WHERE IS CHOQUEQUIRAO TREK LOCATED?
The archaeological center of Choquequirao is located within the department of Cusco, between the provinces of La Convención and Anta. Surrounded by the great canyon of the Apurimac river.
WHEN WAS CHOQUEQUIRAO DISCOVERED?
Ever since the last inhabitants abandoned the Choquequirao site, no Spanish soldiers nor priests could find it; they didn´t even hear about it. Then, years later, and naturally, the thick vegetation began to cover the once well-preserved plaza and buildings, it became a sort of lost city, but the native people living in Cachora colonial village knew that on the other side of the canyon, there were year´s past ruins. Under the Spanish domination, it didn’t interest the recovery of Choquequirao; on the contrary, the few outsiders such as Spanish explorer and mineral prospector Juan Arias Díaz and others who reached Choquequirao looted the site. In 1909, Professor Hiram Bingham from the University of yale visited the site, with the help of a church from Abancay city. They reported the archeological lootings and pottery shards, and there, they announced for the magazines and journals for the outside world. There, the Choquequirao site became notorious, at least for the archeology community. The significant excavations proceeded later in 1970, 2004, and still today, there is much more to uncover in Choquequirao.
WHAT IS CHOQUEQUIRAO?
Choquequirao is an archaeological site that is found in the Vilcabamba mountain range in Southern Peru. It is roughly two days’ walk from Cusco and is generally considered to be better preserved, more remote, and bigger than the ruins of Machu Picchu. It is considerably harder to get to than Machu Picchu, which means that it is much less visited.
The abandoned citadel of Choquequirao is hidden deep in the Andes Mountains and is only accessible through a multi-day trek. The shortest amount of time the trek is possible is four days. The four-day trek sees travelers trek down 1,500 meters into the mountain canyon and the very next day, taking on the grueling 1,800-meter ascent to arrive at the archeological site.
WHAT DOES MEAN CHOQUEQUIRAO?
The name Choquequirao is thought to come from the Quechua language. Quechua was the native language of Peru before the arrival of the Spanish colonizers. It is thought that it is a combination of two words- Chuqi, which means metal, and k’iraw, which means crib, giving the citadel the name ‘metal crib’.
WHAT IS THE ALTITUDE OF CHOQUEQUIRAO TREK?
The different altitudes that you will cross during your Choquequirao trek are the following:
Day 1 and 4: Cusco- Capuliyoc- Chiquisca- Playa Rosalina
- Cusco: 3350 masl / 10990 ft
- Capuliyoc: 3150 masl / 10334 ft
- Chiquisca: 1930 masl/ 6332 ft
- Playa Rosalina 1495 masl / 4904 ft
Day 2 : Santa Rosa Alta – Marampata- Choquequirao
- Santa Rosa Alta: 2600 masl / 8530 ft
- Marampata: 2850 masl / 9350 ft
- Choquequirao: 3033 masl / 9951 ft
Day 3: Choquequirao – Chiquisqa – Cocamasana
- Choquequirao: 3033 masl / 9951 ft
- Sunchupata: 2900 masl / 9514 ft
- Playa Rosalina: 1495 masl / 4904 ft
- Cocamasana : 2950 masl / 9678 ft
WHAT IS ALTITUDE SICKNESS
Altitude sickness or soroche as some call it is very common. Because, it is a natural reaction of the body when going through sudden changes in height. For this, the fundamental cause is the lack of oxygen in the body (hypoxia). It seems that this occurs in people who come from a very low altitude. Whose destination has an altitude greater than 2000 meters above sea level and consequently may have the following symptoms:
This list of symptoms can be alleviated with coca leaf tea (highly recommended), altitude sickness pills (check with a doctor before self-medicating). For this reason, you must descend to a lower altitude area, drink hot infusions and remain completely at rest. If the situation does not improve, it is advisable to call a doctor.
- Difficulty to sleep
- Feeling of vertigo
- Nausea – vomiting
- Respiratory distress
This list of symptoms, unlike the previous one, are more dangerous, they can be alleviated with the administration of oxygen through a mask. It is important to descend immediately from the altitude in which you are and medical attention is necessary since an inappropriate maneuver can be fatal for the patient. Likewise, it is suggested to keep the body hydrated by drinking at least 3 to 4 liters of water, avoiding alcoholic beverages, and adding a diet of carbohydrates and sugars.
- Chest stiffness
- Loss of consciousness
- Soft spot
- Inability to walk
- Respiratory distress
HOW TO AVOID ALTITUDE SICKNESS
It is recommended to do the following:
- A period of acclimatization is recommended for the body to assimilate height changes.
- To rest well.
- Drink hot infusions, preferably coca leaf tea.
- Hydrate the body (drink between 3 to 4 liters of water).
- Avoid drinking alcohol.
- Feed on light food.
- Consume foods based on carbohydrates and sugars.
IS ACCLIMATIZATION NECESSARY FOR THE CHOQUEQUIRAO TREK?
During the Choquequirao trek you will experience features of many climate variations along the route. It probably reached heights of up to 3,000 meters above sea level and unraveled up to 2,010 meters above sea level. Therefore, it is recommended to arrive in the city of Cusco at least 2 days before the trek so that you can eat a light diet, eat little, drink plenty of water and rest well. That is, being able to be in favorable conditions, acclimatize and avoid being affected by the so-called “soroche” or altitude sickness. That generates some problems such as headache, shortness of breath, beautiful, dizziness, etc.
THERE IS AGE RESTRICTION TO DO THE CHOQUEQUIRAO TREK
Age: It is recommended that children under 12 years of age and older do not do this walk because it is “challenging”. Also, because it has an extreme cold climate, it requires a good physical condition.
Health: The walk is open to the general public. But, health is a very sensitive issue to take into consideration. Almost, it is not recommended to do this walk for people who have respiratory and cardiac problems. Since, the oxygenation at higher altitude is lower and harder to breathe, which will make your walk more difficult.
Another important point that you must take into consideration before starting the walk. It is to be aware if you have allergies or food restrictions. For this reason, it is preferable to take your medications if you have them and strictly comply with them, remember that there are no hospitals on the walk.
If you do this walk hiring a travel agency, it is very important to inform these details. So that they can take the necessary precautions and bring what is necessary for you to enjoy this walk.
PHYSICAL CONDITION FOR THE CHOQUEQUIRAO TREK
In order to make the Choquequirao Trek we must take into account the physical condition in which we find ourselves. To do this, we must prepare ourselves by strengthening our muscles and our endurance capacity for this walk. Because, it is not uniform and instead shows different levels of difficulty.
Thus, some specialists give the following recommendations:
Go hiking or walking:
It is advisable to walk gradually starting from 2 kilometers to 10 kilometers per day. Above all, to strengthen the muscles and test our endurance capacity. Also, we can make longer walks in mountainous areas that require a higher degree of difficulty. Taking into account that the second day of the Salkantay trek is 22 kilometers.
To carry out the Choquequirao trek, it is important to maintain the rhythm between our steps and our breathing to avoid rapid fatigue. For this reason, it is recommended to practice deep breathing exercises, diffracted breathing, full breathing and alternate breathing between nostrils and mouth.
Food is very important when doing this type of walk. Therefore, we recommend eating foods that are rich in iron and vitamin B, which helps us improve blood circulation, preferably eating green vegetables and fish.
Hydration is essential either on the walk or in our physical preparation so we will avoid energy wear and headaches.
WHAT IS THE WEATHER LIKE IN CHOQUEQUIRAO TREK?
During the route, you will cross the province of La Convencion and the district of Vilcabamba, both of which have a temperate-warm climate. But, they have two very defined seasons; the rainy season and the dry season:
This season includes the months of November to March. During these months there will be rainfall, mighty rivers, the roads will become rough and there will even be landslides and the sky will always be cloudy; As for the temperature, the maximum recorded is 20°C and drops to 13°C.
This season includes the months of April to October. It is advisable to take walks during these months because the roads are in better condition; the presence of rains is very occasional and snow is rarely present in the higher altitude areas. But, it should be noted that the months of June and July are the frost season, so these months will be colder than usual. During this season the maximum temperature is 23° C and the minimum is 10° C.
WHEN IS THE BEST SEASON TO TREK TO CHOQUEQUIRAO PERU?
As a general rule, the best time to hike Choquequirao is the dry winter months, which run from May to August; this is because there is little rain and the trail needs to be solid underfoot.
If you are going to trek in the dry months, keep in mind that the weather will be a bit cold at night, with temperatures that sometimes drop below freezing. This only applies to the higher camps, usually at the Choquequirao ruins or at Marampata. On the other hand, in the lower camps, such as Chiquisqa or Santa Rosa, the temperatures at night are pleasant.
The bottom of the Canyon can get very hot, such as above 37°C or 98°F. This is easy to manage if you have the proper layers.
The Choquequirao Peru trek is dangerous to hike from December to March due to the way the heavy rains of the wet season affect the sides of the Apurimac canyon. This is no joke – rock falls from above have killed hikers on the Choquequirao route and no hiking agency should be taking people to Choquequirao in these months.
In addition to the risk of falling rocks from above, the Choquequirao trail is very steep, and when you add a lot of water it can be very slippery and the slopes near the trail are very steep, in some places descending hundreds of meters to the Apurimac.
In general a Choquequirao trek from May to October should be ok, though Adean Great Treks always reserves the right to change or cancel treks if the weather conditions will make trekking unsafe.
HOW DIFFICULT IS THE CHOQUEQUIRAO TREK
It is considered the hardest trekking trail of Peru, it covers 64 kilometers of trail (32 km to each way for the traditional trek), for the 3 days, 4 and 5 days programs, while if you decide continuing to Machu Picchu, the part covered by food is about 76 kms. The trail runs by the Andean highlands, with an average of 16 km per day. Expect downhill and uphill, that demand extra energy, and previous training before you come.
Whatever way you do the Choquequirao Trek, it is a hard trail. This is because you need to cross the Apurimac canyon on foot. In general, the first day has you descending 1500m (4921feet) which involves steep and slippery descents, the next day you climb back up the 1500 meters to reach the Choquequirao ruins. Both days involve a series of switch backs that are strenuous for all types of fitness.
Some Choquequirao trek operators will tell you that the Choquequirao trek difficulty is not too bad because they are not high altitude. Well, again, we think some honesty is in order. The Choquequirao trek is one of the lower altitude treks around the Cusco region – that doesn’t mean it is low!. In fact, you start at 3300m (10826 feet) on the first day, and by the second day, you will be back up there above 3000 meters again.
HOW DOES CHOQUEQUIRAO TREK COMPARE TO OTHER MACHU PICCHU HIKES DIFFICULTY?
We will compare the route to the most popular other two alternative routes – the Salkantay Trek, Classic Inca Trail Hike and the Lares Trek to Machu Picchu.
The Salkantay trek is the second most touristed trek in the region, after the Inca trail and as such sees large, big groups departing every day. Also, as it is more accessible than Choquequirao Trek a small collection of hotels has sprung up at Soraypampa. This means it feels busy and not so remote.
Day 2 is the most difficult of the Salkantay trek, and you climb from 4200m (13779ft) to 4600metres (15091 ft), from your campsite to the Salkantay pass. This takes 2.5 to 3 hours on switchbacks and is pretty hard given the altitude.
Another popular treks in the region is the Lares Trek to Machu Picchu. Day 2 is again the hardest day, when you climb from the campsite at 4000m (13123 ft) to the pass at 4400m (14435 ft), which takes around 1.5 to 2 hours.
Interestingly, when you compare the Inca trail hike difficulty it is the closest in terms of altitude ascended in one day to Choquequirao. On day 2 of the Classic Inca trail you start at 3000m (9842ft) at Huayllabamba and ascend 1200 metres (3937 ft) to Dead Woman’s pass in the same day. Unlike the Choquequirao trek with its endless zig zags, much of this climb is done on big stone steps. We personally have found that those steps are incredibly difficulty when you are tired. In addition, you find yourself frequently stopping to let the heavily burdened porters pass and get your breath. This is also much higher altitude than the Choquequirao trek so you are also dealing with lack of oxygen.
The only advantage of the Inca trail difficulty vs the Choquequirao difficulty is that there is only one day of hard climbing, the rest of the trail is relatively undulating.
Let’s compare to the Choquequirao trek difficulty – on day 1 you will descend 1500 metres (4900 ft approx) over 4 hours, and then on day 2 you will ascend another 1500 me over 3-4 hours on a series of switchbacks. The only thing that is ‘easier’ about Choquequirao Trek than the other Machu Picchu treks is that it’s not as high altitude, so its slightly easier to breath. (However, don’t kid yourself – it’s still altitude and the trail is steep, and unrelenting!)
HOW ABOUT THE TERRAIN? HOW CHALLENGING IS IT?
The Choquequirao Trek is uneven, rocky, unpaved path, rated as the hardest and the most difficult trekking trails in Peru, and covers approximately 60 km / 36 miles on uneven, rocky terrain with steep uphill and downhill for the classic trail that can be done in 3 days, 4 days or 5 days. A trail which in terms of altitude, it is entirely at a lower elevation that Cusco city, but hard because the trail descend a lot to reach the river, then a steep climbing to reach to the Inca city.
IS CHOQUEQUIRAO TREK WORTH IT?
In short, yes. Choquequirao offers some of the most incredible, undisturbed ruins in all of Peru. The views of the surrounding areas are unparalleled, and the hard work to get there is completely worth it.
With so few visitors coming to the site, it’s the perfect place for travelers to really escape the crowds and experience the real Peru- hundreds of miles away from the crowds of Machu Picchu.
If you think that you want to experience the Choquequirao trek, get in contact with us today and we can help you to plan this once in a lifetime experience.
CAN I DO THE CHOQUEQUIRAO TREK ALL MYSELF?
You can do the Choquequirao trek by yourself- it is possible. However, the logistics of organizing the tour can be complicated. You will need to source muleteers and carry all of your own equipment and resources like food and water.
It is also a reasonably difficult trek and requires a high level of fitness to complete, and the changes in altitude can be disorienting for travelers. You also will not have a guide when you arrive in the ruins of Choquequirao, or transport to and from the starting village of Cachora.
In conclusion, it is possible to do the Choquequirao trek without a tour, but it’s not exactly advisable. Your experience will likely be much more stressful and less informative than it could have been.
Remember to bear in mind that your pack will be considerably heavier and you will need to negotiate with locals whose first language is Quechua. You will also need to be honest with your own evaluation about whether you have the physical fitness and ability to complete the trek. There’s no emergency evacuation if you choose to go it alone.
SHOULD I TIP TO THE GUIDE, COOKS, AND HELPERS? IF I YES, HOW MUCH?
All our team are treated well, according our politics they get better than the average However, most of our clients want to show their appreciation by giving a tip and the crew may expect some tipping. Feel free to do it at the end of their work.
HOW MANY PEOPLE WILL I FIND ALONG THE CHOQUEQUIRAO TREK?
During the high season there will be about 100 people a day during the months of august, while in the rest of the months as average 50 people as average. Since this trail demands energy and it is not well known by many tour companies, then only few offer this site, despite the site is amazing and the view reward any effort to get there.
WHAT HAPPENS IN AN EMERGENCY: INJURED OR GET SICK ALONG THE CHOQUEQUIRAO TREK?
In cases of emergencies, like medical problems, we have a detailed medical protocol to follow. All our guides have a “wilderness first aid courses”, all our groups brings first aid kit, emergency oxygen bottle and emergency horse. In case of a medical problems. Since this trek is at a lower elevation than altitude sickness line, the report of altitude sickness is very low (01 person each 100 people).
DO I NEED TO CARRY MY OWN MEDICINE OR FIRST AID?
Yes, you know your body, and if you have doctors prescribed medication, we kindly recommend you to bring your 1st aid kid as well. Our guides will bring along the trek: some pain killers, bandages, oxygen bottle, antiseptics, antipyretics, salts and minerals, some basic pills that are part of 1st aid kit.
HOW BIG ARE THE GROUPS?
We are specialized in both private and small groups, but we like the private service because that way our clients get personalized service, especially when you encounter lots of things on treks, such as, flowers, flora and fauna – your guide are going to take care of you along the trail, where you can learn culture the flora, fauna and history.
In case that you join our small group, then the maximum amount per group is 8 people. But if you are coming in a larger group, we are also prepared and have experience in handling large groups of friends, students and or other entities that are coming with a whole group.
HOW ARE THE TOILET AND SHOWER SITUATION ON THE CHOQUEQUIRAO TREK?
In the Choquequirao Trek there are bathrooms in all the camps. You have to bring your own the toiletries, we recommend one role per each two people, but in case for any reason you will need extra, our team will have extra toilet papers for you.
The campsites has cold free showers, if you don’t mind taking cold showers then it I perfect for you. Every day in the morning you will a get small bucket of warm water in your tent that you can use for washing hands and face. If you do not mind also you to bring a baby wet wipes.
DO YOU INCLUDE SLEEPING BAGS? IF NOT, CAN I RENT FROM YOU?
We do not include sleeping bags, we advise you to bring your own, this should resist as average -10°C, if you are consider renting: Yes we rent sleeping bags. That are designed for temperatures for this trek, request them before trek.
DO I NEED TREKKING POLES?
Absolutely yes! Walking poles are recommended, a pair of walking sticks per each, as they will help you with balance in the sand and rocky parts. They help with up to 30% off the weight. If you don’t have any we also have them for rent.
DO I NEED TO BRING EXTRA MONEY FOR THE CHOQUEQUIRAO TREK?
Yes! You should consider bringing money, as along the trail there are several spots where water, soda, beer, cookies, candies, energy drinks and etc are on sale, on that way you also can help with the local economy
IS THERE ELECTRICITY SUPPLY ALONG THE CHOQUEQUIRAO TREK?
No, there is no electricity along the entire Choquequirao trek, reason by which we recommend you to bring extra batteries or portable recharger. Bring as well batteries for your headlamps to use it during the night.
DO YOU PROVIDE DRINKING WATER?
Yes! We’ll be provided boiled drinking water. We advise you as well to bring water purification tablets, so if you need some more water along the trek, you can re-fill your bottles and purify them. There are as well locals selling water along the trail, then consider bringing cash money, we recommend to bring Nalgene water bottles or camel bags.
WHY SHOULD I GO TO THE BRIEFING?
The briefing is very important because that is when you will meet your guide. At this meeting, your guide will provide you with important details about the hike. If you participate in Choquequirao Trek, you will receive a duffle bag for your personal belongings. During the briefing, you will also pay the balance of your walk. You will receive a map of our offices with your reservation information.
SHOULD I RENT AN ADDITIONAL HORSE?
If you are concerned about the walk, you have the option of hiring an additional horse. The cost is US $ 80.00. You can only ride the first two days of the promotion. In the last days, you will sometimes have the opportunity to unsubscribe and take a car or train for certain stages of the trek. In addition, you should keep in mind that the first day you will take a different route than those who choose to walk. You do not have to organize this in advance.
HOW ARE THE GUIDES ON CHOQUEQUIRAO TREK?
Having a good guide is an essential part of a good walking experience. For this reason, “Adean Great Treks” hires and works with some of the best guides in the business. Our guides have knowledge in the fields of history, archeology, ecology and are from the Cusco region.
To continue working with our guides, we pay them a higher salary than most agencies and make sure they are treated well. They can use good quality sleeping bags, mats and food for free. The same goes for our porters and our riders.
WHAT IS THE FOOD AT CHOQUEQUIRAO TREK?
One of our strengths is the food we provide on the Choquequirao Trek, which is why our company has been working with high mountain cooks for more than 10 years. They are going to bring you the best gastronomy of Cusco and Peru. At breakfast there will be scrambled eggs, omelets, pancakes, coffee, milk, butter, etc. Lunches are very nutritious (quinoa chaufa, steak, chicken stew, sauteed tenderloin, stuffed avocado, etc). And dinner is designed according to the type of weather, for example the first night you will have a refreshing soup for the cold and altitude sickness. The last day we will have dinner at a restaurant in Aguas Calientes. If you have any food restrictions, do not worry, since our chefs are prepared for all types of food restrictions, such as vegetarians, vegans, or allergies to gluten and others. All foods are prepared with fresh and organic ingredients, produced by the farmers of the Sacred Valley of the Incas.
I NEED TRAVEL INSURANCE TO HIKE THE CHOQUEQUIRAO TREK
Yes, it is recommended. Since, during the tour or before making the trip, an eventuality caused by nature or health factors could happen; these cases are difficult to predict. Therefore, it forces you to cancel the trip, in this situation a travel insurance cushions part of the economic losses.
These insurances have an approximate cost of 100 dollars to 150 dollars depending on the type of insurance you choose, here we mention some insurance companies.
- Assist card
- world nomads
- Berkshire Hathaway Inc (leader in the United States)
- Allianz (the largest in Germany and Europe)
- Ping An (leader in china)
- Metlife (known in Europe and Spain)
- Berkley International
- Liberty Insurance
HOW DO I MAKE A BOOKING FOR THE CHOQUEQUIRAO TREK?
- Fill out the form
- Fill out the passenger details form in a word document. This should be attached in your email.
- Pre payment
- Pay your deposit, and let us know when you have paid! This is important because our system does not automatically notify us when you’ve paid your deposit.
- Confirm reservation
- Once you’ve received your booking confirmation in the form of a PDF, please check it over to confirm that everything is correct.
- Informative session
- Your all set!! Remember to come to our offices the day before your departure date at 5:00 PM for your briefing.
IF I DECIDE TO CANCEL, WILL I BE REIMBURSED?
Our company will be able to refund a part of your reservation deposit, in case you cannot complete your adventure in the Choquequirao Trek circuit. But this request must be sent to the company’s mail, with a minimum of 15 days before starting your Trekking. Otherwise you could be charged some administrative costs.
A very important issue to give, is that if you paid for the entire tour, and for any reason you decide to cancel the tour less than 48 hours, this can only be done under certain conditions, by your travel agent, who will inform you of the expenses that should cover.
WHY IS THERE AN 5% CHARGE FOR PAYPAL AND VISA? IS THERE ANY WAY TO AVOID THIS CHARGE?
Unfortunately, the 5% charge is completely out of our hands. This fee does not go to us, but to PayPal and VISA. There is really no way around it.
WHAT DOCUMENTS SHOULD I BRING TO CHOQUEQUIRAO TREK
It is important that you bring the physical document that you provide to the travel agency, since the data on this document will be used to purchase your entrance tickets to the Choquequirao ruins.