Long I was looking for a trek to Choquequirao, which is a site similar to Machu Picchu, but way less tourists, since there’s also no bus service and you can only reach it by foot.
A group was all I wanted to join, which was more difficult, because not so many people are interested in that site. So I couldn’t find a group for every day, which restricted me a bit. Without a group of at least three people no agency wants to do this trip. For a higher price it’s possible of course but this would have been to private for me, too.
The prices for a four day trek were between $190 and $250. Often some agencies work together and transfer costumers to their partner agency in case they do not have a group ready. This is a disadvantage for the costumer since he/she chose a certain agency to put the trust into it.
I wanted to go on a Thursday but all agencies promised me a group for a day later and so I chose an agency I had a good feeling with and which also was cheapest. Mapi Trek Tours promised me a group of at least three people, an english speaking guide and a horse/donkey which would carry up to 5kg of my luggage. Three people from France and maybe two from Australia should have been in the group. Making new french friends I thought, a dream that was supposed to remain as one.
On a Friday morning at 5:30am I should have been picked up. Setting my alarm to 5am I woke up by a different sound … a knock on my door. Not yet 5 o’clock I opened the door and the tour guide was waiting outside … great! Within ten minutes I got ready to go and met my guide at the reception.
I showed him my extra bag for the horse to carry, but he just told me that there’s no horse. What? I didn’t want to carry that stuff either, because then I would have brought less. I asked him what the other people of the group thought about it and he replied that there are no other people. Questioning myself if I still was asleep I asked for the name of the agency. He told me “Inca Warrior” which works together with Mapi Trek Tours. Already disappointed I wondered what to do. Why, by the way, was I speaking the whole time in Spanish to him anyway … oh right, he couldn’t speak English either, of course. Still I wanted to do this trek and time was running out. I’ve already been too long in Cuzco and so I just went with him alone on this trek.
By taxi we went to the bus terminal to buy a ticket for the cheapest bus. Okay, so we went by local transportation to the starting point of the trek, which took around 3.5 hours. At the intersection to
Cachora we got off and took a taxi to this little town.
In Cachora we had lunch at a small family run place. It looked very cheap but the meal was good. The town hasn’t much to offer, but it’ll turn more and more into a touristy place for sure.
Before we started our hike, Percy, my guide, offered to carry something of my extra bag. I gave him something he could carry but not all, since he already carried the tent and mattresses and food and …
Then we started and left the town passing eucalyptus trees, whose leafes shone silver in the sun light. We passed a sign, telling us that it’s 32km to the Choquequirao site. There were quite a lot of signs and kilometer stones told you where you were.
After an hour of up and down walking we passed some farmers who rested. They offered us some chicha, which is a drink made from corn. I drank a bit but didn’t like it much. There’s another drink called chicha morada, made from purple corn, which I like more, since it’s sweeter.
During walking through the quiet nature I was thinking more and more about Claire. The time finally has come that I really felt not having her by my side. I missed her very much at than moment. Although the trek just has started I already wished it was over. I was more than prepared to return from my big trip, but three more weeks were to go until I would catch my flight to another “unknown” world.
After walking another two hours high upon the valley on an even road, it began now to descent for the rest of the day. The road already became a path accessible only by foot and horse. At KM16 we arrived at Cocamazana, consisting of a very few houses, with a little shop where you could get cold beer, for 7/8 soles. That place surprised me already, since I thought to be walking through wilderness. However the road/path was very easy to follow and impossible to get lost. So if you wanna do this on your own, then just do it …
After a little rest we continued our walk downhill for another three kilometers. Then we reached Chiquiscca, a place offering a campsite, showers and a restaurant. After a little rest I wanted to descent for another two kilometers, to Playa Rosalina, so that the second day would be easier. But since there is no restaurant yet we stayed in Chiquiscca.
Hmm … restaurant, so instead of cooking our food ourselves we just ate at the restaurants along the way, which was offered by local families mainly.
The meal was good and we prepared for the night. The next day will be a hard one and it’s better to get up early to avoid the heat of the sun.
Contrary to all my believes I slept great my first night. It was surprisingly warm so that I had to take off some layers of clothing during the night. Oh … my guide and I shared the same tent by the way, but it was okay.
After a really nice breakfast (bread, pan cake, eggs) we started downhill to Playa Rosalina at KM19. This place is situated at the river we had to pass. It looked quite new and at some places still under construction. I think it’s going to be a comfortable place to stay overnight.
Before we crossed the river, we had to register at a control point. Afterwards the hardest part of the day was coming … walking steep uphill for several hours.
Around fours hours it’ll take I was told and as long as the sun was still asleep the ascending was better than I expected. But still it was exhausting and after each curve we were just seeing another demotivating ascend. Especially when the sun finally visited us, sweat ran constantly down my body. When we rested I watched my falling sweat, creating dark stars on the dusty ground. When it stopped we began to move on.
At KM24 we reached Santa Rosa, which offered a campsite for 1 sol, bathrooms and expensive snacks. At this place it was no wonder why all prices were twice as much.
After a little rest we walked uphill for another kilometer to arrive at Santa Rosa Alto, a place similiar to the former place we visited. Three more kilometers until we would reach our place where we would set our tent and so we moved on.
It was becoming more difficult since the sun was close to shine down on us with all her power. Around noon we finally reached a little village (just three than the expected four hours), where we went to a family and set our tent. While the lunch was being prepared we rested. A whole hour passed until we ate and the time meanwhile was spent well!
High up the mountains the sight was limited, since it looked dizzy. My guide told me that, that you have no clear view because of farmers who burn parts of their fields for recultivation. And yes, from afar we could see some burnings. One however must have gotten out of control, because within a few minutes the whole slope was burning. It looked terrifying and you could easily imagine that it’s not easy to escape this fire, once you’re inside it.
The day wasn’t over yet and the site I came for, I was going to visit the very same day. That meant to walk another four kilometers. At least the path was mainly even so that it was easier to walk. After two kilometers we already could see Choquequirao which motivated to walk on. The path however made so many loops that you were wondering why there isn’t a more direct way. A campsite with a restaurant we passed, which is a good choice if you want to move on to Machu Picchu for example. But I would return the very same way I came …
Around 2:30pm we reached the entrance. Nobody was there. No tourists, no shops selling stuff for an unbelievable high price and also no guy to give the entrance fee.
My guide gave me a little tour and explained several things in Spanish of course. I could understand the most things, however it weren’t much information. I also was quite exhausted to ask for much more. Interesting was the place of the lamas. Lamas were worshipped by the Incas and sacrified for a good harvest.
There’s still around 40% of the site undiscovered. As always there’s no money for further excavations. The site is very big and I hope that one day it’ll be all visible what once was.
At 5pm the site “closed” and we went to the camp site we had passed to have dinner. When we had finished it already was dark and it was good that I had my tiny but strong flashlight with me. It was a long way back and I was happy to reach our tent to sleep finally after that day.
I didn’t sleep much that night. It was much colder and the ground felt harder. But maybe it already was the beginning of my sickness that caught me later that day …
The family we stayed at brought us breakfast in the early morning. I didn’t have the feeling that they do like tourists much. They never talked to me or even looked at me. I heard that they are very busy with oncoming tourists every day … maybe they are sick of it already, but they cannot renounce the money they get from them I suppose.
We started walking downhill (the way we came the day before) which was much easier. After two hours we reached the river already and rested a bit longer. Now it was going uphill for a very long time. I expected the second day the hardest but it should be the third.
We walked until we reached Chiquiscca again, where we had lunch after we rested for quite a while. I wasn’t feeling well and for lunch I almost ate nothing. The time when the heat of the sun was strongest we continued resting, but instead of feeling better it got worse. I tried to solve my problem by going to the “bathrooms”, but it was no fun to squat over a hole in the ground which already was occupied by hundreds of flies. Then I was feeling even more strange and something that didn’t happen for many many years, happened now … I had to vomit.
When it was over I slightly began to feel better. My guide provided me with special tea. A special ingrediant was trago, a strong alcoholic shot. It felt good and I ordered another one Dinner I skipped that day.
Originally we wanted to camp at Cocamazana, but I wasn’t feeling good enough to walk another three kilometers uphill. So we set our tents in Chiquiscca. I met a nice guy from Canada I think and it was good to have a nice talk in English. When I went to bed I was feeling much better.
I thought to sleep as good as the first night, but I didn’t. It was warm but I just turned from one side to another the whole night not sleeping much.
After a little breakfast, consisting of soup and bread we walked on back home. I was feeling okay, but everytime I drank some water I was feeling worse for a little while. Fortunately the event of the previous night did not repeat.
I walked on being tired and feeling sick a bit every now and then, until another guide passed us. He had some more of this nice stuff, called trago (it actually just means shot). He offered it to me and I drank it. It was strong but good and it seemed to help my stomache. The other guide also brought a little radio and from then we listened all the way to typical peruvian music. I cannot really say that this music belongs to my favourite one, especially not when you hear more static noise than anything else.
The last meters were the hardest and I longed for a fresh orange juice. When I finally reached Cachora I couldn’t find any place offering fresh juices. So I had to live with one out of the box. I was offered lunch but couldn’t eat much, only a bit from the soup.
I was a bit concerned of the way we would go back to Cuzco. I imagined going back to the main road by taxi and wait for a bus that is already full and where we had to stand all the way to Cuzco. After this day I didn’t want to stand anymore! In fact we took a taxi and went to the main road. There we asked for the bus, but I couldn’t understand what was going on. Then the decision was made that we stay in the taxi and go to Cuzco with it. But that’s more than 140km … you cannot take a taxi for this distance, can you? However we drove and after 15 minutes we saw a big bus in front of us. We passed it and honked aggressively until the bus stopped. Since it went to Cuzco we switched from the taxi to the almost empty bus. It was nice inside and I enjoyed the next hours relaxing. I could not imagine this in Germany … just stopping a bus and enter it on the middle of the road.
The next day I went to the company “Mapi Trek Tours” to complain about the things I was offered and what I received. The guy didn’t know anything about the circumstances of my trip and was very surprised. That happens when you work together with other agencies! This partner agency was called “Inka Warrior” by the way. They didn’t let “Mapi Trek Tours” know about the changes in plan and so it was good that I told them my situation. Otherwise they would have never known and next time … maybe … they are a bit more communicative.
I knew that I wasn’t going to have any money back. I was surprised that I still was on this trek, since it must be more expensive for the agency to just guide one person. In not renting a horse for me they saved some money and it is not really necessary for only one guy. It would have been just better if they would have let me know earlier!
So if you ask around agencies make sure to ask them the right questions. For example if a trek is offered actually by another agency then you should ask for their name and check them out personally. Also the transportation (if private or puplic) should be clarified and believe me, it’s much better to know that there is a bus just waiting for you, instead of a bus you have to wait for, not knowing if you get a seat after you walked for hours.