One of the best-known options to get to Choquequirao is the route from Cusco - Urubamba - Ollantaytambo - Huayopata - Santa María (200 km), from there take the Santa María - Santa Teresa highway (17 km), passing the Santa carriageway trail Teresa - Sahuayaco - Totora - Yanama (70 km).
To then take the pedestrian path from Yanama - Maizal - Rio Blanco Perú - Pinchaunuyoc Ruins - Choquequirao. This route is the longest and can take between 4 to 5 days.
Leaving Choquequirao and following the Rio Blanco Perú through the Victoria hill, is the site called Pichaunuyoc, continuing along the Yanama river is also the Qoriwayrachina center and where Cotacoca is also located, and which are connection points towards Vitcos and Vilcabamba.
On the third day of walking, we must face a demanding climb to Rio Blanco Perú (approximately 3 hours) where there is a break for lunch. Río Blanco is located at 1,900 masl (6,233 ft).
Then the walk continues to the Maizal sector, where you camp and have dinner.
Routes to get to Choquequirao
The Choquequirao trek takes you to what some people call "the sacred sister of Machu Picchu" in Peru, it is believed that the city was larger than the Machu Picchu citadel and that currently only 35% have been unearthed of its entirety. Between mountains and clouds stands another great "wonder" of ancient civilizations, in Choquequirao you can see the remains of the civilizations that preceded the Incas, a mix of architecture and culture that is currently visible in the citadel of Choquequirao.
The Choquequirao archaeological site is known as ‘The Sacred Sister of Machu Picchu’ because of the similarity between both Inca sites. Currently, the only way to get to this place is through a 4-day trekking route.
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.
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 Santa Teresa district, La Convencion province, Cusco department, Peru.
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 site served as a checkpoint between the main Inca sites such as Pisac, Cusco and Machu Picchu.
What's in Choquequirao?
Choquequirao has only been excavated by 30%. Despite this, it already has several very important Inca buildings:
- Main square - The main square or Huaqaypata divided the enclosure into two. It is a two-story stone construction. Along with this, 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 warehouses was to store products for food, clothing and others.
- Platforms - Choquequirao has a significant number of platforms for cultivation. In the western sector there are 22 engravings in the form of a flame arranged on 15 platforms. These figures are known as the 'Flames of the Sun'.
- Housing - In the highest part of Choquequirao, there are up to 5 buildings whose purpose was probably housing for the priests of the compound. This Inca site is believed to have been an important ceremonial center.
- Inca Cemetery - Also known as the 'Triumphal Wall'. There were found 17 funeral bundles and a water trough 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 on whose walls there were gutters that supplied water.
- Ushnu - This oval platform construction sits on top of a hill. Due to the wall that surrounds it and the privileged view of the snow-capped mountains, the river and the entire enclosure; it is believed to have 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 masl), 3 or 4 hours by road from the city of Cusco (2 hours from the city of Abancay).
Choquequirao trekking route
The most usual way to get to Choquequirao is through the Choquequirao Trek 4 Days, or the Choquequirao Trek 5 Days. You can hire this tour online or directly from an agency in the city of Cusco.
The other tour is the Choquequirao to Machu Picchu Trek 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 Apurímac 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 ascending and difficult path (4 or 5 hours on the way) until arriving at the archaeological site of Choquequirao.
- Day 3: After touring Choquequirao, the route continues through places like 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, and then reaches the so-called ‘Victoria Mine’, an old silver deposit. The day is not as demanding as the day before.
- Day 5: That day begins to descend to the tropical geography of Perú. The ‘Totora’ area and the ‘Collpa’ camp are appreciated. The day is not highly demanding.
- Day 6: The day goes through beautiful landscapes such as various banana and coffee plantations. The descent reaches ‘La Playa’, where a waterfall falls.
- Day 7: The day starts very early until reaching the so-called ‘Hydroelectric Station’. The walk continues to the town of Aguas Calientes, at the foot of Machu Picchu. There, 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 touring the Wonder of the World. Then, the return to Cusco is by train and bus.
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 to Cachora departs (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.a.s.l.). The route continues until finally reaching the archaeological site of Choquequirao, after 10 kilometers of walking.
- Day 3: After appreciating the most remote areas of Choquequirao, the way back begins the same way in which it was arrived. After almost 5 hours of walking, a camp is set up in the Chiquisca area.
- Day 4: The last day starts early. On the route you will reach the Wayna Qali viewpoint where you can appreciate the beauty of the Apurímac Canyon (considered the most beautiful in South America). After approximately 3 hours of walking, you reach the town of Cachora where a car will return the tourist to the city of Cusco.
How's the weather?
The Choquequirao archaeological site is located at 3,033 meters above sea level. The climate is temperate with cold at night. However, the tourist will not stay in the Inca complex until after sunset.
However, the path leading to the top of Choquequirao is hot due to the proximity of the Apurímac canyon. The temperature at the archaeological site is calculated to vary between 5º C and 25º C.
What is the flora and fauna like in Choquequirao?
Choquequirao is home to a diversity of animals and birds such as the condor, foxes, vizcachas, cougars, hummingbirds, spectacled bears and the cock of the rocks.In addition, like Machu Picchu, a great variety of orchids are concentrated there.
Tips to go to Choquequirao
- Although it is not necessary to be an expert mountaineer to visit Choquequirao, a little prior exercise before the adventure is recommended.
- 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 nature and the archaeological site but with responsibility.