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Choqolaqa: a stone forest taken from another planet

Tierras Vivas Travel > Choqolaqa: a stone forest taken from another planet

Choqolaqa: a stone forest taken from another planet

Choqolaqa located in the town center of Cota Cota in the district of Tisco, province of Caylloma, Arequipa region, in the Peruvian territory. 

Choqolaqa, located at 4800 meters above sea level, is a set of gigantic rock formations of ashlar, which were carved by wind erosion, achieving capricious animal figures (the condor, elephants, seals); streets, avenues, castles, women, angels, among others. 

Choqolaqa is also known as Mauqaa Arequipa, which means old Arequipa. 

The ancient settlers say that Choqolaqa was a prosperous city, with monumental buildings, squares, cathedrals and avenues. One day its inhabitants stopped respecting the apus and as punishment for the population, the city turned to stone. 

From Arequipa to Choqolaqa there are approximately five hours of travel. 

The beauty of this natural landscape has been attracting the eyes of tourists, because it allows you to play with the imagination and the mysticism of the place.

What is Choqolaqa?

Choqolaqa is an immense stone forest made naturally thousands of years ago. The material from which these rocks are made is volcanic tuff. Due to the violent volcanic eruptions that took place many years ago in the volcanic zone of Arequipa, a very dense viscous compound full of dust, particles, volcanic ash, etc. was produced. that was deposited in this area and that, over thousands of years, hardened to form a rocky material that we see today called volcanic tuff. Due to the erosion of the winds and the rains, these capricious forms called Choqolaqa were produced. 

The stone forest has a magnificent landscape that, when traversed, gives the feeling of being on another planet. 

Choqolaqa is also known as Mawk’a Arequipa, a Quechua word that in Spanish means Old Arequipa. 

A legend tells that people once lived in this place and that due to the disobedience of this town, the gods punished them by petrifying the entire town, which remains to this day. 

Important data of Choqolaqa

  • Height: 4800 m.a.s.l.
  • Department: Arequipa 
  • Province: Caylloma 
  • District: Tisco 
  • Population center: Cota Cota 

Where is Cholaqa?

Choqolaqa is located in the town center of Cota Cota district of Tisco province of Caylloma of the department of Arequipa.

Legend of Choqolaqa

The locals say that because the ancient civilization did not obey the order of their gods, and as punishment they received to see their city turned into stone. For the people who inhabit this would be the explanation of the origin of this arid land and the appearance of the rocks. It is said that in this city there were huge palaces, streets, zoos and avenues where you can now appreciate an incredible stone city. According to your imagination you will be able to notice similarities of the stone figures with women, angels, animals such as seals, elephants, condors; as well as castles, towers and streets. 

Recommended time to go to Choqolaqa

It is advisable to go between April and December, since between January and March, as it is the rainy season in the area, the road that is affirmed (trail) gets very muddy and you run the risk of getting stuck. If you want to go at this time anyway, it is advisable to go in a suitable transport such as a four-wheel drive truck.

How to get to Choqolaqa?

From Arequipa you must go to Tisco, the journey will take about 5 hours. From this point, you must take a transport to Chivay, where you will have to take one of the buses that go to Tisco. These leave from the María Auxiliadora School and only work on Mondays and Wednesdays. 

Due to the complexity of getting there, we recommend hiring a tour operator that offers this visit. Here is an itinerary 


We will spend two days of exciting adventures, ideal for those who like adventure and want to discover new places in the Colca Valley. 


06:00 am We meet to start the trip along the Yura route, observing the tutelary volcanoes of the white city on the way. We will pass through the reserve of Salinas and Aguada Blanca, natural habitat of Alpacas, llamas and beautiful vicuñas. 

We will make a brief stop at the Tocra bofedales, a place where small lagoons are formed and a variety of birds live. Prior to these places we will make a short stop in Patahuasi to make use of the hygienic services and drink a coca tea, and acclimatize to the altitude, as we will ascend to 5200 m.a.s.l. the second day. 

12:00 pm, we arrive at Chivay, in the Colca Valley and continue to the town of Callalli, the alpaca capital of the Colca Valley, a quiet town an hour from Chivay with a beautiful view of the Enchanted Castles of Callalli. 

After lunch, we will take a short walk to the Mollepunko Caves, a place with cave paintings, a sample of life of the first settlers of the Arequipa region, then we return our route to the small and picturesque town of Tisco at 4200 meters above sea level, with a beautiful church in carved ashlar. 

Arriving in Tisco we will spend the night, to acclimatize and prepare to explore the city of Stone, Choqolaqa. You can visit the church, the Condor museum and stroll through the square. 


05:00 a.m. We will have a hearty breakfast, the mornings are cold in Tisco, so we must be well dressed. After breakfast, we will get on our vehicle to head towards the deepest part of the Sierra Arequipeña, bordering Cusco. After two hours, we arrive at the starting point of our walk. 

We will find gigantic ashlar formations, carved by wind erosion. We will cover around 20 hectares of land and we will be able to distinguish formations such as elephants, trains, a cathedral, condors, seals, castles and whatever our imagination allows us. We will stay around three hours walking around the place and taking photos. In the place we will have a cold lunch and finally we will return directly to the city of Arequipa approx. at 07:00 p.m. 

On your trip to Arequipa remember to visit Choqolaqa, this place will fill you with immense energy… 

Recommendations for your trip to Choqolaqa

What to take to Choqolaqa?

It is advisable to bring food: Since in the same attraction there is no place where you can buy. The closest place where you can find something to eat is in Condoroma or Tisco.

  • Warm clothes: Given the altitude of the place, it is advisable to wear jackets, gloves, wool hats, etc.
  • Trekking shoes: Due to the difficulty of the hike, which is uphill, it is recommended to wear shoes suitable for hiking
  • Trekking poles: The way up is very demanding, for this reason it is advisable to carry poles

Is it advisable to acclimatize before going to Choqolaqa?

YES! It is highly recommended to spend several days of acclimatization before going to this place, since Choqolaqa’s height exceeds 4800 meters above sea level, it can be dangerous for people who suffer from altitude sickness or soroche. If you do not want much acclimatization, you can choose to do the 2-day journey, so you will not have much effort to go to the place.

Best Tours in Peru

Many are the routes that take you to Machu Picchu, but none is like the Inca Trail tours, the most famous pedestrian path in the Americas. After flying from the capital of Peru, Lima, you will arrive in Cusco to walk for four days along a path through forests and dense fog, millenary stone steps and discovering the ruins of ancient fortifications and Inca cities, and all the time enjoying majestic views. 

If you want to visit Machu Picchu, we recommend you to book your Machu Picchu ticket in advance, so you will enjoy your vacation in Machu Picchu without any problem. 

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