Current as of: June 14, 2024 - 12:43

TPK

The Lost City of Choquequirao Trip Notes

  • Ways to Travel: Guided Group, Private Group Adventures
  • Destination: Peru
  • Programmes: Walking & Trekking
  • Activity Level:

    6 out of 7 - Challenging / Tough

  • 15 Days: Flight Inclusive
  • 13 Days: Land Only
  • Ages: 18+
  • Trip Code: TPK
  • Carbon Footprint: 13kg CO2e

Trip Overview

Trek in Peru amid the Vilcabamba mountain range to the lost Inca city of Choquequirao

Escape the crowds on this challenging trek through the mountains of Peru. This varied trek is constantly moving up and down the climatic zones, leading you up steep paths through dense cloud forest, over spectacular scenic passes and along ancient Inca paths to the best-kept secret of the Vilcabamba range: the lost Inca city of Choquequirao. Machu Picchu may draw the crowds, but Choquequirao is awe-inspiring with its secluded splendour. If you like being off the beaten path, are intrigued by rich history, and crave dramatic landscapes dominated by snow-capped peaks, this is the trek for you.

At a Glance

  • Five nights in hotels and seven nights of full-service camping
  • Eight days of walking with full porterage
  • Altitude maximum: 15,290ft (4,660m); average: 9,845ft (3,000m)
  • Travel by private bus and train

Highlights

  • Take quiet trekking trails without the permit and other restrictions imposed on the Inca Trail
  • Discover Choquequirao, one of the best-preserved Inca ruins
  • Experience diverse scenery from cloud forests and canyons to high passes and the towering peaks of the Vilcabamba range
  • Enjoy guided tours of Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley
  • Spend time exploring historic Cuzco

Is This Trip for You?

This full-service camping trek is graded Activity Level 6 (Challenging/Tough). For more on our trip gradings, visit our Activity Level Guidelines page.

It has eight days of point-to-point walking and full porterage throughout.

Please note, it is essential you read the Machu Picchu regulations in the Important Information section of the Trip Notes before you book this trip.

Significantly more strenuous than the classic Inca Trail, this demanding trek takes you up to high altitudes on steep but well-defined trails, mostly following mountain switchbacks as you move from valley floor to mountain pass on your journey through the Andes. This trail follows ancient Inca pathways, the same as the Inca Trail, but without the restrictions of trekking permits and human porterage. Expect early starts and long days (up to 11 hours) with steep gradients throughout, all rewarded with breath-taking views across the mountains. This trek is not technically difficult and is suitable for all walkers with good fitness levels and some experience of multi-day trekking. There are some steep drops and narrow paths, which makes this trek unsuitable for vertigo sufferers or those without a head for heights.

As this trip spends considerable time at altitude, we ask you to refer to the altitude warning within the Trip Notes. We spend two days in Cuzco (11,155ft/3,400m) acclimatising before starting the trek. The maximum altitude reached on this trip is approximately 15,290ft (4,660m) at Yanama Pass.

Protest action/strikes are not uncommon in Peru and, while these are generally peaceful, they can involve roadblocks and cause disruption to travel. Occasionally, your leader may have to adapt your itinerary in response to this.

Walking hours stated within the itinerary are given as approximates only. Timings stated include lunch and photo stops and vary depending on the group’s pace.

Group

We have a local tour leader and, for the trek, may also have an assistant guide (depending on group size) and a full trekking crew including cooks and mules/horses to carry our kitbags.

Adult min age: 18

Min group size: 4

Max group size: 16

Itinerary

TPK Trip Map

Land Only

  • Start City: Cuzco
  • End City: Cuzco

Flight Inclusive

  • Start City: London
  • End City: London

Land Only Itinerary

Day 1
Start Cuzco; afternoon walking tour

Welcome to Cuzco! The Inca capital – though small enough to be easily manageable – is among the most attractive cities in South America with much of the centre comprising Colonial-era buildings with Inca foundations. We have a short walking tour around the compact city centre to get our bearings.

We recommend taking it easy upon arrival into Cuzco and to drink plenty of water to allow your body time to acclimatise to the altitude (11,155ft/3,400m).

There is a welcome briefing in the hotel lobby this evening.

Accommodation: MamaSara Hotel (or similar)  

Day 2
Free day in Cuzco

Today has been left free for exploring Cuzco. The Plaza de Armas is a fantastic spot for people watching, while Qorikancha (the Sun Temple) in the Santo Domingo Church and monastery is worth a visit. Mercado San Pedro is the place to try local produce and there are many handicraft markets to shop for souvenirs such as alpaca jumpers and scarves.

If you fancy something more active, there is an array of optional activities available from Cuzco. These include paddleboarding on a lake, mountain biking, or a combination of via ferrata and zip-lining in the Sacred Valley.

Accommodation: MamaSara Hotel (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 3
Drive to Capuliyoc Pass; begin the trek with a descent to Chiquisca

We leave Cuzco early this morning, around 5am, and drive for approximately seven hours to Capuliyoc Pass (approximately 9,565ft/2,915m) in time for lunch, stopping to explore the archaeological sites of Tarawasi and Saywite en route. From the top of the pass, we enjoy spectacular panoramic views of the Apurimac River and snow‐capped peaks, as well as Choquequirao itself. Descending from the pass, the path zigzags through dry forest above the raging waters of the Apurimac River. Our camp tonight is at Chiquisca.

Accommodation: Full-service camping: Chiquisca Camp (6,400ft/1,950m)

Distance covered: 6mi (9km)

Descent: 3,281ft (1,000m); Activity hours: 3

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4
Cross Apurimac River then climb to Santa Rosa and Maranpata; to Choquequirao camp

We have another very early start for a long day’s trek. Just over an hour of walking downhill brings us to Playa Rosalina (4,920ft/1,500m), from where we cross the Apurimac River before beginning the long and steep switchback climb up to Santa Rosa village. After a rest stop, we continue climbing to a plateau above Maranpata (9,580ft/2,920m) where we usually have a lunch break in a small village. The gradient eases off a little here and the path undulates towards Choquequirao for a couple of hours. The forests here are home to spectacled bears, and we may catch sight of them as we approach the Inca citadel. After walking through the terraces, we set up camp close to the ruins themselves. This campsite has cold showers and flushing toilets.

Accommodation: Full-service camping: Choquequirao Camp (9,960ft/3,035m)

Distance covered: 7mi (11km)

Ascent: 5,036ft (1,535m); Descent: 1,476ft (450m); Activity hours: 10hr 30min

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5
Full day to explore the magnificent Inca site of Choquequirao and the terraces of Pacchanta

We have ample time to fully explore the vast ruins of Choquequirao. Larger than Machu Picchu, the site comprises nine different areas, each of which had a distinct role covering religious, political and military functions. The quality of the stonework indicates that it housed important Inca officials or royalty and, in common with other important sites, features ritual baths and temples dedicated to the sun, moon and Pachamama, the earth spirit. Much of Choquequirao is unexcavated and many buildings are still hidden beneath the thick forest that surrounds the main site. There are incredible views of the whole site and the Apurimac Valley from the truncated hilltop of Sunch’u Pata, a short distance up from the main plaza. In the afternoon, we visit the terraces of Pacchanta.

Accommodation: Full-service camping: Choquequirao Camp (9,960ft/3,035m)

Distance covered: 3mi (5km)

Activity hours: 6 (inclusive of the time for visiting the site itself)

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6
Cross Choquequirao Pass then descend to the Rio Blanco via Pinchinoyoc; continue to Maizal

We cover a lot of ground today and it can be strenuous, starting with a short but steep climb to the top of the Choquequirao Pass (10,550ft/3,215m) from where we enjoy our last panoramic view over Choquequirao. After the pass, we walk steeply downhill on a wide but dusty road to Pinchinoyoc (7,875ft/2,400m), where we visit Inca terraces previously covered in vegetation. We continue our descent to the bottom of the valley, where we cross the Rio Blanco (5,905ft/1,800m) and begin our ascent up the other side of the valley. This is a long, steep climb up to Maizal.

Accommodation: Full-service camping: Maizal Camp (9,845ft/3,000m)

Distance covered: 9mi (15km)

Ascent: 4,921ft (1,500m); Descent: 5,036ft (1,535m); Activity hours: 10

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7
Steep climb over San Juan Pass with impressive mountain views; descend to Yanama

We start the day with a steep, switchback climb (approximately five hours) up the San Juan Pass (13,680ft/4,170m) – the effort of ascending the pass is balanced with incredible views of the snow-capped peaks of the Vilcabamba range, including Choquetacarpo, Pumasillo and Sacsarayoc. On a clear day, we can see magnificent glaciers and enjoy a 360-degree panorama of these beautiful, serrated mountains. As we near the top, we stop at the 500-year-old La Victoria silver mines. Crossing the pass, we descend for roughly three hours to our camp at Yanama, following an old miners’ track that glitters with silver dust. In May, this path winds through landscapes filled with wild lupins in flower. Today you have good chances to spot a mighty Andean condor soaring on the thermals.

Accommodation: Full-service camping: Yanama Camp (11,155ft/3,400m)

Distance covered: 7mi (12km)

Ascent: 3,281ft (1,000m); Descent: 1,969ft (600m); Activity hours: 7hr 30min

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8
Trek amid Vilcabamba range and over Yanama Pass, surrounded by glaciers, to Totora

Stunning scenery abounds today as we trek deep in the heart of the Vilcabamba range, climbing for approximately five hours to the highest point of the trek, the Yanama Pass (15,290ft/4,660m). There is a new road from Yanama village up and over the pass; however, our trail avoids it wherever possible – and vehicles are few and far between. Our gravelly trail follows the river up the valley before it begins the climb, crisscrossing the new road until reaching the top of the pass and the high point of the trek where lofty Sacsarayoc dominates the skyline from the pass. A roughly four-hour descent from the pass brings us along the valley, passing small villages and following the river to Totora campsite, where we spend the night.

Accommodation: Full-service camping: Totora Camp (11,155ft/3,400m)

Distance covered: 12mi (20km)

Ascent: 3,281ft (1,000m); Activity hours: 9hr 30min

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9
Descend to Lucmabamba

From Totora, we have a descent (approximately seven hours) to Lucmabamba. We notice more trekkers today as we converge with a section of the Salkantay trail and enter a more inhabited area. We follow the road for a short section, then a gravel path beside the river; the surroundings are green as we are walking through cloud forest once again. We also see lots of fruit trees and coffee plantations. Tonight’s campsite is particularly special: your tents are pitched on Inca terraces, and the campsite is in the middle of a coffee plantation. Time permitting, there is the chance for a tour of the coffee plantation. Entrance is 10 soles (US$2.70) or free if you purchase coffee – it’s 25 soles (US$6.75) for a large bag.

Accommodation: Full-service camping: Lucmabamba Camp

Distance covered: 16mi (25km)

Activity hours: 8

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10
Follow Salkantay River to Santa Teresa; train to Aguas Calientes

Rising early, we follow an original Inca trail, which climbs uphill for three hours to the site of Llactapata. After a final two-hour descent, we reach the hydroelectric station at Santa Teresa (6,235ft/1,900m) – a good spot for lunch. After lunch, we cross the Vilcanota River and finish our trek at the train station. We board the train to Aguas Calientes in the afternoon and check into our hotel upon arrival for a well-earned rest and shower!

Accommodation: Inti Punku Machu Picchu (or similar)

Distance covered: 8mi (13km)

Activity hours: 6

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 11
Morning tour of Machu Picchu; train to Ollantaytambo

An early start is required for Machu Picchu to beat the day-trippers arriving from Cuzco and reach the ruins as early as possible; buses take us up the winding road to the site entrance, and during high season (May-October) there may be a wait.

Machu Picchu is one of the architectural and engineering marvels of the ancient world and what makes it all the more dramatic is the staggering mountain backdrop. The Spaniards never found it, the Incas left no records of it, and so it remained an enigma, a city lost for centuries in the jungle until it was rediscovered in 1911 by the American historian Hiram Bingham. Your guided tour highlights the history, culture, architecture and mysteries that Machu Picchu holds to this day.

We catch an afternoon train back to Ollantaytambo (1hr 30min) where we spend the night.

Accommodation: Tunupa Lodge (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 12
Sacred Valley tour; continue to Cuzco

We wake to explore the narrow, cobbled streets and colossal Inca stone terraces that dominate the hillside above Ollantaytambo town. The archaeological site at Ollantaytambo was the royal estate of Inca emperor Pachacuti as well as being of religious and defensive significance. Travelling by road we next visit the ruins of the citadel at Pisac, where Inca terraces are carved into solid rock and there is time to walk around the colourful market. Afterwards, we continue the drive to Cuzco, passing through high-Andean scenery dotted with old towns and villages dating to pre-Columbian times.

Accommodation: MamaSara Hotel (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 13
End Cuzco

The trip ends in Cuzco after breakfast and we begin our return journeys home. But if you’re not ready for the adventure to end, you can always book onto our Lake Titicaca extension, where you’ll explore the sky-high waters by boat, visit an indigenous community and explore the pre‐Inca site of Sillustani. Alternatively, join our Amazon Rainforest extension to explore lakes, rivers and jungle trails in the wildlife-rich Tambopata Reserve.

Meals included: Breakfast

Extend Your Trip

Amazon Rainforest extension (from Cuzco)

Easily accessible via a short flight to Puerto Maldonado from Cuzco, the Amazon is the largest rainforest in the world and home to an astonishing array of wildlife, plus countless plant species. Spending three nights at a lodge in the incredibly rich Tambopata Reserve, we use motorised canoes to explore lakes and rivers, and follow jungle trails to navigate dense forests. The detailed itinerary can be found here.

Please ask your sales representative for more details. Prices listed are starting prices.

Price per person

£ 699


Mandatory Single Supplement

£ 135

Lake Titicaca extension

Journey across the spectacular altiplano to Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable freshwater lake in the world at 12,467ft (3,800m). Explore the waters by boat and visit the indigenous Uros community who live on floating reed islands and produce fine textiles. Back on the mainland, we visit the pre‐Inca site of Sillustani, composed of burial towers with fantastic views over the region. The Lake Titicaca extension is only available after your main tour as we do not recommend arriving straight into Puno due to the altitude. The detailed itinerary can be found here.

Please ask your sales representative for more details. Prices listed are starting prices.

Price per person

£ 349


Mandatory Single Supplement

£ 150

Altitude warning

This trip includes one or more nights over 11,480ft (3,500m) above sea level, where there is a genuine risk of being affected by acute mountain sickness (AMS). If left untreated, AMS can be life-threatening. We expect most clients to experience some mild symptoms of altitude sickness, such as headaches, shortness of breath while walking or sleeplessness. Our leaders are trained to identify symptoms of severe AMS and if a client requires extra care, arrangements such as rapid descent, will be made immediately.

On some days, this trip climbs faster than commonly published ascent-rate recommendations. Based upon an assessment by our external safety and medical advisors and our risk-assessment process, we consider the ascent rate acceptable due to the additional safety measures in place for our customers. All our trips operating at high altitude meet our internal altitude-safety standards, which minimise the risk of serious incidents occurring while travelling at altitude.

Several medical conditions or medications can reduce your body’s ability to acclimatise. This may affect your performance and make you more susceptible to AMS. If you are worried about any pre-existing conditions, such as heart conditions, or your overall physical ability, you must seek medical advice prior to booking. The drug Diamox (also known as acetazolamide and normally only available on prescription) has been shown to aid acclimatisation in some individuals, and therefore may reduce the risk of AMS. Clients considering using Diamox should speak to their doctor about the drug, its side-effects and a prescription. While we endeavour to assist all our clients in achieving their goals, there may be times when your leader decides to delay or stop your ascent based on your overall condition or the onset of AMS.

Please note, while we endeavour to assist all our clients in achieving their goals, there may be times when your leader decides to delay or stop your ascent based on your overall condition or the onset of AMS.

If you are not taking out Exodus Travel Insurance, make sure your policy covers you up to the maximum altitude on this trip (if trekking in the Himalaya your policy should also cover the use of a helicopter for emergency medical evacuation).

Ascents, descents and distances: All ascents, descents and distances listed in the daily itinerary have been measured by our local partners or tour leaders, in many cases with satellite-based mapping software. However, different GPS measuring devices can give differing results, particularly on winding paths or in mountainous terrain. Measurements stated throughout these Trips Notes are given to help you understand the types of terrain and distances you will encounter. Timings stated will vary depending on the pace of your group.

Accommodation

Three-star hotels and full-service camping

The Lost City of Choquequirao

We use three-star hotels on this Andean trip, which feature an excellent blend of quality and comfort and are within an easy walk of the attractions in Cuzco, Aguas Calientes and the Sacred Valley. On trek, we have full-service camping with full porterage by mules, meaning our camp staff put up and take down the tents, cook, and do all the camp chores. You need only carry your backpack for the day and enjoy your time trekking through the Vilcabamba range.

Cuzco: MamaSara (nights 1, 2 and 12)

The Lost City of Choquequirao

Just a few blocks from the historic centre, MamaSara is well located for our adventures in the one-time Inca capital of Cuzco. The design of the rooms pays homage to the city with locally sourced furniture and artwork, while the restaurant serves Peruvian Andean cuisine.

Choquequirao Inca Trail: Full-service camping (nights 3-9)

The Lost City of Choquequirao

For seven nights, we sleep and dine in good-quality four-season tents. We also have a toilet tent set up both in camp and during lunch stops. Boiled and filtered drinking water is provided in the mornings, at lunch and dinner so we can refill our water bottles. Additionally, a bowl of warm water is provided each morning and evening for washing. Camp staff set up and break down the tents, while our trusty mules transport all camp equipment necessary.

Aguas Calientes: Inti Punku Machu Picchu (night 10)

The Lost City of Choquequirao

The Inti Punku is centrally located in Aguas Calientes, a small town alongside the Urubamba River. This comfortable hotel offers clean, contemporary rooms with private baths and hot water, making it a perfect place to relax and take in this unique setting far below the ruins of Machu Picchu.

Ollantaytambo: Tunupa Lodge (night 11)

The Lost City of Choquequirao

Tunupa Lodge is located in Ollantaytambo, a small town in the Sacred Valley of the Incas. It has comfortable and cosy rooms, plus a bar and restaurant that serves delicious local and international cuisine, plus a variety of drinks. The hotel also has a lovely garden and is a great place to relax and reflect on your amazing trek to Machu Picchu.

Single supplement from £ 380

Food & Drink

All breakfasts, eight lunches and seven dinners are included in the price of the tour.

Peruvian cuisine is loved for its flavours and originality; it’s well worth digging into the local delicacies. Among these are ceviche (seafood or fish marinated in lime juice), lomo saltado (a Peruvian take on a beef stir-fry), and various hearty soups including the delicious quinoa soup. Other dishes include roasted cuy (guinea pig) and alpaca steak. To drink, there’s pisco sour, the national beverage.

Hotel breakfasts are normally simple buffets, usually including bread/toast and jam, cereal, sometimes eggs or cooked dishes, sometimes fruit, tea/coffee and fruit juice. We cannot guarantee wheat-/gluten-free products are available for breakfast in all locations – if you have an intolerance you may wish to bring your own breakfast food.

Where lunch and dinner are not included in Cuzco/Aguas Calientes/Ollantaytambo, we visit a variety of cafes and restaurants.

During the trek, hearty breakfasts are served and good-quality cooked lunches and dinners are provided, and usually consist of soup or a starter, a main course with meat/fish and some form of carbohydrates, followed by a dessert. Some snacks are also provided. Drinking water (boiled and filtered) is provided in the mornings and at lunch during the trek so you can refill your bottles. Tea/coffee is brought to your tent each morning and juice or hot drinks are provided with all meals during the trek.

Drinking water is provided. The tap water in Peru is not safe to drink; boiled and filtered drinking water is provided on the trek and elsewhere your leader buys large water containers from which you can refill your bottle.

Transport

A variety of transport is used during this tour and vehicle types may vary depending on group size: travel is by bus and by train. Airport transfers are by private car or minibus. All main road journeys are by private minibus or coach with heating/air conditioning.

We travel by train (with Peru Rail/Inca Rail) between Aguas Calientes (the town below Machu Picchu) and Ollantaytambo in expedition/executive class. Seating is four seats to a table and the carriages have panoramic windows and there is air conditioning/heating.

This point-to-point trekking trip requires customers to walk between each overnight stay under their own steam. Other forms of transport may be available along the route (horses, jeeps etc) but Exodus is not able to take responsibility for the safety or the cost of any transport that customers choose to take even if provided with the assistance of our leader or staff.

Weather & Seasonality

The diverse geography of Peru results in a very varied climate.

Cuzco and the Andes have a temperate climate. December to March is the rainy season. April to November is the dry season, characterised by clear skies and strong sunshine in the mornings, sometimes clouding over as the day progresses. Daytime temperatures are usually pleasant (approximately 20C/68F on average) but nights only 5C-10C (41F-50F), except for May, June, July and August when days are cooler and nights are often close to, or a few degrees below, freezing (particularly during the higher parts of the trek). In the Andes, however, anything is possible at any time of year, including cloud, rain or even snow, with rapid and unexpected changes.

Aguas Calientes and Machu Picchu are in the cloud forest and, as such, attract large amounts of precipitation all year as clouds move up from the Amazon Basin. Rain here can be heavy but is seldom prolonged. Cold fronts sometimes occur from July to August.

Peru is also affected by El Niño, a weather phenomenon where warming of Pacific Ocean surface water off South America drives a shift in the atmospheric circulation resulting in abnormally high levels of rainfall over parts of South America. These events occur at irregular intervals of two to seven years, and last nine months to two years.

Joining Instructions

Key information

Start hotel: Koyllur Inn, Pumapaccha 243, Cuzco 08003
Phone: +51 84 245118
Recommended arrival time: By 3pm at the start hotel to check in for our orientation tour
Airport: Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport (CUZ)

Getting to the start hotel

Our Cuzco hotel is approximately 20 minutes’ drive from the airport. Exodus provides free arrival transfers to the start hotel from the airport for all customers.

Collecting baggage in Lima
If you are flying via Lima, you need to collect your baggage in Lima, even if your bag has been checked all the way through to Cuzco. After collecting the bag, you are required to clear customs, and you should then drop it off at the bag drop for the onward flight. If you do not pick up your bag, there is a chance it may not reach Cuzco for the start of the trek. This is a requirement of Lima airport and also applies to your return flight.

Catching your return flight

Exodus provides free departure transfers for all customers to Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport (CUZ) from the end hotel.

Please note, unless specified otherwise, the transfers will be to the start (or pre-tour) hotel and from the end (or post-tour) hotel and will be on the date on which the tour starts/ends; transfers to other hotels in the same city and/or on different dates may attract an extra charge. Transfers should be booked with your sales representative at least two weeks before the tour starts.

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers will be sent to you as part of our Final Joining Instructions. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

Location start: Cuzco
Location end: Cuzco

What To Take

Essential Equipment

  • Three- or four-season sleeping bag (four-season for May-August departures)
  • Warm jacket
  • Several layers of clothing to cope with varying temperatures during the trek
  • Comfortable, waterproof walking boots
  • Warm hat and gloves
  • Waterproof jacket and overtrousers (overpants)
  • Lightweight, pale-coloured clothes for hot days (September and October departures especially)
  • Two large refillable water bottles (ideally metal or reusable Nalgene due to trail restrictions)
  • Backpack (between 25 litres and 35 litres should be sufficient for trekking days)
  • Lightweight quick-drying towel
  • Insect repellent
  • Long-sleeved shirt and trousers (pants)
  • Small trek towel
  • Sunglasses, sun hat with neck cover, and sunscreen

In Cuzco, we provide a sleeping mat for the duration of the trek. The mat is full length and approximately 1.5in (4cm) thick when inflated.

A sleeping bag is not included but is required for the trek. These can be hired locally through your leader in Cuzco from 128 soles (US$40).

While any type of normal luggage or suitcase can be used for this trip, a soft kitbag will need to be used for the trek portion (since horses/mules cannot carry hard suitcases or bags with wheels etc).

If you book this trip, we provide an Exodus kitbag to pack your luggage in while on trek. Once you have booked, you will be sent instructions on how to claim your free bag (they are not sent automatically). There are also details on how to claim for another item from the Exodus shop should you already have one of these. Please note, if you book less than three weeks before the departure date, we cannot guarantee your kitbag will arrive before your trip starts. If this is the case, please contact us on customerops@exodus.co.uk (or customeroperations@exodustravels.com if you’re based in the US or Canada). See www.exodus.co.uk/kitbags for full T&Cs.

If you can’t fit the kitbag in your main luggage (or do not receive one in time) then our local partners will provide a soft kitbag in Cuzco (this should be returned to your leader after the trek).

The is no set weight restriction on this trek (as you would find on the Inca Trail) as porterage is by horses/mules; however, please try to keep your kitbag to a maximum of around 22lb (10kg).

Donations for porters

The porters we work with are mostly from rural farming communities. If you have any old walking gear you no longer need, or any unwanted warm children’s clothing, these would be much appreciated by the porters and their families. Please leave any donations with your leader in Cuzco. Alternatively, you can give items directly to your porters on the last night of the trek.

Environmental considerations

We believe in reducing our negative environmental impact wherever possible, even when nature calls. If no facilities are available, you may need to go behind a tree, bush or rock. To avoid leaving toilet paper behind, we recommend taking biodegradable bags with you. Once you have done your business, put the used paper in the bag and dispose when appropriate facilities are available.

Water included

Plastic bottles are a big issue in many countries where recycling isn’t yet widely available; they often end up in landfill or get burned. Both processes are harmful to the environment and we would like to reduce our impact here. For your trip, we provide an alternative to single-use plastic bottles to reduce the plastic used. This means that safe drinking water will be available throughout; all you need to do is bring a bottle to refill along the way. Please add this to your packing list.

Optional Equipment

We strongly recommend taking trekking poles for the Choquequirao Trek, as steps and prolonged ascents/descents can be hard on the knees. Walking poles can be hired through your leader in Cuzco from 52 soles (US$16) per pole.

We also recommend:

  • A small sewing kit (with safety pins)
  • Wet wipes
  • Cold-water detergent or laundry soap (biodegradable)
  • Personal music player/books/pack of cards

We strongly recommend storing electronics (cameras etc) in a sealed waterproof bag to prevent damage during rain.

Practical Information

Visa

Peru

Travellers from the UK, US and EU normally do not need a visa to enter Peru. Please note, visa requirements often change and it is your responsibility to obtain any required visas for this trip. Therefore, we recommend that you check with the nearest embassy or consulate of your chosen destination(s), including any countries you may be transiting or transferring through.

Some local governments provide guidance on what visas their citizens need. To help, we’ve gathered a selection of useful links below.

If you are travelling via the USA and are eligible to transit under the Visa Waiver Program, you are required to register in advance for an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization). There is a US$21 charge, which is only payable online. Please see our website www.exodus.co.uk/usvisa for further information.

Please note, not all nationalities have the same eligibility for travel to or transit via the USA, and you may not be covered by the visa waiver program. Regulations stipulate that any person who has travelled to Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Sudan, Syria or Yemen since March 2011, or have dual nationalities of these countries, may no longer qualify. In addition, if you have travelled to Cuba since 12 January 2021 you will not be eligible for the visa waiver program and should instead apply for a visa.

If you are in doubt of your eligibility, please check the visa requirements with your local US embassy.

Vaccinations and Health

Peru

There are no required vaccinations. However, recommended vaccinations include tetanus, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, rabies, typhoid, tuberculosis and yellow fever. Additionally, Zika fever, a mosquito‐borne viral disease, is a known risk in Peru. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available, so you should take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites. Please check all vaccination recommendations with your doctor or travel clinic.

Amazon: If you are travelling to the Tambopata reserve in the Amazon rainforest, the risk of malaria is slight, but you may wish to consult your doctor or travel clinic for further advice. We also strongly recommend that you obtain a yellow fever vaccination. Additionally, dengue fever and chikungunya are known risks in the Amazon region. Both are tropical viral diseases spread by daytime biting mosquitoes. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available for either, and therefore the best form of prevention is to take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

Local Time

Peru's time zone: America/Lima (UTC -05:00)

Electricity

Peru’s electricity: Plug types A (two flat pins), B (three pins: two flat, one round) and C (two round pins)– 220V, 60Hz.

There are no charging facilities on the camping trek, so we recommend you take spare batteries or a solar charger with you. If staying in an Amazon lodge, there is no mains electricity; a generator provides power for a few hours a day only in the main lodge/dining area, while lanterns, torches (flashlights) or candles are provided in the bedrooms.

The Lost City of Choquequirao

Money

Peru's currency: Peruvian nuevo sol (PEN)

ATM Availability

ATMs are available in the larger cities and towns and are particularly recommended since they often allow you to withdraw either US dollars or Peruvian soles and exchange rates are generally good. Most international credit and debit cards are accepted, but you should inform your bank you are travelling to Peru and check if your card works in the local ATMs. There are several ATMs in Aguas Calientes, but they do sometimes run out of cash so it is a good idea to take your spending money for Machu Picchu with you on the trek itself. Credit card acceptance is increasing, but generally they can only be used at the large (and more expensive) restaurants and shops. You should check with your card provider to ensure your card can be used in Peru.

Extra Expenses & Spending Money

We recommend either taking cash with you to change into soles locally or using ATMs to withdraw money in Peru as you go, so you are not left with excess at the end of your trip. It is a good idea to change a small amount into soles at the counters in the baggage hall upon arrival. Change is often in short supply, so ask for small denomination banknotes and try to break up any large notes at the earliest opportunity. It is possible to obtain soles before you travel but exchange rates can be lower than exchanging money locally in Peru. Some larger establishments and hotels accept US dollars but the vast majority of places will only accept soles.

Food, drinks and similar incidentals can vary in price enormously in Peru and are relatively expensive compared to other developing nations. Allow about 56-75 soles (US$15-US$20) per meal not included to eat at tourist-class restaurants. Cheaper food is abundant at small local cafes, although sanitary conditions at these places cannot be guaranteed. Bottled water and soft drinks are readily available for around 7.50 soles (US$2) each.

You may want to hire equipment for your trek in Cuzco – please see the Packing Section for prices.

Please note, there is a possibility the Peruvian Ministry of Tourism may increase entrance fees to archaeological sites at any time. If this happens, we will inform you of the increase and the additional amount will be payable locally.

Peruvian passport or identity card holders

Please note, the cost of Exodus trips in Peru is based on the assumption you do not hold a Peruvian passport or resident card. If you are officially resident in Peru or are a Peruvian passport holder, you are liable to an additional 18 percent tax on most services, and this extra sum will be payable locally to our local partner. Other nationalities are exempt from this tax. Please notify us at the time of booking if you are legally resident in Peru or hold a Peruvian passport so we can advise you of the total cost of these taxes.

Optional excursions

Your tour leader can tell you about the full range of optional excursions available throughout your trip. However, the most popular are listed below.

Please note, a Partial Tourist Ticket (BTG) is required for entrance to the sites in and around Cuzco and the Sacred Valley – this is not included in the excursion prices below but can be purchased locally from 70 soles (approximately US$19).

  • Cuzco city tour and four ruins (five hours): From 180 soles (US$48) per person (based on four participants), excludes BTG. This includes visits to the nearby ruins of Sacsayhuaman, Qenqo, Tambomachay and Puca Pucará, plus a city tour, which includes the Plaza de Armas, where the cathedral is located, Qorikancha sun temple (entrance included) and San Pedro Market.
  • South Valley tour (seven hours): From 246 soles (US$66) per person (based on four participants), excludes BTG. Visit the little-known valley to the south of Cuzco, including the terraces at Tipon, the pre-Inca ruins of Pikillaqta and the Sistine Chapel of the Americas in Andahuaylillas (entrance included); return to Cuzco.
  • Stand-up paddleboarding (four hours): From 305 soles (US$82) per person (based on two participants). Includes private transfer, specialised guide, fruit, water and hot drinks. Price can vary if there are more people.
  • Zip line (eight to nine hours): From (US$60) per person. Includes transport, security equipment, specialised guide, and packed lunch.
  • Via ferrata (full day/eight to nine hours): From 225 soles (US$60) per person. Includes transport, security equipment, specialised guide and packed lunch.
  • Via ferrata and zip line (eight to nine hours): From 375 soles (US$100) per person. Includes transport, security equipment, specialised guide and packed lunch.
  • Mountain biking excursion in the Sacred Valley (seven hours). From 485 soles (US$130) per person (based on two participants). Includes private transfer, security equipment, specialised guide and packed lunch.
  • White-water rafting (eight hours). From 520 soles (US$140) per person (minimum of two participants). Drive to the Chuquicahuana area of the Southern Valley to raft in the Vilcanota river. Spend two to three hours rafting and experiencing level III and III+ rapids. Finish your adventure with a picnic lunch before heading back to Cuzco. Activity available from April to December.

Prices of excursions vary depending on the number of people taking part. The prices given within these Trip Notes are based on four participants and are intended as a guideline only. Actual prices will be more for smaller group sizes and less for larger group sizes. All tours use private transport and there will be an English-speaking guide. Please note, cash is the preferred method of payment for any of the optional activities. For some activities, a minimum number of participants may be required. Some activities may not always be possible due to weather, seasonality, national holidays or unforeseen circumstances.

Tipping

In Peru, it is customary for local staff to receive tips and these tips can be an important source of extra income for hard-working crew. Whether to tip and how much to tip should be a personal decision. As customers often ask us for a suggestion of how much is appropriate for different individuals, we have prepared some guidelines together with our local partner – your leader will provide a handout which we hope will be useful to your group. Please note, Peruvian soles are the preferred currency for tips.

Tipping kitty: On this trip we recommend running a tipping kitty. A tipping kitty means we tip as a group, and individuals don’t need to worry about giving out small tips to various people who have helped during the trip (ie drivers, local guides, boatmen, hotel staff). We suggest a contribution of 23 soles (US$6) per person per day.

Tour leader: Leaders are fairly paid for their role but are always grateful for recognition of their skills and hard work. Tips should be based on their performance and engagement with the group. If you are happy with their work, we recommend somewhere around 23 soles (US$6) per person per day, but customers are encouraged to contribute what they feel happy giving – either less or more than the amount suggested above.

Tipping of your trekking crew

The trekking crew comprises guides, cooks, kitchen staff, toilet wrangler and horse wranglers. Tips are best arranged on a group basis, and a volunteer from the group should gather the money and split the total collected into smaller amounts for each person. This is normally done on the last night of the trek. Your leader will be happy to assist as needed.

The recommended contribution per group member is 280-400 soles (or 340-440 soles per person for small groups of six or fewer).

People, Places & Planet

We work hard to create trips that improve life for the people and places we visit and look after the planet we explore. Find out more about our sustainable travel ethos and practice here, and find out about the work of the Exodus Travels Foundation here.

Some sustainable travel highlights of this trip include:

People

How this trip helps improve life for local communities.

  • The use of a local guide means our customers will be well informed about local traditions and cultural-social sensitivities.
  • This trip brings income and opportunity to the destination community through the inclusion of locally owned hotels and restaurants, the emphasis on eating locally produced food, and by supporting other local enterprises.
  • The porters we work with are not directly employed by our local partner, but we work with the same communities each year; they are fairly paid and we also supply uniforms, walking shoes and provide safe transport and community support for them. Our trek manager is a leading figure and consultant for the Porters’ Federation, which campaigns for the fair treatment of porters in the region.
  • We’re passionate about the welfare of our punctilious porters. Alongside setting the golden standard for fair treatment, we’ve taken the next step with our pioneering Porter Project. In Peru, despite trekking the Inca Trail numerous times, most porters never have the opportunity to visit the stunning ancient ruins of Machu Picchu. We’ve taken the initiative to fix this and, in 2018, started a project to ensure each of our porters has the opportunity to experience an important part of their own cultural heritage. We can now proudly say more than 165 porters have been involved in this project, and our mini documentary Carried Away, has helped raise awareness of the awesome job these porters do.
  • Funded by the Community Kickstart Project, our operator is working with Medlife to deliver emergency food parcels to the households of porters and other staff members who have continuously worked hard to guide our clients along the iconic Inca Trail.

Places

How this trip helps protect and conserve local landscapes and nature.

  • By travelling in a small group, led by a local guide, we ‘tread lightly’ to minimise our impact on local resources and the environment.
  • Trekking trips have little detrimental impact on the environment and our entry fees to the trail and historic sites contribute directly towards their maintenance and upkeep.
  • We work with our partners on the ground to proactively eliminate or reduce waste, for example eliminating all single-use plastic water bottles and instead providing refills for reusable bottles.
  • We operate a zero-impact policy while trekking, removing all waste from campsites and separating it so that it can be easily recycled or composted. This ensures no rubbish or plastic is left behind in the places we visit.
  • Our local operator has been certified and verified by Rainforest Alliance since 2015.
  • Our Animal Welfare Policy ensures all our trips adhere to ABTA’s industry-leading animal welfare guidelines to ensure the best possible practices with regards to working animals and wildlife viewing.

Planet

How we seek to keep the carbon footprint of this trip low.

  • Through our Planet Promise, we have pledged to halve the carbon footprint of our trips by 2030 and made rewilding and carbon compensation commitments for every customer who travels.
  • Accommodation and restaurants in the itinerary use locally sourced food which has not been transported long distances.
  • Vegetarian and vegan options are available at majority of accommodation and restaurants.

Tips for sustainable travel on this trip

  • Leave no trace: We do all we can to ensure we leave no rubbish behind in the wild and beautiful places we visit; we ask that you do the same. If there are no recycling facilities in-country, we’d ask you to consider bringing recyclable materials home with you.
  • Plastic waste reduction: Please bring your own reusable water bottle on this trip; filtered water will be provided where tap water is not drinkable.

Important Information

Water safety

This trip includes time by a lake, river or sea, where there may be opportunities to swim. You should always seek local advice before deciding whether to swim. Open-water or wild swim spots should be treated with extreme caution. Information on how to keep yourself safe while swimming is shown here.

Machu Picchu regulations

  1. Tickets are valid for one entry
  2. We spend approximately three hours at Machu Picchu and our guided tour lasts about two hours
  3. Upon finishing our one-way Machu Picchu guided tour, we must exit the site

Please note, we visit Machu Picchu in the morning or afternoon to avoid the peak entry time (10am to midday).

Important Information

Your safe participation 

When booking this trip, you should be confident in your ability to participate in all activities described in these Trip Notes. If you have any doubt about your suitability, please call the Exodus office and ask to speak to one of the experts on this itinerary. 

Although our leaders are well trained to deal with different capabilities, if they have any concerns about someone’s ability to safely take part in an activity, or their impact on other people’s enjoyment, we authorise them to take necessary action which, in some circumstances, may involve asking someone to miss that activity. 

By booking this trip you agree to our Booking Conditions which clearly state that our leaders have the authority to do this. In these rare instances we will ensure anyone sitting out is safely provided for and offered alternative options where possible. Refunds will not be provided for activities missed and customers may be liable for additional costs incurred. 

How to Book

  1. Check availability: Go online to check availability, or contact us by phone or email.
  2. Secure your place: You can provisionally hold a place on this trip, usually for between three and seven days.
  3. Complete your booking and payment

When you’re ready to book, go to our website for online bookings, book over the phone or you can complete a booking form (available online or on request by calling us). We accept all major credit and debit cards, or you can pay be cheque.

After booking

You will receive your booking confirmation letter and invoice, which includes extra information and guidance about your travel arrangements.

Full joining instructions, including local emergency numbers and details of how to reach the start point, will be sent to you approximately two to three weeks prior to departure. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier, please contact our office or your travel agent.

Trip Note validity

These Trip Notes are valid from the “Current as” date on page one. They will occasionally be updated after booking and before departure; if there are any updates that significantly impact the inclusions or itinerary, customers will be written to separately. They will also receive a link to the most up-to-date Trip Notes with their Final Joining Instructions before travelling.

The information in these Trip Notes is given in good faith. Where differences exist between the Trip Notes and our current brochure or website, the Trip Notes supersede the brochure and website. All holidays can be subject to unexpected changes; to enjoy them you should be prepared to be flexible where necessary. Occasionally, it may not be possible to follow the itinerary as planned. This may be for a variety of reasons – climatic, political, physical or other. In these circumstances we will make the best-possible alternative arrangements that maintain the integrity of the original itinerary.

Licensing

Exodus is fully licensed and bonded as a tour operator. We hold Air Traffic Organisers Licence (ATOL) number 2582, issued and bonded with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). We are also bonded to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and we are members of the Federation of Tour Operators (FTO) and ABTA – The Travel Association. This means you can book your Exodus holiday with confidence, as all money paid to us for your trip is fully protected.