Exploring Choquequirao takes about a two day's hike from the town of Cachora outside of Cuzco city. Choquequirao, or "cradle of gold" in the Inca language Quechua, is located almost 1750 meters above the raging Apurimac River. Much bigger than Machu Picchu, covering 1810 hectares, the site is thought to have been built by the son of Machu Picchu's creator.

Choquequirao was probably built during the reign of the Inca king Pachacuti Inca Yupanqui. Led by Manco Inca Yupanqui, the Incas most likely used the site as a refuge when the city of Cuzco was under siege in 1535.

The city was first mentioned in 1710 by Spanish explorer Juan Arias Diaz and again in 1768 by Cosme Bueno, but it was forgotten afterwards. In 1834 Eugene de Santiges rediscovered the site. In 1837 Leonce Agrand mapped the area. Hiram Bingham visited Choquequirao in 1909, about 2 years before he came upon Machu Picchu.

Machu Picchu is more famous than Choquequirao, largely because of Choquequirao's former inaccessibility. Before a bridge was built over the Apurimac river a few years ago, it would take tremendous effort through mountainous terrain over about two months to finally reach the ancient city. With the bridge, accessibility to Choquequirao is much more reasonable and this spectacular site is gaining in popularity as archaeologists discover more about its history.

Choquequirao has aqueducts, water channels, living quarters, ceremonial areas, sacred temples, administrative buildings and terraces. To the Incas, Choquequirao was an important religious, political and economic center. These fantastic ruins are built on the mountain ridge of sacred Salkantay and are remnants of the Inca's final days.

Getting There

It is best to avoid the trek to Choquequirao during the rainy season from December to March. From Cuzco city a tour will take you to the town of Cachora. From there you will need to walk, or ride a horse, 30 kilometers to Choquequirao. This trek offers a greater variety of habitat than the famous Inca Trail to Machu Picchu and you will cross the bridge over the Apurimac river which makes the trek possible.

You will reach the site after two days. If you are on a four-day tour you won't have as much time for exploring Choquequirao, however with the five-day tour you will have almost a full day to explore the site. Only 30% to 40% of Choquequirao is uncovered and not many tourists visit the area, giving you ample opportunity to enjoy marvelous Inca architecture and fabulous scenery. After exploring Choquequirao you will begin the breathtaking trek, through some of the most inaccessible valleys and incredible mountain scenery of Peru, back to Cuzco.

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