Choquequirao (Choq’ekiraw)

Posted: January 3, 2012 in Peru

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About 99% of the people visiting Peru will go and check out Machu Picchu. Even though it’s a gorgeous sight, I’m sure, the 2500 tourists going daily have made out of these ruins an international zoo. So what to do? Well, Warren told me about Choquequirao. These ruins have been discovered somewhat recently and are still being excavated. They are similar to Machu Picchu, although larger in size once fully discovered, but only receive about 1-10 tourists daily. That’s at least for now as the Peruvian GVT is thinking of building a cable car in the future. The walk is far from easy. You descend from about 3200m to 1500m and then go back up to about 3200m on another mountain, and all that on small poorly maintained trails. On the way back, you have to do it again. It takes about a total of 4 days (50km) to do all the walk or 5 days if you want to see the lower part of the ruins as well as the top part.

You can hire a guide with a mule or horse through a travel agency but it will set you back anywhere between 70-100$/day/person. Pretty steep for the budget traveller! The best way (and cheapest) to do it is to go to a small town called Cachora. If you have your own way of transport, it’s pretty easy to get there. If not, you will have to figure out a bus + taxi combo… or you can just hitchhike. Once you get to Cachora, go to Hospedaje Mama Queta. The owner is super nice and the price of the room is as cheap as you can get. He can also call for you a guide and everything else. If you have a motorcycle, there is a safe place there to store it and he wont charge you anything to store it while your out trecking. There are a few guides that do the treck and the going price is 25 soles (10$) per day for the guide. If you are 2-3-4 people it doesn’t matter as the price for the guide is still only 10$ for the day, it’s not per person! To rent a horse, it’s also 10$ and for a mule 10$ as well. I strongly recommend renting a horse as you will be able to climb the mountains on top of the horse. Only going down you will have to walk as it’s too steep and dangerous to descend on the horse. A guide is also not 100% necessary! There is only one trail going to the ruins so you can’t get lost! You will also need to buy food in town. Get enough for all the days you are going for. If you go with a guide, get enough food for the guide as well since he wont bring any. Also, if you hire a guide, he will cook for you every night and every morning and he will set-up your tent and stuff for you. So maybe ask the guide what food to buy and what he would like to cook.

A good guide to get is HUGO! He is super knowledgeable and cooks really well. The agencies use him but like I said, with an agency you will pay 70-100$ per day per person! If you go and hire Hugo directly from the town, he will charge 10$ per day (per group) and then a horse will be another 10$ and food just under 10$/day depending what you wanna eat each day. Lets just say that the agencies are robbing you and the town straight up as they don’t pay the guides a penny extra. If Hugo is not available, you can talk to Jesus and he can get you a horse, mule, guide or anything you want. There is also a small tourist center in town. The info center will give you the next guide available as they take rotations.

There are camping sites along the way. They cost about 1$ for the night. You can find water there, some food if you don’t have enough and sometimes even beer. Prices will be of course about double from those in town. If you have a mule or horse, PACK IT UP from down in town!

So… pictures…

Here is what the streets look like in the town of Cachora.

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The hostel

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Here is my giude… Jose. He isn’t one of the more experienced guides. He didn’t tell me what food we needed before leaving or anything at all really. He also doesn’t talk much. Try to get a different guide if you can… 😉

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Some guy living in a shack along the way. He has a mini market without much in it.

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Ingenious recycling idea…

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A camping site. I met another swiss traveller, Thomas, and his guide Hugo just before setting up camp here. We walked together for the next few days.

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If you look closely, you can see the trail on the lower middle part of the picture going in zig zags.

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A camping site right before the entrance to the ruins.

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And this is a mini store…

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The entrance… when you see this, you’re still a good walk away from the actual ruins.

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The bottom part seen from far.

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Finally!

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Hugo on the left and Jose on the right

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Incredible views all around…

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A couple of French guys who were hiking on their own. They weren’t just super fast, but one of them was reading while walking as well. They really made us look like old out of shape clowns.

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The trail

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The night before heading back down.

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Here is Thomas, the Swiss guy…

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The trail can be seen zigzagging from top to bottom

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And finally we made it to the white house. From there we cheated the last 8km as there is a small dirt road and we called a taxi to get us back to town.

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The whole walk there and back is about 50km, but you can cheat 8km on the way there and 8km on the way back if your lazier like us. We only cheated on the way back.

I could tell you lots more about the hike, such as where the camp grounds are, how to manage your time, etc. but that would just take away too much from the adventure… 😉

I hiked it all in running shoes I got in a market for 10$ and all I will tell you is that you DO need good hiking shoes. After the first 3 hours of hiking, I was already bleeding. Now, after 4 months or so, there is still a scar on the back of my foot…

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