Backpack to Choquequirao
Peru › Sendero a Choquequirao
Added by Bryan Young
Escape the crowds and trek to the remarkably remote and beautiful ancient Incan city of Choquequirao.
Choquequirao, located in Apurimac Canyon, is a remote historical site of the ancient Incas also known as “the Lost Machu Picchu.” Most treks to Choquequirao take 4 to 5 days as you must cover 28 miles (45 km) and hike up and down the Apurimac Canyon.
When you arrive at the trail you can see your Choquequirao if you carefully look across the canyon for the break in the trees where the steep terraced fields lie. The ancient city is 14 miles (22.5 km) away. But in order to visit you must first descend and then climb out of the canyon. The trailhead starts at 9,515 ft (2,900 m) and day 1 is spent hiking to the bottom of the canyon until you reach La Playa Rosalina campsite, which sits at 5,085 ft (1,150 m) on the Rio Apurimac. It’s a beautiful hike with great views. However, it’s quite exposed in the late morning and afternoon, so the early you start the better!
(Elev. Change: – 4,430 ft (1,750 m))
The second day is considered to be one of the most strenuous as you must cross the river and then climb out of the canyon that you descended into the previous day. Before starting the climb you must first cross the Rio Apurimac on a self-pulled cable car. With gear and people weighing down the car it is no easy task!
Once across the river the real work begins as you begin your ascent out of the canyon and to your campsite for the second night, Maranpata, elevation 9,350 ft (2,850 m). Thankfully the position of the canyon provides shade for most of the morning, so start early and keep to a schedule. Along the way you can break for snack or lunch at Santa Rosa before continuing to the top of the canyon and your camping site. Once you reach Maranpata enjoy the breathtaking views and look out along the trail for views of Choquequirao!
(Elev. Change: + 4,265 ft (1,300 m))
Wake up early and depart for Choquequirao. It is just a short roundtrip trek from Maranpata, sitting at an elevation of 10,178 ft (3103 m). As you enter Choquequirao you’ll first walk through the ancient terraced fields and into the center of town. It’s believed only 30 percent of the town has been excavated, so try to imagine all that still lays hidden. Hike up and follow the aqueduct. Be sure to also check out the fields on the adjacent hill for aerial views of the city. If your legs are up for it descend to the hidden terraced fields on the backside of the town where you can see llama mosaics built into the walls! The best part of exploring Choquequirao is the lack of crowds and the sense of accomplishment you get once you enter the city. When we hiked we ate lunch, alone, in the middle of the beautiful ancient city!
(Elev. Change: + 828 ft (253 m))
Today you begin your return trip home by following the route you arrived by. This means you will descend into the canyon, knowing that once you cross the Rio Apurimac you must climb out again. Remember to stay hydrated as you descend in the luscious forest because after crossing the river you will immediately begin your ascent out of the sun baked and exposed side of the canyon and not camp at La Playa Rosalina like before.
Climb until you reach the small village of Chiquisqa, a perfect place to have lunch and perhaps homemade beer. After lunch continue to the next small terraced house where you will be rewarded for your hard day’s work with beautiful sunset views over the canyon. Rest easy knowing tomorrow’s climb is short and sweet!
(Elev. Change: – 4,265 ft (1,300 m) / + 3,400 ft (1,036 m))
Finish your trek by completing the rest of the climb. Start early to avoid the heat and sun and enjoy the early morning views and sounds. Congratulations on completing an amazing trek to a remote Incan site that is not visited by many!
(Elev. Change: + 1,000 ft (305 m))
- Standard backpacking essentials (check with trekking company if using one)
- Day Pack
- 2 L or more of water capacity and filtration
- Sun protection (hat, glasses, sunscreen)
- Bug protection!
- Comfortable hiking shoes/boots
Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.
Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More
Backpacking, Camping, Hiking, Photography
Are we missing something?Suggest an edit
ReviewsLeave a Review
I did this hike with my friends and had a blast. Hiking up the canyon is no joke, the friend I was with on the second to last day hiking up the canyon got pretty dehydrated and had a rough time. Lots of sunscreen, watch out for the bugs, drink water, and pace yourself. This trip is worth it.
More Adventures Nearby
Backpack the Laguna 69 - Pisco Base Camp Loop
Peru / Laguna 69
Most people opt for a day trip to Laguna 69.
Hike to Laguna 69 in Cordillera Blanca
Peru / Laguna 69 Trailhead
This is one of those hikes I'll be telling my grandchildren about.