Choquequirao, in Quechua Chuqi K’iraw), literally means “golden cradle”). This ancient Inca city resembles Machu Picchu so much that it is often called its “sister”. The start of the walk is located 4 hours from Cusco, and it will bring you into the middle of one the last inca’s city, lost in a huge valley marked out with forests, rivers and steep slopes with a great 360 degrees view.
The Choquequirao’s trek is easily achievable without a guide. However, you need to be prepared and must have at least a tent and food to survive along the walk. Food stalls are often present at different camps, but they are often pricey, due to their isolation. Therefore, prepare enough food and water in case everything is close. If you don’t have any camping equipment, many places in Cusco offer rental. I’ve personally been to a shop called Himalaya, near the parade square. For a 6 days rent, we paid 60 soles for a 2 persons tent, a camping stove, its cartridge, and a saucepan. My friend also paid a fair price for hiking shoes.
Usually, the walk lasts 4-5 days long depending on your pace. You could choose to extend it, by joining Machu Picchu instead of coming back, however this walk is harder and takes you not less than 9 days of walking. I have done my walk within this schedule:
- Walking for 2 days the whole way until the campsite of Choquequirao.
- 1 entire day to visit everything. I would recommend at least one day to have the time to walk everywhere, due to the size of this city (it is not rare to walk around an hour to reach an other part).
- Finally, you return as going down by following the same path that brought you to the top, for 2 days.
This trek requires a good preparation, and a good physical condition, as it tends to vary between 1400m et 3000m.
The path for the 4-5 days trek is quite simple, while the longer one joining Machu Picchu is different and requires you to bring a GPS. Here are details for both routes:
Step 1 :
In order to approach the start of the trail, you first need to make it to the the town of Cachora. From Cusco, you can take a van at the station located at Arcopata’s street (“Bus to Mollepata” on Google Map), near a big blue portal. This one brings you not far from your final destination, but you will probably need to change to a cab for the rest of the way to Cachora. Once at the town, you have 2 choices :
- Immediately start the trail and reach the Capuliyoc col/pass on foot.
- Ask the cab to bring you to the col. The way is flat and relatively easy to do.
Step 2 :
The real adventure begins ! This point is the real start of the trek. It is also the last place where you can find a real shop with all kinds of provisions, essentials such as a mat, sleeping bag or touristy stuff. Once you pass through the viewpoint, continue for a hundred metters, you’re ready to start the winding path and commence your journey. It is occasionally possible to admire condor hunting their prey!
Step 3 :
You walk across some camps along your walk: some of them got little stalls with food and beverages (water, fruits, chocolate, etc) but don’t rely on them to much. Indeed, to stock up everything, brave locals go back and forth from their stall to Cachora several times a week. Not only does it takes time, but hey also have to let the camp unsupervised. Yet, you can set up your tent wherever you want.
List of shops and camps that may be on the way :
- Chiquisca : 2 stalls run by “Señor Pascal” and his wife.
- Playa Rosalina : No doubts that it is the best food you can find on the way. You have the possibility to order breakfast with coffee, and also various types of course made most of the time with lentils. (by the way, the bread with fried egg only costs 1 sole and is delicious!) This is a good place to rest before the big way up, however the camp is filled with mosquitoes because of its proximity to the river.
- Santa Rosa : 2 stalls, as well as a place to have lunch/diner.
- Marampata : This little village above the valley gets a good amount of shops and houses to host you for the night with hot meals.
It is advised to spend the first night -at least- at Playa Rosalina, which offers nice facilities as well as a nice location for the next day (half-way of the trek).
Step 4 :
Here you are! Set up your tent and feel free to discover this unknown marvelous place located in the heart of Peruvian lands. A whole mountain has to be discovered! Terraces are located below the campsite and allows you to glance one’s eye over before the closing time, at 5.30 PM.