One of the lesser-known activities that one can take on in Peru’s Sacred Valley is the stunning hike from Chinchero to Urquillos. With its starting point in the archaeological complex of Chinchero, the views and adventure are constant throughout. Along the way, I hardly encountered any other travelers, making this hike one of the best off-the-beaten-path adventures that I’ve found in Cusco. Most people flock to Machu Picchu or Rainbow Mountain or one of the other magnificent things Cusco has to offer, so it’s no surprise that Chinchero somehow fell under the radar.
Take advantage of this if you want to experience one of my favorite day hikes in the Cusco region. The scenery, secludedness, and relative simplicity of the hike make for a relaxed but beautiful adventure. Here’s everything you need to know about this incredible trek.
How To Get To Chinchero
Chinchero is a small village in Cusco’s Sacred Valley region. I first visited Chinchero on a guided tour to the Salineras de Maras and archaeological ruins of Moray. It was a quick stop where we got to visit the women artisans of Chinchero, but I didn’t think too much of the place at the time. Eventually, as I spent more time in Cusco, I got more comfortable hopping around from village to village by the reliable and extremely cheap colectivo system. Chinchero is a quick 30-minute, 6 soles ride away from Cusco.
To get to Chinchero, head to Calle Pavitos where the colectivos (shared vans) run to Urubamba. Get on a van headed towards Urubamba and tell the driver that you want to be dropped off at Chinchero as close to the ruins as possible. If he drops you off at the Plaza de Armas of Chinchero, just walk up about four more blocks and then turn right for about three blocks. You will inevitably stumble into the undeniable hustle and bustle of the tourist site of Chinchero.
Finding The Trailhead from Chinchero To Urquillos
So unfortunately, if you don’t have a boleto turistico, you will have to buy one. The Cusco tourist tickets come at various packages, and I was able to pay 70 Soles ($20) for a 10-day, all-inclusive student ticket. If you are no longer a student, you will have to pay 130 soles ($37) for the 10 day ticket or 70 soles for a 2-day partial ticket. The Chinchero ticket includes the sites of Pisac, Ollantaytambo, and Moray. I consider it to be the strongest of the partial tickets. If you think you can visit at least one of the other sites in those two days, it will be worth it.
Once you’ve purchased your ticket, you can walk through the church square where the market is sprawled out. Ignore everyone trying to sell you things and head to the ruins. Take your time here because they are undeniably impressive and beautiful. Follow the ruins until you stumble into the massive terraces and continue until the end. Eventually, the trail will descend. Go all the way down following the trail and then a big sign indicating the start of the Inca trail from Chinchero to Urquillos will greet you. You can also find it as “Camino Inca Chinchero – Urquillos” on Google Maps.
Navigating Your Way To Urquillos
The trail from Chinchero to Urquillos is straightforward, but can get confusing at times if the trail breaks off. The main rule of thumb should be to stick to the Inca trail at all times. You can tell which one is the Inca trail because it has big rocks on it. Simple as that. I did get sidetracked at one point trying to find a waterfall that showed up on Maps.Me, to no avail. I ended up following an awful, half washed-out trail through dense brush before reconnecting with the main trail.
Don’t do what I did. Don’t make it any harder than it has to be. Stick to the main trail and enjoy the beautiful scenery. Once you get to the small village of Urquillos, you can follow the small road from the center of town back towards the main highway. If you are like me, you will probably get lost and end up tacking on an extra hour by making a wrong turn towards Huayllabamba instead. If you still have some time left over, I actually would recommend the detour. It is beautiful and the trail is virtually unknown to travelers.
What To Bring For The Chinchero To Urquillos Hike
The hike is not particularly difficult but it is still good to come prepared. The entire 10 kilometer hike will take about four hours, depending on how often you stop for pictures or snacks or breaks. I’d say about 95% of the hike is flat or downhill, so bring boots with good traction and a walking stick to keep your balance on the muddy and slick stretches.
One liter of water proved to be enough, although I was lucky to have an overcast day that didn’t have me sweating constantly. On a clear, hot day, another liter might be advisable. I would also recommend a hat and sunscreen if you burn easily. Make sure to have a big breakfast before you go, or bring some snacks along the way so that you don’t get too hungry. I scarfed down a sleeve of Oreos in place of lunch because I am clearly a very healthy person.
I also was lucky that the overcast day never turned into anything more. Regardless, I brought a rain poncho and a rain jacket just in case. You won’t have cell signal on this hike so make sure you have an offline map downloaded of the area. Maps.Me and Google Maps are both good but I’ve found that Maps.Me usually has the obscure trails that most other maps apps don’t have.
How To Get Back To Cusco From Urquillos
Like I said, Cusco’s colectivo system is top-notch. Once you make it back to the main highway from Urquillos or Huayllabamba, a colectivo will undoubtedly pass within a few minutes. Catch one in the direction of Urubamba. It should cost only one sol to head all the way to the bus station in Urubamba. From there, catch another colectivo for 6 soles or hop on the bigger bus for 4 soles. Although the bigger bus is cheaper, they also take forever to leave, whereas the colectivo leaves as soon as it fills up. It’s about a 65 cent difference, so it’s up to you which you decide to go by.
Chinchero to Urquillos Hike Photo Gallery
Chinchero Plaza, where the entrance to the archaeological site can be found.
The terraces of Chinchero. Walk all the way to the end and down to find the trailhead to Urquillos.
The stairs leading down to the forest and trailhead to Urquillos.
It won’t take long for the epic views to start. In the distance, you’ll be able to see your destination of Urquillos surrounded by the apus of the Sacred Valley.
You’ll be hiking along waterfalls and rivers for a good portion of the hike.
The small village of Urquillos gradually getting closer.
The quiet and cute town of Urquillos surrounded by the mountains.
The neighboring farmlands with the gorgeous mountains in the background.
Close to Huayllabamba, a small village surrounded by farmlands, mountains, and flanked by the Vilcanota River.
The village of Huayllabamba, about an hour’s walk from Urquillos if you want to tack on some extra magical scenery.
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