Choquequirao travel guide
The ultimate travel guide to Choquequirao 2024
Cusco - Perú
Nicole Maxdeo
April 15, 2024

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Table of Contents

Where is Choquequirao?

The archaeological site of Choquequirao is located between the Salkantay mountain, north of the Apurímac River. At 3030 meters above sea level, one could say it sits right on the border between Cusco and Apurímac.

History of Choquequirao

Choquequirao is a Quechua word that translates literally as "Cradle of Gold." This citadel was and is located on the route from Cusco to the Amazon.

As we know, the facts are not really concrete, but some historians say that during the Spanish conquest, many of the Incas left Cusco. Desperately fleeing from there, they had no choice but to take refuge in this region, thus reaching Choquequirao. Thanks to this settlement, people currently consider Choquequirao one of the last Inca refuges.

One of the earliest pieces of information or events known about Choquequirao dates back to the 18th century. Some explorers from Spain are said to have visited this archaeological complex. However, once they arrived, they found nothing but some stone remains hidden under the vegetation of the area.

Later, almost in the 20th century, Hiram Bingham and the topographer Clarence Hay visited Choquequirao. They were the ones who described and detailed this important site. It is said that only a small part of what is really in Choquequirao is known. This occurred because there was no imposition of either the desire or the necessary budget.

How to get to Choquequirao?

To reach the starting point of Choquequirao, the access road is only by car. We're not saying you'll get to the same door, but you'll arrive at the starting point in Cachora in almost 4 hours approximately from Cusco.

Thus, treks are the main way to access this place. Thousands of travelers come from all over the world to hike for several days to see so much beauty. While it's true that it's not as famous as Machu Picchu, it's still amazing.

What can be seen in Choquequirao?

As mentioned before, this sacred Inca site is only known to 30% of its extent. However, here we can see important places such as:

  • Main Plaza - This is like the main area and is built in two divided parts.
    Colcas - These were known as warehouses. In Choquequirao, these platforms have internal subdivisions.
  • Andenes - These are like terraces that are purely for crops. Here you can also see a kind of engravings in the shape of Llamas engraved on these terraces, these are known as the 'Llamas of the Sun'.
  • Housing - In the highest part of Choquequirao, there are up to 5 buildings whose purpose was probably housing for the priests of the site. It is believed that this Inca site was an important ceremonial center.
  • Inca cemetery - It is called that because almost 17 funerary bundles were found.
  • Kallankas - These are a kind of rectangular buildings that functioned as workshops or administrative centers. It was even thought that they could serve as meeting centers.
  • Ushnu - This is a construction in the form of an oval platform, located at the top of the hills.

How is the Choquequirao trek?

Day 1 | Cusco - Capuliyoc - Chiquisca - Playa Rosalina - Santa Rosa
From Cusco to Capuliyoc. Next, we'll go to our lunch spot in Chiquisca. Later, we'll pass through Playa Rosalina and arrive at the Santa Rosa camp.

Day 2 | Santa Rosa - Marampata - Choquequirao - Marampata
Journey through Marampata until reaching Choquequirao. Once there, we'll explore the site with our private tour guide. Return to Marampata to spend the night.

Day 3 | Marampata - Santa Rosa - Playa Rosalina - Chiquisca
Walk from Marampata to Santa Rosa. Then, we'll descend to Playa Rosalina and have lunch. To end the day, we will camp in Chiquisca.

Day 4 | Chiquisca - Capuliyoc - Sayhuite Monolith
Today we will leave Chiquisca, arrive at Capuliyoc and take the van back to Cusco. Explore the Sayhuite Monolith before arriving.

Where to sleep while trekking the Choquequirao trek?

During the Choquequirao hike, you can take advantage of sleeping in tents, renting spaces from locals to set up your dining and lodging areas, so to speak. Many of the local people, realizing the tourist potential of the area, began to build small places for tourists and their rest. Here you can find private rooms, lodge huts, or even shared rooms.

What to pack for Choquequirao?

If you plan to hike for 4 or 5 days, we recommend that you bring lightweight clothing, as the weather is hot and dry. Although it's important to remember that even if it's sunny, we never know when it will rain, so it's better to be safe than sorry.

Some ideas include:

  • Original passport
  • Small Backpack
  • Sun block
  • Sun glasses
  • Water bottle
  • Snacks
  • Rain poncho (rainy season)
  • Extra money
  • Camera
  • Power bank
  • Extra clothes for 4 days
  • Insulated jacket
  • Light clothes
  • Sun hat

Why do I have to visit Choquequirao?

  • Explore an ancient Inca citadel comparable to Machu Picchu, less crowded and offering a sense of discovery of virgin sites.
  • Immerse yourself in breathtaking natural landscapes, just into the mountain range.
  • Encounter Inca history and culture through terraces, plazas, and ceremonial spaces, offering samples of the ancient civilization's.
  • Discover the Apurimac Canyon, a perfect gift from Mother Nature formed thousands of years ago.
  • Explore less crowded, unique places like Choquequirao, offering a quieter and more personal experience away from tourist crowds.
  • Enjoy stunning natural beauty along the journey, with picturesque landscapes at spots like Capuliyoc and Playa Rosalina showcasing Peru's diverse scenery.
  • Immerse yourself in local traditions by trying authentic food and drinks, and interacting with the people in Santa Rosa and Chiquisca to get a feel for their way of life.
  • Encounter unique historical landmarks like the Sayhuite Monolith, giving a glimpse into ancient civilizations before the Inca era.
  • Spend nights under the stars at campsites like Santa Rosa and Chiquisca, offering peaceful moments surrounded by nature's beauty.

Best time to visit Choquequirao

To visit Choquequirao, much like in Cusco, there are two distinct seasons marked by weather.

Dry Season: Between April and October. Here, you won't experience much rain, but the sun is strong.

Rainy Season: Typically occurs between November and March. Here, there is a high chance of rain, so we recommend being best friends with a rain poncho and a good jacket.

One of the risks of going during the rainy season is the occurrence of landslides and mudslides in the area, which can hinder access and certainly make hiking more challenging.

The climate in Choquequirao

Generally, we find a temperate to warm climate. It's slightly cold at night and quite warm during the day. During sunny hours, be cautious of sun exposure. Take advantage of the hours when the sun is not so intense to progress with your hike.

How much does it cost to visit Choquequirao?

The entrance to Choquequirao is priced as follows:

How much does it cost to visit Choquequirao?
Passenger Price in soles (S/.) Price in dollars (U$D)
Adult 60 S/. 18 U$D
Student 30 S/. 9 U$D
Kids 25 S/. 7 U$D

Is the tour to Choquequirao difficult?

Yes, we won't lie to you. Generally, this hike is undertaken by experienced travelers seeking adventure in less populated areas. Being an archaeological site with challenging terrain, you'll encounter a few groups ascending and descending, with fewer people than Machu Picchu.


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