Peru travel guide: Lima weekend trip to hiker’s paradise, Marcahuasi

The perfect weekend getaway destination for walkers, bikers and trekkers, Marcahuasi is only three hours from Lima.
by Challen Clarke

Marcahuasi, only three hours drive from Lima, is the perfect weekend getaway destination for walkers, bikers and trekkers. Full of sunshine and adventure, the historic site is welcome relief for Limeños seeking to escape the bustle of the city and the cloud cover and mist.

walk to MarcahuasiThe walk to Marcahuasi.
Photo by Martin Garcia/Flickr

A weekend camping and hiking trip to Marcahausi is an adventurous alternative to one of several other exciting Lima Tours.

Marcahuasi is volcanic plateau, made famous by walkers, bikers and trekkers because of the interesting rock shapes at the summit as well as the spectacular views over the surrounding valleys.

The pre-Inca town at the base of Marcahausi, San Pedro de Casta, still uses the water irrigation system that was created centuries ago.

Most Marcahausi visitors arrive in the town of San Pedro de Casta mid-day, eat lunch, load up their donkey, horse, or backpack, and embark on the 4 kilometer trail to set up camp in the Amphitheatre by nightfall. The Amphitheatre is a large grass and dirt plateau surrounded completely by rocks, the perfect shield from cold night winds.

How do I to get there?

There are very few tour agencies that will take you there, so best to do it independently. You can get a bus from Lima to the town of Chosica, where you can change to get a bus along the mountain to San Pedro de Casta, the town at the trailhead to Marcahuasi.

What to do at Marcahuasi?

The main attraction is the mountain summit, the plateau or meseta of Marcahausi. It is popular for people camping, walking, horseback riding, and mountain biking.

It’s also a great way to expereince rural Peruvian life. As you walk to the summit, be prepared to argue with donkeys on the path, to take lots of pictures, and see locals easily walking as you huff and puff to the top.

You can rent horses and go horseback riding to the summit of the mountain, which is a quiet and relaxing way to reach the spectacular views that await you in the future.

The town of San Pedro de Casta also has a small museum which houses some skeletal remains of people that were found at the summit as well as an overview of local history.

Where to stay at Marcahuasi?

The Amphitheatre campsite is the most popular Marcahausi camping site. It has very basic facilities – a small bathroom and a few trash cans. But with a night under a clear sky and a campfire to keep you warm, the experience is priceless!

In the town of San Pedro de Casta there are a number of basic Marcahuasi hotels which can be arranged on arrival. There is also a low cost budget hostel for backpackers.

If you want more luxury, you should spend the night in Chosica and transfer to San Pedro de Casta for the day.

Where to eat at Marcahuasi?

On the mountain there is no place to buy food or water. Anything you need for camping you should take with you.

You can buy water bottles, food, and snacks, in Chosica.

lounging around in San Pedro de CastaLounging around in San Perdro de Casta.
Photo by Martin Garcia/Flickr

In San Pedro de Casta there are a number of menu restaurants, small bars, and snack stalls for you to buy food.

When to go to Marcahuasi?

It is possible to visit the place all year round, with it not receiving much rain. The winter months (June to September) is the driest, but it does get very cold at night (about zero Celsius), mainly due to the altitude of over 3500 meters above sea level.

How much does it cost?

Entrance to the trail costs 5 Soles for Peruvians and 10 soles for foreigners. Camping is free at the summit. You need to ensure you have your ID for entry (DNI or Passport).

It is also common for people to rent donkeys to carry you bags and fire wood to the summit if you are camping. This costs about 15 Soles total. You can also go horseback from San Pedro de Casta to Marcahausi for 15 Soles.

Top tip

When camping, make sure you camp on the west side of the campsite so that the warm sun hits your tent in the morning!

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