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South America / Peru

Choquequirao to Machu Picchu Trek: A Real Expedition

The Choquequirao to Machu Picchu trek is the ultimate adventure for those looking to experience a “real life expedition” hike to the lost city. This 9 day trek is intense, but for those who crave intrepid quests will be rewarded with an incredible journey. Explore untouched Inca ruin sites, charge up two major mountain passes, gawk at epic viewpoints, all while walking in total solitude. This trek can be done independently without a guide.

This trek begins in the quaint village of Cachora and ends at Aguas Calientes (Machupicchu Pueblo). This extreme trek is all about the journey, but has enjoyable points of interest along the way. The final reward is to stand at the awe-inspiring “lost city of the Incas,” knowing you walked over 80 miles to see it.

Don’t forget about all the incredible things to see along the way. The Choquequirao Archaeological Park is one of Peru’s least visited sites, but one of the most spectacular. This sacred site oftentimes sees less than 10 visitors a day. Choquequirao still remains an untouched “hidden gem.” This won’t be for long, as a cable car is “in the works” for the near future.

About this 10 Day Itinerary

Choquequirao to Machu Picchu, Choquequirao Archeological Park, Inca ruins, terraces, stones, grass, trees, mountains, sky
The Choquequirao Archaeological Park is one of Peru’s least visited sites, but one of the most spectacular.

This aggressive itinerary passes through untouched ruins, authentic hamlets, and stunning mountain passes. It merges with the popular Salkantay Trail and winds into the lovely coffee region. Finally, it ends at the gateway to Machu Picchu, the tourist town of Aguas Calientes.

Follow along with my exact mapped hiking trail. I’ll share tips, tricks, and helpful information. The trek is 9 days, but this specific itinerary is actually for 10 days. I’ve included lists of essential gear and how much the entire Choquequirao to Machu Picchu trek cost me.

It’s best to take acclimation serious, be in decent physical shape, and hike with a buddy. These mountains have a mind of their own and the weather can change fast. Some parts of the trail rarely see hikers.

This is the complete guide on how to independently complete the Choquequirao to Machu Picchu trek.

Table of Contents

Disclosure: This is part of my Hikes & Adventures series, which means these treks can be strenuous and challenging. I have personally done each of these hikes independently, but it does not make me an expert by any means. Please have all the proper equipment, verify the weather conditions, and take into consideration your own physical abilities and/or limitations. Please see my full disclosure for more information here.

Daily Schedule & Mileage of Choquequirao to Machu Picchu Trek

These distances are based on my actual movements including: exploring, grabbing water, taking photos, so they may not align perfectly with the mileage of the map.

Mileage distances are rounded to the nearest quarter of a mile.

Moving DaysStart PointEnd PointMiles
Day 1CachoraSanta Rosa Baja17.25
Day 2Santa Rosa BajaChoquequirao Archaeological Park5.25
Day 3ChoquequiraoRiver Campsite6
Day 4River CampsiteYanama7.5
Day 5YanamaTotora12.25
Day 6TotoraSahuayaco19.5
Day 7SahuayacoLlactapata Lodge7
Day 8Llactapata LodgeWayna Picchu Camping (Before Aguas Calientes)8.75
Day 9Machu Picchu Exploration

Total Mileage83.5
Total Mileage with Machu Picchu103.5

Map of Choquequirao to Machu Picchu Trek

  • Cachora to Machu Picchu: 83.5 miles
  • Machu Picchu Exploration: 20 miles
  • Total Distance: 103.5 miles
  • Moving Days: 9
  • Total Days: This is a 10 day itinerary, includes an overnight in Cachora before departing.
  • Packing Essentials: Tent, water filter, food and snacks for at least 4 days, camping stove and fuel.

February 19, 2021 1:00 pm

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  • Distance Instructions
Label

Choquequirao to Machu Picchu Trek | 9 Epic Days of Hiking | No Tour

  • Distance 68.58 miles
  • Time 27 h 35 min
  • Speed 2 mph
  • Min altitude 4,826 ft
  • Peak 15,230 ft
  • Climb 24,222 ft
  • Descent 26,621 ft
(0)
October 26, 2021 4:32 pm
Megs

Psst….This map can be downloaded as a KML for Maps.me or as a GPX file. Click on the map or snippet to reach the map file.

Download Maps.me to have an offline version of this map!

There is only one path, so it’s hard to go off-track, unless you wander OFF the trail.

Important Info Before Departure

If planning on hiking the whole Choquequirao to Machu Picchu trek, it’s best to purchase your Machu Picchu entrance tickets before departure. The trek will take those in moderate to excellent shape around 9 days. If nervous about weather or physical limitations, it may be best to add in a “cushion” day or two.

The Choquequirao Archaeological Park is massive and there’s a lot of ground to cover. For those who want to thoroughly discover Choquequirao, spend two days at the park.

Hey… don’t forget your Travel Insurance! I love SafetyWing

More on Machu Picchu Tickets

First, reserve Machu Picchu tickets online. For those ambitious explorers, make sure to add on Huayna Picchu (usually booked out 2-3 months in advance) or Machu Picchu Mountain. These viewpoints allow you to appreciate the sacred site of Machu Picchu from another angle.

Pick a date, the number of people, and put in a request.

Have everyone in your group’s full name, date of birth, and passport information!

Reserve your spot to Machu Picchu here!

Next, verify your reservation in the form of a payment. If you can’t pay online, follow these instructions.

What to do if Online Payment is not Accepted

Important: You must make the payment within 4 hours to confirm the reservation! If not, the reservation will be forfeited.

  1. Print out your reservation request.
  2. In Cusco, head to Banco de la Nacíon with your passport (On the corner of Avenida El Sol and Almagro)
  3. Next, show them your printed reservation and pay in cash the fee.
  4. Take the receipt they give you and attach it to the reservation print out.
  5. These two documents are your entrance ticket to Machu Picchu.

Banco de la Nacíon is ALWAYS busy.

Expect to stand at least 30 minutes in line to pay at the bank.

Packing Guide for Choquequirao to Machu Picchu Trek

Choquequirao to Machu Picchu, trail, dog, woman, backpack, gravl, stone, trees, mountains, sky, clouds
What to pack for the 9 day trek Choquequirao to Machu Picchu adventure?

These were my essential items I carried in my bag for the 9 day Choquequirao to Machu Picchu trek. I only recommend things that I personally use and love. Use what works best for you! We were two people, so it was nice to distribute out the weight of food and fuel.

Below find all my suggestions for camping essentials, gear, and food.

For a more in-depth packing list….

Check out my ultimate packing list for Peru adventures and multi-day treks.

Camping Gear – Choquequirao to Machu Picchu Trek

Camping GearWhat I Love
BackpackOsprey Aura AG 65 Pack (Women)
Backpack CoverREI Co-op Duck’s Back Rain Cover
Lightweight TentNEMO Hornet 2 Person Tent
FootprintNEMO Hornet 2P Footprint
Sleeping BagREI Co-op Helio Sack 55 Sleeping Bag
Sleeping LinerSea to Summit Thermolite Reactor Sleeping Liner
Sleeping PadBig Agnes Insulated Air Core Ultra Sleeping Pad
Compression BagSea to Summit Ultra-Sil CompressionDry Sack
Reusable Water BottleLightweight & Easy to refill with filter
Water FilterMSR TrailShot Pocket-Sized Water Filter
Camping StoveMSR PocketRocket 2 Stove
CookwareSea to Summit SigmaSet 1.1 Cookset
PropaneFor 9 days at least one large canister and one small (the more the better)
Trekking PolesAnything by Leki
Clothes LineSea to Summit Lite Line Clothesline
First Aid-KitAdventure Medical Kits Smart Travel First-Aid Kit
HeadlampBlack Diamond Cosmo 250 Headlamp
Swiss Army KnifeSwiss Army Camper Knife
Emergency BlanketDoubles as a tarp and adds warmth under tent (at least 2)

Clothing Essentials: Choquequirao to Machu Picchu Trek

It’s important to pack light weight clothing that are made from quick-dry materials. Most of the weight in your pack should be reserved for food and gear.

Clothing EssentialsWhat I Love
Packing CubesEagle Creek Pack-It Specter Tech Starter Set
Thin long sleeve trekking shirt (1)Protects from the sun
Thin Merino Wool SweaterAnything by Ibex
Quick-Dry hiking pants (1)Narrow ankle
Warm Fleece Jacket (1)KUHL Flight Fleece Jacket (W)
Rain Jacket (1)Compass 360 AdvantageTek™ Rain Jacket
Warm set of clothing for nightKeep these dry!
Wool Hat & MittensCan be purchased at any market in Cusco
Buff or BandanaBuff CoolNet UV+ Insect Shield Multifunctional Headwear
Hiking socks (4 – 5 Pairs)Smartwool (I like a variety of length and thickness)
Hiking Boots with ankle supportSalomon X Alp Mid LTR GTX Hiking Boots (W)
Quick-dry towelPacktowel
Multi-purpose Soap (in small reusable bottle)Dr. Bronner’s can be used as toothpaste, detergent, and more!

Misc. Essentials

  • Phone with Maps.me offline downloaded! (Or any offline map)
  • Lighters & Matches
  • Toilet Paper, Wet-Ones, & Hand-Soap
  • A few misc extra plastic bags in various sizes
  • Sunscreen & Bug spray
  • Personal toiletries compact in size
  • Chargers and Cords for Electronic Devices
  • Misc. cutlery
  • Some kind of charging solar panel
  • Extra batteries for headlamp
  • A shammy. It works great to wipe off a wet tent or doubles as a towel
  • Passport
  • Tickets for Machu Picchu
  • Cash (I don’t like to carry over $100 USD)

Food Suggestions

Peru has a wide range of food items that provide adequate fuel for mountain trekking. Pasta, quinoa, and potatoes are substantial. I love soup packets and canned tuna, which can be found at tiendas in more populated areas along the trek.

Precooking some of these items saves on fuel.

Food Advice Specifically for Choquequirao to Machu Picchu Trek

There are little food stands and campsites to replenish supplies along the way. It’s important to NOT rely on them! Sometimes, especially the section from Choquequirao to Machu Picchu, many of these shops and campsites were closed and empty! I suggest at least 4 days of food and snacks.

Day 4 is arrival into the little village of Yanama, which has excellent tienda options and tiny in-home restaurants. On Day 6, the trail meets up with the Salkantay Trek. This section of the trail is heavily trafficked and has plenty of options to replenish supplies.

Tips & Feedback on the Choquequirao to Machu Picchu Trek

Choquequirao to Machu Picchu, Llactapata Ruins, Inca ruins, stones, grass, woman, smiling, man, trees
These trails are barely trekked. Take a buddy if going independently.

The best time to hike from Choquequirao to Machu Picchu is during the dry season. For the region of Cusco, it’s between the months of May to October. It’s possible to hike in the shoulder months, but be prepared for rainy conditions, rock slides, and unexpected detours to avoid sections of the trail that have been washed out.

The rainy season in Peru can be brutal, leaving many of the trails destroyed by mudslides. Last year was exceptionally rough, leaving many villages along the Salkantay Trail in complete despair.

Always keep an eye on the weather and stay up to date with trail conditions, especially if planning to tackle this trail independently.

Reach out to tour companies and the tourist information center in Cusco to verify that trails are up and running.

Sleeping Tips

If opting to spend the night in a guest house or camp ground, make sure to negotiate! Everything is negotiable from the plot, bed, room, WiFi, hot water, etc. Be fair when negotiating, but make sure to have a clear understanding on the agreed upon price.

For example, we had a situation where we thought all parties had agreed upon hot water for showers in a guest house. Unfortunately, I guess we negotiated incorrectly and it turned into quite the situation where my hiking buddy had to negotiate the price butt-ass naked from the cold shower. The host and I could not stop laughing, but I’m glad it wasn’t me in the shower! A fun story and great learning experience!

Everything is negotiable!

Personal Feedback on This Intense Multi-day Trek

I hiked Choquequirao to Machu Picchu with a friend. Some sections of these trails have little to zilch foot traffic, so at least try to hike with one other person. There were two days where we didn’t see a single soul, not even a local person.

We hiked the first part of December, which we lucked out with weather. It usually dumped down rain every single night, starting around 6:00 p.m. We would try to be at our “destination” by 4:00 p.m. to set up before darkness and the rain would set in. The days were hot and sunny, but the rain came every night.

We used a mixture of campsites, wild camping, and guest houses.

Cachora, the Gateway to the Choquequirao Trek

Cachora, village, mountains, buildings, street, door, cars, flag, sky, clouds, Choquequirao to Machu Picchu
Cachora is the gateway to the Choquequirao Trek.

The small village of Cachora is the gateway to the Choquequirao trek, which eventually leads to Machu Picchu. Here’s how to reach Cachora from Cusco, where to sleep, and other useful information about this tiny Peruvian hamlet.

How To Get to Cachora from Cusco

It’s important to note that there are no collectivos that run to Cachora from Cusco. It’s possible to take the public bus with a short taxi ride. For a hefty fare, hire a private driver.

Public Transportation to Cachora

Buses depart to Cachora from the main terminal in Cusco. The bus drops on the outskirts of Cachora. The actual departure destination is Ramal de Cachora. Upon arrival in Ramal de Cachora, take a taxi, or walk 9 miles into Cachora.

Practical Bus Info
  • Departure: Cusco’s main bus terminal @ 6:00 and 13:10. (Bus company Abancay)
  • Ride Time: around 4 hours to Ramal de Cachora
  • Cost: 20 PEN ($5.75 USD) Don’t forget the exit tax of S/1.50 (40¢ USD)
Arrival in Ramal de Cachora
  • Exit the bus at Ramal de Cachora
  • Hike into town (9 miles) or hop in a taxi (that is conveniently waiting here).
  • Negotiate with the taxi drivers!
  • Cost: We got down to 30 PEN ($8.75 USD) in total for 2 people.
  • Ride Time: 25 minutes, mostly downhill

The taxi is worth it since the next few days of hiking are pretty intense. There is no hiking path down, only a shared gravel and muddy road with vehicles.

Private Drivers from Cusco

Many drivers are eager and willing to drive to Cachora from Cusco.

  • Private drivers charge around 300 PEN ($87 USD).

For bigger groups, a private driver may make more sense. Up to 5 people can fit in a taxi, sometimes more.

Where to Sleep in Cachora

Choquequirao to Machu Picchu, CasaNostra Choquequirao, bench, flowers, sunrise, trees, mountains, Choquequirao trek
Sunrise from the lovely backyard at CasaNostra Choquequirao.

There are a few guesthouses in town, but CasaNostra Choquequirao was the only one open. CasaNostra is situated on the outskirts of town, and has nice private and shared rooms. Onsite, find a small restaurant and common space with incredible views.

The beds are comfy, rooms are spacious, and they have lots of plug-ins for devices. Make sure to charge up everything before departing. The bathrooms are clean with hot showers.

The staff is friendly and willing to help answer any last minute questions. Find the path to the trailhead only a few minutes walk from the guest house.

One awesome thing about CasaNostra was they allowed us to keep some of our prepared food in their fridge. They also include breakfast in the room rate. Service can begin as early as 6:00, so you can be out the door before 7:00 and on the way to Choquequirao.

  • Cost: Private room was 35 PEN ($10 USD) per person.

Check CasaNostra Choquequirao’s availability here!

Quick Note on the Restaurant

Breakfast is really simple, so make sure to add on eggs, or you’ll be hungry!

In my opinion, skip dinner from here. Grab dinner from a local woman in town for cheap before heading into the hostel. Hearty plates of food can be bought from the mama’s in town for under 10 PEN.

Part I: The Choquequirao Trek

Choquequirao Archeological Park, Choquequirao to Machu Picchu, Inca Ruins, stones, grass, mountains, trees, sky, clouds
Trekking independently to the Choquequirao Ruins feels like a true expedition!

The first leg of the trek begins in the small village of Cachora and continues to the Choquequirao Archaeological Park. The official signage in Cachora shows the total distance to the Choquequirao ruins is 29 Kilometers (18 miles). All of the sign posts along the way are marked in kilometers. Official signage is blue with white lettering.

Want to only visit the Choquequirao ruins?

Here’s my ultimate and detailed guide on all things about the Choquequirao Trek

Choquequirao Trek 4 days | Overview on How to Reach the Lost City

  • Distance 16.55 miles
  • Time 8 h 3 min
  • Speed 2 mph
  • Min altitude 4,813 ft
  • Peak 9,859 ft
  • Climb 8,658 ft
  • Descent 8,704 ft
(0)
October 26, 2021 4:45 pm
Megs

Day 1: Cachora to Santa Rosa Baja

Choquequirao to Machu Picchu, Choquequirao trek, mountains, clouds, plants, stone wall, woman
There’s plenty of places to stop and enjoy the view on the Choquequirao trek.

Yeah!! It’s the start of the epic Choquequirao to Machu Picchu trek. The ultimate reward is gazing upon the “lost city” of Machu Picchu. Try to push through to Santa Rosa Baja. For those who took a taxi to the trailhead, try to power to Santa Rosa Alta. Extremely aggressive hikers may make it all the way up to the adorable village of Marampata.

Quick Hike Info: Cachora to Santa Rosa Baja

  • Distance: 17.25 miles (walked from Cachora to park entrance)
  • Schedule: Left Cachora @ 7:00 with arrival time in Santa Rose Baja @ 17:00 (10 hours)
  • Highlights:
    • Purchase entrance ticket to Choquequirao Archaeological Park
    • Mirador de Capuliyoc
    • Beautiful viewpoints looking down along the river
    • Sleeping at Mama Eufemia’s in Santa Rosa Baja with exceptional views!

What to Expect for Day 1

Try to leave Cachora early, hopefully before 7:00. The official trailhead begins near Capuliyoc, which is only a few buildings. To reach it, either take the flat and enjoyable walk or hire a taxi. Purchase tickets for Choquequirao in Capuliyoc.

By Foot
  • Cahora to Park Entrance: 6.5 miles
  • Time: 2 hour and 30 minutes
  • Flat and well marked
Taxi from Cachora to the Entrance Checkpoint
  • Cost: 60 PEN ($17.50)
  • Time: Less than 30 minutes

Purchase Tickets to Choquequirao

Tickets for the Choquequirao Archaeological Park can be purchased from the small building before the trailhead entrance. They will take your passport information and add you to the small roster of those currently hiking.

  • Ticket Office Hours: 8:00 -16:00
  • Cost: 60 PEN ($17.50 USD)
  • If no one is there collecting info or money it’s alright to enter the park. Someone will issue you a ticket later on.
  • There were only 4 people on the roster before us for the day!

There’s a few little tiendas here offering last minute snacks, drinks, and a bathroom break!

There are horses and guides to hire here. Use your judgement when making this decision. We chose to carry our gear and hike independently.

The Official Start of the Choquequirao Trek

Mirador de Capuliyoc, Choquequirao to Machu Picchu, Choquequirao trek, mountains, trail, clouds, sky, path
Views from the Mirador de Capuliyoc, which lies close to the entrance of the Choquequirao Park.
  • Shortly after admission into the park, there is the stunning Mirador de Capuliyoc.
  • Expect a mostly downhill trek with stunning views until arrival at Playa Rosalinas.
    • Playa Rosalinas is about 6.25 miles from Mirador de Capuliyoc.
      • There was no sale of food or drinks (as of December 2019).
  • Along the way, there are many beautiful viewpoints, some even with covered benches.
    • Before Playa Rosalinas there is one small campsite, Chiquisca, which serves up prepared meals.
    • There are multiple spots and small turn-offs to cook lunch. In Playa Rosalinas there are unfinished facilities, but makes for a great place to break before the strenuous uphill climb to Santa Rosa Baja or Alta.
  • After Playa Rosalinas, cross the river via the new bridge.
    • To reach Santa Rosa Baja plan on at least an hour and a half for the steep 2 mile climb.

There are two options to camp right before Santa Rosa Baja.

  • Mama Eufemia’s & Campamento Santa Rosa Baja
Camping in Santa Rosa Baja
Mama Eufemia's, campsite, tent, mountains, grass, trees, clouds, Choquequirao trek, Choquequirao to Machu Picchu
Camping views from Mama Eufemia’s.

We set up camp around 17:00 at Mama Eufemia’s. All the facilities en route are BASIC. Don’t expect a toilet seat, hot water, toilet paper, or charging points. Mama Eufemia’s offers food, but we opted to cook our own.

The view was incredible from our campsite. We set up quick and like almost every night, it rained hard during the night.

Practical Info
  • Campsite price: 5 PEN ($1.50 USD)
  • Charging Fee per Device: 5 PEN ($1.50 USD)
  • Food and snacks for purchase
  • Extremely basic facilities

Day 2: Santa Rosa Baja to Choquequirao Archaeological Park

Choquequirao Archeological Park, Choquequirao trek, Choquequirao to Machu Picchu, Inca ruins, mountains, terraces, woman, backpack, trees, clouds
Leaving Marampata to get the first glimpse of Choquequirao Archeological Park.

From Santa Rosa Baja, it’s about a 3.5 hour hike to the Choquequirao Archaeological Park! The day starts with a climb, but then flattens out into the park. Expect to arrive in the park by mid afternoon, or earlier!

Quick Hike Info: Santa Rosa Baja to Choquequirao Campsite

  • Distance: 5.25 miles
  • Schedule: Left Mama Eufemia’s @ 8:00 with arrival to Choquequirao Campsite @ 13:00 (5 hours)
  • Highlights:
    • Uchuhuerta Waterfall
    • Marampata hamlet
    • Incredible viewpoints of lower terraces of Choquequirao
    • Exploring the sprawling Choquequirao Archaeological Park

What to Expect for Day 2

Choquequirao to Machu Picchu, Marampata, signpost, trail, houses, trees, mountains, clouds, Choquequirao trek
Arriving into the adorable village of Marampata.
  • There’s really no time restraints to leave.
    • The earlier you leave, the more time to explore Choquequirao.
  • Next village is Santa Rosa Alta
    • Steep .5 miles uphill from Santa Rosa Baja
    • En route: Unmanned camping sites and one closed campsite
  • After Santa Rosa Alta is Uchuhuerta Waterfall, a great place to refill waters and break.
  • Marampata is the next highlight and village.
    • Kilometer Marker 24.9
    • Marampata is an uphill climb of 2.25 miles from Santa Rosa Baja.
      • Plan on at least 2.5 hours
    • There are plenty of tiendas and guesthouses here with amazing viewpoints.
    • The first tienda in the actual village is a woman who sells coffee and tea.
    • Bonus: She lets you charge devices for free by solar panels! Their family is so nice and is a great place to break.
  • After Marampata, the next leg of the hike is mostly flat. It leads to the Choquequirao Campsite.
  • Be ready to see some awesome viewpoints of the lower terraces (House of the Waterfall) that line the steep mountainside.
  • There is a nice bridge to refill water and some more viewpoints!
  • Next, arrive to the Choquequirao Campsite.
    • There is a little hut that sells some food items. (This is where the four day supply comes in handy).
    • No one in the hut checked our tickets.
    • Set up your tent so you can explore the park until dusk.
  • A mid-day arrival equals plenty of time to explore the ruins with no people! (We saw 2 the whole day).
  • Enjoy the Park!

Side Note: The park closed while we were inside of it, even though we were at the gates before 17:00. It’s possible to slide out the side of the gate if you have good balance.

Camping at Choquequirao Campsite

There are a few grassy terraces to set-up camp. We came on the shoulder of the rainy season, so our biggest challenge was finding an area that was not too saturated with mud.

Practical Info
  • Camping here is free, and included with the purchase of the entrance ticket.
  • These facilities are nice with cold showers, changing areas, toilets, and a separate sink area for dishes.
  • There is a small hut where there is a limited selection of food for purchase.

Explore the Choquequirao Archaeological Park

Pikiwasi, Inca ruins, Choquequirao Archeological Park, Choquequirao trek, mountains, trees, grass
Pikiwasi section of ruins in the Choquequirao Archeological Park.

If arriving mid-day head up into the park to explore Pikiwasi, House of the Priest, and Usnu. These sections of the park boast some incredible views. Next, head down and explore the hauntingly empty Plaza Principal. By this time, it should be almost 17:00 and the park will close. The Choquequirao Archaeological Park is massive! Make sure to come back in the early morning hours to explore more.

The next day, check out the Lama terraces and the area above the main Plaza, Q’olq’as. For those spending an extra day, backtrack to visit the House of the Waterfall terraces that were visible the previous day.

Travel Resources | Want more Inca Sites? Check out these 35+ ruins to visit in Peru

There was no one onsite checking tickets, but make sure to carry it just incase someone approaches you for your ticket.

For more info about exploring the ruins revisit this more detailed Choquequirao trek post.

Useful Tips

These ruins are massive and it is possible to spend at least two or three days exploring the park. Those who are tackling the intense Choquequirao to Machu Picchu trek should understand the next section of the trail is remote and offers little shade coverage.

Plan on an extra cushion day if looking to explore an extra day at the ruins.

Those taking the Choquequirao to Machu Picchu trek should not spend more than 3 hours in morning at the park on Day 3, to beat the sun.

It will be a steep climb to the epic viewpoint of Abra Choquequirao (10,735 feet). After that, pass by the empty Pinchaunuyoc ruins.

It’s best to pack up gear last minute from the campsite, so you don’t have to lug it around while exploring the Choquequirao Archaeological Park.

The next leg will depart the Choquequirao ruins and meet up with the Salkantay trek.

The Future of Choquequirao Ruins

Choquequirao trek, Usnu in Choquequirao Archeological Park, Inca ruins, stones, grass, mountains, trees, clouds, sky
Exploring the Choquequirao Archaeological Park in solitude.

Choquequirao will become more popular in the near future. As for now, the only way to get here is to tackle the two day trek. Plans have been approved for a cable car, and once that happens these ruins will no longer be the tranquil and serene place that they currently are. Rumor has it, the cable car will take less than 20 minutes to arrive at Choquequirao.

Machu Picchu is incredible to see and experience, but Choquequirao is just as special. What makes it a treasure is being alone with these ancient ruins that were part of the mighty Inca empire. The abandoned city complements the powerful mountains, waterfalls, and landscapes.

Go to Choquequirao before it’s too late!

Part II: Choquequirao to Salkantay Trek

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One of my favorite sections, coming down the mountain into Yanama.

This next leg of this trek is true expedition mode. The section from Choquequirao to the Salkantay Trail was by far my favorite 3 days! Prepare for some epic viewpoints, empty paths, scattered ruins, and no people. We didn’t see a single soul on this section of the trail, not even locals. There will be plenty of donkeys and horses, so watch out for those that are protective of their space.

Day 3: Choquequirao Ruins to River Wild Campsite

Pinchaunuyoc ruins, Inca ruins, terraces, stones, mountains, trees, grass, clouds, sky, plnats, Choquequirao to Machu Picchu
The terrace ruins of Pinchaunuyoc after Choquequirao and on the way to Machu Picchu.

After a few hours exploring the park, get on the trail before noon. The trailhead from Choquequirao to the Machu Picchu trek is a half mile from the campsite. Before the main entrance gate to Choquequirao, look for a make-shift sign for Yanama. There is only one path to follow and this is it! It’s a little bit of a climb, but the views on the way out will take your breath away!

Quick Hike Info: Choquequirao to River Campsite

  • Distance: 6 miles
  • Schedule: Left Choquequirao @ 11:30 (morning exploration session) with arrival to the “wild” campsite @ 16:30 (5 hours)
  • Highlights:
    • Morning exploration of Choquequirao
    • Incredible viewpoints of the ruins from Abra Choquequirao (10,735 feet)
    • Pinchaunuyoc ruins
    • Wild Camping with a fire pit and a chance to take an icy river bath.

What to Expect for Day 3

Abra Choquequirao viewpoint, Choquequirao Archeological Park, Inca ruins, Choquequirao to Machu Picchu, trees, mountains, clouds, sky
The view from Abra Choquequirao at 10,735 feet.
  • Try to leave Choquequirao before noon.
    • This helps protect against the powerful sun and allows time to set up camp before dark.
    • It takes around 5.5 hours to reach the riverside campsite from Choquequirao.
  • The next highlight is the Abra Choquequirao viewpoint
    • An incredible photo opp that sits at 10,735 ft
    • It’s a steep 1.25 mile climb from the start of the new trailhead
  • After the viewpoint, it’s mostly downhill.
  • The next main highlight is the leveled terraces of the Pinchaunuyoc ruins.
    • There is a great water spigot at the ruins to refill water bottles.
    • I can almost guarantee you won’t see a single soul here.
  • After the ruins is another downhill stretch
  • The trail leads to a rushing river.
  • It’s easy to lose the trail here, but people have set up little rock formations for guidance
    • The hikers who have left stone markers make this path manageable!
  • Eventually, cross the river via a small wooden foot bridge.
  • Continue a little ways on this side of the river.
  • Finally, you will see a small section to set up camp.
    • This free campsite is at the foot of the trail which leads to Yanama and marked with a blue and white sign.
Camping at River Campsite
river, bridge, rocks, stones, mountains, trees, sky, clouds, mud, Choquequirao to Machu Picchu
Cross the river and follow the rock trail to the wild campsite.

This “campsite” is great! Lots of people have set up here and you can tell by the fire pit, and sadly, the garbage. The best area to set up is on the small gravel section. The other area is grassy and muddy. There are lots of trees to tie up a clothes line.

The nearby river is fantastic and there is a small trekked section where the water flows creating a small “bathtub.” Enjoy a refreshing cold bath right near your campsite! The river provides great accessibility for dishes and washing clothes! After 3 days, it may be time to wash that one outfit.

Practical Info
  • Camping is free here with no facilities
  • Next to River
  • Fire pit
  • Make sure to cross the river, it’s next to the trail to continue to Yanama.

Day 4: Wild Campsite to Yanama

Choquequirao to Machu Picchu, free campsite, sign, trail, grass, rocks, trees, mountains, sky
The “free” campsite is right at the foot of the trailhead that leads to Yanama.

It’s best to leave the campsite early. There really is no shade on this next section of the trail. Today is the most challenging day. The ascent is straight up, and the altitude climb is INTENSE. I’m in pretty good shape, and between those two factors, I can guarantee that Day 4 is extremely tough. It was my favorite day of hiking, but I can’t emphasize enough the physical and mental intensity of Day 4.

Quick Hike Info: Campsite to Yanama

  • Distance: 7.5 miles of mostly grueling uphill
  • Schedule: Left River Campsite @ 6:40 with arrival in Yanama @ 16:45 (10 hours)
  • Highlights:
    • Lunch with a view from Camping Familia Perez
    • Incredible viewpoint from Abra San Juan pass
    • Stunning mountain views of the valley into Yanama
    • Excellent guesthouse at Camping Choquequirao
    • Home-cooked duck dinner in a woman’s home.

Reminder: This is the toughest day, physically and emotionally.

What to Expect for Day 4 Morning

Camping Familia Perez, mountains, clouds, grass, plants, trees, Choquequirao to Machu Picchu, clothes line, clothes
Camping Familia Perez was closed, but we still used it as a lunch spot on the way to Yanama.
  • Leave early from the campsite.
  • Keep in mind, the highest pass sits at 13,615 feet. Be mindful as you leave the river the severity of the climb.
  • The ascent is basically for every one mile of distance to one mile ascent.
  • The first signage is a divide for two separate campsite.
    • We went to the right towards Camping Familia Perez as it was more directly en-route to Yanama.
  • Camping Familia Perez is a steep 2.5 mile climb from the river.
    • Plan on almost 3 hours to reach these facilities.
  • Upon arrival, Camping Familia Perez was closed.
    • It was still a great view to enjoy a quick lunch.
    • The shower was open so we were able to utilize the water for cooking and dishes. With the filter, we were able to refill our water bottles.

2nd Leg- A Steep and Intense Afternoon

  • Leave Camping Familia Perez to start the ascent to the Abra San Juan pass.
    • This is a straight up 3.25 mile climb
    • Plan on this steep ascent to take at least 5 hours
    • Along this path, there are many small trickles of water to fill up water bottles.
  • The highest pass is at 13,615 feet. Mind the altitude
  • This is the most challenging part of the whole trek, and it’s important to not push yourself too hard.
    • There is no one on this path and most of us aren’t carrying oxygen tanks.
    • Please be respectful of the altitude and your own body.
  • There are plenty of places to break. We were starving and stopped more than once to cook pasta for body fuel. The last part isn’t as steep as the previous section.
  • You’re almost to the epic viewpoint of Abra San Juan!

Abra San Juan Viewpoint & Beyond

Abra San Juan, Choquequirao to Machu Picchu, woman, rocks, clouds, mountains, plants, trail
Even with the clouds, the views from Abra San Juan took my breath away!
  • Abra San Juan pass sits at 13,615 feet.
    • There is a simple shelter for those who can’t continue or get caught in weather.
  • The views are absolutely stunning with mountains dressed in glacial peaks.
    • This was my favorite viewpoint of the whole hike.
  • From Abra San Juan, it’s a comfortable downhill trek into Yanama.
  • Be mindful on this section of trail. We saw a rock slide happen in real time.
  • This last stretch is about 1.75 miles on a beautiful downhill dirt path into Yanama.
  • Camping Choquequirao is located on the main road in Yanama.
Sleeping at Camping Choquequirao
Camping Choquequirao, Yanama, artesania, sign, handicafts, building, grass, people, smiling
Women displaying their beautiful handicrafts in front of Camping Choquequirao.

The man running Camping Choquequirao is so sweet! The rooms are simple, but there are plenty of blankets for the cold mountain nights. Onsite, find a tienda with extremely reasonable and fair prices. This is an excellent place to stock up before the Salkantay Trail.

  • Right next door a woman serves up hearty plates of food from her home for 10 PEN ($3 USD). The food is authentic and rotates. We had duck!
Practical Info
  • Cost for a bed in shared room: 15 PEN ($4.50 USD) a person
  • Lots of warm blankets on the bed!
  • 5 PEN for hot showers (Worth it!)
  • This man runs an onsite tienda with lots of supplies at a fair price!
  • Area next to bathroom for dishes
  • Plug-ins for devices in the rooms, free of charge.
  • The boss man here is so sweet and cares that you enjoy your stay!

Day 5: Yanama to Totora

mountains, river, rocks, waterfalls, grass, clouds, Choquequirao to Machu Picchu
The lush mountains in the valley from Yanama to Totora.

The hike from Yanama to Totora is another gorgeous day. This trail mostly follows the lush valley along the river. There’s plenty of places to break and refill water bottles. The tallest climb of the trek is up to the Abra Mariano Llamoja pass. This pass isn’t as intense as yesterday, and it’s more of a gradual incline. Totora is a small hamlet with a few houses and is the last stop before joining with the Salkantay Trek.

Quick Hike Info: Yanama to Totora

  • Distance: 12.25 miles
  • Schedule: Left Camping Choquequirao @ 8:00 with arrival to Camping Sumaq Tika in Totora @ 16:30 (8.5 hours)
  • Highlights:
    • My second favorite day!
    • Incredible views along the river
    • Excellent place to cook lunch along the river
    • Highest pass point on the trail at Abra Mariano Llamoja (15,289 feet)
    • Lovely views into Totora that follow along the river
    • Hands down the best meal on the trek from the women at Camping Sumaq Tika.

Day 5: Morning Schedule (Yanama to Abra Mariano Llamoja)

trees, shelter, mountains, rocks, clouds, Choquequirao to Machu Picchu
Tip: Make sure to follow the trail behind this shelter!
  • Leave early if you can.
    • We had heavy rain which held us up a little bit in the morning.
  • The path mostly follows alongside a road, but there are sections where you must walk on the road.
  • Use the hiking paths, especially the switchbacks! It helps cut down time and distance.
  • Today’s climb is gradual
    • Make sure to follow maps.me along this section.
    • It’s easy to stray, as you’re walking through mostly farm land.
  • Refer to the above photo, make sure to walk behind the shelter to stay on the path!
  • After the shelter, you’ll come to the main river crossing
    • We made it to the river crossing in 3 hours and 15 minutes from Yanama.
    • This is a great place to have lunch!
    • The green mountains with waterfalls are spectacular.
    • We rested here for about an hour and 15 minutes.
  • Cross the river to begin the gradual climb up to Abra Mariano Llamoja (15,289 feet).
    • It’s about a mile climb to reach Abra Mariano Llamoja from the river.
    • Plan on almost 1 hour 15 minutes to reach the top with no break.
  • There’s an option to climb to the actual top peak,
    • Due to the fog and rain, we skipped this. There was zero visibility.

Day 5: 2nd Leg, Abra Mariano Llamoja to Totora

  • The next section of trail is the start of the downhill to Totora.
    • Follow the footpath and not the road.
    • The road has many switchbacks which adds time, so follow Maps.me for the most convenient path down.
  • Mind your footing.
    • On the way down the terrain is mostly large rocks with lots of gravel.
    • Due to the altitude and rain, it can be very slippery.
  • From Abra Mariano Llamoja to Totora is a little over 4.5 miles
    • This section moves pretty fast.
    • Plan on 2.5 hours for this downhill section.
  • Peek over your shoulder every once and a while to awe at the beautiful rigid mountain peaks behind you!
  • Totora is literally 6 homes.
Sleeping at Camping Sumaq Tika

The rain moved in fast and we were soaking wet! We opted again to sleep at Camping Sumaq Tika. There were places to camp here, but the whole yard had been washed away and was nothing put a mud pit. There is a small tienda connected to this guest house, but the prices are a little higher than Yanama.

The rooms here are extremely basic, as in, it’s a concrete room with beds. There are plug-ins hanging from the ceiling, but, hey… they get the job done.

The woman sells beautiful handicrafts for a fair price, and she is a hustler! This woman is a powerhouse. She makes dinner and it is seriously one of the best meals I have eaten in all of Peru. Order dinner here!

Practical Info
  • Cost for a private room: 15 PEN ($4.50 USD) per person
  • 7 PEN for hot shower (Negotiated while naked)
  • 10 PEN for WiFi for 24 hour access code
  • Plug-ins en suite, even though they dangle from the wall
  • Lots of blankets
  • Woman sells beautiful handicrafts like hats, scarves, and bracelets
  • 10 PEN for a yummy meal with huge portions.
  • The family that owns this place are real characters, but in a good way.

Part III: Joining the Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu

Llactapata ruins, Inca ruins, stones, water channel, Machu Picchu, clouds, grass, plants, Choquequirao to Machu Picchu
The Llactapata ruins, looking out onto Machu Picchu.

After leaving Totora, the next main milestone will be connecting to the Salkantay Trail in the village of Collpapampa. We came during rainy season, so the Salkantay Trail was really muddy and already had lots of mudslides, which were not passable. This changed up our route drastically, as we had to follow the road on the opposite side of the river. On this side of the river, there were limited sleeping places. For this reason, we made the long trek into Sahuayaco.

If attempting during the shoulder or rainy season, make sure to be aware of your surroundings. One of the bridges collapsed on our route and unfortunately someone was taken down the river. They were part of a tour and had a guide. This area sees a lot of rain.

One Notable Minor Bummer

One downfall about the Choquequirao to Machu Picchu trek is missing the incredible Humantay Lake. It is in the first day of the Salkantay Trek. It was a downer to miss it, but it can always be done as a day trip from Cusco. I justified missing this section with the incredible landscapes from Choquequirao to Totora.

Day 6: Totora to Sahuayaco via the Salkantay Trek

wooden bridge, Salkantay trek, water, grass, plants, stones, trees, clouds
Meet up with the Salkantay Trek in the village of Collpapampa.

The path we took was not ideal, and turned into a long day. Consider stopping before or in the small village of Playa if the roads are passable. Due to the rainy season, we had no choice but to use the pulley trolley system to cross the river. We set up camp in Sahuayaco. Sahuayaco is one of the biggest villages along the Salkantay Trek, so there are plenty of tiendas, cafes, and restaurants to refuel at than most places along this trail.

Want to sleep somewhere more quiet?

If you have enough energy, go further and sleep past Kilometer marker 57 at one of the incredible lodges or guest houses that serve up coffee from the region.

Quick Hike Info: Totora to Sahuayaco

  • Distance: 19.5 miles
  • Schedule: Left Camping Sumaq Tika @ 8:00 with arrival to El Mirador Campsite @ 15:30 (7.5 hours)
  • Highlights:
    • Meet up with the popular Salkantay Trail in the little village of Collpapampa
    • Cute little tiendas in nature along the path
    • Crossing the river via a pulley cart
    • Mostly flat hike
    • El Mirador Campsite in Sahuayaco.

Day 6: In-Depth Schedule

Salkantay trail, wood bridge, waterfalls, rocks, stone, trees, plants, path
The Salkantay trail has lots of waterfalls, rickety bridges, and is susceptible to mudslides. Always take precautions.
  • It’s mostly downhill from Totora to Collpapampa.
    • The distance is just about 4.75 miles
    • Plan around 2 hours.
    • The path follows a gravel road, but offers up nice river views.
    • In Collpapampa, turn left to join up with the Salkantay Trail.
  • Continue following along the Salkantay Trail.
    • This route is extremely well marked and trekked.
    • We were fortunate to only see a few independent hikers and no tour groups.
  • This trail passes by many little waterfalls with wooden makeshift bridges.
  • There may be sections that are impassable due to landslides.
    • Oftentimes, the shop owners will alert you if the trail has gone down.
  • We went to the landslides and decided that we did not have the proper gear or equipment. It was not worth the risk to attempt to cross.
  • Instead of backtracking quite a ways back, we used the pulley cart to cross the river.
    • The price is negotiable, but it’s hard to do screaming over a river.
    • There really is no option but to take the pulley system.
    • This cart was 4 planks and only one person can cross at a time.
    • Two men literally yank you and your bag over the river at a shocking height.
    • We negotiated for 10 PEN a person. I think we got a deal because my hiking partner helped carry lunch over for the workers!
  • After the river crossing, the path is mostly flat along a boring road.
  • Finally, the village of Sahuayaco will become visible.
  • We set up camp at El Mirador in Sahuayaco.
Sleeping at El Mirador in Sahuayaco

We opted to sleep at El Mirador in Sahuayaco, which is on the outskirts of town. El Mirador has a really nice green space that overlooks the village of Sahuayaco. It’s close to the coffee region of the Salkantay trek, so most places are serving up excellent coffee.

There are lots of clotheslines at the site, and the owners even provide soap to wash clothes. Check out the onsite tienda that’s well stocked and serves up simple sandwiches for purchase.

Three houses up the the road there’s a little restaurant serving large plates of food for 10 PEN.

Check availability for rooms at El Mirador here!

Practical Info
  • Camping Fee: 7 PEN ($2 USD)
  • There are rooms available to rent
  • Free laundry soap and lots of clothes lines
  • Clean bathrooms and warm showers included!
  • WiFi available for purchase
  • Gourmet coffee and a well stocked tienda

Day 7: Sahuayaco to Llactapata Lodge

woman, coffee, table, shelter, Choquequirao to Machu Picchu, coffee region Peru, trees, stones, grass, dirt
Enjoying the coffee region on the Salkantay Trail.

Today is a pretty short and enjoyable day. It starts with leaving Sahuayaco and staying at the incredible Llactapata Lodge. Don’t miss a chance to stay here, as it was definitely one of the highlights of the trek.

This little section of the hike goes through the coffee region, so grab at least one coffee along the route. Check out the small Inca ruins of Llactapata, which provide some of the first glimpses of Machu Picchu. The views from the top of the hill will take your breath away.

Quick Hike Info: Sahuayaco to Llactapata Lodge

  • Distance: 7 miles
  • Time: Left El Mirador Campsite @ 9:00 with arrival to Llactapata Lodge @ 14:00 (5 hours)
  • Highlights:
    • Passing through the coffee region
    • Those first distant viewpoints of Machu Picchu
    • Small ruins of Llactapata
    • Camping at the Llactapata Lodge with its incredible views, amazing staff, and delicious food.

Day 7: In-Depth Schedule

grass, path, sign, building, trees, clouds, sky, plants, Choquequirao to Machu Picchu, flag
Follow the path into the coffee region on the Salkantay Trek.
  • There’s really no need to rush today.
    • Enjoy a coffee at El Mirador before continuing on the Salkantay Trail.
  • At Kilometer marker 57, head up the leafy green path with many guest houses and little tiendas serving up coffee from the region.
    • KM marker 57 is 30 minutes from Sahuayaco
    • This little section is really nice and has some great viewpoints.
    • The climb is gradual and not as intense as the last few days.
    • We stopped at Camping Inka Andino & Coffee Tour to have a “Starbucks Coffee.”
  • One of our first glimpses of Machu Picchu and its incredible mountains was at Mesa Pata Observatory and Camping.
    • Plan on about 3 hours from Sahuayaco to this destination
    • Mesa Pata Observatory and Camping serves up a limited menu, but has beverages for purchase.
    • From this point, its a gradual descent to the ruins of Llactapata.
  • The next highlight is the ruins of Llactapata.
    • Only .5 miles from Mesa Pata
    • They are small, but offer more incredible views of Machu Picchu.
  • Next, continue only .5 miles down the trail to arrive at the epic Llactapata Lodge.
    • This lodge offers some incredible views, wild horses, proper guest houses, delicious food, and lovely hosts.
  • Whatever you do, stay at the Llactapata Lodge, a true highlight of this trek.
Sleeping at the Llactapata Lodge
tent, campsite, mountains, trees, grass, clouds, grass, Choquequirao to Machu Picchu, tarp, Llactapata Lodge
Campsite with a view from Llactapata Lodge.

Llactapata Lodge is a proper hotel and lodging facility, but there is camping available, as well. The meals are huge and delicious and there is WiFi available for purchase. The views really don’t get better than this. We watched a lightning storm over Machu Picchu. At dinner, we lost electricity and ate dinner by candlelight.

Wake up early in the morning to catch the sun waking up Machu Picchu in the distance.

Check availability for the incredible Llactapata Lodge here.

Practical Info
  • Camping Fee: 5 PEN ($1.50 USD, includes a hot and modern shower)!
  • WiFi Fee: 5 PEN
  • Rooms are available with comfy beds, towels, and toilet paper! (Living the high life)
  • Dinner is 20 PEN ($6 USD), but includes tea, hot chocolate, salad, main, and is filling and delicious.
  • Lots of clothes lines, clean bathrooms, dogs and horses running wild!

Day 8: Llactapata Lodge to Aguas Calientes

Choquequirao to Machu Picchu, woman, socks, clouds, moutains, grass, trees, Llactapata Lodge, fleece
Sunrise views from Llactapata Lodge. I’m coming for you Machu Picchu!

Wake up early to catch the sunrise before departing Llactapata Lodge. Today’s trek is pretty uneventful and not as beautiful, but it’s literally all downhill! The whole goal is to make it to Aguas Calientes, or Machupicchu Pueblo, at a decent time in order to explore Machu Picchu the following day.

Today is the day to follow the railroad tracks, which start at the Hydro Electric Plant of Santa Teresa. This is also the hub for collectivos back to Cusco and obviously the trains run from here!

For those camping, an excellent camping option is at Wayna Picchu, which is extremely close to the lower entrance gate of Machu Picchu. It’s a half mile before the village of Aguas Calientes. There are some rooms available for rent here.

Quick Hike Info: Llactapata Lodge to Aguas Calientes

  • Distance: 8.75 miles
  • Time: Left Llactapata Lodge @ 7:00 with an arrival to Wayna Picchu Camping, just outside of Aguas Calientes @ 11:30 (4.5 hours)
  • Highlights:
    • Watching the sunrise at Llactapata Lodge
    • Exploring Aguas Calientes
    • Excitement levels running high to finally see Machu Picchu!

Day 8: In-Depth Schedule

train tracks,sign, trees, rocks, stones, house, route to Machu Picchu
The train track that lead to Aguas Calientes
  • Watch the sunrise from the Llactapata Lodge.
    • Pack up after that and begin the trek downhill.
  • After the trek downhill, turn left, cross the river, and continue to the little makeshift village where the train tracks and the Hydroelectric Plant are.
    • Plan on around 2 hours to reach this area from Llactapata Lodge.
  • Next, you’ll see the Machu Picchu Ticket Control Area
    • There was no one there to check us in, but there are pens to sign yourself in.
    • Now’s the time to dump plastic water bottles and bags in the trash.
  • Keep hiking along until you see a bunch of makeshift food stands.
    • Try booth #6 on the left hand side for 7 PEN plates of food & 3 PEN sandwiches.
  • After this, it’s a long and uneventful 5 mile walk along the train tracks.
    1. Plan around 2 hours to reach Wayna Picchu Camping via the train tracks from these food stands.
  • There are some food stands right in front of the campsite selling snacks, breads, sandwiches, and other goodies.

Walking along the train tracks is kind of a culture shock, especially if you have just completed the whole Choquequirao to Machu Picchu trek. There are so many people walking along the tracks, coming from every direction. Say goodbye to that serenity you had for the past 8 days.

Important & Helpful Notes
  • No outside plastic bags or plastic water bottles are allowed at Machu Picchu Archaeological Park, dispose of them upon entering.
  • Be mindful of the trains coming around the corners while following the tracks.
  • There will be lots of dogs walking happily along with you in this section.

Arrival into Aguas Calientes (Machupicchu Pueblo)

On Day 8, you’ll arrive into Aguas Calientes, or Machupicchu Pueblo. Decide on where to sleep. There are camping sites close to the lower entrance gate, or add on another 25 minute walk into the small village of Aguas Calientes.

Many people use Aguas Calientes as a base to explore the famed lost city, bu there are a few fun things to do in this touristic hamlet.

See all the things there are to do in Aguas Calientes besides Machu Picchu!

Camping at Wayna Picchu

Wayna Picchu Camping is an excellent option for those just looking to sleep cheap and close to the bottom entrance control of Machu Picchu. From Wayna Picchu, it’s literally a quarter of a mile to the control where they check your passport and ticket.

Wayna Picchu is eclectic and is right on the mighty river. There are roofs to set up tents underneath to help stay dry. Clean bathrooms, simple, but lots of places to relax and chill.

Practical Info

  • Camping cost: 15 PEN ($4.50 USD) a tent
  • Lots of hammocks, green spaces, and tables
  • Right next to the river
  • simple facilities, but no hot water
    • No hot water? No problem! Visit the hot springs in Aguas Calientes where you can relax and bathe in the thermal pools.
  • .25 miles from the lower entrance control gate of Machu Picchu

Stay in Aguas Calientes

If you want to stay in Aguas Calientes a great option is Supertramp Hostel Machupicchu. Supertramp Hostel has a great breakfast included with the price and serves it up starting at 4:00 a.m. It’s perfect for those with early morning entrance tickets to Machu Picchu.

Supertramp Hostel has shared and private rooms for a reasonable price. The staff is helpful and they also store luggage for the day, so you don’t have to pay to store it at Machu Picchu.

Check availability for Supertramp Hostel Machupicchu here.

Keep in Mind

  • The lower entrance gate is 1.5 miles from Supertramp Hostel, and it’s another 45 minute uphill climb to the main entrance gate.
  • Supertramp Hostel is in Aguas Calientes, so it’s possible to take the overpriced bus for those who don’t want to tackle the hike.

Machu Picchu (Day 9)

Choquequirao to Machu Picchu trek, Machu Picchu, ruins, Inca ruins, woman jumping, man flexing, mountains, clouds, trees, celebratory pose
Feeling like a real “badass” after completing the 9 day trek from Choquequirao to Machu Picchu!

Yeah!! You did it! From Cachora, through the Choquequirao ruins, to the Salkantay trek, and to the entrance gates of Machu Picchu, you did what few have done! The Choquequirao to Machu Picchu trek is a feat not many have accomplished. Hiking this 9 day trek makes the reward of Machu Picchu a little more sweet.

Make sure to have your passport and entrance ticket and you are within the right time frame to enter! Those tackling either Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain will have early entrance times, as the mountains shut down in the afternoon to climbers.

Looking for more information on how to reach Machu Picchu, what to see, and other tips and tricks?

Here’s my basic guide for visiting Machu Picchu independently.

A Quick Itinerary Suggestion for Exploring Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu is beautiful with its llamas and alpacas roaming on stony terraces, powerful mountains in the backdrop, and crumbling ruins. There is so much to see and do in Machu Picchu alone. I won’t pretend to be an expert on this incredible site, but only offer some quick advice and logistics.

  • Tackle one of the Mountains
  • Explore the grounds
  • Take a lunch break outside the park (Allowed with a Mountain Ticket only)
  • Hike up to the Sun Gate, or Intipunku, which is the entrance point from the Inca Trail. Watch people break down in tears as they first lay sight on Machu Picchu. This was one of my favorite spots in the whole sacred site.
  • Explore the park in the afternoon with less crowds and less staff blowing whistles at disobeying tourists.

Fast Facts: A Day at Machu Picchu

stone path, Intipunku at Machu Picchu, trees, mountains, grass, plants, Inca ruins
Trekking up to Intipunku, one of my favorite spots in Machu Picchu.
  • Distance: I hiked up to the entrance, climbed Machu Picchu Mountain, visited the a majority of the Archaeological Park, hiked to Intipunku, and climbed down from the main entrance. (20 miles)
  • Be prepared to have a long day on your feet
  • Highlights:
    • All of it!
    • Early morning entrance with barely any people
    • Climbing Machu Picchu Mountain with only 6 people at top
    • Intipunku (Inca Trail Entrance)
  • Guides are available onsite if you wish to join a tour.
  • Machu Picchu is extremely touristic, but I get the allurement of this magical city built in the clouds.
  • Don’t let the crowds put you off, just arrive early and stay late or come back later.
  • The staff loves to blow whistles if you do the slightest thing wrong. That whistle will haunt your dreams tonight.
Practical Info on Machu Picchu Archaeological Park
  • Hours: 6:00-17:00
  • Lower entrance opens at 5:00 for arrival at main entrance at 6:00 a.m.
  • Ticket Price: 225 PEN ($65 US)
  • Ticket Price with Mountain: 275 PEN ($80 USD)
  • Snack Bar and Restaurant available before ticket control
  • Bathrooms available before ticket control
  • Luggage storage available

How to Return to Cusco from Aguas Calientes

From Aguas Calientes, it’s possible to return to Cusco via train by IncaRail or PeruRail. The cheapest way is to take a collectivo.

Train

There are two train companies that run from Cusco to Machu Picchu and vice-versa. The two companies are PeruRail and IncaRail.

PeruRail

PeruRail offers multiple trains to Cusco and the village of Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley. There are standard train fares to high-end luxury seats. Make sure when purchasing tickets to verify which train you will be riding.

There are a few departures from Aguas Calientes to Cusco daily

  • Departure times: 15:20, 16:43, 17:23, 17:50

PeruRail offers multiple trains that depart from Aguas Caliente to Ollantaytambo.

Tickets start at $60 USD to Ollantaytambo and can run as high as $575 USD for a luxury ticket to Cusco on the Hiram Bingham.

Check availability, see train options, and purchase train tickets online from PeruRail here.

IncaRail

IncaRail offers trains from Agauas Calientes to Cusco or to Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley. Those taking IncaRail from Aguas Calientes to Cusco will most likely have to transfer to bus transportation in Ollantaytambo. IncaRail offers many different styles of train for these journeys.

  • Current train times from Machu Picchu to Cusco: 14:30 & 19:00
  • An additional train only to Ollantaytambo departs at 16:12

Trains from Aguas Caliente to Ollantaytambo take around 1 hour and 40 minutes. Trains to Cusco take around 4 hours. Don’t forget! You will probably transfer in Ollantaytambo to a bus. The bus ride is around 2 hours.

Train tickets are expensive. The cheapest one way ticket with IncaRail is around $80 USD. A one way ticket increases the price by almost 15% than a round-trip ticket.

Check availability, see train options, and purchase train tickets online from IncaRail here.

Collectivos

Collectivos are the way to go for those on a budget. It’s a little more time consuming and it isn’t as convenient or spacious as the trains, but it’s cheaper! Here’s how to take a collectivo back to Cusco.

  1. Walk back along the railroad tracks to the Hydroelectric Plant. An uneventful 5 miles that takes around 2 hours from the lower entrance gate of Machu Picchu.
  2. If you walked from the Salkantay Trek you saw the collectivos waiting at the “end of the railway tracks.”
  3. Collectivos depart when full.
  4. Collectivos may transfer in Santa Teresa, Santa Maria, or Ollantaytambo.
  5. It’s possible to get out at any of these spots.
    • Santa Teresa has hot springs
    • Ollantaytambo is the gateway to, in my opinion, the unmissable Sacred Valley

Practical Info for Collectivos

  • Cost: 40 PEN ($11.75 USD)
  • Time: 5-6 Hours depending on transfers
  • I took a direct bus from the Hydroelectric Plant and moved to a smaller collectivo in Santa Maria. All of this was included in my ticket price.
  • The ride is beautiful, grab a window seat if you can.
  • Collectivos drop in multiple stops, verify with your driver the drop-off location. Most will likely drop near the San Pedro Market.

Discover the Sacred Valley

Pisac Archaeological Park, Pisaq, Inca ruins, terraces, trees, grass, mountains, Sacred Valley
Discover more sacred Inca sites in the Sacred Valley. These are in Pisac.

Before returning to Cusco, discover all the incredible highlights of the Sacred Valley. The Sacred Valley has a special energy and is worth a few days to explore the authentic little villages that line this special area.

Travel Planning: The Best Cusco & Sacred Valley Itinerary for One Week

All collectivos that depart Aguas Calientes for Cusco, will pass through the adorable little village of Ollantaytambo. Exit in Ollantaytambo at the main market, which is one block from the Plaza de Armas. From here, it’s possible to connect to many of the popular villages in the whole valley. The trains also stop in Ollantaytambo before returning to Cusco!

Urubamba makes an awesome base to explore the Sacred Valley

Highlights of the Sacred Valley

There are Inca ruins scattered throughout the valley. The Archaeological Parks of Pisac, Ollantaytambo, Chinchero, and Moray are highlights of the popular Cusco Tourist Ticket, are worth a visit. There are also other hidden gems like the “dimensional portal” of Ñaupa Iglesia and the hike up the magical mountain of Saywa and the peculiar ruins that lie at the top. In Ollantaytambo, find the worthwhile sacred site of Pumamarca. Take the strenuous uphill climb to Inti Punku, a crumbling Sun Gate with stunning views.

Related: Visit all 16 sites on the Cusco Tourist Ticket independently!

The Sacred Valley has more than Archaeological Parks. Hike to the Maras Salt Mines, or maybe relax in the Lares Hot Springs. Or, visit one of many incredible Alpine Lakes. Laguna Juchuychocha is a full day trip from Urubamba, but so worth it! The valley is diverse and is packed with activities for everyone!

Travel Inspiration: All the Amazing Highlights of the Sacred Valley

Total Cost of Choquequirao to Machu Picchu Trek

woman, backpack, camping gear, camping stove, river, rocks, mountains, waterfalls, stones, Choquequirao to Machu Picchu trek
Epic lunch spot, somewhere between Yanama and Totora.

So how much did this whole adventure cost me? Here’s a breakdown from Cachora, to Choquequirao to my final destination of Machu Picchu.

Prices on the table are rounded to the nearest 25¢

ExpensesPEN (S/)USD($)
Food & Snacks (First 4 days, split between 2 people) S/60$17.50
Propane Tank Large (Best to have another small for backup)S/40$11.75
Bus & (Taxi, 2 person split) to CachoraS/18.25$5.25
CasaNostra Choquequirao & dinner with drinks and upgraded breakfastS/60$17.50
Campsites (split between 2 people)S/13.50$4
Guest House RoomsS/30$8.75
Hot Water FeesS/12$3.50
Snacks along the trailS/25$7.25
Pepared Meals & CoffeesS/60$17.50
Replenishment of Food SuppliesS/25$7.25
Wifi & Charging ExpensesS/15$4.25
Choquequirao Archaeological Park TicketS/60$17.50
Pulley cart on the Salkantay TrekS/10$3
Machu Picchu Ticket with MP MountainS/275$80
Aguas Calientes Hot SpringsS/20$5.75
Collectivo to CuscoS/40$11.75
TOTAL EXPENSESS/763.75$222.50

This daily average is $22.25 per person to complete the Choquequirao to Machu Picchu trek. (Based on 10 days, since we spent the night in Cachora).

The biggest expenses are the entrance ticket fees to Choquequirao and Machu Picchu.

Want to Lower Expenses?

It can be done cheaper by camping every night, buying less snacks and prepared meals, not using WiFi, and having cold showers! In Cachora, skip dinner at the hostel!

Choquequirao to Machu Picchu Trek: A Real Expedition

Choquequirao trek, Choquequirao to Machu Picchu trek, Choquequirao Archaeological Park, Inca ruins, stones, grass, mountains, clouds
The ruins of Choquequirao against a moody backdrop.

In conclusion, this is the complete guide on the Choquequirao to Machu Picchu trek. This trek is off the beaten path, and when done independently, it can feel like a real expedition. Adventure through authentic villages, experience quiet ancient Inca ruins, climb between scenic mountain passes, and feast your eyes on the ultimate prize, the lost city of the Incas, Machu Picchu. This trek is a challenge, but the journey truly is the genuine reward.

This 10 day itinerary covers all important aspects including: how to get to Cachora, the starting point of the Choquequirao trail, maps, day by day itineraries, tips and tricks, how to merge up with the Salkantay Trail, Machu Picchu basics, how to return to Cusco, insider tips about the Sacred Valley, and a complete budget of this trek.

Have you heard of the 9 day trek to Machu Picchu from Choquequirao? Have you visited the Choquequirao Archaeological Park? Will you put this one your bucket list? Is there something more you would like to know about this trek? Let me know in the comments below!

Disclaimer: There’s a chance this post contains affiliate links, and I receive a small (but grateful) portion of the sale. There’s no extra cost to you, and I only promote things that I use and love.

About Author

Hey, my name is Megs! I'm an adventure-seeking, wanna be storyteller, with a wandering soul. I love immersing myself in diverse cultures and customs. I'm kind of obsessed with hiking in the mountains, soaking in hot springs, and seeking-out the most authentic travel experiences as possible! Find me savoring a good cup of coffee, eating at traditional markets, or catching a sunset with a glass of wine in hand. Experiences and memories are my most prized possessions.

12 Comments

  • Emma
    July 25, 2020 at 12:01 am

    What an epic adventure. I’m actually planning my first multi day hiking trip close to home this year, but this is something to work up to for sure. Something I’ve always wanted to do.

    Reply
    • Megs
      July 25, 2020 at 7:32 am

      Thanks Emma! Good luck on your first multi-day trek. Thanks for reading!💚

      Reply
  • Vanessa Shields
    July 25, 2020 at 2:01 am

    Wow this is an excellent guide with so many useful tips! I had planned on hiking Machu Piccu this September and hoping I can get there in 2022. I had never heard of this stretch but now I’d like to do this too. The views of the terraces and ruins are gorgeous!

    Reply
    • Megs
      July 25, 2020 at 7:29 am

      Thanks so much Vanessa! This is a very “off the beaten path trek,” and Choquequirao is just as stunning. The final reward of Machu Picchu is SO worth it! Best of luck and please let me know if you choose this route! Happy trails. 🥾

      Reply
  • Kelsey
    July 25, 2020 at 3:22 pm

    This is awesome! We wanted to do this this summer! Thanks so much for sharing your experience!

    Reply
    • Megs
      July 27, 2020 at 9:04 am

      That’s awesome Kelsey! I hope you enjoy it and would love to hear your experiences! 🥾

      Reply
  • Andrea Cannon
    July 25, 2020 at 5:01 pm

    This looks incredible! And what a thorough post! This is on my bucket list!

    Reply
    • Megs
      July 27, 2020 at 9:06 am

      Thank you so much Andrea! It has been one of my favorite multi-day treks of all time. 🏔

      Reply
  • Jessica Redler
    July 25, 2020 at 10:30 pm

    Wow so informative! I don’t know how anyone does this hike without reading this post, thanks so much!

    Reply
    • Megs
      July 27, 2020 at 9:08 am

      Awe thank you, Jessica! I hope this helps anyone looking to take this “off the beaten path” trek! 😊

      Reply
  • Nell
    July 27, 2020 at 12:04 pm

    This post is incredibly informative! I love a long distance hike and this has always been on my bucket list.

    Reply
    • Megs
      July 29, 2020 at 7:06 am

      Thanks Nell! Hope you can tackle this epic hike in the near future! 💚

      Reply

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