Choquequirao Travel Guide
Before You Go, What You Should Know
- Enjoy the pure beauty of this Inca archaeological complex.
- Discover many secrets of the Incas and learn a lot of the important history.
- See many species of exotic animals and plants as well as coca leaf plantations.
- Feel free as you walk through the Peruvian nature and soak in the fresh Andean air.
- Experience the incredible flight of the Andean condor.
- Witness the different climates of the Andes and the jungle.
- Observe small villages on the way and see how people live in remote areas of Peru.
What to Expect on the Trail
Knowing what to expect from the trek in advance can be a great help when getting ready for your trip or deciding to book it in the first place. Read on for what to expect on the Choquequirao trek
It’s a Challenge
This is one of the more challenging treks in Peru, so you need to be prepared. Different altitudes and terrains mean that parts are difficult. In regards to distance, this isn’t very far at all compared to other trails, but the gradient is tough.
Feeling the Altitude
Like with any trek in Cusco, we recommend you spend 2-3 days in the city beforehand. If not, you’ll find that the altitude affects you much more on the trail. You might experience lightheadedness or headache as you trek, but this is normal.
You’ll be camping along the trail and the nights in the Andean mountains can get very chilly. You’ll need a warm sleeping bag and clothing to keep you cozy.
Warm Days and Insects
In contrast to the nights, the days are very warm. You’re going to be hiking much closer to the sun as you’ll be at high altitude, so the UV rays can do a lot more damage. There are also plenty of bugs along the way, so repellent is a must.
Basic Supplies and Amenities
Being far away from the city means that you need to go back to basics. You’ll find small stands along the way to buy snacks and water, but it’s better to be prepared. Toilet paper is a must and don’t expect luxury bathrooms.
The road to get to the trek is windy and makes you feel a little motion sick. Just prepare beforehand and you’ll be ok. Many people like to sleep along the way to avoid it altogether. This is usually doable as the ride is early in the morning.
There’s no doubt that a trek through the Andes is stunning. The scenery that surrounds you is beautiful and you’ll see some lovely flora and fauna. The rolling hills provide for one of the best landscapes you’ll see in your lifetime.
Where is Choquequirao?
The ruins sit high in the mountains surrounding the city of Cusco. It’s far away from Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley and isn’t visited by many. It’s in the Vilcabamba mountain range and sits at 3,050 masl. It’s in the Santa Teresa district of La Convencion.
This is a challenging trek and one of the toughest in Cusco. It isn’t a long-distance hike, but you’ll be climbing steep trails and the days will be hot while the nights are cold. You’ll find that the elevation changes along with the climate making you experience hot and cold changes quickly. There are easier sections, but the trek is challenging overall.
Choquequirao Packing List
Getting your things together for a trek can prove challenging, especially when you’re going to be passing through different climates and altitudes. To help you out, we’ve put together the ultimate packing list to make sure you have everything you need.
- Hiking boots
- Long pants/leggings
- The temperature at night can go as low as -15°C.
- Thermal layer for underneath your clothes
- Long sleeved t shirts
- Hiking socks
- Clean underwear for each day
- Waterproof jacket/poncho
- Sandals for campsites
- Walking poles
- Sleeping bag
- Thermal layer for underneath your clothes
- Warm hat and gloves
- Toilet paper
- Wet wipes and packing list
- Reusable water bottle
- Protection from the sun; sun hat, sunglasses, factor 50 or more sunscreen
- Strong insect repellent
- Good quality camera or phone with camera
- Charger pack
- Medicine and first aid supplies
Take a look at the following tips to help you prepare.
- Go on hikes back home before you come to mentally and physically prepare your body for the tough trek to come.
- Create a daily routine of stretches and exercises to get your fitness level up.
- Spend 2-3 days in Cusco before you set off on the trek to acclimate.
- When you arrive in Cusco, drink as little or no alcohol as possible. The alcohol will dehydrate you and make hiking at high altitude a lot more difficult and make you more susceptible to sickness.
- Due to the tough terrain and steep climbs, walking poles are recommended.
- A quality sleeping bag is a great idea. You need it to be able to withstand cold temperatures at night.
- Keep up your water intake. It’s easy to become dehydrated at high altitude and with the strong sun beating down on you.
- Go at your own pace. There’s no problem if you walk faster or slower than the rest of your group. There’s no need to over-exert yourself.
Recommendations for Choquequirao Trek
Finally, to make sure you have everything you need and are as well prepared as can be, here are some recommendations.
Book Ahead of Time
Even though the Choquequirao trek is a quiet route and doesn’t tend to sell out, it’s a good idea to book in advance. This is because your tour operator will need time to prepare and organise the trip. Hoping for a last minute spot may mean you’re disappointed when you get here.
Use the Packing List
You really need to make sure you thoroughly check the packing list and have everything you need. Once you leave the city there’ll be no turning back and nowhere to top up on forgotten items. You don’t want to be freezing at night because you forgot the right clothing.
Check Out When to Travel
The weather in Cusco doesn’t change too much during the year, but November to April is the rainy season. This can make the trail slippery and a little more dangerous. May to October is the dry season, however this makes it colder at night.
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Most operators won’t let you travel without it. If you were to suffer an injury and didn’t have coverage, you’ll find that medical care is very costly in Cusco.
Stock Up on Extra Snacks
Although the company you travel with may give you daily snacks, it may not be enough. We recommend taking some extras for when you need a boost of energy, like nuts, fried fruits, or chocolate.
Prepare for the Altitude
As mentioned before, you’ll be heading up to high altitude. You’ll need to plan for this by coming to Cusco 2-3 days before the trek. You can talk to your doctor back home about pills to help. You can also make use of coca tea and candies, which can really help.
Be Ready to Go Back to Basics
Remember that there’ll be no showers or proper toilets along the way. This is why we recommend toilet paper, wet wipes, and hand sanitiser.