Many people say only the tough ones can make it to Choquequirao in Peru. They may be right. To get there, one has to tackle the 45 kilometer trek (back and forth) and numerous elevation change. It’s definitely not an easy feat, but it is going to be totally worth it.
Choquequirao, Chuqi K’iraw or Chuqik’iraw, which means “cradle of gold,” is a remote Incan site in the Andes. It is on the Vilcabamba mountain range and is 3,050 meters above the ground.
People call it the “sister of Machu Picchu” because aside from the fact that it is located in Peru, its structure and architecture are also very similar to that of its more famous sibling. Choquequirao, however, spans up to three times the size of Machu Picchu (although only 30% of it is visible) and gets only a handful of visitors daily. (Machu Picchu has more than 2,000 visitors a day while Choquequirao has only had about 5,000 visitors since 2013).
How to Get There
Choquequirao can be reached by hiking or trekking for three days (or even up to more than a week) just outside Cusco. The starting point is the village of Cachora (just 5 hours away from Cusco), and then through the Apuramic Valley, and then to Chiquisca where travelers pitch their tents and spend the night. The next morning, the journey involves uphill trek to Santa Rosa and to Marampata. The travelers will then have to descend to 2000 meters, and then ascend again to 3000 meters (and this pattern repeats all throughout).
Choquequirao is, again, not easily accessible (but the 5,000 travelers who have gone there will surely tell you it will be all worth it). The journey requires high level of fitness and determination. To get around, it is also advised that you get an experienced guide.
P.S If you are wondering how to get back to the starting point, it’s the same way you came: trek up and down!
When to Go
It is best to go anytime between May and October as this season has the driest months of the year. However, still expect occasional rain even during the dry season.
While in Choquequirao
Choquequirao gives you a glimpse of the ancient Andean life. Although you only get to see the ruins of the structure, the richness of their culture and the brilliance of the people behind the amazing architecture are very apparent. For instance, you will notice that the water fountains were strategically made of large rocks for durability, and flat slabs of stones were inserted under the windows which refrigerate stored food. You will also see terraces that were decorated with white stones formed into llamas, animals that played an important role in ancient transportation.
Aside from the majestic ruins of the Incan royal estate, you can also marvel at the beauty of the surrounding snow-capped mountains of Ampay, Panta, and Quishuar. It’s easy to get lost in the mystery of Choquequirao. So don’t forget to look up and witness the marvelous mountains around you.
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Hello, I am Mish! I used to work as a travel expert, customer service specialist and a communications trainer in the past. After working for eight years straight since I graduated, I decided to give up my corporate job to focuses on my 4-year old son, works as a freelance writer and a real estate assistant. I am a sun-worshipper, a water baby, and an earth warrior. And oh, I’m tiny but I am an Olympic-level glutton. Let me bring your tummy around the globe! You can reach me at LinkedIn.