Choquequirao Atlas Geographica

The Incomplete Guide To Choquequirao

My Experience Hiking Choquequirao In 48 Hours.

How To Hike Choquequirao From Cusco.

Choquequirao Backpack

Back in 2017 I worked for over a month or so at the Milhouse Hostel in Cusco.

As anyone who has been in the area knows… there is a myriad of things for you to do in the immediate Cusco area and surrounding Sacred Valley. I had in a few days previous to tackling Choquequirao, completed the Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu. I had wrestled the Black Mamba but was desperately keen for more. A quick Google search rendered Choquequirao as the next best thing. So with as much preparation as if it was just another day of work, I set course for Choquequirao.

How To Get There & Back From Cusco

When it comes to getting to Choquequirao from Cusco, there is only one question you need to ask yourself.

How much am I willing to pay?

Going To Choquequirao

The easy, pricey way.

It is most common to get a taxi from Cusco to the entrance of Choquequirao. This will cost 100-200USD and take 2-3 hours (from memory). So if you have enough people to fill a car, or you are a family looking for comfort, this is certainly the easiest route to take.

Or there is the other way…

The cheap, adventurous way.

I was your classicly unoriginal, penny-pinching backpacker. I had the money to go the taxi route, but wanted the romanticism of ‘doing it like the locals do’. So on the morning of departure, I rose early, caught a lift with one of the Peruvian chefs I was working with across town to one of the bus stations. This bus station was starkly different from the plentiful other bus stations I came through in Latin America. This one was distinctly poor.

I remember reading an online forum about how to get to Choquequirao via public transport. I arrive at the bus station… still dark. It is probably 0500-0600 in the morning. The station is FULL, absolutely jam-packed. People with families, people with sacks of potatoes, chickens in cages, many, many old people, young people looking sketchy, the whole spectrum of Peru was present.

I was, along with some other French frogs, the only gringo present at the station. I dutifully purchased my ticket and took a seat in patient waiting for the coach to arrive. As soon as I found my seat I realised it was a little moist, and then the further I inspected, a little smelly as well. I prayed it wasn’t someone else’s chunder from another trip and dismissed it as someone spilling their food on whatever the previous bus ride was.

It was a very long couple of hours….

If you haven’t prepared for this bus trip than you are almost certainly going to miss the stop.

After a few hours of traversing the wondrous beauty of the sacred valley, a small announcement is made that the next stop is Choquequirao. I raise my hand in response and find out that I am the only person getting off at this stop. I am identified, the bus driver gives me a little head nod, and then pulls over on the side of the road.

There is no bus stop, no footpath, it is exactly as it sounds. The bus pulled over on the side of the road in the middle of seemingly nowhere and instructed me to get off the bus and then walk in the direction he was pointing.

I was sceptical, but have no reason to believe that this guy is having me on, after all, Choquequirao was announced, it is not like this was coming out of nowhere. So I followed his advice.

If you have decided to take the bus then after you get off the side of the road, this is what you can expect next.

You enter the mouth of a very rural, very underdeveloped, mountainside village. You are instructed that at the bottom of this village is the beginning of the Choquequirao Trail. You will see more donkeys than cars, and every face whose attention is fixed upon you will be smiling and curious.

The walk through the village is approximately one hour supposedly. I was committed to doing this hike in 48 hours, when everyone is saying you need at least 72. So I was a bit miffed that I was still one hour’s walk from the start of the trail and it was already 10:00.

So I took the lazy route and jumped in a taxi to cut through this village for $5 or whatever it was. After 15-20minutes and the bumpiest ride of my life, I was saying my goodbyes to this lovely man and getting on with it.

Getting Back To Cusco

Surprise, surprise, the way back requires the same considerations as the way there.

You can choose the easy way, or the uncomfortable, adventurous way. Both trails are essentially the same as getting there in reverse. I think I got the best of both worlds in return.

This is one of the stupidest things I had ever done, but also very happy to have done it.

I returned in a Taxi, but not as you’d expect…

I happened to finish the trail alongside an eclectic foursome of Frenchman and woman. It was my intention to get the bus back home the same way I came. But I had just rammed through this trail in 48 hours and we were only a few hours away from darkness by the time I surfaced. The Frenchies were getting a taxi back into town, and I so desperately wanted to ride alongside with them. I was facing an opportunity to save many hours of discomfort for about $20 to take a multi-hour taxi.

There was no-one else around to share a taxi with. These guys were my only chance. Luckily, they were pretty free love types, and so when they suggested that I just ride along in the boot (trunk for you Americans), they were stoked to accept.

The car was a wagon, so the boot ride was far less claustrophobic and dangerous than it seems. I could chit chat with the people in the car and find a spot of comfort in the foetal position.

They dropped me off outside of the Milhouse Hostel back in Cusco at about 21:00. Without a scratch.

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Getting The Right Gear/Equipment For Choquequirao

Choquequirao tent resting place

I was woefully underprepared for Choquequirao.

You saw my backpack above. I had myself no equipment. I borrowed a 4 person tent and sleeping bag from someone at the Hostel. I taped them to the top and bottom of my bag, and then packed in my bag a bunch of water, cheese, nuts and chocolate. Plus maybe a change of clothes.

I had no equipment to fix up a hot meal, no real nutrition, I knew it was just a short time so figured this was the best solution. I was lucky to come across a lovely Brazilian man cycling his way through Latin America who shared his tuna and rice meal with me. The generousness did not go unrewarded. I had about 1kg of chocolate in my bag…

I managed just fine. It wasn’t comfortable, and at times my flimsy bag was extremely annoying, but for a two-day hike, it is no problem at all. I was lucky however because It didn’t rain while I was on the trail.

You need the following things to complete Choquequirao.

  • Great Shoes
  • Copious Food & Water (or water tablets)
  • Warm Sleeping Bag
  • Sturdy Bag

The trail is difficult up and difficult down. Most people put their bags on donkeys so the trail is very loose mud most of the way. I was lucky there was no rain while I was there but the mud was nonetheless sloppy. I imagine a rainy trail would almost make climbing the hill unbearable.

There are 2 or 3 spots where you can hitch a tent for the night. Stay at the bottom of the mountain if you want to be ripped off and destroyed by mosquitoes. I stayed up much further high on the hill with a lovely little family who inexplicably lived most of their lives on this hill.

Choquequirao morning

Rosa Alta, My Resting Place

I spent a genuinely magical night on top this hill. I was at an extremely introspective point of my life, the night was clear and crisp. I listened to Sam Harris ‘Waking Up’ audiobook and looked up at the stars in the extreme quiet and stillness.

These big spiders were sleeping around me. The air was pure. The mountains were magnificent.

Choquequirao spiders

The Trail Of Choquequirao

Choquequirao map

Choquequirao is a long walk downhill followed by a long walk uphill.

It is essentially zig-zags the entire way, such is the steepness of both the up and down. The trail is beautiful, as you will be able to see in the photo carousel at the end of this article.

Donkeys peruse this trail only a daily basis. So the trail underfoot is very loose and very slippery at points, especially uphill. You will cross a river just before halfway. Appreciate this moment because from that point on, you are steep uphill for many hours until you are at the site itself.

How Long Does Choquequirao Take?

The answer to this question all depends on how quickly you want to tackle the trail yourself.

I did it in 48 hours. The first day from Cusco to ‘Rosa Alta’, then day 2 – very early rise – walk to the site, then walk the entire trail back to ‘Capuwyoc’, the entry to the trail.

Traditionally the trail is done in 72 hours. Day 1 to a tent site along the river. Day 2 up to the site and back to your tent. Day 3 a leisurely stroll up the hill then back to Cusco.

The Archeological Site Of Choquequirao

For very good reason people are toting the site of Choquequirao as the next Machu Picchu.

Machu Picchu is certainly heading towards an inflection point where it will become so expensive that only a few every year can come and walk on it. Everyone else will be directed towards a viewing platform.

This point will mark Choquequirao as the new adventure hike destiniation for us gringos the world over.

The site is magnificent! It holds equal beauty and unbelievable architectural and engineering magnificence that is highlighted all throughout the Machu Picchu site.

Subscribe To My Newsletter – 🗒️ A Curious Worldview!

Cheers for reading through to the end you legend!

Every month (or couple of weeks) I write a short, popular email.

In it you will have your worldview expanded upon. It will either challenge your beliefs or open your eyes to something new. Never boring. Sometimes in will include things you don’t want to see. Sometimes it will be exactly what you were looking for.

It is free and the best thing you can do for me. If you are keen, chuck your email in below and then CHECK YOUR SPAM!

MAKE SURE YOU CHECK IF THE EMAIL GOES TO THE WRONG EMAIL FOLDER – PLEASE DRAG EMAIL INTO PRIMARY FOLDER

2 thoughts on “The Incomplete Guide To Choquequirao”

  1. Pingback: An Incomplete Guide To Choquequirao – Peru – Dedes

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