Huchuy Qosqo

By ShortEdit
April 22, 2024

Huchuy Qosqo is one of the many hidden gems of Cusco. It sits high above the hillside right in the middle of the Sacred Valley. From below, you’d never know it was there. It’s not accessible by road and you can’t see even a hint of what is hidden- even if you know what you are looking for.

Huchuy Qosqo is Quechua (the indigenous language of Peru) for “Little Cusco”. The ruins are closest to the village of Lamay in the Sacred Valley. Huchuy Qosqo is 3,650 meters (11,980 feet) high, and Lamay sits far below at 2,941 meters (9,649 feet). It’s no surprise you can’t see it from the bottom of the valley. Some say it was designed to be hidden away.

Getting to Huchuy Qosqo

This ruin is only accessible through hiking. It can be done in one long day (about 17km, depending on your route) or two easier days, or even three days (with a few additions). There are a few different routes available for each option.

Some of the other routes are much easier on the knees, and offer an A to B trail. This means that you don’t have to cover the same ground twice, and can enjoy different parts of the route along the way.

As there are a selection of routes available, many tour companies that offer this trek offer slightly different trails. On top of that, Huchuy Qosqo is already one of the lesser visited sites in Cusco. This means that your trek to the ruin is likely to be completely undisturbed by others.

I know when I visited we walked past one other tour group, and then never saw them again. Once we got to the ruins there were a few sheep and their shepherds hanging about, but no other tourists- making it a fantastic off the beaten track trek, with the option to use it to get to Machu Picchu!

Check out the itinerary options below to see which one suits you and your travel plans best.

Huchuy Qosqo 1 Day Trek

The most direct one day Huchuy Qosqo trek is to and from Lamay. There are others available for those who love a full day’s hike, but they can get a little complicated with routes and how established the paths are, so aim to travel with a tour company if you would rather not do the Lamay!

I won’t say that the Lamay direction is the easiest hike there is, because it has relentless switchbacks and pretty steep uphills the entire way. Once you are there, you can enjoy the site and then turn around and head right back down these steep switchbacks.

If you travel with a tour company then you will be able to try out a more exciting route. Our Huchuy Qosqo trek begins in the small village of Tauca (which sits at 3,750 meters / 12,303 feet). You may have noticed that this is higher than Huchuy Qosqo, freeing you from the aggressive uphill switchbacks of the Lamay route.

That doesn’t mean that you don’t have any uphills, but it won’t take long until you reach the pass at 4,050 meters (13,287 feet). From there, it’s all downhill. All the way to the ruins you are accompanied by incredible views and interesting flora and fauna. If traveling with a guide, they will let you know about everything you pass.

The route takes you through the Cauca ravine, which is teaming with different archaeology sites. The drop can get a little high, so if you’re scared of heights let someone know at the time of booking.

Before you know it, You’re in Huchuy Qosqo. It’s found on a plateau halfway up the mountain.

From here you rejoin the Lamay route, heading down the mountain to the village. This hike is about 16 km (10 miles) and around 7 hours of hiking. You have the option here to return to Cusco, or to continue to Ollantaytambo. You can spend the night in Ollantaytambo before visiting Machu Picchu the next day.

Huchuy Qosqo 3 Day Hike

The three day hike follows the same route as the two day hike, but visits Machu Picchu on the third day. You will take the train from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes on the evening of the second day and on the third day you will explore the Inca citadel before heading back to Cusco. There is also the option to be left in Ollantaytambo as well.

Huchuy Qosqo 2 Day Trek

One of the more popular options for the Huchuy Qosqo Trek is combining the one day trek with a visit to Machu Picchu on the second day. This is one of the more unique and exciting ways of getting to Machu Picchu, perfect for those in a time crunch.

Now, maybe you’re not particularly interested in visiting Machu Picchu- or maybe you already have your heart and mind set on a different trek to get there (The Inca Trail, Lares, Salkantay… there are so many incredible options it’s hard to choose).

Maybe a two day trek is exactly what you’re looking for to prepare yourself for a longer route. Then the Huchuy Qosqo 2 day trek without Machu Picchu could be exactly what you’re looking for.

This trek starts in a different place- in Patabamba (3800 meters / 12,467 feet) which is just outside of Cusco. From here it’s three hours to the pass and the highest point of the trek (4200 meters / 13,779 feet). We head to our first set of Inca Ruins of the trek, found in the small rural village of Pucamarca.

From here, we follow an ancient section of the Inca Trail all the way to Huchuy Qosqo. You will have time to take a quick look around, before we head to a homestay close to the ruins. This is a great chance to interact with a local family and see how they live. We only work with homestays that have certain comforts such as proper toilets and private rooms.

(Day one, 13 km / 8 miles).

Day two of your Huchuy Qosqo trek starts with a full guided tour of the ruins, giving you plenty of time to explore and ask any and all questions that you like. From here, we head down to Lamay, before visiting Urubamba for lunch.

After lunch we visit the archaeological site of Moray- the Incan greenhouse, and then onto the famous salt mines of Maras. This two day Huchuy Qosqo trek is fantastic because you can visit two of the most famous sites in Cusco on a different beat to all the tour companies, with much fewer people surrounding you.

We then head to Ollantaytambo to explore the living Inca town, after which you have the option to be left in Ollantaytambo or returned to Cusco.

(7 km / 4.3 miles hiking)

Doing it Yourself

If you want to visit Huchuy Qosqo on your own, then the easiest way to do it is to travel to Lamay from Cusco. You can do this by traveling to Calle Puputi and taking one of the combis that are going to Calca. Make sure you ask the driver to let you know when you arrive in Lamay.

From Lamay it’s a relatively short walk to the trailhead. Cross over the river and follow the road down. If you’re not sure, ask a taxi or a tuk tuk driver to drop you off. They might ask if you want them to wait. Don’t ask them to wait, but you can ask them to come back if you think you will be too tired to make the walk back to town after the hike. It’s not too far though, so there’s no real need.

From the trailhead, just follow the switchbacks up the hill. Once you reach the end of the path, just head directly upwards. You will pass some small adobe houses and find the path again relatively quickly.

Before you know it, you’re in Huchuy Qosqo. Take a look around, have a picnic- you will need to have packed this yourself as there is nowhere to buy food here. You won’t have a guide, and there won’t be anyone there to hire- although there is a local man who will charge you the 10 soles entry fee.

Just soak in the vibe of the place and take your time to explore. Once you have had your fill, head back down the way you came to Lamay. You may find a rogue taxi driver waiting for weary travelers who you can negotiate with to take you back to Lamay if you’re too tired. If not, the journey is not far.

Once you’re back in Lamay, wait for a combi heading to Cusco in the same place it dropped you off on the other side of the road of course. There should be a few locals around for you to double check with. Once you’re in the van, make your way back to the city and your hotel.

This is a long day so make sure that you set off early- at around 6am. This will give you time to get up and back before dark falls and before the combis finish for the day.

If you want to minimize potential stress, you can stay in Lamay either the night before or the night after your hike. Lamay is not really known as a tourist hot spot- it’s more of a local town. So if you’re interested in the real Peru this could be a great option for you.

History of Huchuy Qosqo

Before the dawn of the twentieth century, Huchuy Qosqo had been known as Kakya Qawani. This is what it was known as by the Incas themselves. It is thought to have been used by Viracocha, the eighth Inca King, as a royal estate around the year 1420.

Now, Huchuy Qosqo wasn’t always used as Viracochas estate. It is thought to have been built around the year 1000, becoming a royal estate in the 1400s, according to Pedro de Cieza de León, a Spanish chronicler.

The name Huchuy Qosqo comes from the idea that the place was used as a government center, designed to recreate Cusco, the Inca capital. The reason why there are so many Incan government and administrative centers that you can visit (Machu Picchu, Choquequirao, Huchuy Qosqo, etc) is because the Incas ruled through a tax of labor and land.

This means that the more space they commanded, the greater their rule and the more they could leave to their children, thus growing their legacy. These estates could also serve as holiday homes or fortresses, depending on the occasion.

Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit Huchuy Qosqo is during the dry season- May to August. It is not a well known destination so even during the peak season you are unlikely to see many other tourists.

Once the rain has more or less finished up (which should be in April, but can vary year to year) it is also a great time to visit. The landscape will be luscious and green, and the river running through the ravine will be crashing.

It is still possible to do this hike in the rainy season, but it’s much less recommended. The paths are relatively well looked after, and stable but they can get quite thin and the terrain in Cusco is generally less stable in the rainy season. While there are generally not any landslides in the Huchuy Qosqo region, it’s still a good idea to be cautious.

The shoulder season of September, October and part of November is also a good time to go, although the land will be distinctly more brown and beige. It’s not a reason not to visit, but if you have your choice of the months, I’d recommend May, as it is solidly the dry season but close enough to the rainy season for travelers to still enjoy the green landscapes.

What to Pack for a Huchuy Qosqo Hike

It’s always important to be prepared while hiking, and so what you pack will be very dependent on the hike you will be doing. For example the one day guided Huchuy Qosqo trek is obviously going to require less equipment than if you want to take on the 3 day trek on your own.

So, use your own discretion while choosing what to bring with you.

One-day Huchuy Qosqo packing list:


  • Water bottle (filled with 1.5L)
  • Snacks
  • Sunscreen
  • Walking poles
  • Good hiking shoes
  • Layers to put on or take off as the temperature changes


  • As above
  • A picnic for lunch
  • Money for transport
  • A torch (just in case)

Huchuy Qosqo Multi-day Trek


  • Water bottle (filled with 1.5L)
  • Snacks
  • Sunscreen
  • Walking poles
  • Good hiking shoes
  • Layers to put on or take off as the temperature changes
  • Change of clothes
  • Passport if visiting Machu Picchu


  • Water bottle (filled with 3L- there’s nowhere to refill your bottle until you reach the town)
  • Snacks
  • Sunscreen
  • Walking poles
  • Good hiking shoes
  • Layers to put on or take off as the temperature changes
  • Change of clothes
  • Tent
  • Good sleeping bag
  • Roll mat
  • Lunch, dinner, and breakfast
  • Torch
  • Passport if you intend on visiting Machu Picchu

Huchuy Qosqo is a fantastic adventure for those who crave getting off the beaten path. It’s a great way to experience Inca ruins, likely on your own and certainly with barely even a fraction of the amount of people you will see in the more popular sites.

You can hike along genuine Inca trails, and visit real, interesting historic spots by choosing the Huchuy Qosqo Trek. To really make the most of this adventure, it’s best to go with a guide. This ensures that you won’t get lost, and that your trek is as easy and as comfortable as possible. After all, you are on holiday!

Get in contact with us today to reserve your place on this exciting adventure.

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