Choquequirao via Salkantay & Inca Trail to Machu Picchu 12D/11N
This whopping 12 day trek takes you on a less traveled path from Choquequirao, on to the sacred Salkantay mountain (6.271m/20569ft), one of the highest and most stunning in the Peruvian Andes, passing through Quechua speaking communities and lesser-known Inca ruins, to finally join the 4-day Classic or Traditional Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. This trek combines the best of all treks – stunning high mountain trekking and also the ruins of the Classic Inca Trail.
Choquequirao via Salkantay & Inca Trail to Machu Picchu trek - at a glance
Highlights: Choquequirao ruins, remote Yanama, hiking alongside the magnificent Apu Salkantay, the varied and amazing ruins along the Inca Trail, arriving at Machu Picchu
Location: the Choquequirao, Salkantay and Inca Trail combined trek departs from Cachora, 4 hours drive from Cusco
Duration: 12 days / 11 nights
Adventure rating: this is a super adventure
Inca trail: this trek includes the Inca Trail therefore is subject to the Inca trail booking restrictions. We do not consider it an Inca Trail alternative.
Departs: any day with two people. We offer affordably priced tours for 2 people so that you can depart any day. Maximum group size 10.
Combos: can be combined with our 'trek extensions' that include Lima and Cusco accommodation and transfers.
(All kilometres and altitude gains & loss cited are approximate and considered a guide only.)
Day 1: Cusco - Cachora - Chikisqa
We depart Cusco at 7am in a private car for a 4 hour drive to the charming village of Cachora, situated on the edge of the Apurimac canyon and surrounded by impressive snowcapped peaks. After lunch, it is a 2 hour hike to Capuliyoc (2915 metres / 9561 feet) from where we have our first beautiful views of the Apurimac valley stretching below as well as the snow-capped peaks of Padrayoc and Wayna Cachora. Our total hiking time today is about five hours. Accommodation: Camping at Chikisqa 1950m. (L / D)
Day 2: Chikisqa - Choquequirao
Departing early, we descend to the magnificent Apurimac River (1550 metres/ 5084 feet) before beginning our climb to Santa Rosa and then onto Maranpata where we will have lunch. The climb from the river takes about 4 hours and is tough. From our lunch spot we can see the ruins of Choquequirao, from here we have two hours more hike to the ruins. (3110 metres/ 10120 feet) We will spend the late evening in the ruins, where we will watch the sunset and have the chance to see condors. Accommodation: Camping at Choquequirao campsite 3033m. (B / L / D)
Day 3: Choquekirao - Pinchaunuyoq
We have a chance to more fully explore the ruins and have a little rest in the morning. In the afternoon we will climb over a ridge to the ruins Pinchinuyoc, where we will camp the night. This is definitely the easiest day of the trip! Accommodation: Camping at Pinchinuyoc about 3000m/ or depending on the group at Rio Blanco, a further 1.5 to 2 hours descent. (B / L / D)
Day 4: Pinchaunuyoq - Maizal
After 2 hours of walking, we will arrive at the canyon of the Rio Blanco (1990 metres/6527 feet) where will have a rest before starting a difficult climb to our campsite of Maizal. The climb is 3- 4 hours. Accommodation: Camping at Maizal 3000m (B / L / D)
Day 5: Maizal -Yanama
We depart at 7am, and walk uphill for about 3 hours through semi-jungle, to the Victoria Mines. We visit the ancient mines and some Inca Ruins before climbing an hour more to the pass of Abra Victoria (4130 metres/ 13 546 feet). The newly discovered Coryhuayrachina ruins are between Yanama and Maizal and we do follow well constructed Inca steps at an area that we call "Mina Victoria" (we started calling it this because that's what the muleeteers called it)
There are spectacular views from the pass as we descend to the charming village of Yanama. (about 2 hours walk). Accommodation: Camping at Yanama 4100m
12km including 500m descent and ascent 600m in altitude - Mina Victoria to Yanama (B / L / D)
Day 6: Yanama - Colpapampa
A day of mountain peaks. On this day we walk for seven hours, preferably rising early to appreciate the chain of snowpeaks that we can see from here. We lightly ascend to the second pass which is the highest of our trek at 4850 metres/ 15908 feet. After the pass we descend for three hours to the Valley of Totora, where will spend the night. Accommodation: Camping at Totora about 3900m or Colpampa
18km including 700m ascent and descent 1900m in altitude - Yanama to Colpapampa (B / L / D)
Day 7: Colpapampa - Ichupata
A day of botany and glaciers. Today´s hike is mostly up, as we will climb from Totora or Colpampa, upwards, to the Salkantay pass (4600m). You will clearly note the changing scenery as you pass through different varieties of plants typical of the high jungle - known in Spanish as the "eyebrow of the jungle". You finally arrive at the pass after 5 hours of hiking. This is the second highest point of the trip. (4,600 metres/13451) All day you will have been going “against the flow” as this is a popular trekking route, but in reverse. So expect to meet a lot of people along the trail during this day. From the pass you will descend for about 2 hours to Salkantaypampa (4100m) where the group may camp, depending on how well you have progressed during the day. You might continue onwards to Ichupata.
18km including 700m ascent, and descent 500m Colpapampa to Ichupata (B / L / D)
Day 8: Ichupata – Pampacahuana
Alter a cold night, we continue our hike to start the 3-4-hour steep climb towards the Incachiriasca pass (4850m/15908ft), the equal highest of the entire route, offering impressive views of the Salkantay snow peak. After a celebratory rest on the pass we will then descend towards our lunch spot at Sisaypampa, a flat area from which one can observe the Salkantay´s neighboring valleys (it is possible that you will see condors in this area). After lunch we continue towards the Pampacahuana community, located next to an original Inca canal, where we set our second camp and spend the night.
14 km approx. (B / L / D)
Day 9: Pampacahuana – Ayapata
In the morning you will see that the valley begins to narrow and the river becomes a canal. The Incas frequently cut canals through valleys to increase the agricultural land. From Pampachuana it's a 3 hour hike down the narrow, steep valley to the Inca fortress of Inkaracay (also known as Paucarcancha). This is a site well worth exploring and little known to the vast majority of visitors to Peru.
It's about another ½ to 1 hours walk down to the small village of Wayllabamba which is the point that we join the Traditional (or Classic) Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. As mules are not allowed on the Traditional Inca Trail, at this point we say goodbye to our mules and muleteers and welcome our porters who will accompany us for the next few days
In the afternoon, we leave Wayllabamba behind to start our way up the Warmihuañusca mountain pass (Dead Woman’s pass) through an abrupt and steep ascent that stretches for 9 km. We only climb part way up the pass, stopping at Ayapata, where we camp and spend the night. (also known as Yuncachimpa)
12 km approx. (B / L / D)
Day 10: Ayapata - Chaquicocha
Today we continue our trek up to the highest point in the Inca Trail (but not on this trek), reaching the mountain pass of Abra Warmihuañusca (4200m/13776ft) after about 2 hours. Immediately after the pass, we descend into the Pacaymayo valley (3600m/11808ft), from which we then continue to climb to the second pass, the Abra Runkurakay (3970m/13022ft), stopping halfway to visit the very impressive archaeological complex Runkurakay. This site, located at 3800m/12464ft, consists of a small oval structure that is believed to have served the purpose of a watchtower. After going over the pass, we descend towards Yanacocha (Black Lagoon) and enter the cloud forest to finally arrive at Sayacmarca (3624m/11887ft). This is a beautiful complex made up of a semicircular construction. Only 20 minutes away is Chaquicocha – 3400m (dry lake in Quechua), where we will camp. (B / L / D)
Day 11: Chaquicocha - Wiñay Wayna
After breakfast we have an easy climb, to arrive at the third pass, the Abra de Phuyupatamarca (3700m/12136ft). Phuyupatamarca is one of the most complete and best-preserved archaeological complexes along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, and is located on the highest point of a mountain. Curiously, Phyupatamarca means ¨town over the clouds¨. From here we also have impressive views of the Urubamba River valley. We descend by stone to Wiñay Wayna (2650m/8692ft). At this campsite we will find a lodge with a restaurant, bar and bathrooms with hot showers. The campsite has the same name as the complex located only five minutes away from the lodge. Wiñay Wayna is an impressive complex made up of an agricultural center with numerous terraces, a religious sector and an urban sector – even if you are tired and enjoying the relative luxury of this campsite, don’t miss this archaelogical complex!
Day 12: Wiñay Wayna - Machu Picchu
On this last day we get up at 4.00 am to leave Wiñay Wayna at approx. 5am and climb to the Intipunku, or the Sun Gate. This will take an hour of hiking along a trail of flat stones on the edges of cliffs in highland jungle. From this fabulous spot, we may see the sunrise over Machu Picchu. From Intipunku we descend into Machu Picchu, and 40 minutes later we enter this famous city. We then descend to the control point where we register ourselves and leave our backpacks. We immediately begin a complete guided tour Machu Picchu that will take approximately two hours.
After your tour you can further explore the ruins by yourself or climb Huayna Picchu for that classic photo of Machu Picchu. Also try to fit in a visit to the Temple of the Moon or Uyna Huayna Picchu while visiting Huayna Picchu.
* People who want to visit Huayna Picchu must let us know as soon as they can, because according to new rules, there is a limit of people (400) per day that can climb it.
If you don't get to do Huayna Picchu, other options are:
- Inca Bridge
- Machu Picchu mountain
We highly recommend walking down from Machu Picchu to get a feeling for the vegetation and also the audacity of its builders. Its a 1.5 hour walk back to the village of Aguas Calientes. We return to Cusco in the afternoon by the backpacker train (leaves either at 2.30pm or 6pm) and are met by a driver at Ollantaytambo who will transfer you directly back to your hotel. You will arrive in Cusco approximately 4 hours after your train's departure from Aguas Calientes.
Please note: The times cited in this itinerary are approximate. Walking times depend on the group and the guide can change lunch spots and campsites, depending on the progress of the group. Each guide has their own preferred route and it might not correspond exactly to the route described here.
The Salkantay trek (also spelled Salcantay trek) is one of the most spectacular and varied hikes around Cusco. Given the new restrictions on the Inca trail, Salkantay is the second most popular hike in the region and can be touristed. (If you are a 'purist' want a remote experience, consider one of our other treks). During high season expect up to 15 groups departing daily, in the low season, about 5 groups per day.
- Round trip transfer airport hotel airport
- Pre trek briefing
- Collection from your hotel in the morning of trek departure.
- Transport from Cusco to the trailhead at the beginning of the trek in private car (Cachora)
- Entry fee to the Inca trail & Machu Picchu
- Entry fee to Choquequirao ruins
- Entry fees for your muleteers and cooks for Choquequirao
- Entry fee for the Inca trail for your porters.
- English/Quechua/Spanish speaking professional guide (you will have an assistant guide for groups over 8 people).
- Tents - 2 people in a 4 person tent which allows for greater comfort, and also storage of backpacks. All tents were purchased in 07/08.
- Basic foam mattress. If you require greater comfort during the trek we can hire you an inflatable mattress (eg. Thermarest) for $5 per day.
- Cook and Cooking equipment (Assistants are provided for larger groups)
- Toilet tent
- Meals as indicated in the itinerary (optional vegetarian food). Our professional cooks prepare meals that incorporate elements of the western diet and also traditional Peruvian delicacies. (Please communicate with your guide/cook during the trek if you have a preference for certain types of dishes). Salads, if served, are washed in boiled water.
- Horses (for equipment and personal items) including horsemen. They carry camping equipment, food and kitchen utensils. We provide duffel bags at your briefing for your personal items (up to 7 kg per person). If you wish to take more, you can hire an extra mule at a cost of $15 per day.
- 1 emergency horse which can be ridden if you are feeling ill or if are a little slower
- Dining tent with camp tables and chairs & Kitchen tent for the cook to prepare meals
- Tents for our staff to sleep in
- First aid kit including emergency oxygen bottle - but not blister treatments as known in western countries.
- Transport from Ollantaytambo to Cusco
- Train ticket (Backpacker service) from Aguas Calientes - Ollantaytambo.
- Bus down from Machu Picchu
- Lunch final day at sanctuary lodge: http://www.sanctuarylodgehotel.com/web/omac/tinkuy.jsp
What is not included?
- Extra porter for the Inca Trail
- Breakfast on the first morning
- Entrance to the hot springs
- Tips for the guide, cook and porters
- Additional horses for passengers luggage
- Travel insurance
We recommend that you bring:
- A light day pack with a change of clothes for the whole period of the trek - prepare for a vast range of changes in temperature
- Rain gear (jacket and pants if available) or rain poncho. Plastic ponchos can be bought for about $1 in Cusco.
- Strong footwear, waterproof trekking boots recommended. Extra socks are a must.
- Sandals or plastic slip on thongs are also good to give your feet a chance to breath in the evenings if you wish to carry them.
- Warm clothes, including jacket, fleeces, gloves, scarf and beanie/touk. Thermal clothing is also recommended, especially for sleeping.
- Sleeping bag (can be hired from us)
- Torch/ Flashlight and spare batteries
- Camera, films and batteries (batteries consume more quickly under cold conditions)
- Hat or cap to protect you from the sun, rain and cold
- Sun block
- After-sun cream or hydrating cream for face and body
- Insect repellent - minimum recommended 20% DEET - although no malaria risk has been reported
- Toilet paper, pack in & pack out
- Snacks: biscuits, energy bars, chocolate, raw fruits, muesli, etc.
- Non-disposable canteen (Nalgene type) and water for the first morning.
- We advise you to bring water sterilizing tablets in case you collect water from streams.
- Your own medical kit with any special medications that you might require, paracetamol, second skin for blisters etc.
- Small towel or sarong
- Bathers/swimsuit (if you intend on swimming in hot springs)
- Cash - sufficient for any extras, tips and souvenirs.
- Original passport & ISIC (International Student Identity Card) if you have one.
- Walking sticks or poles (we can hire these to you. Please note poles with metal tips cannot be carried into Machu Picchu)
- Binoculars (if you have them)
Considering an extra night in Aguas Calientes? We can change the date of your train ticket to the following day. Hotel and other costs associated with returning to Machu Picchu the following day are additional to trek costs. Please also note that your entry ticket to Machu Picchu is valid for one day only, if you wish to visit the ruins on a second consecutive day you will need to purchase another ticket.
Aguas Calientes Extra Day Upgrade Package (optional)
With hikes that trek the traditional Inca Trail, the standard package has clients returning to Cusco at the end of the trek, and they don't spend a night in Aguas Calientes. This package provides clients the opportunity to stay in Aguas Calientes for an extra night, visit Machu Picchu for a second day and then return to Cusco by the comfortable Vistadome train.
- Cost: $195 per person on twin share basis. This price doesn’t change depending on the number of people in the group.
- Second day's entry to Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu, valued at $75
- Bus up and down to ruins on extra day, valued at $24
- 1 night in a 3 star hotel, like Killa Inn Plaza Andina. These are nice hotels, well decorated, and clean.
- With limited eating choices at Machu Picchu hunger tends to send clients to Aguas Calientes; by including the buffet lunch we find that clients can visit Machu Picchu early, then go to the buffet to try lots of different Peruvian (and Western) dishes, rest and go back for a second look at Machu Picchu.
- Return in Vistadome train rather than Expedition train, which gives you the opportunity for a more varied timetable and to return in a nicer train, with big windows in the roof.
** Please contact us for a price for the same package but with 2 star accomodation and return in Expedition Train service **
Private Service Prices 2107
- 1 people US$3800 per person
- 2 people US$2800 per person
- 3 people US$2700 per person
- 4 people US$2600 per person
- 5 people US$2500 per person
- 6 people US$2450 per person
- 7+ people US$2400 per person
- STUDENT DISCOUNT: $35 off per personStudent Discounts apply to anyone who has a valid GREEN ISIC card at the time of the trek or is 16 years old or younger. For those using an ISIC card to receive the discount, we do need to see a copy of the card at booking. For those booking children 16 years old or younger, we need a copy of their passport at booking time. Please send all to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Under 15 years will pay as student: US$35.00
- Under 7 years Discount: US$50.00
- ADDITIONAL ITEMS:As you see in our Additional Items under Trip Overview, there are several optional upgrades you can include in this trip. Below is a quick list of prices, but check our Overview section for more details.
Huaynapicchu: $75 per person
Vistadome Train (One Way): $70 per person
Vistadome Train (One Way): $80 per person
Sacred Valley Tour:
City Tour: $
Maras Moray Tour: