Choquequirao


Choquequirao

Choquequirao (Vos Quechua: cradle of gold), the sister city of Machu Picchu for its architectural and structural similarity.

It is another "lost city of the Incas" officially rediscovered at the end of the 20th century, located at 3,050 m.s., high on a mountain at almost 1,750 m. above the mighty Apurímac River, fed by glaciers and surrounded by the Salkantay and Humantay, imposing snow peaks.

The construction of Choquequirao is the work of the successors of the Inca Pachacútec, Túpac Inca Yupanqui (1471 - 1493) and Huayna Cápac (1493 - 1527). In the place domestic ceramic and ceremonial of the classic style was used cuzqueño, and also of others, own of the population that moved to construct and to populate the place of permanent way, probably agriculturists experienced in constructing and to explode the agricultural platforms in zones of eyebrow jungle.  

Choquequirao was possibly one of the control points of entry to the Vilcabamba region, and as such an administrative nucleus with political, social and economic functions. In its urban conception it followed the symbolic patterns of the imperial capital with places of worship dedicated to the Sun, ancestors, land, water and other divinities, royal residences, houses of administrators and craftsmen, warehouses, large buildings for bedrooms or kallancas and agricultural terraces of the Inca and the town. The ceremonial area extends over 700 meters, with a difference in level of up to 65 meters between the main square and the higher parts.

 

Where it is located?

Choquequirao is located in one of the fringes of the snowy Salkantay, north of the Apurímac River. It is currently located in the district of Santa Teresa, province of La Convención, department of Cusco, Peru.

 

What does Choquequirao mean?

Choquequirao is a Quechua word that means 'Cradle of Gold'. The name comes from the nomination of a hill near the archaeological site.

 

Who discovered Choquequirao?

As well as Machu Picchu, many people knew the existence of Inca archaeological remains in Choquequirao. However, it was Hiram Bingham (the discoverer of Machu Picchu) who in 1909 made known to the world the importance of the Inca site.

It was not until 1970 that excavation work began. Currently, it is estimated that only 30% of Choquequirao is unearthed and put on display to the public.

 

How high is it?

Choquequirao is located 3,033 meters above sea level (m.s.n.m.). Due to its location, it is presumed that this Inca enclosure served as a checkpoint between the main Inca sites such as Pisac, Cusco and Machu Picchu.

 

How's the weather?

The archaeological site of Choquequirao is 3,033 m.s.n.m. The climate is mild with cold at night. However, the tourist will not remain in the Inca site until after sundown.

However, the road that leads to the summit of Choquequirao is hot due to the proximity of the Apurímac canyon. It is estimated that the temperature at the archaeological site varies between 5º C and 25º C.

 

How is the flora and fauna in Choquequirao?

Choquequirao is home to a variety of animals and birds such as the condor, foxes, vizcachas, pumas, hummingbirds, spectacled bears and the cock of the rocks. Also, like Machu Picchu, there is a great variety of orchids.

 

What's in Choquequirao?

Choquequirao has only been excavated by 30%. Despite this, it already has several important Inca constructions:

  • Main square: The main plaza or Huaqaypata divided the site into two. It is a two-story stone construction. Next to it, there are other buildings connected to each other.
  • Colcas: Typical constructions of the main Inca centers. In Choquequirao, these platforms have internal subdivisions. The purpose of these deposits was to store products for food, clothing and others.
  • Terraces: Choquequirao has an important number of platforms for cultivation. In the western sector there are 22 engravings in the shape of a flame arranged on 15 platforms. These figures are known as the 'Llamas del Sol'.
  • Housing: In the highest part of Choquequirao, there are up to 5 buildings whose purpose was probably housing for the priests of the enclosure. It is believed that this Inca site was an important ceremonial center.
  • Inca Cemetery: Also known as the 'Triumphal Wall'. There were found 17 funerary bales and a gutter of water called "The house of the fall of water".
  • Kallankas: These rectangular buildings had multiple functions such as workshop, administrative center, meeting space, etc. In Choquequirao there are 2 Kallankas in whose walls there were gutters that supplied water.
  • Ushnu: This oval platform construction is located on the top of a hill. Due to the wall that surrounds it and of the privileged view to the snowed ones, the river and all the enclosure; it is believed that it had a religious purpose.

How to get to Choquequirao?

The only way to get to Choquequirao is by land. Currently, the main route is going to the town of Cachora (2,903 m.s.n.), 3 or 4 hours by road from the city of Cusco (2 hours from the city of Abancay).

There, start the hike to the Inca archaeological site. The route crosses important points such as Capuliyoc, Maranpata and Sunchupata. It is estimated that from Cachora, after 32 kilometers on foot you will reach Choquequirao.

 

Trekking route to Choquequirao

4 day tour to Choquequirao

The most usual way to get to Choquequirao is through the trekking route of 4 days and 3 nights. You can hire this tour online or directly in an agency in the city of Cusco.

The tour to Choquequirao in 4 days and 3 nights is like this:

Day 1: The tour begins in the city of Cusco between 5 a.m. or 6 a.m. At that time the bus leaves for Cachora (4 or 5 hours of travel). There you rest a little to start the trekking route. After about 5 hours of walking, you spend the night on the banks of the Apurímac River.

Day 2: The walk continues very early after breakfast. The ascent becomes more arduous until reaching Marampata (3,000 m.s.). The route continues until finally arriving at the archaeological site of Choquequirao, after 10 kilometers of road.

Day 3: After appreciating the most remote spaces of Choquequirao, the way back begins by the same way in which it was arrived. After almost 5 hours of roads, a camp is set up in the Chiquisca area.

Day 4: The last day starts early. On the route you will reach Wayna Qali viewpoint where you will appreciate the beauty of the Apurímac canyon (considered the most beautiful in South America). After approximately 3 hours of walking, you will reach the town of Cachora where a car will return the tourist to the city of Cusco.

 

Choquequirao to Machu Picchu hike

There is another tour that connects Choquequirao with Machu Picchu in 8 days and 7 nights. In total 115 kilometers of history and adventure are covered.

Day 1: The adventure that day begins in Cusco and ends on the banks of the Apurimac River after a bus trip to the town of Cachora. You walk between 4 or 5 hours that day.

Day 2: The day starts early with an uphill and difficult road (4 or 5 hours) until arriving at the archeological site of Choquequirao.

Day 3: After touring Choquequirao, the route continues through places such as the Río Blanco sector and the Maizal sector. The day is demanding but rewarding for the landscapes it crosses.

Day 4: The day crosses the Yanama pass, to then reach the so-called 'Mina Victoria', an ancient silver deposit. The day is not as demanding as the previous one.

Day 5: That day begins to descend to the tropical geography of Peru. The zone of 'Totora' and the camp of 'Collpa' can be seen. The day is not of high demand.

Day 6: The day goes through beautiful landscapes like different banana plantations and coffee plantations. The descent arrives at 'La Playa', where a waterfall falls.

Day 7: The day starts very early until you reach the so-called 'Hydroelectric Station'. The walk continues to the town of Aguas Calientes, at the foot of Machu Picchu. There he stays overnight in a hotel or lodging.

Day 8: The day begins with an ascent to Machu Picchu. That morning, and part of the afternoon, is dedicated to tour the Wonder of the World. Then, the return to Cusco is by train and bus.

 

When is the best time to travel to Choquequirao?

The best time to travel is between April to October.

Choquequirao has two stations:

Rainy season (from November to March): it is characterized by frequent fluvial rainfall. The sun is not so intense but the rain can harm the walk.

Dry season (from April to October): it is characterized by the lower frequency of rains. The days are hotter and the nights are colder. However, the low possibility of rain, favors the walk.

 

How much does the entrance to Choquequirao cost?

If you travel by your own account you will have to pay the following rate at the entrance to Choquequirao:

 

 

Adult

Student

Child

Price

USD 18 USD 9 USD 7

 

How much does a tour to Choquequirao cost?

The price of a 4-day, 3-night tour to Choquequirao depends on the number of visitors in a group. Cost of a tour to Choquequirao on average:

 

Number of visitors

Price

2 people USD 510
3 people USD 440
4 people USD 400
5 people USD 350

 

What to take on a trip to Choquequirao?

Whether with a tour or on your own, there are some things necessary for all tourists visiting Choquequirao:

 

  • Sunscreen.
  • Repellent against mosquitoes.
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses.
  • Sticks for walking.
  • Poncho for the rain (in case of rainfall).
  • Sleeping bags (not included in the tours).
  • Trekking shoes
  • Trekking backpack.
  • Food.

Tips for Choquequirao trek

  • While you do not need to be an expert mountaineer to visit Choquequirao, it is recommended that you do a little exercise before the adventure.
  • Due to the altitude at which Choquequirao is located, altitude sickness or soroche can cause discomfort during the ascent.
  • It is advisable to acclimatize to the climate of Cusco (or Abancay) before starting the trekking.
  • Unlike Machu Picchu, Choquequirao receives a handful of visitors per day.
  • It is recommended to enjoy the nature and the archaeological site but with responsibility.

 

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