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From Choquequirao to Machu Picchu: the other Inca Trail

From Choquequirao to Machu Picchu: the other Inca Trail

The Machu Picchu citadel is known worldwide, but only a few people know that the Incas built another citadel, very similar, just as impressive, which is only 40% discovered and which only receives the visit of a few adventurers per day.

And they are adventurous because to reach this citadel you have to travel 21 kilometers on foot and descend from 2,800 meters above sea level to 1200, then go back up to 3200.

Although many tourists who make this trip arrive in Choquequirao and return to the starting point, there are others who go beyond and stretch on the journey to continue discovering the secrets of the Incas and reach Machu Picchu.
Would you dare with this trek? If your answer is yes, here we tell you all the details of how to get from Choquequirao to Machu Picchu by walking.

Day 1: arrival in San Pedro de Cachora


With only 108 square kilometers, the small district of San Pedro de Cachora, located in the middle of the Andes, has become the starting point for travelers who want to reach the citadel of Choquequirao.

To get here, you have to travel to Abancay, either from Lima or from Cusco, and here take a bus that takes you to San Pedro de Cachora. Once here, we recommend spending the night in a hostel to start the trek to Choquequirao the next day.

Day 2: from Cachora to Santa Rosa

You should start the day very early: at five in the morning. From Cachora, you have to travel to Capulliyoc. Although this tour can be done walking, it is best to do it by taxi, since you will save two hours of trekking and you can also save strength for what comes next. In Capulliyoc you will find a small store where you can get water, sun cream, etc. before starting. This first day is quite hard as you will have to descend from 2800 meters above sea level to 1200 until you reach Playa Rosalina, where many spend the first night. However, we recommend that you make an effort and get to the Santa Rosa camp, where you will find a small stand where a family sells simple dishes to eat and recharge energy before going to bed.

Day 3: from Santa Rosa to Choquequirao


As soon as the first rays of the sun come out, you should start the second day of walking that will take you to the Choquequirao fortress. Here, the most recommendable thing is to advance without making long stops until you reach Marampata, a small town where you will find several families that prepare food for tourists who are on their way to the citadel. This is the perfect place to rest, eat something light and continue with the trek, which, although short and accompanied by countless butterflies of hundreds of colors, has several slopes that require a lot of concentration and energy.

Once in Choquequirao you have two options: visit the ruins that same day or rest and use the following day solely and exclusively to get to know the citadel more calmly.

Day 4: from Choquequirao to Maizal

maizal_inca_railAssuming you decide to visit Choquequirao on the third day, the next day your route will have as destination the Maizal camp. As with the route from Capulliyoc to Santa Rosa, this section is complicated because there are many differences: you must descend from 3200 meters above sea level to 1800 meters, where you will reach Río Blanco and you will have lunch and rest, and then you will climb up to 3000 meters above sea level, where the Maizal camp is located.

On the way down we recommend you make a small stop on the way to see Pinchahunuyoc, some platforms that Incas used for agriculture.

Between seven and eight hours of walking you will arrive at Maizal, where you will also find families that will assist you and offer different meals.

Day 5: from Maizal to Yanama


This day reaches 4200 masl, so it is highly recommended to be prepared with leaves or coca tea and thus be able to fully enjoy the wonders of the road: the clouds, the lush vegetation and the ancient mines. After three hours of trekking along the Inca trail (perfectly preserved), you will reach the highest point, where you can have lunch and, if you are lucky, enjoy the great spectacle of the Andes: the flight of the condor. After lunch and two hours of walking, you will arrive to Yanama, where you can camp.

Day 6: from Yanama to Totora

Following with the altitude, this day you will reach the highest point of the route, the 4800 meters above sea level. The landscape is different from the rest because you can enjoy the view of imposing glaciers. From the highest point, you have three hours of walking to get to Totora, where you will spend the last night of camping.

Day 7: from Totora to Santa Teresa


If you get here, congratulations! Now you only have to walk a small road without major differences that will lead you to the Santa Teresa district, from where several buses leave for Ollantaytambo, where you will arrive in approximately two hours. From Ollantaytambo depart the Inca Rail trains that go to Aguas Calientes, the gateway to Machu Picchu, and you have two options: take it on arrival, in the afternoon or evening, or sleep here and take it in the morning.

Day 8: from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu


Now, it’s time to enjoy the best-known Inca citadel in the world. Remember that there are two entry times, in the morning or in the afternoon, and depending on that you will have to book your train back at one or another time.


You can make the road by hiring a tour or on your own. The paths are well signposted so, if you follow the route, there is no danger that you may get lost.

Along the way there are points where you can buy food and drinks. Although we recommend that you carry supplies in case one of the positions is closed. Of course, if you are going to carry the backpack yourself, try not to carry very heavy food.

It is essential the repellent because during the whole way you will find many mosquitoes.

Throughout the trekking there is to many fountains, so we recommend you take water purification tablets and avoid carry more water than you need for a day.

Although it is a long and hard trekking, we assure you that each step is worthwhile. Enjoy it!