Thursday, June 25, 2015


Several weeks back we went on a little two day trip to Marcahuasi....

Marcahuasi is located just above a town called San Pedro de Casta, which is about 2.5 hours from Huaycán (let's say this is about 4.5 hours away from San Isidro or Miraflores, Lima) by bus, in the district of Huarochirí. 

San Pedro de Casta's main square

San Pedro de Casta from above

It is a natural landmark comprised of jutting stones in a dramatic background of Andean peaks poking their way through cloud cover at an altitude of around 13,100 feet (4,000 meters); the perfect vantage point for gorgeous sunsets and sunrises, and a great escape from the excessive noise and pollution of Lima.

I went there with my friends Shelby, Kari, and Luis - Luis had been there before, so he was showing us the ropes. We arrived there by taking a bus to Chosica (you can find these buses in downtown Lima, they depart from near the art museum next to the Parque de la Exposición. If you're further away from downtown, like in Miraflores, you'd take any bus to "Ate", get off in the town of "Vitarte", and take a bus to Chosica). You get off at the bus stop Parque Echenique in Chosica. There are two places from which the bus for San Pedro de Casta leave - either across the street from the park, or two blocks walking away from the park. Unfortunately this part is inconsistent, so please ask locals where to go, they usually know! Also, sometimes the "bus" is a colectivo, or minivan where it leaves when it is full of passengers. The San Pedro bus leaves either at 9:00am or 4:00pm, so make sure you're getting there early enough to get a seat on the bus or colectivo! It's S/10 one way from Chosica.

The trip from Chosica takes about 2 hours. It's gorgeous, though keep in mind that you are going along mountain passes on mostly unpaved road, which can be scary for some. I think I'm too used to this stuff by now between having lived in Colorado and traveled a lot in Peru :/

It'll be around 11am when you get to San Pedro de Casta. When you arrive, go straight to the tourism office, and they'll register you to enter the park (there is a fee, I forget how much but it's small, around S/10) and even set you up with burros to carry your stuff or firewood if you want. We brought our backpacking stuff, which is good because we didn't register immediately and by the time we got to the tourism office there were no burros, oops!

Then you can head up to Marcahuasi! It's a several hour hike at a mid-level incline with an altitude gain of around 2,100 feet. But the trail is straightforward and doesn't require any technical skill, so it's definitely a mid-level hike. The view going up is gorgeous too. We ended up hitchhiking half the way up, so I can't really estimate how long it would have taken us. We actually ended up having quite the adventure - we set off to backpack, but a Spaniard who happened to be working on a paving project there took us halfway up the mountain, and a couple in an RV that had traveled all the way from California took us to the base of the trail to the Afiteatro. Quite the mix of people!

A woman tending to he cattle just outside of San Pedro de Casta. The community around Marcahuasi is primarily a farming community, raising cattle and growing potatoes and other agricultural products.

There are two trails up. Definitely take the one that goes through the Anfiteatro. The Anfiteatro is a impressive rockfield full of spongey grass and huge boulders resembling various human heads. This also has campsites and beautiful views, though it's cooler than other campsites due to the shade on all sides from the rocks. If you cross through the Anfiteatro, there is another trail leading to Laguna Cachucachu and La Fortaleza. It's another small hike to get there, but definitely worth it because it's so stunning! We set up camp at Laguna Cachucachu, not quite sure what La Fortaleza was. Saw a stunning sunset and sunrise from the laguna :)

A face in the rocks just outside the Anfiteatro
The Anfiteatro
Hiking across the boulder fields to Laguna Cachucachu, People put up a lot of cairns in the area, which Luis told me they build them thinking of a hope or dream. If the cairn falls, the dream comes true.
Almost to the Laguna.
Laguna Cachucachu
One of the gorgeous, gigantic stones we camped under
View from the cliffs by the Laguna.
The moon was extremely bright that night, would have been the perfect evening for a night hike.
The stones at sunrise.
Laguna Cachucachu at sunrise
Looking down from the laguna.

Sunrise on the surrounding mountains

More beautiful stones on the way down.
The next day, we packed up and hiked out. There are two buses that leave from San Pedro to return to Chosica that leave at 5:00am and 1:30pm. Leaving our campsite around 9am gave us plenty of time, and even taking it leisurely we made it to San Pedro by around 12pm.

View on the bus ride back.
I'd definitely suggest going to Marcahuasi if you have camping gear & you love the mountains! It's an attainable distance from Lima, and gives you a taste of what Peru looks like off the beaten path. If you don't have camping gear, rent some! Go exploring!

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