Choquequirao, the sacred sister of Machu Picchu
Located 169 km from Cusco, this imposing archaeological site is located in the region of Cusco and, unlike the famous citadel of Machu Picchu, you can travel almost alone
The Choqueuirao archaeological complex is recognized as the "sacred sister" of Machu Picchu, due to the architectural similarities that exist between both sites. The citadel is located 169 km from Cusco and is increasingly interesting from its spectacular natural environment, its history and especially because it is not visited by large masses of tourists.
In Quechua the name of the citadel means "cradle of gold" and in the Inca worldview, "where the sacred is born". Apparently, the Incas understood that the place was close to the gods, since it rests strategically on the top of a mountain, at more than three thousand meters of altitude. For the Incas, the mountains were sacred and that is why they locate their most important citadels at the top of them.
According to the archeologists, Choquequirao, besides being one of the sacred cities, was a place of passage between the capital of the Cusco empire and the jungle. During the colonial era, it became a genuine symbol of the Inca resistance since it was the place where they took refuge in the year 1572 against the advance of the conquerors. The same archaeologist who rediscovered Machu Picchu, Hiram Bingham, was the one who arrived at the citadel in 1909.
Because of its location, this city lost in the jungle is considered strategic, and it is estimated that it was an important religious, commercial and cultural center of the region where 8,000 to 10,000 people lived. It has buildings, terraces, platforms, ceremonial plazas, temples, deposits, canals connected by long stairs and an important network of roads, all built with the classic Inca genius that it built without breaking with the natural environment.
How to get?
The experience begins long before stepping on its platforms: the route - four or five days round trip, depending on the physical condition of the walker - begins in Cusco. From there, you should take a transport to the town of San Pedro de Cachora, a colonial place practically raised in adobe where only 3 thousand inhabitants live. There is born a road of approximately 31 kilometers, until arriving at Choquequirao.
From Cachora to the Apurímac River
Once in Cachora, you must walk for two hours until you reach the town of Capulliyoc, located at more than 2900 meters above sea level. From there, a 9-hour road goes down to Rosalinda Beach, on the left bank of the Apurimac River (which means "the one who speaks" as it makes a big noise). This is the first place where it is recommended to rest and camp.
From the Apurímac River to Choquequirao
Once rested, you must cross to the other end of the Apurímac River through a bridge and walk for three hours to Santa Rosa. From here to Marampata there are only two hours, but they will be the most complicated of all because of the relief of the road and the high temperatures. The door of Choquequirao is just in Marampata and from then on, the path is simpler. The citadel is located at 3100 meters above sea level and leaves tourists impacted by its extension.
One last walk: Las Llamas del Sol
To get to this special viewpoint you must walk about 45 minutes more. Through some steep stairs that cross the platforms of culture (typical of the Inca constructions) you will arrive at Las Llamas del Sol. From here you can see 24 of these animals that were sacred to the Incas carved in the stones of the terraces and They all look north.
The total landscape ultimately runs through inter-Andean valleys, canyons of up to 2,000 meters, the eyebrow of the jungle and the subtropical Andean vegetation. Unlike other routes this allows, in addition, the observation of native animals and medicinal plants.
The effort on this trail is compensated with a journey capable of combining the natural diversity of Cusco with the mysteries and complexity of a millenary culture.