Choquequirao is located at the foothills of the Salkantay mount, north of the Apurimac river in La Convención region. This ancient citadel is known as Machu Picchu Sacred Sister due to its remote location and for its similarity to its architecture and structure.
It is believed to have served as a ceremonial center for the Inca elite, dedicated to the worship of gods of the mountains, the river, and the elements. However, this famous sanctuary was also used as a control center to ensure access to the vilcabamba valley.
Only 30% of its 1,810 hectares has been excavated, the other 70% remains hidden in the dense jungle and underground. However, the Peruvian government is looking forward to uncovering this ancient structure in its entirety.
As far as we know, Choquequirao is composed of 9 sectors, each built like small villages around a large square. Its construction started around the same time as Machu Picchu, by the order of Tupac Yupanqui.
The archeological site was never discovered by the Spaniards, which means this could’ve been one of the last refugees of the Inca empire during colonization.
In addition to the mysteries that surround this ceremonial fortress, Choquequirao has an extensive biodiversity that comprehends over 2,500 plant species, 208 types of birds, and over 25 mammals. Likewise, the region has characteristic puna ecosystems, humid montane forests, and dry forests.
Although the Choquequirao Archeological Site is as impressive as Machu Picchu, this tourist attraction only receives about 9,400 visitors per year due to its remote location and the strenuous 4-day trek.
What’s the Best Time to Visit Choquequirao?
The so-called Cradle of Gold is located in the Andean highlands at 3,033 meters above sea level. Therefore, it has the distinctive climate condition of the Peruvian Andes, with a dry winter and a very rainy summer. To help you plan your adventure, here’s some important information about the weather in Choquequirao:
- Dry Season: Also known as the coldest season in the region since temperatures can reach up to 12°C during the day and -3°C during nighttime. The dry season takes place between May and October. Therefore, chances of rain during this period are nearly nill.
- Rainy Season: This season transitions between October and December, but is expected to settle during January and April, being these the rainiest months of the year. The weather turns warmer but significantly wetter. However, temperature ranges between 18°C and 7°C.
The climate condition in Peru may vary according to its regions. Although these seasons are present throughout the country, some sectors may experience variations according to their altitude and geographic positions. To learn more about the weather in Peru, please check our informative guide →
How to Deal with Altitude Sickness?
It is worth mentioning that due to the high elevation of this location, some travelers may experience Altitude Sickness. This is very common in altitudes that supasses the 2,500 meters of elevation. Here we have some recommendations to teach you how to prevent it:
- Avoid drinking alcohol and smoking.
- Keep yourself hydrated.
- Take a few days to rest in Cusco before committing to any physically demanding activities.
- Drink coca tea, it helps with acclimatation.
- Eat a light but high-calorie diet.
There are some medicines that help easing the Altitude Sickness symptoms, you can find them as Diamox or Soroche Pills in any drugstore in Peru. However, we advise you to consult with your doctor before taking any of these.
How to Get to Choquequirao?
To visit the Archeological Site of Choquequirao, one must be in Cusco, which is easily accessible by bus, plane, or train. We have gathered a few recommendations to help you organize your itinerary:
- Bus to Cusco: This is the cheapest transport option in Peru, but keep in mind that if you’re traveling straight from Lima, this will be a 22-hour ride approximately. However, you can make this trip more pleasant by traveling to several destinations by bus. Learn more about this experience here →
- Flying to Cusco: If you’re on a tight schedule, this is the best option for you since it will help you save time to explore more of this authentic land and its surroundings. Discover how in this section →
- Train to Cusco: Currently, there’s only one rail route that connects Cusco with Puno and Arequipa. This railroad is operated by the Belmond Andean Explorer train, considered one of the world’s most luxurious trains. Live an authentic experience through the Andean highlands and dare to uncover its secrets. Find out more here →
Once you have arranged your transport options to Cusco, make sure to book the Choquequirao trek in advance. The excursion to Machu Picchu’s Sacred Sister takes about 4 days but can be extended up to 5 days due to the difficulty of the trail.
Although this trek has a length of 64 kilometers, constant zigzags and steep ups and downs stretch it out into a much longer trail. So, to be entirely honest, hiking to choquequirao can be quite exhausting, which is why we recommend taking a guided tour instead of venturing out on your own.
However, the outstanding scenery of the region totally pays off all that hard work. Here you will be crossing through several ecosystems with sublime mountain landscapes home to the famous Andean Condor. The trek starts at 2,900 meters and reaches up to 3,050 meters on its highest peak.
It is worth mentioning that the Peruvian government is planning on taking this attraction on a much higher tourism level by proposing a cable car connection to the Choquequirao ruins. Therefore, if you wish to visit this uncrowded tourist attraction, you better hurry and organize your trip soon. Please contact us for more information →