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This weekend, Dan and I tackled the little known 11-mile hike to the Huchuy Qosqo ruins.
The trek follows the Imperial Inca trail and leads to ancient ruins that were once the summer home of an important Incan king… who’s name I can’t remember, and definitely can’t spell.
While they’re not on most tourist’s must-do list, they’re certainly worth the picturesque trek to reach the remote outpost.
The best part? The Huchuy Qosqo hike is an easy day trip from Cusco that you can absolutely do on your own with this guide. It covers:
- How to get from Cusco to Huchuy Qosqo
- An easy step-by-step guide for the Huchuy Qosqo hike
- What to see at the Huchuy Qosqo ruins
- How to get from Huchuy Qosqo to Lamay + Back to Cusco
- What to pack for the Huchuy Qosqo hike
- How much does the Huchuy Qosqo trek cost?
- And much more!
If you’re ready to check the off-the-beaten-path but totally memorable Huchuy Qosqo trek off your Cusco bucket list, keep reading to make it happen.
Want more of the outdoors? Join our new Sustainable Hiking Collective on Facebook to connect with the international hiking community, discover new destinations, join virtual trail cleanups, and take part in monthly sustainability challenges.
Inside the Huchuy Qosqo ruins
How To Get from Cusco to the Huchuy Qosqo Trail
I couldn’t find any information on the Huchuy Qosqo trek online and when we went to tour agencies in the city, they reluctantly offered a Huchuy Qosqo tour… for $170 per person.
Instead we got a hold of our friend Diego, a Peruvian tour guide, who took us on the Huchuy Qosqo trek. With his expert guidance I can now give you the exact directions to enjoy this hike on your own.
There are three steps to get from Cusco to the Huchuy Qosqo trail head:
- Taxi from Cusco city center to Eastacion Papitos
- Colectivo (shared van) from Eastacion Papitos to Laguna Piuray
- Taxi from Laguna Piuray to the Camino Inca Huchuy Qosqo
1. Taxi from Cusco to Estacion Papitos
Starting from your hotel, take a taxi to “Estacion Papitos,” Cusco’s small bus station.
It’s not marked on Google Maps (that I can find at least) but your taxi driver should know where it is. This trip is pretty short and should only cost about 4 soles / 1.20 usd from the city center.
2. Colectivo from Estacion Papitos to Laguna Piuray
Once you arrive at the station you’ll be bombarded with men to help you, so just tell them you need to go to Laguna Piuray and they’ll point you to the right van.
The drive to the lake is about 45 minutes and cost us 6 soles / 1.80 usd per person.
Remind the driver once or twice where you want to get off (just to make sure they know you have no clue when to stop them on your own) and they’ll make sure you end up in the right place.
3. Taxi from Laguna Piuray to the Huchuy Qosqo trailhead
You’ll get off at Laguna Piuray on a dirt road in a small town.
Here you can wave down a taxi (or any car really) and ask them to take you to the “Camino Inca Huchuy Qosqo.“
Yep, just like the ancient royalty, you’re going to be doing the whole hike on the Imperial Inca Trail. From the colectivo stop to the Huchuy Qosqo trailhead the drive takes about 20 minutes and should cost around 10 soles / 3 usd.
Congrats you’ve made it to the start of the Huchuy Qosqo hike!
Even if this seems complicated – I promise it’s not – whatever you do, do not start your trek in Lamay.
Do not book with any tour operator who wants you to start your trek in Lamay.
Doing this will take something beautiful and enjoyable and totally destroy it. You’ll go from about an hour of uphill hiking to six or more. Trust me, the route from Lake Piuray is the only way to go.
If you don’t want to tackle this on your own, you can explore the Sacred Valley on tons of guided treks and day trips from Cusco as well.
All smiles at the start of the Huchuy Qosqo hike
Step-by-Step Guide for the Huchuy Qosqo Hike
Once you’re on the Inca trail, the route will be obvious.
Although it was destroyed by the Spanish conquistadores, a wide and clear path remains. Start early (we left Cusco at 6:30 am) and you won’t see another soul all day.
So, what can you expect on the Huchuy Qosqo trek?
Trail at the start of the trek beginning to go uphill but nothing too strenuous yet.
It begins with a meandering uphill walk through sloping hills, where you can see the remains of Incan terraces and aqueducts.
As you climb, you’ll start to see beautiful cliffs and even some lakes. Finally, a steep but short push will take you over the mountain pass and on top of the world.
You’ll be rewarded for your hard work two hours into the Huchuy Qosqo trek with sweeping views of mountaintops and icy glaciers for miles. Continue on the path and you’ll soon begin your descent.
Mountain views on the plateau before our descent to the ruins
As we climbed down into the valley where the Huchuy Qosqo ruins are, it was amazing to watch the climate change before our eyes.
The landscape started out dry and arid, but soon the surroundings became green and lush from the heat trapped in the valley.
It was easy to see why the warm mountainside was chosen as the royal escape from Cusco’s cold winters!
All of a sudden, everything will begin turning green before your eyes
Continue down the trail for two more hours and you’ll come across the ruins. On your way, keep an eye out for condors, giant hummingbirds, and pumas who like the roam the nearby brush.
My tip: Take a few minutes to stop hiking and just listen – the absolute silence and stillness on the roof of the world is an awesome experience.
Happiness is ancient Incan stonework
What to See at the Huchuy Qosqo Ruins
The cost to enter the Huchuy Qosqo ruins is 22 soles / 6.50 usd per person.
They are so remote (over an hour walking from the nearest towns) and rarely visited, but somehow a man appeared just as we did to collect our money and issue our tickets. He disappeared again, and we were left alone to wander the ancient ruins.
For me, the best part was the remains of a giant pool in the middle. I can only imagine the infinity pool with an amazing mountain view was the center of all the wild parties thrown in the estate!
If you’re a huge history buff, this place will be heaven.
Not only will you have a complete run of the entirely empty ruins, but you can also set up camp and spend the night in them for no extra cost. Although we opted not to, I’m sure the view of the stars and milky way from the sacred Incan spot is breathtaking.
Don’t look down on the steep trek down to the town of Lamay
How to Hike from Huchuy Qosqo to Lamay
This is my least favorite part of the hike and the reason why I rate this trek as moderate instead of easy.
We left the ruins around 1 pm by passing through them and turning right on the path at the bottom. Soon, you’ll spot the colorful little lego town of Lamay and quickly realize just how high you are.
Yeah… the decent is over an hour and a half of switchbacks down a sheer cliff face.
It’s extra fun because the path is extremely dusty and rocky so you’ll be slipping and sliding right up to the edge for extra fear! Really, it’s not so bad… as long as you don’t look down.
Once you reach the bottom, turn right to get to the bridge, and once you cross it you’ll come to a bus stop where you can wait and catch the next van back to Cusco – an hour later and you’ll be home!
Just little ol’ me and my sturdy Osprey pack on the Huchuy Qosqo trek
What to Pack on for the Huchuy Qosqo Trek
This isn’t an easy trek and you’ll be gone all day. So, I recommend bringing a small day pack with:
- Sunscreen (Cusco is at high altitude and you will get burned even if it’s cold outside)
- Lunch and snacks
- Sturdy hiking boots (which are especially important for grip on the slippery return trail to Lamay)
- Cash for the taxis/buses/colectivos
- Extra layers to take on and off as the temperature changes
This is the hiking gear I can’t live without:
|TimberlanD Women's White LeDge MiD Ankle Boot,Dark Brown,7.5 M US||Prime||Buy Now|
|Vibrant All in ONE Travel Mug - Tea Infuser Bottle with 2 Piece Steeper Strainer MESH Filter - Insulated HOT Coffee Thermos - Cold Fruit Infused Water Leak Proof Double Wall Stainless Steel 16.9 oz||Prime||Buy Now|
|Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Water Resistant and Non-Greasy Sunscreen Lotion with Broad Spectrum SPF 100+, 3 fl. oz||Prime||Buy Now|
|Osprey Packs Farpoint 55 Travel Backpack, Jasper Red, Small/Medium||Prime||Buy Now|
How much does the Huchuy Qosqo hike cost?
If you’re tackling the Huchuy Qosqo trek alone, your budget breakdown will look something like this:
- Transport from Cusco to the trailhead: 20 soles / 6 usd
- Huchuy Qosqo entrance fee: 22 soles / 6.50 usd
- Colectico from Lamay to Cusco: ~5 soles / 1.50 usd (I honestly can’t remember)
In total, the Huchuy Qosqo trek without a guide will cost 47 soles / 14 usd. Add an additional 33 soles / 10 usd to the budget per person that joins you.
Wanna see this? My guide will get ya there!
Trek Huchuy Qosqo With This Guide
All in all, the Huchuy Qosqo hike is totally exhausting but definitely worth it.
Now, with this guide, you don’t need to drop big bucks on a Huchuy Qosqo tour – instead, follow this step-by-step guide and get off the beaten path to tackle it on your own!
I spent eight weeks in Cusco and this was one of my all-time favorite experiences (and I’m happy to see that so many people in the comments below agree).
If you find yourself with some extra time in the city, the Huchuy Qosqo trek is an unforgettable day trip from Cusco and shouldn’t be missed!
Ready to go?
Explore unique stays on Airbnb – like this tiny house in the hills or this place with a fantastic view – and the top-rated hotels on Booking.com to plan the perfect night, weekend, or long-term stay in the city.
Also, don’t forget to join our new Sustainable Hiking Collective on Facebook to connect with the international hiking community, discover new destinations, join virtual trail cleanups, and take part in monthly sustainability challenges!
This article is part of the Cusco Hiking series. Read the rest below:
Then, explore the complete Peru series for more tips on what to see, do, eat, drink, and discover in Cusco and beyond.
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