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All you need to know about Choquequirao

March 15, 2024
choquequirao information

Perched in the mountains high above the Apurímac River, the ruins of Choquequirao are some of the most unique and fascinating Incan ruins to be found anywhere in Peru, the site’s incredible architecture, clinging to the mountainside and featuring extensive terracing it is said to resemble Machu Picchu, but is also superior as the site is said to be 3 times larger. This clandestine ruin will surprise you with its beauty and magnificence.

Amazingly one of the unique features of Choquequirao is that the ancient city is bordered by two distinct environments, the Andes and the Amazon, making it one of the most interesting ruins in all of Peru. The construction of Choquequirao is estimated to have been built around 1536. Archaeologists also have theories that the city served as one of the final refuges for the Incas after the conquest by the Spaniards.

How to get to Choquequirao

From Cusco the only way to reach the start of the Choquequirao Trek is by bus or private vehicle, from there trekking is how you will get to the ruins of Choquequirao. It is recommended that you hire a guide and a few pack mules to carry extra supplies. It takes approximately 2 days of full hiking to get to the archeological site and 4 days total to complete the trip. The campsites, like the route itself, are well-maintained and equipped with facilities not found on most other Andean trails. The campsites all have running water, showers, toilet block and even small shops selling snacks and drinks.

Best Time to Go to Choquequirao Ruins

The best time to do the Choquequirao trek is between May and September. This is the dry season in the Andes, when the weather is the most predictable. During the rainy season between October and April often the trail is closed because of unsafe trail conditions.

Choquequirao Hike - 69 explorer

Independent Trekking vs Guided Package Trekking

Independent, of course you can complete the Choquequirao trek alone. Many people do this trek alone every year and enjoy the experience immensely, the trek is well maintained and clearly marked and for experienced trekkers will not be a problem. But you must be aware that if you chose to do the trek alone you will need to carry all that you will need for the 4 days by yourself, making the trek difficult especially at over 10000 ft above sea level.

However, it is strongly recommended that if you do the trek independently you should book reliable transportation to the trailhead and back again. Also with a guide, you’ll benefit from their knowledge of history with explanations to why the ruins were built in such a way and how the Incas used to live.

Guided tour package to Choquequirao Hike; if you purchase a guided tour package, not only will you benefit from freshly cooked meals, the experience of a local Peruvian guide and the support of your fellow traveler you will also you receive all the following

Private transportation to and from the trailhead, English speaking guide, cook and cooking equipment, all meals on trek, snacks, eating and bathroom tents, 4 person tents for 2 people, mule-handlers & mules saddled horse (1 horse for every 6 persons), First-aid kit & Emergency Oxygen bottle, boiled water when necessary.

Altitude Sickness

Altitude sickness can always be an issue at high altitudes. For the Choquequirao trek, it is highly likely that you will experience some form of altitude sickness, as elevations reach as high as 10,100 ft. For this reason, it is important to acclimatize properly, take your time on the trail, and take measures to combat symptoms.

Recommended to fight sickness include acclimatizing in the Andes for 48-72 hours, eating a light diet, staying hydrated, avoiding smoking and alcohol, easing into the hike and taking breaks whenever necessary. You should also contact your healthcare provider before leaving home for recommendations for anti-altitude sickness medication. Another local remedies are chewing coca leaves, drinking coca tea or consuming coca candies – all traditional treatments for fighting altitude sickness among the people of the Andes.

What you will see at Choquequirao Ruins

Choquequirao is situated at an elevation of 3,000 m above sea level on a southwest-facing side of a glaciated peak above the Apurimac River. The main structures, such as temples, elite residences, fountain and bath systems all are close to the surrounding two plazas. There are groups of common buildings clustered away from the plazas. Excavations and surface items suggest they were probably used for workshops and food preparation. Most buildings are well-preserved and well-restored. Today the restoration continues.


The archaeological complex of Choquequiaro is divided into 12 sectors. While the contents of each sector are different, terraces used for various purposes are common throughout. It seems that most of the buildings here were either for ceremonial purposes, residences of the priests, or used to store food.

Ceremonial center

The ceremonial center of Choquequirao shares many features similar to those of other Inca ceremonial centers and pilgrimage sites. The ceremonial center consists of a main platform and a lower plaza. Stone lined channels carried ceremonial water, or chicha to shrines and baths throughout the site.


The area around Choquequiaro contains several subsectors that have been associated with the Inca culture that thrived in Choquequirao, suggesting that the subsectors are most likely part of the site.


All materials utilized for the construction of the site and surrounding sectors were stones that were mined from the local quarries.

choquequirao hike - 69 explorer

A Typical 4-day Choquequirao Hike, meals included, difficulty and distances walked

Day 1: Cusco – Capuliyoc – Playa Rosalinas – Santa Rosa

Start the journey early and travel to the starting point of your trek, ending the day at the first campsite at Santa Rosa.

Day 2: Santa Rosa – Maranpata – Choquequirao

Walk to the village of Maranpata, through micro climates, arrive at the site of Choquequirao, guided tour before heading to Maranpata for the second campsite.

Day 3: Marampata –Chiquisca

Descend to the magnificent Apurimac River, marvel at its strength and power, your guide will explain its importance to the Inca. Trek to the campsite at Chiquisca.

Day 4: Chiquisca – Saywite – Cusco

A challenging trek to Capuliyoc Pass. Spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and canyon. Drive to Cachora for lunch. Drive to Saywite for a guided tour. Later return to Cusco.

Travel Tips

Packing List for Choquequirai Trek

Back Pack to take with you on the trek

Duffel Bag to be carried daily by the porters

Note not accessible until the camp at night


Take the time to explore the possibility of trekking to Choquequirao, subsequently a bigger ruin than Machu Picchu, the trek is quieter with opportunity to walk at your own pace. Don’t miss out on this challenging but beautiful hike through the breath-taking Peruvian Andes. Book today to avoid disappointment.