Dear hiking friends,
the last week I was able to finally fulfill a long maintained dream of mine: Hike to Choquequirao! It was an amazing experience and I am grateful for being able to accomplish it. Here I will give you all necessary information to also do it by yourself 🙂
Without question the hike to Choquequiro, the inca site known as “sister of Machu Picchu”, is one of the most intersting hikes in Peru. First because it is not an easy one. I read some of the scares pieces of information you can find and all of them agree in one fact: that it is exhausting to do it. Being from Bavaria and being used to hike I can only agree: yes it is a hard hike, but it is manageable if you know your own condition and what you are up to. Second because the landscape you are observing on the hike is marvelous – stunning, breathtaking and right away beautiful. Third because after about 2 days of physical exercise you are rewarded with a barely visited inca ruin situated amazingly nice on top of a mountain. As writing this hiking is the only way to get there: No trains, cars, helicopters, cablecars yet to support your visit. In my opinion this is what drives people to go there in first place – the peace, freedom and magic still contained in this place (see https://exploringtherabbithole.wordpress.com/2017/07/20/retour-sur-la-rando-de-la-semaine-choquequirao/ ).
So HOW TO DO CHOQUEQUIRAO HIKE:
Prepare for the hike:
There are two important things: your own condition and equipment.
Good equipment is just nice, as it makes your trip move enjoyable! We rented our equipment for 5 days (Tent/carpa -> 50 Soles, hiking poles -> 25 Soles a pair, mattress/matraces -> 20 Soles each, sleeping bags/sacko de dormir -> 25 Soles each) at “Himalaya” in Calle Procuradores (small alley starting at plaza de armas) in Cusco. The owner is very friendly and the equipment was almost new there, so I really recommend this shop. Of course there are other alternatives in the same road. We decided not to bring a gas cooker, as there are enough options for food (see XXX). Maybe it is a good idea to bring water purification pills, but you also can buy water at every camp site, which we did and it was completely suficient. We just brought snacks (Energy bars, muesli bars, Quinua bars, nuts, raisins, dryed fruits, chocolate, tuna cans, bread, crackers, cookies) and bought warm meals at the camp sites.
For your own condition, you will know best how fit you are. Just one word of advice: When starting the hike you should be rested and physically fit (not sick or just recovering from another hike). You should also be used to carry 10 – 12 kg backpack on a more day hike. There is the option for renting a mule, but this makes you more dependent and costs much more 🙂
Getting to the starting point:
The most common starting point of this hike is Cachora (San Pedro de Cachora). It is a small town about 3-4 hours from Cusco. You can either catch a bus from the terminal terrestre to Abancay and tell the driver you want to exit at “Ramal de Cachora”, a junction from the mainroad to town, and catch a taxi (30 – 45 min ride -> 20 – 40 Soles) there down to Cachora or you got to Arcopata street in Cusco and catch a collectivo there (big blue gate). If you bargain good the driver may get you to Cachora directly. Cachora (often referenced as 0km) is a really small town and it is 11km away from the rim of the canyon, which you need to cross to get to Choquequirao. You can buy all basic supplies there, but renting tents and equipment is better done in Cusco.
The hike itself:
Here now a table of the hike and its general stations:
- 0 km Cachora (2800 meters above sealevel):
- there is a dirty road which leads you to the rim. Just exit Cachora in direction to the canyon, away from the hillside where you came down with the taxi. You can walk that part, but it is really not so nice and I would recommend to take a taxi to Huayhuacalle / Capuliyoc mirador
- 4 km Colmena: Small farm where you can camp and get food
- 11 km Huayhuacalle (camp site right at the rim with nice view of Salkantay mountain). You can buy fruits, snacks and cooked food there.
- The taxidrivers often reference Capuliyoc mirador, so better ask for that, even if it is indeed a bit further along the trail (maybe 500 meters). The trail starts at Huayhuacalle and leads more or less flat to the mirador. From there it drops in a zigzag ways down the mountain
- 14 km Inkaraday: small junction to a mirador
- 19 km Chiqisca: This campsite is used by many organised tours and it is nice. Good grass to camp and you can get warm food and snacks there (breakfast, lunch, dinner). Tent was 5 Soles per night
- 21 km Playa Rosalina: This is a very basic campsite with no food to buy, not even snacks, just some drinks. Camping is free there, but beware there are many sandflies and mosquitos. Ourselves where lucky, as it was very wind that night the little buggers couldn’t fly 🙂
- Apurimac river (1530 m): Is next to the campsite and YES the bridge is there again and it looks stable.
- After the bridge the way raises very steep up the mountainside. Try to do this part very early or late in the afternoon, as it is very extreme in midday sun. It gets very hot in the canyon! Even it is is colder in Cusco, you are almost 2000 meters deeper in the canyon.
- 22,5 km Alfons: by the time we passed it was an abandoned hut
- 24 km Santa Rosa baja (2055 m): Is not recommended,a s described in other blogs. We didn’t stop there so I don’t have a personal opinnion about it. You can buy snack, drinks and food there.
- 25 km Santa Rosa alto (2200 m): We bought breakfast there (eggs, 2 pancakes and coca tea for 8 Soles. It was basic, but tasty. Also all other foods are available there, along with snacks and drinks. The lady owing the place is really nice and friendly.
- The way up the mountian stays steep until Marampata, so make sure you hav enough water for that part.
- 28 km Marampata pueblo (2900 m): Yes it is really a small village, compared to all other campsies which are just single shops. So you have different options for staying and buying food. We went to the second half of village, where people are said to be more friendly. For the place where we stayed it was absolutely true! The lady was very nice and friendly and we bought a super good Lomo Saltado for just 10 Soles. The campsite is easy to find, on the right hand side, with Llamas on the store wall. It is interesting to mention, that mules come on monday to the village, so on sunday they might run short of supplies 🙂
- The last 4 km to Choquequirao site are 3 times up and down, which was hard for us after the long way down and up.
- 32 km Choquequirao Camp site: There is absoltely no food to get there, so be prepared. The campsite is facing away from the site, so you don’t have a view on the site
- 32 km Choquequirao (3050 m): finally you reach your desired goal my friends and belieev me it is magical and absolutely worth the effort
There exists an alternative way to get to Choquequirao, also by foot only, which starts at Huanipaca. We meet people in Choquequirao who did this, so it is possible now a days, but I don’t have personal experience with it.
Some pics to satisfy your interest
Last famous words
It was a hard hike, which is rewarded with a ery special site, so yes I will do it again! As there are plans to build this cable car to get there – NOW is the time to be there without thousands of tourists. If you still have questions, feel free to contact us! We are happy to help others to have this experience 🙂