’s perfect for people who want to see something different from Machu Picchu. Choquequirao has amazing views, a deep history, and incredible building work. It truly reflects the Inca empire’s spirit in Peru’s mountains.


What is Choquequirao and where is it located?

Choquequirao is an ancient Inca city tucked away in southern Peru. It’s found in the Santa Teresa district, which is part of the La Convención province. This city sits on the southwest side of the Quriwayrachina mountain. At roughly 3,050 meters high, it’s a hidden gem.

What is the meaning of the name “Choquequirao”?

The name “Choquequirao” carries rich history. It combines the Aymara word for gold, “chuqui,” with the Quechua word “cradle,” or “k’iraw.” Together, they mean “cradle of gold.” This name hints at the Inca’s excellent stone work and its function as a vital agricultural hub.

How can I get to Choquequirao?

To reach Choquequirao, you must trek through breathtaking landscapes. Different routes vary in length and difficulty. The Classic Route is a four-day round trip. The Mollepata Route, taking five days, starts from the town of Mollepata. For a longer adventure, consider trekking to Machu Picchu from Choquequirao.

What is the Classic Choquequirao Trek itinerary?

The Classic Choquequirao Trek spans five days. You start in Cachora and trek down to Chikiska. The next day, you’ll hike to Marampata. On the third day, you explore Choquequirao and head back to Marampata. The fourth day takes you to Coca Masana, then you return to Cachora on the last day.

How difficult is the Choquequirao Trek?

The Choquequirao Trek is not for the faint of heart. It includes a steep descent into the valley, followed by a challenging climb. Along the trail, there are campsites with basic facilities. We strongly advise going with a guide to help tackle the difficult terrain.

What is the best time to visit Choquequirao?

The best time to visit Choquequirao is during the dry season. This runs from April to October. Days are sunny, and the trail is at its best. Avoid the rainy season, from December to March, when the path can be unsafe.

What are the main attractions at Choquequirao?

The ruins at Choquequirao boast several impressive structures. These include the Hanan Temple, Qolqas, the Main Plaza, the Gates, and the Ushno. You’ll marvel at the Inca’s intricate stonework, efficient water systems, and well-built terraces.

How does Choquequirao compare to Machu Picchu?

Choquequirao and Machu Picchu are both stunning Inca sites. However, Choquequirao offers a quieter, more secluded experience. It sees much fewer visitors daily than Machu Picchu does. It’s also considered a last stronghold of the Inca, making its history and views unique.

Can I visit Choquequirao independently or do I need to join a guided tour?

You can choose to trek to Choquequirao on your own or with a guide. Guided tours offer convenience and support but come at a higher cost. Going independently allows for a personal adventure but demands detailed planning and preparation.