Marcahuasi is a high-altitude Andean plateau which is famous for its mysterious rock formations. It is located about 100km east of Lima and offers a quick weekend getaway for hiking lovers and those who are seeking an alternative to the overcrowded archeological sites of Peru.
The Marcahuasi stone forest is perfect to visit all year around as it does not receive much rain, and it is the perfect place to integrate into the local culture since the small population of people who live here are the only people to interact with. It is still quite raw and untouched, leaving the traveler with a unique experience which cannot truly be described in words.
With so much contradicting information on the internet and not much known about this less travelled, beautiful sacred site, we at Kuoda have put together some general recommendations for travelling to Marcahuasi Peru. We hope you enjoy this article and that it may sprout some new interest in this hidden gem of Peru.
The formation of these fascinating structures in Marcahuasi remains a mystery. Some say it was a result of a volcanic eruption while others argue that the rock shapes have been sculpted by an ancient civilization about 10000 years ago. The structures don’t only resemble shapes of people and animals but also some religious symbols which may lead to this conclusion.
Archeologists believe that the formations came from erosion over the years, and then there are people that travel here to receive the so-called “healing powers” of the sculptures left behind by the ancient ones. Many people experience a powerful energy returning from the stones. Whatever the truth may be, the mystery remains uncovered. Either way, we guarantee you will not regret seeing these magical structures in real life!
How to get there
Marcahuasi is located close to the town “San Pedro de Casta “in the Andes Mountains. A taxi or private car can be taken to the town from Lima, and it takes around 3.5 – 5 hours to get there. To reach Marcahuasi from Lima, you have to take the Carretera Central (Central Highway) that goes to San Pedro de Casta.
To arrive at the entrance of Marcahuasi, you will have to hike, take a minibus, or go on a horse’s back. The path starts from the town square with the big church. It is recommended to be in a good physical condition when choosing to walk as the altitude can make it a lot harder. The hike starts in San Pedro de Casta which is about 3000 meters above sea level, and the hike goes up to about 4000 meters.
Where to stay
There are not many options when it comes to accommodation and restaurants in Marcahuasi. The appeal is really the experience itself. The Amphitheater campsite is the most popular. It is important to note that there are not many facilities and that you are required to bring everything you need with you. The beautiful night sky makes up for it though!
The restaurants offer plain but tasty local food like fish, potatoes and rice. Restaurants also serve tea and “coca” leaves to fight the side effects of altitude sickness. We recommend bringing your favorite snacks along to ease the cravings along the way.
If camping is not for you, there is only one place to stay in town – the Hospedaje Municipal. It offers very basic private rooms with or without a bathroom, but no hot water and no running water after 8:00 pm.
What to do there
The incredible rock formations as well as the pre-Columbian archaeological remains found in the area are the main attractions of Marcahuasi. It is recommended to spend the night camping on the plateau before exploring the rest of the area the next day. Other than hiking, San Pedro de Casta and Marcahuasi are also great places for other outdoor activities such as horseback riding and mountain biking.
The cultural experience is also an activity by itself. Taking a walk through the local village, you will see many donkeys, you will have the opportunity to take amazing photos and to interact with the local people. We recommend buying souvenirs and gifts from them to support the local community.
There is also a small museum in San Pedro de Casta which has some skeletal remains of people that were found at the site. This is a great introduction to local history, and a great way to learn about Peruvian rural life. Your KW Kuoda private English-speaking guide will be able to explain more.
What you will see
Marcahuasi is best known for its stone forest. It is filled with spectacular rock formations which makes one wonder about the mystery behind them. Then there is also the pre-Columbian archeological remains, that consists mainly of chullpas. Some of the mummies of the chullpas can be viewed at the museum in the nearby town of San Pedro de Casta.
You will also see a part of the Andean mountain range, breathtaking views and a night sky like no other in the world. Apparently, it is possible to see different forms in the rocks depending on the time of the day, with the different light. That is why it is strongly recommended to stay over one night so that you have the whole morning of the next day to explore and make the most out of your time at Marcahuasi.
Best time to visit
As we mentioned before, there is not much rain in this area so it is possible to visit all year round. The driest months are in the winter, June to September, but it will get very cold at night during this time. Warm clothing and good walking shoes are recommended.
Warmer months, October to January, are probably better months to visit if you are quite sensitive to the cold. But take into consideration that it may rain in other parts of Peru during this time which may make it complicated if you are planning to see more sacred sites.
What makes Marchahuasi different?
Peru is well known for its sacred sites and the mysteriousness behind them. There are so many to visit, and unfortunately nowadays they can be very overcrowded. Marcahuasi offers a different kind of experience because it is less visited and holds a different mystery, because of the genuine shapes in the rocks and the local community with its authentic traditions.
It is still part of the Andes, but can be visited at any time because of the great weather conditions. It is a beautiful hike and offers opportunities for other outdoor experiences. It holds a special energy and boasts mesmerizing landscapes which is any photographer’s dream. It is truly a hidden gem!
How to visit it with Kuoda
If you would like to include Marcahuasi in your itinerary when travelling to Peru, we guarantee you that you won’t regret it. With the rich Andean culture, mysteries and beautiful views for hiking – it is a definite “must” during your travels in Peru!
As you can see with our recommendations above, it can be quite a journey and adventure to travel to this remote place – but when booking with us, the best luxury travel company for customized travel in South America, we promise a smooth and memorable journey.
A private guide and driver can be arranged by Kuoda, and we design itineraries according to your personal needs. We offer private and curated trips for families and couples. We understand that you might not have enough time or energy to plan your own trip, especially with the language barriers – that is why we are proud to say that we are the experts in this field and we look forward to connecting with you. Contact us today to start planning your customized package!