Machu Picchu’s sister (3-5 days)
Choquequirao is called Machu Picchu’s sister because it is also built on a narrow ridge, high above a valley and the site is massive. It’s actually several times larger than Machu Picchu, but not as much of it has been uncovered yet. (Read my article in Frommer’s about why I recommend it as an alternative to Machu Picchu).
In the photo above, the whole hillside to the right of the ruins that you can see is also covered with terraces and buildings. They just need more time and more archeologists to remove the jungle, which grows back quickly if you don’t have a big team keeping it at bay.
This is a very difficult trek because the trail is all a steep up or down. There are no flat sections. The trailhead at Capuliyoc is at 3033 m. (9,951 ft) above sea level. From there you hike down to the bridge across the Apurímac River at 1000 m (3,281 ft). Then you hike up to the village of Marampata (photo below), which is the closest you can stay to the ruins, at 2918 m (9,574 ft). The Choquequirao ruins themselves are at 3,104 m (10,184 ft).