Deep in the Salcantay Mountains, a fortified hilltop city rises above the Apurimac River Valley.
Now known as Choquequirao (Cho-kay-key-raow; Quechua for Cradle of Gold), this city was likely constructed in the mid-1400s under the reign of Pachacutec, the same Inca responsible for the construction of Machu Picchu.
For roughly a century, Choquequiaro served as an administrative complex, a commercial and military gateway to the Amazon Region, and a ritual center.
In the 1530’s, the city sheltered the army of Manco Inca Yupanqui during his fight against the Spanish.
Although Choquequirao was stumbled upon by a few Europeans in the 1700s, it wasn’t widely-known until Hiram Bingham visited the site in 1909. Excavations began in the 1970s.
To date, only around 60% of the site has been uncovered.
Choquequiaro crowns a hilltop (Sunchu’u Pata), 10,100 feet above sea level.
Like Machu Picchu and Bolivia’s Incallajta, Choquequirao mirrors the symbolic patterns of Cusco, the imperial capital.
Its ritual infrastructure includes sacred spaces dedicated to ancestors, sun, earth, water, and other divinities.
Guided Treks and Camping
A shorter version of this trek can also be arranged. Our treks include expert guides, cooks, porters, pack animals, meals, snacks, drinking water, tents and camping mattresses.
Sleeping bags can be provided for an additional fee, although most of our clients prefer to bring their own.
The central square is ringed by a temple, houses of elites and administrative buildings.
From the central square, Choquequiaro expands outward into a larger residential sector with storehouses, walls, aqueducts, and ingenious agricultural terracing.
Choquequirao can be reached with a two-day trek from the Cusco area. Our recommended roundtrip journey is five days and four nights:
Day 1: Cusco, Cachora, and the Apurimac River
Depart Cusco by van, heading north towards Abancay. Cross into Antapampa, enjoying breathtaking views of snowcapped Salcantay and Humantay.
As you leave the pampas, mounts Pitusiray, Chicon and Veronica come into view. Descend into Limatambo and visit the Inca site of Tarawasi, continuing to the Apurimac River and cross the gorge.
Near the village of Curawasi, visit the stone map of Sayhuite. Cross the bridge and descend to the village of Cachora, where your trek begins.
Carrying your daypack (porters and mules carry the camp gear), hike along the edge of Capuliyoc Mountain. Here you gain your first look at the Apurimac Canyon and its trail system.
Descend to the campsite at roughly 8,000 feet above sea level. Today’s hike covers approximately five miles (four to five hours).
Day 2: Apurimac River to Choquequirao
Begin the day’s hike crossing the Apurimac footbridge, before making the long ascent to Marampampa—the meadow where you’ll rest for lunch. The afternoon portion of the ascent is not as steep.
Tonight, you’ll camp in the cloud forest near Choquequirao. Today’s hike covers approximately 4.5 miles (seven to eight hours).
Day 3: Choquequirao to Marampampa
Today you’ll embark on an in-depth exploration of Choquequirao with your expert guide. Spend the morning visiting the central complex.
In the afternoon, examine the outlying buildings and walk through the terracing. Some of these terraces are decorated with white stones, forming the shapes of people and animals. After lunch, descend to the campsite at Marampampa.
Today’s hike covers approximately 1.5 miles (approximately two hours).
Day 4: Marampampa to Cocamasana
Begin your descent toward the Apurimac River, stopping to enjoy lunch in the canyon. In the afternoon, head back uphill, towards Cachora.
Tonight, you’ll camp at Cocamasana, taking in spectacular views of the canyon.
Afterward, begin your descent towards the river, stopping for lunch at the bottom of the canyon. Today’s hike covers approximately 3.7 miles (six hours).
Day 5: Cocamasana, Cachora, and Cusco
Start the day with the final ascent to Capuliyoc. Afterward, the trail to the village of Cachora is relatively easy. There, you’ll be met by the vehicle that will return you to Cusco.
After a four-hour drive, you’ll arrive in the early evening. Today’s hike covers approximately 2.5 miles (three to four hours).
At LANDED, each travel request is personal. After all, you’re trusting us with your most precious asset—free time with the people you care about. By getting to know you, we’ll create the most memorable, most exceptional trip of your life. Call us today at 801.582.2100. Dream big. We’ve got you.
“Archeology and ecology can go hand in hand.”
Carlos Salinas de Gortari
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What an amazing adventure we have had. Many thanks to you for putting it together. The whole rhythm of the trip was perfect, and leaving one place for the next worked perfectly. This trip definitely made me want to experience other great spots in South America as the people have been wonderful and the places incredible. Wish we had a month to really explore. Everybody in the family had a great life experience. Thanks again!
One of our best trips ever, made excellent by LANDED’s attention to detail. When planning the trip our travel planner listened to us carefully, asked the right questions, and customized the trip to have just the right balance of adventure and city sights for us. The guides, drivers, and “handlers” were superb. The hotels were top notch. We felt relaxed and pampered all the way. Will definitely look to LANDED to plan our next trip to South America.
Absolutely amazing. Thanks again John. Carlos was the best guide I’ve ever had anywhere in the world. Top notch talent.
We returned yesterday from our trip and I wanted to let you know that it was absolutely amazing! There is not a single thing on the itinerary that we would change. The guides were knowledgeable, friendly, and prompt. The hotels were beautiful, the food delicious and the pace of the activities was perfect for us. Thank you so much for making our trip such a fantastic experience.
In short, our trip was amazing, and, as we had hoped, the Inca civilization was fascinating to us. Thanks so much for your constant assistance and thorough planning.
The planning, service and execution of the trip was flawless – thank you for making it perfect!
LANDED’s services were excellent. You were helpful and knowledgeable, making our trip a memorable one. I will use your services in the future as I continue to explore Central & South America.
It was like being in a very well organized dream. Your patience with my questions and concerns during the planning stage was remarkable.
I’ve never had such great service from a tour operator. Not only were you a great help on the planning-insuring that I was staying at the right places and enjoying the type of activities we love-but the follow up was incredible. Your team checked in with us several times during the trip to confirm that everything was going well, and that the guides you assigned were satisfying us. It’s one thing to get a “thank you card” or a “hope your trip was great” note after you’re back, but to insure that it’s going well during the trip is a welcome first! I look forward to working with you again on a another trip.
You actually got to know us, which made it possible to know just what we like. You promised the best trip ever and you kept your promise.
The entire trip was amazing. Both the hotel & restaurant recommendations were well thought out and helped us thoroughly enjoy our honeymoon.
LANDED is like the ultimate virtual guide, suggesting the high points and helping us get the most out of a week’s time.
We had a great time, and didn’t miss anything. We zip-lined, rafted, sailed and surfed. The contacts and drivers were professional and courteous. We don’t want to be back at work. Thank you for all of the work you did to set up this trip.