If you want to see Machu Picchu and have more than one day to do it, hiking to the place is an attractive way. A few days in the area will let you know that Machu Picchu is an important place, but only one of many. Choquequirao is one of the least popular. Nature, landscapes in a radius of several dozen kilometers surprise with its richness.
Why an alternative to Machu Picchu?
Crowds of people: Machu Picchu is visited by about three thousand tourists every day. Choquequirao certainly less than a hundred people a day, in high season. While visiting the ruins, we met 10 people in their area.
Price: the entrance to Machu Picchu is expensive. This year, the entrance to the complex is S / 150 (approximately), and you must add another amount if you want to go to one of the two peaks that rise above the historic city. You can walk a dozen kilometers on foot, but you can also pay other amounts in US dollars. Buses full of tourists arrive at the entrance door every few minutes. Queues are everywhere. Prices not so much to which Peru is accustomed.
Reservations are needed: if you want to see the ruins at dawn, you must book your ticket in advance. If you want to go to Huayna Picchu, set up your planning a few months in advance. It doesn’t have fun. Fortunately, we were able to buy an admission ticket at 2pm, the day before entering, in the high season.
Prohibitions and orders: there are several prohibitions and orders on the admission ticket.
Why watch Choquequirao trek?
The architectural style of Choquequirao and Machu Picchu is similar. Solid stone walls, agricultural terraces, residential and ritual facilities. The terraces of llamas are very impressive. The shape of a life-size animal is made of white stones inserted between gray in several dozen terraces. Choquequirao was probably founded in the fifteenth century and expanded in the sixteenth century. It is believed that it was founded by the Inca ruler Pachacuti, the same for which Machu Picchu was to be built. Later, Choquequirao was supposed to be a refuge for the ruling Manco Inca Yupanqui, when at the beginning of the 16th century he had to flee from Cusco controlled by the Spaniards. Many strangers here, history fans will surely find interesting stories among the Inca stones.
Choquequirao is surprisingly well preserved. The area of both complexes is comparable. Only 40% of the ruins are visible at this time, most of them are still covered with lush vegetation.
How long does it take to see Choquequirao?
Choquequirao can be visited during a 3-5 day trip, depending on the pace of the march, or combine the observation of these ruins with the visit to Machu Picchu, which will take a minimum of 7 days of walking. Standard access to the ruins takes 1.5 to 2 days, tourist visits at least half a day and then you have to leave. Most people return in the same way. In Peru there are many buildings left after the Inca civilization. Choquequirao was visited by a handful of tourists because it is difficult to access.
Choquequirao trekking – difficulties
The biggest challenge during the trip to the ruins is to overcome the elevation, the variable temperatures and the insects. The maximum height of the archaeological site is approximately 3100 m above sea level, and the Apurimac River is below 1500 m above sea level. The road rarely has a slope of less than 20%, often 30%. Even trained muscles can be unhappy after exceeding such high altitudes per day, especially when the high ambient temperature removes a lot of water, and you have to shake your hands like in a Korean dance chasing biting flies. During the day the temperatures reach 30 ° C, at night they can approach 0 ° C, depending on the altitude. It is worth considering starting the trail before dawn, when it is pleasantly cool.
The altitude should not be a problem. Most people come from Cusco (3,400 m) or Abancay (2,400 m) and the highest point of Choquequirao is 3,100 m above sea level.