Choquequirao are the ruins of an Inca city located between the foothills of the snowy Salkantay, in the district of Mollepata, Province of Anta, department of Cusco, in southern Peru.
The archaeological monuments of Choquequirao are made up of buildings and terraces distributed at different levels, from the lowest level Sunch’u Pata to the highest truncated peak, which was leveled and fenced with stones to form a platform with an approximate area of 150 square meter.
Choquequirao is known as the sacred sister of Machu Picchu due to the structural and architectural similarity with it. Recently, being partially excavated, it has aroused the interest of the Peruvian government to further recover the complex and turn it into a more accessible alternative for tourists interested in learning more about the Inca culture.
It is located at 13° 32′ south latitude and 72° 44′ west longitude. It is located at 3035 m.a.s.l. in the foothills of the Salkantay mountain, north of the Apurimac river valley, in the province of La Convencion in the department of Cusco. It is approximately at a distance of 47 km. with reference to the town of Cachora (department of Apurímac).
We can mention that the environment of Choquequirao is one of the richest in biodiversity. All these species have been conditioned despite temperature variations such as sun throughout the day and inclement frost at night. The fauna of the place is composed mainly of condors, tarucas, vizcachas, foxes, skunks, pumas, hummingbirds, spectacled bears and the popular cock-of-the-rock, Peru’s national bird. In its flora, the giant ferns, the ichu and a great variety of orchids stand out, where the wakanki variety stands out.
Due to its geographical position, Choquequirao has a warm climate alternated with cold temperatures at night. The average annual temperature is 17ºC.
During the Inca civilization it was both a cultural and religious center for the region. Well, it is presumed that this citadel was used as a control checkpoint to ensure access to the areas of Vilcabamba, which connected the jungle with other important centers such as Pisac and Machu Picchu.
It is also estimated that the citadel played an important role serving as a link between the Amazon jungle and the capital of the Inca empire (Cusco).
In the transition period that lasted approximately 40 years, Choquequirao is considered one of the last bastions of resistance and refuge of the Incas, who, by orders of Manco Inca, left the city of Cusco to take refuge in the cities of the Vilcabamba region. when around the year 1535 Cusco was controlled by the Spanish.
It was in this place (and in general throughout the Vilcabamba valley) where Manco Inca and the last Inca descendants of Vilcabamba resisted the attack of the Spanish, until the capture and execution of Túpac Amaru I in 1572.
The environment of Choquequirao is one of the richest in biodiversity, biologists, ecologists and experts mention it, however in this area, the number of species of plants and animals that exist is not known exactly, despite this deficiency and From the few scientific studies carried out, it has been possible to determine the existence of various forms of life.
Among the most relevant species are: the condor, the fox, the skunk, the puma, the spectacled bear, the taruca, the vizcachas, the flower eater, the high-altitude toucan, the quetzals and the tigrillos. All these species have been conditioned despite temperature variations such as the sun throughout the day and inclement frost at night. This space can also be seen the cock of the rocks, national bird of Peru.
The flora of the place is made up of giant ferns and a great variety of orchids, where the wakanki variety stands out. At the bottom of the great valley and under the thermal effect of the water course that runs through it, the forests of the mountain range provide warmth and ideal conditions for a huge variety of coca, achiote, corn, cocoa, coffee and fruit crops.
From an environmental point of view, the main value of these presented ecosystems resides in the role played by the exuberant forests that grow in the upper parts of the mountains in maintaining the water balance of the region, capturing rainwater and conducting it without causing erosion towards the Apurimac River.
How to Get to Choquequirao
Currently the land route is the only possible way to reach the citadel of Choquequirao. The best known route is taking the road to Abancay and at km. 154 choose the detour that leads to the town of Cachora, from there you must make an uphill walk of about 30 km, whose journey lasts two days. It is also possible to access through other nearby towns, however go, the route can be more bumpy.
In order to get to Choquequirao you have to take a private tour or on your own. It is located approximately 4 hours by car from Cusco arriving in Cachora and from there you have to hike for 3 to 4 days. This route can be combined with others, including a 5-day trek to Machu Picchu.