Choquequirao, Peru

Going to Choquequirao, the Inca city, I was expecting amazing nature. At least tarantulas around me, condors above me and cacao trees next to me. Big nothing when it comes to that. The nature was not getting more exotic than horses passing us by. But reaching the first campsite at least I got an exotic "toilet", no words can explain how "different" the toilet was, only a picture (posted under). And the way to it was also an adventure on it's own.... The woman from the campsite wanted us to take a shower as well... It was a bucket of water and walls could be made with foil stretched between a few sticks... The funniest part was that the shower was just under the campsite so that you could see the person showering from your own tent... Free show. Obviously we passed on that entertainment.Choquequirao, Peru
Further trek was rather disappointing until we reached the check point in Choquequirao. Immediately we saw the ruins scattered on the mountains and we went flying to the campsite closeby to build our tent and start exploring. Firstly we went to extensive terraces and water temple just next to us. By far more impressive than Machu Picchu. Choquequirao has been known since at least the 17th century by the Spaniards and it has been mentioned many times. Also Bingham visited it before he discovered Machu Picchu and still the site was not excavated until the 1970s. Now only 30-40% has been excavated and that is already bigger than Machu Picchu. And we felt like in an Indiana Jones movie, all alone on the ruins and on each terrace we could see further buildings and terraces overgrown by vegetation. Incredible!!! Super excited we barely could sleep waiting for the next day to come to explore the ruins up on the mountain above us. And so on the next day we were busy exploring temples, squares, priest houses, workshops and most impressive: hugeeeee terraces with figures of llamas on them. On few terraces there were small llamas with mama llamas. All of it just partially uncovered.... No wonder Peru wants to build a cable car as an alternative to a two day trek to attract more tourists and more dollars... Making it a new Machu Picchu. Now it is only visited by few, maybe 20-30 people a day. Choquequirao was everything for us that Machu Picchu wasn't: mystical, without people trying to sell you cheesy gifts, big Americans with their huge cameras and fat wallets. Simple, beautiful and unforgettable.
And so was our trek back... We needed to go exactly the same way as we came and waking up early we already started walking back at 5.30 a.m. At around 10 a.m. we were already what seemed to be half way. There cheered by a local guide we decided to walk up the mountain to do the whole route in one day. According to him we would be done within 4 hours leaving him our big backpacks that he would take up by horse... After 4 hours we were nowhere near the end. We were almost in tears, covered in sweat and bites in full son walking up a mountain... Ready to give up... After 7 hours we finally reached the top and promised ourself never to trust Peruvian time estimations...Choquequirao, Peru

Mini guide for those who would like to do the trek:
1. The whole trek cost us a total of 658 soles so around 189 euro for two of us for 4 days. Most of it we spend on:
-250 soles (around 68 euros) on transportation to the view point from Cusco and back (on the way back we overpaid to get to Cusco faster which cost us around 50-60 soles more)
-135 soles (around 37 euros) on food - nuts, noodles, milk in powder, pasta etc.
-190 soles (around 52 euros) Renting equipment- tent for two people, two sleeping bags, sleeping pads, little kitchen with utensils, walking sticks
-56 soles (around 15 euros) on entrance ticket to the ruins (37 normal ticket, 19 with student discount)

2. First day we left Cusco at 5 a.m. and we arrived to the viewpoint at 10 a.m. (first taking a bus to Curawasi, then shared taxi to Ramal, then private taxi to the viewpoint). From there we walked to Playa Rosalina in 3.5 hours and then 2.5 hours to Santa Rosa Baja where we stayed for the night. Second day we started walking around 6 a.m. and it took us 2.5 hours uphill to get to Marampata. From there it was an easy 1.5 hour walk to the Choquequirao campsite where we stayed one and a half day. The forth day we left the camp at 5.30 a.m. and walked to Playa Rosalina (4.5 hours) and then we walked all the way to the view point (6.5 hours) without our big backpacks. Not recommended to do that in one day. We were destroyed in the end of it.

3. We didn't buy water, we had purifying pills but if you want there are plenty of places selling water (2.5 ltr water bottle for 12 soles, so around 3 euros)

4. From the viewpoint you can rent horses for the whole way, we didn't, we walked with our backpacks except for half a day, the last day, when we paid 20 soles (around 5 euro) for bringing our bags to the viewpoint

5. For navigation we used Maps.Me and GPS in our smartphones

6. We had plenty of bug spray which didn't help us but we are afraid to think how we would look like if we didn't have it

7. On all of the campsites you can buy water, inka cola, cola and snacks and often also cooked meals. Only on the Choquequirao site there was nothing to buy

8. To camp on most of the sites you need to pay 5 soles (a bit more than 1 euro) per tent, except in the Choquequirao campsite where it's free. The campsites are Chiquisca, Playa Rosalina, Santa Rosa baja, Santa Rosa alta, Marampata and Choquequirao so plenty to choose from.

9. You really need at least one day to explore the ruins because they are huge and quite far away from each other

If anyone would like to do it and something is not clear or there are unanswered questions, let us know:)

You can download the map here Choquequirao.kml or here Choquequirao.kmz.
You can use Maps.Me to open the files on your smartphone or google my maps on your PC.

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