Choquequirao is in Sacred Valley of the Incas of Peru. Choquequirao Complex is a 4- to 5-day trek in the Cusco area and an alternative and less tread trek than the crowded Inca trail and Salktantay routes. Choquequiraw is situated in the spur of the mountain range of Salkantay, over 3030m surrounded by the Apus of Yamana, Ampay, Chokecarpu, Pumasiyo and Panta, on the left bankof Apurimac river. In the time of the Incas, it was united and in communication with Machu Picchu by a complex network of trails. The reasons are many: The fantastic nature with valleys, snow-capped mountains and great variety of plants, birds and animals.
It's a two day hike to Choquequirao from Cachora or Huanipaca. Guides and mules for the trip are best arranged in Cachora. Cachora is the most popular starting point for travelers who want to see the amazing newly-rediscovered Incan site, Choquequirao. Most people go in and out from Cachora as this is the best maintained and serviced trail. There are several places to buy water, Inca Kola and simple dishes of soup, eggs or potatoes along the journey. Another option is to continue onto Santa Teresa (La Convención) or Machu Picchu, but you'll need plenty of food. Hiring a donkey or mule is advised.
There are generally only a few tourists each day entering Choquequirao. The park itself is quite difficult to navigate with some paths somewhat overgrown. Much of the site is rebuilt: many original large stones have crumbled into smaller pieces, and in places it is easy to identify which sections are original work and which are reconstructed. In the main plaza, concrete beams have been used on one of the buildings. In other places, crumbling ruins are marked with numbers, so if they should fall, they will be able to be reconstructed.
Steep, rugged mountains.
Flora and fauna
Coral Snakes, Tarantulas, Cow herds.
Biting insects. Three kinds of flying insects, typical mosquitos (in Peru referred to as Zancudos), horse flies, and tiny biting (sand flies? locals call them moscos) make long, loose clothing (safari suit) and insect repellent (sold along the trail) an absolute must. Moscos are most commonly found near water sources.
*** Last Warning *** The tiny bugs are not like North American mosquitos, are very hard to see, and you don't feel the bite when they bite you. Any exposed skin should be given constant repellent reapplication. The bites last for days to weeks and will be very, very itchy. Rubbing fresh lime on bites can reduce the itching/swelling.
Due to the altitude, it's hot in the sun and cold at night, sometimes below 0°C. The air is dry on north side of the mountains, humid on the south sides and in cloud forest.
There used to be three trails leading to Choquequirao, one from Cachora, Huanipaca and one from Yanama. Currently Huanipaca trail is closed due to rockfall (as of August 2013, still closed March 2014). To reach Cachora or Huanipaca, take the bus from Cusco to Abancay (as of March 2016 buses leave around 8am, 10am and 1pm) and get off at Ramal - the turn off for Cachora or Huanipaca (just past Saywite), the road leading to Cachora is a 40-minute ride in colectivo. There are many bus companies that leave for Abancay from Cusco's Terminal Terrestre, but timetables are not usually online. As of March 2014 Breddes buses leave at 5:00am, 6:00am, 10:00am, 1:00pm and 8:00pm (20 soles). Another company (the name not remembered), does the route for 15 soles. Get off the bus at Ramal (de Cachora), and from there you need to take a taxi (10-15 minute ride) or walk down the switchback roads or paths cutting directly down the hill from the main road to the town you intend to hike from. Taxis often wait for the people from the bus during the daytime, except on Sunday when you might have to wait an hour. A shared ride from Ramal to Cachora costs around 10 soles. A private taxi will cost 30 soles.
An alternative to taking a bus is to take a colectivo from Cusco all the way to Cachora. The ride costs 40 soles per seat. You can wait until the car is full to split the cost or pay a (negotiated) 150 soles to hire the car as a taxi from Cusco to the main plaza of Cachora from where the trek starts. Official colectivo companies are about 10 minutes by taxi from the airport on the way to Cusco city center. Just grab a taxi on the street outside the airport for 6 soles and they'll drop you off where the colectivos wait.
For the Huanipaca and Yamana trails, steep sections make hiking the only option, but the trail from Cachora can be done either on foot or horseback. If you speak a bit of Spanish you should have no trouble finding an arriero and one or more mules or horses in Cachora. Just ask your taxi driver when you get a lift in, or ask at any of the shops in the main Plaza del Armas. Expect to pay 50 soles per day for an arriero, and 40 soles per day per horse. The price can be negotiated and has gone up due to the increase of popularity of the trek. A woman named Doris who lives in Cachora owns between 30-40 mules and she rents them to both organized groups and individual hikers. A minimum of 4 days hire is applicable. Renting a mule for your pack is highly recommended, as the trek is very steep both down and up from the valley. Tips for arrieros aren't necessarily expected but much appreciated if you are satisfied with their service. Plan to provide a meal or two to your arriero as well, and inviting the arriero to an inka-cola or beer is also much appreciated. Again, considering their attention and service.
The trail from Huanipaca is shorter, steeper and lacks the amenities that the trail from Cachora offers. As of August 2013 Huanipaca trail is closed due to rockfall.
The trail from Cachora has several sources of drinkable water, campsites, showers, toilets and several shops where you can buy soft drinks, water, beer and small snacks like crackers or cookies. Hiking in from Yanama you would need to start in Mollepata, Santa Teresa or Machu Picchu Pueblo, these are very long and difficult hikes. If you want to do the 8 day Machu Picchu - Cachora hike it is probably easier to do it in reverse as you will find arrieros much more easily and cheaply in Cachora than at the Machu Picchu end. Note that in either case you will probably need to pay for a return journey for the arriero and mule hire, not just the one way.
The Two Day Trek From Cachora;
Day One - Start out early from Cachora (5am or earlier) to make it to camp before nightfall and to avoid the heat. The further down in the valley you get, the hotter it becomes. Don't be fooled by the fresh cool air up top. The heat is a serious factor on the first day, so take it into consideration. The shadow starts to cover the dry side of the mountain around 3pm. Some people choose to hike the first day down at night to avoid the heat. But consider if it has rained in the last days and if it is windy, as there are occasional falling rock. The first day is around a seven hour hike and 1,500 meters elevation change down the mountain. There are multiple campsites, all well marked, with running water and bathrooms. The tap water is siphoned from streams coming from lakes and glaciers on the Choquequirao side of the Apurimac River. KM 25 Santa Rosa (Alta) camp site it is a great half way point. See sleep for descriptions of the camp sites. Some are better than others for various reasons.
Day Two - There is a new bridge across the river. Get ready for an intense hike up the other side. After 11am the sun can make this hike very difficult, with one hiker reporting a walking speed of 500 metres per hour, compared to the usual 4km per hour on relatively flat ground. About 1,800 meters up, Choquequirao awaits. From the town at the top (Marampata), it is a flatter one hour walk to the park entrance, and another hour to the main plaza of Choquequirao. It is possible to hike at night, when the air is much cooler; the path is easy to follow.
Note: A new bridge has been opened to cross the river, so renting mules for the whole trip is possible again. Bring a tent. It will likely rain and there are not many camping places with shelter.
There is an S/.55.00 soles fee (February 2016) that someone will collect from you at the gate to the site, about an hour walk further from Marampata (or in the park itself if nobody is at the hut). If you have a student card featuring the ISIC logo and are cofdient when showing ot to the "park ranger" the cost of the permit is S/.30.00.
Total time with a 15kg pack, no guide, no mules: 5 days. Excellent scenery and a great alternative to the Inca trail at Machu Picchu.
With a mule carrying your pack and a good level of fitness it is possible to do this hike in 3 days. This involves hiking the 25km to Santa Rosa on the first day, the 7km to the site on day 2, with perhaps 4-5 hours on site, then doing the 7km back down to Santa Rosa, and finally hiking the 25km from Santa Rosa back out on day 3. The Association of Arrieros in Cachora don´t like arrieros doing it in 3 days, and will fine them 30 soles if they catch them, so those confident in their fitness and wanting to do it in 3 days should probably tip their arriero at least this amount, as well as paying for 4 days hire which is considered the minimum.
You will need at least one full day at the site, it is difficult to navigate and the chances are your body will be aching. I carried about 12 to 15kg's and I spent 2 days hiking in, 2 days at the site and 2 days hiking out. I think I sustained permanent injuries to both my knees on this hike, 8 months later they are still sore. I suggest carrying as little as possible, hike in the cool of the night and drink from the streams rather than carrying liters of water. It is recommended that water be treated with iodine pills, UV light, or a water filter before consumption. These things are far lighter than the bottles of water themselves. I personally drank lots of water without treating it and it was fine.
There is now a new bridge crossing the river, so it is possible again, to rent mules for the whole trip. Prices (as of March 2016) are 40 soles per mule a day and 50 soles per day for the arrjero.
The locals are helpful but only speak Spanish and/or Quechua. The site is an active digging site, there are archaeologists working there, some of whom are American.
Probably the most impressing and are the terraces with white stone llamas. This feature you do not find in Machu Picchu and you will experience how insanley steep the incas decided to have their farmland on. Wild flowers.
Trek. Be sure to spend the time to see all the various sections of Choquequirao, as they are all quite fascinating in their own way. It takes one complete day of 8 hours to cover the entire park, and there are many sections in the middle of being uncovered - a little bush whacking will usually be rewarded with a rarely viewed section of this still covered Incan palace.
There are several tiny (one-family) settlements at campsites along the way selling cooked food, snacks, beer, bottled water and soft-drinks, unless you plan on carrying a lot of water just drink from the taps - it usually comes from small mountain rivers, so treatment makes generally sense but is not always strictly required.
There are (very simple but filling) cooked meals available at Chiquisca, Santa Rosa (Alta, not Baja) and Marampata. A plate of food or bowl of soup will cost you about 4 soles (10 soles in Marampata at the beginning of the town as you arrive, and 4 soles toward the end). These locations also sell soft drinks, snacks, and the ubiquitous.
A local entrepreneur will have wisely opened a shop with Gatorade and snacks about 10 minutes before you find another shop. Don't worry about it and just buy food or snacks as you need them. In every camp site along the way locals have set up shop, so you can buy water, soda, rice, and snacks (sometimes eggs and fruit, but not always).
Fresh water from the mountain streams. The cautious will want to filter or purify with iodine, and locals will suggest it. However, on the Choquequirao side of the mountain (Marampata), we drank plentifully straight from the tap without problems. There are no towns higher than Marampata, so the water shouldn't be contaminated.
Take note of the stream / hut locations on day 1 while descending, so you can plan your water for ascending on the way out. There were 3 sources of water on the Cachora side of the river. We filled up our bottles on the Choquequirao side for the ascent on the Cachora side.
For the ascent to Marampata - there is a stream crossing about an hour and a half from the bottom (Playa Rosalina), and another about another third of the way up - plan according to your fitness, probably carry a liter or less from each location. Plenty of water at the final campground below the ruins. (Showers and drinking)
The ascent is long, steep, and hot; bring electrolyte powders to replenish the salts you sweat out. Alternatively, Marampata sells Powerades for 10 soles/bottle.
Camping is the only option
Tent. Bring your own or hire in Cachora - there are several locations renting tents, sleeping bags and sleeping rolls. Look for 'Carpo Alquilo' signs or ask, if you speak Spanish.
You can camp near the entrance of the ruins or at several sites nearby and there are designated campsites on the way to the ruins. The main camp sites have flush toilets with doors, cold water showers, benches and a kitchen area, and nice flat grassy areas to pitch your tent. Most of them have an attendant living on site who will be your friend for the evening. There are camp sites at the following locations:
No permits are needed.
This is an isolated area but the trail is well maintained and easy to follow and people travel along it most days.
In August 2011 it was reported that remnants of the Shining Path armed with rifles, machine guns and rocket launchers robbed a group of German and American tourists and ordered them to hand over their food, cameras and other equipment. Nobody was hurt. 
Instead of walking the same way back, an easier way out is to go to Huanipaca: Within 5-6 hours (2 hours down to the river, 3h uphill) you can reach the hotel "Villa Los Loros" (rooms 100 soles), which is located 17km on the road from Huanipaca, has a good Italian restaurant and free camping spots. From there you can order a taxi (40 soles) to Huanipaca and from there take shared taxis/buses back to Cusco. However Huanipaca trail is currently closed due to rockfall (as of August 2013).