Trek to Machu Picchu’s sister citadel, and the great Lost City itself

This Trek to Choquequirao and Machu Picchu will take you in the footsteps of famous explorer Hiram Bingham, and the ancient Inca who settled in the Urubamba and Apurimac Valley hillsides hundreds of years before him. It’s simply one of the most spectacular walking routes in Peru, perhaps all of South America, taking you through cloud forest, alongside river gorges and up into the high Andean wilderness to discover ancient ruins, ceremonial sites, and so much more. The trekking can be strenuous so a good level of fitness is required, but the rewards come thick and fast through incredible elevated views, wildlife encounters, and the isolation of few tourists and nights spent under starry Peruvian skies.

arqueologia_1 Grupo 1394
  • Get a glimpse of Lima at the beginning and end of your tour
  • Day at leisure to explore Cusco and get acclimatized.
  • Hike to one of the most incredible and remote archeological sites in Peru, Choquequirao
  • Experience a side of Peru that few get to see
  • Conquer mountain passes and steep valley hills, passing ancient ruins and lesser-visited sites
  • Sleep under the stars at remote campsites in the Apurimac Valley
  • Retrace ancient steps on a section of the original Inca Trail
  • Enjoy Machu Picchu your own way with a private early morning tour
  • Travel through the stunning Sacred Valley by rail on your return to Cusco
  • Lima
  • Cusco
  • Sacred Valley
  • Choquequirao
  • Machu Picchu
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The Route


You won't believe your eyes. Every trip to Peru is unique and your pictures will be too. Get amazed by the people, sites, colors and textures of this incredible destination.

Detailed Itinerary

Lima Costa Verde Afternoon, Miraflores District, Lima City - Atelier South America

Day 1 | Lima

Upon arrival at Lima International Airport you’ll be met by an Atelier representative who will assist you. Before hotel check-in, get a snapshot of life in Lima and enjoy dramatic coastal views from upmarket San Isidro and Miraflores Districts. Note: If you prefer, we can either extend your stay in Lima, the Gastronomical Capital of South America, or arrange a brief stay at Lima’s Airport hotels for quick rest before your connection to Cusco.

Cusco Cathedral, Cusco City - Atelier South America

Day 2 | Lima/Cusco

Your first full day of this exciting tour takes you to Cusco. You’ll fly to Cusco from Lima and, after checking into your Cusco hotel. The rest of the day is left at leisure to get acclimatized and to explore the Cusco Downtown and its magnificent streets and Inca walls. At the fixed time, you’ll be briefed in your hotel about your adventure to Choquequirao, where you will receive final recommendations for this unforgettable trek to one of the last Inca refugees.

Big House, Choquequirao Inca City - Atelier South America

Day 3 | Cusco/Cachora/Chikiska

Today begins with a 4-hour drive from Cusco to your trailhead on the outskirts of the high-Andean village of Cachora, in the Apurimac Valley. It’s a magnificent introduction to this trek, as you wind your way through the wilderness and enjoy endless panoramic views of the surrounding mountains, gushing rivers and thick forest. Having made a descent into the Apurimac Canyon, your ultimate destination will be Chikiska, a small settlement complete with valley views to spend the night.

Choquequirao Inca City - Atelier South America

Day 4 | Chikiska/Choquequirao

As you continue to hike this morning, the ruins of Choquequirao become gradually visible in the distance – a stirring sight. First, you’ll trek alongside the Apurimac River and to the isolated communities of Santa Rosa and Maranpata to get a feel for life in the valley. There will be inclines and rough terrain to navigate on this section of the trek, though all effort to conquer these ancient pathways is rewarded with beautiful surrounding plant life like bromeliads, orchids and bamboo, plus plenty of birds and those inspiring valley views to admire, too. After a strenuous though exhilarating day on your feet, rest comes at a camp beside the stunning ruins of Choquequirao itself.

Corner, Choquequirao Inca City - Atelier South America

Day 5 | Choquequirao

Discovering Choquequirao is a special experience for many reasons, one of which being the relative lack of tourists who visit this remarkable archeological site. The site itself remained hidden from Spanish conquistadors and the centuries since, until Hiram Bingham uncovered the ruins before reaching Machu Picchu in the early 20th Century. This morning, having camped nearby last night, you can explore Choquequirao’s main plaza, ritual baths, terraces and carved llama inlays on the ancient walls at your own pace. The ruins are located on a hillside 1,600m above the Apurimac River below, making for spellbinding valley views from this vantage point. After a day of discovery, overnight beside the ruins – under the stars.


Day 6 | Choquequirao/Maizal

This day of your Choquequirao and Machu Picchu Tour is a tough – though scenic – day of hiking, beginning with 1,400m descent to the newly uncovered ruins of Picha Unuyoc. Having explored the site, you’ll then follow the path of the Rio Blanco before a 1,200m ascent to Maizal, your elevated campsite for this evening.

Top View, Choquequirao Inca City - Atelier South America

Day 7 | Maizal/Yanama/Lucmabamba

Fully rested, yesterday’s efforts are rewarded with yet more incredible views today, as you reach the highest point of the trek, the the Abra San Juan mountain pass, and look out across the Cordillera Vilcabamba mountaintops filling the horizon and dramatic drops to the valley floor below. Along the way, hike past old silver mines and mixed terrain until reaching the village of Yanama. Here, an awaiting vehicle will take you over the Totora pass to the small village of Lucmabamba for the night.

Windows, Choquequirao Inca City - Atelier South America

Day 8 | Lucmabamba/Llactapata/Aguas Calientes

Your final day of hiking is as memorable as the rest, walking through verdant cloud forests along a section of the original Inca Trail – eventually leading to the fantastically well-preserved Inca ruins of Llactapata, one of the most iconic ancient sites in Peru. Arriving at Llactapata, you can explore this archeological site in all its splendor, complexity and preservation, a superb example of Inca construction and agricultural techniques. After a guided tour of the ruins and time spent enjoying the valley views, you’ll continue through lush vegetation and finally catch a rare glimpse of Machu Picchu itself in the distance, unforgettable. Later, walk through forested trails, past coffee plantations and on to board a scenic train ride to Aguas Calientes, where a unique property is your home for the evening.

Macu Picchu Citadel - Atelier South America

Day 9 | Machu Picchu/Cusco

The climax of your trip is to visit Machu Picchu itself, the ancient Lost City of the Inca. Having taken an early morning transfer to the Citadel gates, you can then look forward to a private guided tour and an afternoon at leisure around the Lost City. Having explored and digested this legendary place, hop to the town of Aguas Calientes and a panoramic train towards Cusco, through the Sacred Valley on one of the most scenic train journeys in South America. Assistance and transfer to your hotel upon arrival.

Cusco Cathedrad - Atelier South America

Day 10 | Cusco/Lima

As your trip draws to a close, you may have time for one final walk around the area before your onward flight to Lima from Cusco and home, full of priceless memories of Peru.

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