I first saw Choquequirao on Ben Fogle’s Extreme Dreams in 2006. I had visited Machu Picchu the previous year and had fallen in love with Peru and to know that there was another Inca ruin, visited by very few people in the middle of nowhere, made me determined that the next time I was in Peru I would go.
In 2012, 3 months into my trip to South America I made it to Cusco and looked for the hike to Choquequirao, while researching I had read that a 5 day trip was best but I could only find companies that were doing 4 day trips, so I booked that trip.
On the morning of the trek we were picked up early by one of the guys from the office so that we could get a bus out of Cusco, we got dropped off on the roadside where we got a taxi down to the village of Cachora where we would meet our guide and start our trek.
It’s a beautiful village and the views from the main square were stunning, we popped to the local market to stock up on snacks while we waited for our guide to arrive.
We waited in our horseman’s house, and got to see a traditional house in a countryside village, very different to the houses in the main cities that I have previously seen. The guinea pigs are kept in the kitchen and there were so many just running around. In Peru they eat guinea pigs but as they are expensive they are normally saved for a special occasion. Also all the hens were running everywhere, it’s not an easy life with an outside toilet and cold shower too.
Our guide finally arrived and we were shocked to find out that he spoke no english, or very little, my spanish was much better than his english. I could not believe it as I had specifically had a discussion checking that the guide spoke english due to this happening to me on several day trips. The couple I was doing the trek with spoke no spanish and so we were insisting that we needed an english speaking guide, that we had been assured in Cusco that the guide spoke english. Thankfully the guy who had brought us to Cachora spoke english and after speaking to his boss it was agreed that he could take us on our 4 day trek!! Unfortunately he had brought us wearing a suit and so had to change clothes with our guide and trainers which were 2 sizes too big!! Finally we were ready, the horses were loaded and off we went through the village to start the 32km trek to Choquequirao.
We walked down the path and after a few kilometres came out on an old road, for me this road really annoyed me I couldn’t understand why it wasn’t clear and why I had to walk about 7km on a road, yeah there were a few landslides but why couldn’t they be cleared!! I was particuarly frustrated by this on the way back (ironically 2 years later when I did the 8 day trek from Choquequirao to Machu Picchu this road had been cleared and the people in the van with me were terrified of the drop at the side of the road, and I was like, try walking this instead cos that’s what I did!!).
The views from that road though were amazing and gave us a glimpse of just what beauty we would be walking in for the next few days. After we reached Mirador Capuliyoc at 2,970 metres we set off down the mountain until we reached the river La Playa Rosalina at 1,550m, as we had set off late the last hour we hiked in the dark!! The hike down was difficult a lot of switchbacks, very steep and it was so hot, also the mosquitos decided that they loved me despite the 50% deet I had soaked myself in!!
The next morning it was up early so that we could cross the river, the bridge had been swept away the previous winter during a landslide and so the only way across was in a cage that was pulled across by rope, quite a fun experience to start the day!!
The fun was then over as it was a 5 hour uphill struggle to get to the village of Marmapata at 2,850 metres before continuing on to Choquequirao located at 3,033 metres above sea level. I didn’t think I would make it, the heat was unbelievable and there was no shade from the sun, I wanted to give up so many times but I just kept putting one foot in front of the other.
Finally we arrived at the terraces of Choquequirao and what a site, a dream come true and my group of 3 plus our guide were the only people there, it was one of the most magical times in my life. We explored the site and then went down to some terraces that have white stone llamas built into them. It’s an amazing site to see, despite my knees killing me at this point.
After spending the afternoon there it was time to head back to Marmapata where we would camp for the night. Unfortunately due to being exhausted a 1 and a half hour walk turned into 3 hours, with me and the guide hiking for an hour in the dark, I completely lost the plot, mentally and physically I had had enough!! I have found we all have breakdown days when doing multi day hike trips and this was the day for me!! Finally I made it back, had dinner and then bed.
The next morning it was up and heading downhill back to the river, the previous night I had declared to the guide there was no way I was walking today but after a nights sleep I was feeling much better and mentally ready. It was another long day hiking down the mountain, crossing the river and starting our ascent back up the mountain at the other side. Again the views and seeing what you have achieved and getting there before sunset made me a lot happier.
Day 4 was a lot easier day with a lot of the ascent done, just a few hours hiking back up the mountain before walking along the road (and swearing at the road, for not being cleared of debris) before we got back to the village of Cachora. From here we got a taxi back to the main road and caught the bus back to Cusco. I felt so sorry for the locals we sat near as we hadn’t showered or changed our clothes in 4 days!!
Our hike and visit to Choquequirao was finished, it had been an amazing and challenging 4 days but so worth it!! It is a place that I love and it was great to experience it with only 3 other people.
I loved it that much that 2 years later I did an 8 day hike which went firstly to Choquequirao before hiking on to Machu Picchu!! That was probably the most mentally and physically challenging hike I have ever done but I will save that story for another day!!
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Find out about Why I started travelling here, Miami Beach here, Key West here, Everglades here, Bolton Abbey here, Naples here, Koh Tao here, Yangon – Myanmar here, Ischica – Italy here, Koyasan – Japan here, Machu Picchu – Peru here, Memphis here, Faro – The Algarve here, Fiji – South Sea Island here, Egypt – My trip in a hot air balloon here, Doutbful Sound – NZ here, Death Road – Bolivia here, Iguazu Falls – Argentina here, Northern Lights – here, Hobbiton NZ – here & The Lost City Hike Colombia – here
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