At Journey Latin America we use cookies to give you the best experience on our website. By continuing to browse, we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies on our website.
Find out more

November 02nd, 2015

Capac Ñan from Castillo to Jesús

I have recently returned from an unforgettable 100-km trek along Capac Ñan, the superhighway of the Inca Empire in the company of Jorge (guide and cook), Calixto (llamero), four llamas (Vicuña, Urhuash, Lucero, and Cóndor), and Nene (an 11-year-old grey gelding). Jorge had told me about Capac Ñan previous year when he was my guide on the Olleros to Chavín trek in the Cordillera Blanca and I was tempted.

Fortified by a breakfast of copious amounts of quinoa, I made my way slowly up the long, steep track leading out of Castillo where we had spent our first night. I was somewhat relieved to see Nene who was tacked up and waiting for me to mount him. I rode him to our first camp at Tambillo where we were greeted by the village elders.

The hard work began the next day. After having cleared the pass on foot, I mounted Nene again and was faced with a steep descent which would have made any competent equestrian think twice, let alone a somewhat superannuated novice! Despite sweating palms which made grasping the pommel of the saddle difficult, I was able to hold on until our next camp in the yard of a deserted school at San Cristóbal de Tambo.

After sleeping on a sheepskin lent by some campesinos and another hazardous descent we stopped in the mining village of Ayash to pick up some supplies. There, Nene and I had to endure the taunts of the village idiot who wanted money. He soon got the message that I hadn’t any spare cash to hand and walked away to annoy someone else. We continued to Lliuya where Cóndor, the least experienced llama and something of a handful, conveniently threw his load in anticipation.

We then followed the course of the River Taparaco for the next couple of days passing ruined tambos (refreshment stops for chasquis) and small settlements. As we climbed away from the river, Calixto thought I was confident enough to dispense with the leading rein.

We then spent a whole day at Huánuco Pampa and Jorge and I were able to see the setting sun shine through the series of Inca portals. Since we were aware of the lack of good grazing for the animals we managed to persuade the custodian to let them graze within the site. Nene was still hungry the next day and kept walking off the path when he saw clumps of ichu grass. I learnt to how to use the rein as a brake to stop him.

Our next camp and probably the most attractive of the whole trek was by an Inca Bridge over a stream near Rondos. We then continued to Baños where the highlight of the day was crossing the River Nupe which was quite deep and fast flowing. I sat on Nene while Calixto and Jorge got ready to drive the llamas across. Luckily, I didn’t need to dismount for the crossing. We then began the ascent to our next camp at Carán along a particularly wide stretch of Capac Ñan which Ricardo Espinosa dubbed ‘a four-lane motorway for the Inca to travel along’.

After spending the night on Carán’s football pitch, a campesino let me taste raw milk straight from the cow. After the usual battle with Cóndor we set off for Jesús. There was a steep descent through a narrow gorge to the village where we spent the last night of the trek in a family-run hostal above a hardware store. The next day Jorge and I were driven to Huánuco where I was to catch a flight to Lima the next day and Calixto drove the animals back to Olleros. My overriding impression was that I felt I had caught a glimpse of a Peru still untainted by tourism where people were naturally hospitable and friendly.

Inca Bridge 
The Inca bridge near Rondos

If you wish to follow in Rosemary's path and visit remote regions in Peru, contact our Bespoke team who will assist you into creating the ultimate off-the-beaten-track holiday.

Post a comment

Upcoming Events

See full Event Listing

Other articles you may like

Browse our inspiration area of the site. It's packed with insider travel tips, Top5s, competitions, events, recipes and holiday ideas for Central and South America sure to whet your travel appetite.

Journey with the UK's NO1 specialist in travel to latin america


  • The pioneers in travel to Latin America since 1980
  • The UK's no.1 specialist – nobody knows it better


  • All our staff are in-depth Latin America specialists
  • Get the inside track with expert advice based on first-hand experience


  • Our love of Latin America runs through all we do
  • We take pride in providing a genuinely personal service


  • Unbeatable and secure financial protection
  • Book with confidence, knowing every penny is secure


  • The widest range of travel options to Central and South America
  • The journey you'll love, in a style to suit you


  • Award-winning holidays, endorsed by our clients and the press
  • Exclusively dedicated to 
    Latin America – it's all we do


Wanderlust Reader's Travel Awards - Top Ten Tour Operator 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2015

Latin American Travel Association – Award for Customer Service 2012

Sunday Times Travel Magazine – Specialist Tour Operator 2012

Sunday Times Travel Magazine – Best Value Tour Operator 2011

Sunday Times Travel Magazine - Editor's Award2013

British Travel Awards – Best Small Tour Operator Central & South America 2011, 2012

Condé Nast Traveller – Top Ten Specialist Tour Operator: 2010, 2011, 2012

Guardian and Observer Travel Awards– Top Ten Small Tour Operator: 2009, 2010, 2012

Page Full Path: /sitecore/content/JLA/Home/travel-inspiration/travel/capac-nan-from-castillo-to-jesus

Page ID: {3ACED843-000F-4D7A-BEE2-6D280DC6D4F2}

Page Name: capac-nan-from-castillo-to-jesus

Page Display Name: Capac Ñan from Castillo to Jesús

Page Template Name: T031-PapagaioBlogPost

Page Template ID: {ECC6A232-9784-4CC7-BA26-18421546B8F5}

Parent ID: {DC65CFB2-D81C-4A04-A7F8-0A1B3D88E7EB}

Parent Name: travel

Parent Display Name: Travel

Parent Template Name: T029-PapagaioCategoryListing

Parent Template ID: {4D163066-ED7E-48E6-AF31-34B6C47536CD}