Marching to the Mirador in Moquegua and up Cerro Baul

Odd Pose Just Above the Base of Cerro Baul

I found myself in the mountain desert city of Moquegua in southwestern   Perú.

I’d noticed the sign pointing to the mirador, or lookout point, the evening before, so I ventured from my hotel room just after six am.

After a strenuous 25-minute uphill walk, passing some  stray dogs and a street food vendor whose breakfast drink hit the spot, I ended up at a little park that provided background splendor for the mirador.  There the cloud-shrouded urban valley view brought me into a state of admiration.

Early Morning View of the City of Moquegua from the Mirador.  Southwestern Peruvian DesertI’d never seen the combination of nature and a small city come together in such an enthralling way.

After gazing and taking in the imposing view, I thought I’d try to head down and figure out how to get to Cerro Baul, a hill that I’d read sported a great one hour hike to a summit.

After walking downward for five minutes, a little public transportation van came by and picked me up.  After telling the driver and other passengers where I was going, they dropped me off at a shared-car heading to Torata, the town next to Moquegua, that boasts Cerro Baul or Baul Hill.

There I was able to buy an avocado sandwich and a Maca, a warm Peruvian breakfast cereal drink that’s packed with nourishment.   

Immediately after eating, I was the fourth and final passenger to fill the car.  It was then that I clearly explained to everyone where I was going, just to be 100% sure I was in the right car.  20 minutes later a woman in the back seat with me said: 

Aqui, Cerro Baul. El necesite bajar.

Welcome to TorataIt was right after we went around this corner when the woman noticed the newly implanted sign for Cerro Baul.

The Sign for Cerro BaulLuckily for me she’d remembered where I needed to get off, because the driver surely hadn’t, as he seemed to be in a hurry to get to the final destination.  

Right from the road I was able to start my rise.  Two minutes into the hike I ran into a woman.

Woman Who Charges Foreign Tourists 4 Soles to Hike Cerro BaulShe explained that I needed to pay 4 soles or $1.43.  After paying 70 Soles or $25 to hike at Colca, the charge here felt minuscule.  I didn’t see any other hikers so perhaps I was the only customer that day.  I thought:  That four soles wasn’t even enough to pay the woman for the day or even the morning.  It was worth it as I got her to take a picture of me, above.  I offered to email her the photo I took of her but she had no access to email.

I thought:  The digital divide continues to shock me. Here there are no social programs to help the poor get online.

I often try to get email addresses with the intention of sending the photo(s) I take of people. This is good travel practice.

We said goodbye and I merrily started hiking up the mountain or hill.  It felt great to be under the early morning, dry, desert sun while heading straight up.  It was the perfect cardio workout that started not long after 8 am.  

As the altitude of 2,207 meters or 7,241 feet at the bottom and 2,650 meters or 8,694 feet at the top wasn’t high enough to cause much shortness of breath. I felt fantastic during and after this ideal morning hike.

A View of the Peak Without Me in it, Shortly After I Left the Lady.This is another view of the peak shortly after leaving the lady.

A Precipitious Part of PathEven though the hike wasn’t long, there were steep parts that cause you to have to work the mountain.  This is great for muscle building of the legs.

Rocky Stretch Towards The PeakIn no time I found myself getting closer to what looks like the summit. 

A Stunning View for Such a Short HikeQuick ascents provide virtual instant gratification.  This crater sits just across from Baul Hill.

Shot From the Side of the HillIt isn’t a straight shot up.  The path winds around the side of the rocky cliff.

My Favorite Part of the PathThis was taken on the side of the mountain, where the trails leads to the back, where the summit lies.  This was my favorite piece of the path.

The SummitHere is the non traditional summit.  It took me a little while to figure that out.  I perused the area for a bit, taking in the scenery and peace.  At times the only thing I heard was a very mild wind.  It felt good to breathe the very clean air.

The hike down was fast. It took maybe 40 minutes.

After arriving back on the street it took less than five minutes before a shared van came by to take me back to Moquequa.  I got back in time to shower, pack and check out of my hotel.  

From there I’d get on a bus that would take me in the direction of the Pacific coast and the Chilean border.


The minivan ride from the Mirador area to the shared car to Cerro Baul cost 50 centimos or $.18.  The shared car and minivan to and from Cerro Baul from Moquegua cost 3.5 soles or $1.25 each way.  As mentioned above I was charged 4 Soles for the hike.

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Have you ever hiked in a desert?

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24 Responses to Marching to the Mirador in Moquegua and up Cerro Baul

  1. Anwesha says:

    I loved the pictures Mike. I would love to visit Peru one day. In fact the entire South America is very much on my list.
    I have hiked in the Thar desert in Rajasthan, India and that was such a magical experience.

    • Mike says:

      ANWESHA: Thanks! You’d love South America’s nature.

      I’d really like to get to Rajasthan for proper exploration. I only had a short time there as I was in a hurry to get to Delhi to fly out as my visa was about to expire.

  2. Leigh says:

    I just found you blog and I’m very impressed with what I see – plus I love to do this sort of hike. Years ago my husband and I did our own self guided trek in the Cordillera Blanca for 10 days – so I have very fond memories of Perú.

    • Mike says:

      LEIGH: Thanks a lot! Self-guided for 10 days is impressive. Perú and all of these Andean countries offer seemingly endless trekking opportunities.

  3. Freya says:

    That looks like a serious hike but the landscapes are indeed stunning. I have been to Peru but so badly want to go back some day cause there’s so much I haven’t seen yet from this amazing country. I never thought about asking e-mail addresses but will for sure going forward. I gave mine a few times when somebody took a picture of me but unfortunately only received a photo back once.

    • Mike says:

      FREYA: Thanks! It was a relatively easy morning hike that didn’t suck up a lot of time. When you do send people photos they’re surprised and happy to get them. I just put the person’s email address on my ‘to do list’ and send it when I get around to it.

  4. I really needed this virtual walk through the desert on this cold NYC day, thank you!

    I’ve hiked in a desert in Arizona and absolutely loved it (granted it was in February so the weather was gorgeous and not too hot)…I found it more enjoyable than dealing with the bugs and humidity of a summertime hike in the forest!;-)

    • Mike says:

      JESS: Thanks! Interesting point. Limited greenery so no need for repellent. On the way down I saw a mouse carcass in the path and found it odd that there wasn’t one fly buzzing around it.

  5. memographer says:

    Mike, thanks for taking us with you, great hike! a little bit hot though ;)
    The photo of a cloud over the village is incredible!

  6. Hogga says:

    this is beautiful but it makes me thirsty lol

  7. Okay, so this post has me thirsty and feeling a bit of vertigo. Glad someone else did the actual work though. ;)

    • Mike says:

      NTT: Water is key always! Yeah I hear you on the vertigo. I didn’t get dizzy but at times while snapping photos over cliffs I got a minor feeling of agoraphobia.

  8. I am tired just reading this post :)
    But, stunning views!

    • Mike says:

      ANNETTE: A hill like this could be perfect for someone who doesn’t like to hike super long distances. It’s a short hike that gives you some views that mostly just longer hikes provide. :-)

  9. Maria says:

    Now that looks like a great ‘picnic’ location Mike.
    Snacks, view, connection with the surroundings and just being.

    • Mike says:

      MARIA: The only problem is that there’s hardly any shade, but, you could bring a parasol. Snacks and water are key. I’m guessing cell phone service works so with that you could have wifi. Although it might be very hard to see anything on a screen in under that super-bright desert sun. :-)

  10. Al says:

    It does look super dry. I wonder about the vegetation, so wispy and dry. Did you learn if there is a rainy season when it all suddenly turns green and lush? If so it’d be really cool to see the change.

    • Mike says:

      AL: So dry indeed. From what I could see there are little fertile green valleys around and from what I gather, it rains a bit from January to March.

  11. Shing says:

    This place looks freaking amazing! If the occasion feels right I like the idea of asking for the email addresses of the people I take photos of.

    • Mike says:

      SHING: It’s definitely different and in the desert. It may be the most scenic short hike I’ve ever been on.

      Yes I agree fully, when the occasion is right. In this case I guessed that maybe she had a child that had an email address. But that wasn’t the case.

  12. Snarlfax says:

    Nice looking hike. I’d love to get down to Peru someday. I am envious of your freedom. My desert hikes have all been in the western US.

    • Mike says:

      SNARLFAX: Thanks! I enjoyed the scenery and connecting with the earth. It’s important to get off the pavement once in a while.

      I’m trying to enjoy the freedom of the moment as it can’t last forever.

      I’ve now hiked Colca but not the Grand Canyon. I hear the nature walking there is awesome too.

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