Choquequirao – the amazing ruins of Incas situated in the region of Cusco, Peru. It is a great alternative in relation to the famous Machu Picchu, firstly because is not so crowded and also for some it appears even more spectacular. Learn more about general information on this unique place in my article “Choquequirao ruins as a beautiful place to visit in Peru“. Here I am going to describe some of experiences during my trek to Choquequirao, which I did on November.
My 3-day Choquequirao trekking in Cusco
My expedition to this famous Inca ruins was quite hard but definitely worth the effort. Our team counted 4 people. At the beginning, we expected to overcome the route in 4 days, which is more or less standard. The idea was to rent a donkey and its owner (arriero), but we also recognized the possibility that we may fail in this and have to carry everything ourselves. Because of that, everyone took the minimum number of things and our adventure started.
As a rule, Choquequirao trek in Cusco begins in the town of Cachora. So first you have to get to this town. Crossing the Cusco – Cachora route (including a change in Curahuasi because there is no direct connection) takes about 4 hours.
To bypass compulsory stops on the route or possible traffic we decided to go from Cusco to Curahuasi at 4:00 am. It was s/.15 per person in a tight bus. After 3 hours we reached the town. Here we took a quick breakfast – quinoa and a sandwich with cheese (delicious) and we started bargaining with the taxi driver about the price for the drive to the village of Cachora.
After negotiating quite favorable prices, we started our next part of the trip. After less than an hour we were almost in Cachora. Almost, because as it turned out, the road is impassable just a few kilometers away from the town. There are currently renovations on this road, and seeing the pace of work, it seemed like the road probably will be impossible to pass for the next few months, although hopefully all cleared up by now. Nevertheless if you are planning a trip to Choquequirao, be prepared for extra surprises on the way.
Therefore the last 2-3 km we had to overcome on foot. On the beginning the rain greeted us, but we were not surprised. We were prepared, the rainy season began right on time. We arrived in Cachora at about 9:00 am. In the first place we went for a meal. Part of the team tried caldo de gallina but this soup is not my favorite, I went in search of other goodies and I found quinoa which made me happy.
After the meal we began to search for an arriero and a donkey for transportation of our equipment. This proved more difficult than we could predict. Practically the rainy season, already post hiking season, and here it appeared all arrieros were hired. It was only after about an hour of searching we were able to get one, although not with a more favorable price for us. Our arriero presented the conditions: we have to pay for four days, even though we were planning the route for 3 days, and no less than 35 soles per donkey and 30 soles per arriero. Total, it was 65 soles per day, that is 260 soles for 4 days. Due to the fact that was the only arriero who we were able to find and due to the fact that no one wanted to carry 4-days equipment on their back, we did not even think about haggling. Quickly we accepted the conditions and we could finally, at about 11am, hit the road.
If somebody would like to organize the trek on your own with a donkey and arriero in the high season – good luck. It can be almost impossible. Even on November, so after the season, we had problems to finding an arriero to hire, so I can only imagine how it looks like during the busy months of May-September. However most tourism companies have types of agreements with arrieros, what is normal of course, and they book donkeys and arrieros for the season.
Everyone, or almost everyone starts trekking in Cachora, where for at least 3 hours you are wandering through the usual road, available to cars, to the place called Capuliyoc (before that point there is a house).
Actually, the walking trail (not available to cars) begins not in Cachora but near the Capuliyoc pass. Due to the fact that the first part Cachora – Capuliyoc can be done by car, we decided to skip this part and we took a taxi.
Personally I do not see the point of making this part of the trip by foot. It is 3 hours of hiking the first day, and then another 3 hours coming back (because it returns along the same path). It is easy part to overcome because it is flat, but it’s still a lot of km. That is why it was worth bypassing this part with the car due to the future, much more demanding sections. Our team from the very beginning planned to do so. So in Cachora we rented a taxi, which for 40 soles took us to Capuliyoc. The trip lasted less than half an hour. (3hrs down to 0.5hrs) Thanks to that we saved at least 2.5 hours, our energy, and strength!
If you intend to organize trekking to Choquequirao on your own, I recommend you skip the route Cachora – Capuliyoc and take a taxi! For quite a small amount of money you will save a lot of time, effort and energy. It will also make it easier to complete the trip in 3 days. If you will do the trek in 3 days, you will gain one extra day, which you can utilize for exploring other places within the region of Cusco or other parts of Peru. But in the same time I note that overcoming the route in 3 days requires really significant effort! So this option is only for those of you who love to walk a lot of hours, are in very good physical condition and are not afraid of the pain that might appear during the expedition – here mainly knee pain, which for sure will appear.
If you decide to do Choquequirao trekking with a company, ask first if they start the trekking from Cachora or from the house near Capuliyoc! If they start in Cachora chose another company. Actually there is not too many of them who skip that first part. For sure Inka Jungle Tour does it, so you can check their offer.
How to plan Choquequirao trek in 3 days – day by day
On the first day we did the part from Capuliyoc to Santa Rosa. If you are not going to cook by yourself, try to hike a little higher, more or less 40 minutes longer, where there lives one family and a camping place.
During that day first, we descended down to the valley – to the river. This place is called Playa Rosalina (here we crossed the bridge).
Till that place it was downhill all the time. But that is nothing to be happy about, because as it descends for a few hours. You will feel it in the knees, the toughest part of this trek.
If you do not hike too often, you may find you have troubles with this part.
After crossing the river, for a change, you will have a steep part to overcome.
All the time up, up and up – in total took around 5.5 – 6 hours. The first day we did 2 hours of this part, to a place called Santa Rosa. Total time of trekking with breaks was from 11:45 to 17:00.
In Santa Rosa there is a camping with a shower and toilet. There is also a shop where you can buy drinks, snacks and sweets. For example, a water bottle of 0.65 liters costs 4 soles, the bottle of water 2.5 liter costs 12 soles. In this place lives one family which prepares meals for tourists. Due to desire to support locals and maybe our laziness we decided to order dinner. Price for spaghetti, very large portions and delicious, was only 9 soles. Overall, there are some different dishes in the offer, and the price ranged from 6 to 10 soles.
For camping in Santa Rosa we paid 5 soles from the tent. In the price was included a shower. That the shower provided only cold water, but it was the best shower I’ve ever had. The water was not icy, and with the prevailing climate here, hot and very humid, it was perfect option.
To avoid the heat, which significantly impedes trekking and to complete the trip in three days, the second day we started quite early. We woke up at 4:30 in the morning, and we went in the way at 5:15 am. The first 3 hours were quite hard in the morning – all the time climbing up to a small village called Marampata. This extra effort was compensated with breathtaking views.
We walked almost in the clouds, which changed the direction every minute, disclosing spectacular views. In the village Marampata we stopped for a short rest and breakfast.
In one of the shops we bought fruits and water and continued our journey. From the checkpoint, where the tourists have to pay entrance tickets to Choquequirao (37 soles) you can already see huge terraces built by the Incas. Due to the fact that we conquered this route early in the morning, the clouds that stretched out over the entire complex of archaeological added an extra dose of mystery. Something amazing. At the checkpoint, we found no one, so after the break for taking some photos, we continued the route. The ruins of Choquequirao appeared one hour later. In the middle of the road we came across a guard for whom we had to pay the 37 soles for entrance ticket.
We arrived to the ruins around 8:45 am. We had a few hours to explore this unique and beautiful place. We were a little tired but in the same time very happy. We had Choquequirao only for us. It was an amazing place, far away from everything. We felt like we were on the end of the world. The view from this place is wonderful. You can see some different valleys below and even snowy peaks around.
My favourite place was the section of llamas. I loved that part. What’s a pity that only a small part of it is cleaned. The huge part of that section still is covered under trees and other plants.
Around 12:30 pm we started to head back to Santa Rosa, where we arrived around 4 pm. After short break we continued the trek down to the river – Playa Rosalina. Here we decided to stay for a night. After taking cold, fresh shower we prepared delicious food and went to sleep. We were quite tired, because the last 4 hours of the route were hard, especially for our knees. All the time down, down, down.
The third day we started as early as the last two days. This time, we woke up at 4:00 am. A quick packing of our things, submission of tents and it was time to start trekking. Part of our team had a lot of problems after second day, especially muscles and knees made themselves felt. From Playa Rosalina we climbed uphill all the time, about 2 hours.
Then, there was some parts flat and finally, the last part of the trip – uphill again. We all found that in general this day is quite hard for every one.
The whole trek we ended around 11:00 am. I mean, at this time we arrived at Curahuasi. Normally from the house which is situated near this point, everyone wanders another 3 hours to the village of Cachora. But as I mentioned before, this part we overcame by car.
In Cachora we had to catch a taxi to Curahuasi , which was not so easy. We had to wait for the first opportunity around 40 minutes. It took the next 15 minutes haggling with the taxi driver for a convenient price. Fortunately, the taxi driver relented, and took us to the main road where we could catch a next taxi to the village Curahuasi, from where there was a bus to Cusco.
We arrived to Curahuasi before 2 pm and luckly we caught the bus to Cusco for 15 soles. In Cusco we were there before 6 pm. The first thing we did after arriving in Cusco was have a dinner: a huge dinner and drinking a lot of chicha morada and lemonada.
It was a really great 3 days on the Choquequirao trek :-).