Choquequirao: Raised Incan ceremonial center



Peru is the hub of many elite Incan ruins of which one of the gems is Choquequirao that is perched in the high Andean ridge’s saddle above the running Apurimac River. Encircled by the majestic snowy peaks as well as dipping forested slopes, the ruined, but still fascinating city is an instigating instance of a stunning Inca ceremonial center that was devoted to the mountain gods, natural elements, and the river. No wonder why Choquequirao is dubbed as the ‘ Sacred Sister of Machu Picchu’ – thanks to the reflecting design as well as ceremonial similarities. Despite this discovery, this city is still an unfathomable site that remains the mystery of Incan history. As per one speculation, this city was a royal estate of the Emperor Topa Inca so as to challenge his father majestic province of Machu Picchu. This might be one reason as to why this city was named Choquequirao that literally means ‘cradle of gold’.

Choquequirao also acted as the check point to the zone of Vilcabamba region. Its urban design boasts symbolic imperial patterns; ritual places for the Inti (sun god), earth, water, and ancestors; mansions for officials; dwellings for locals, warehouses, dormitories, and cultivated terraces. On the site, you will mostly come across the traditional Inca terraces that are the largest carvings here. Around the central square are a few administrative buildings, temple, and the living quarters for the nobles. If you explore its outskirts, there exist the living quarters for the locals, which are grouped to form a small hamlet. Besides these structures, you will also encounter aqueducts, water channels, and water springs. The best part is that a majority of these structures are well-preserved as well as well-restored.

Over half of this Inca ceremonial center is free of vegetation, which is actually not good for the environment although it might be fine for easy tourist trekking. Speaking about the remaining area, it is a complex terrace system majestically adorning the very steep slopes, which contains a stunning stairway of 180 terraces. The complex descends right from a flank to touch the river wherein one can easily and safely swim (but not alone).

Peru is famous for its adventurous holidays and so reaching Choquequirao is also that thrilling. It requires trekking for two days mostly reimbursed by the wonderful landscape that itinerants traverse right since the kick-off of their expedition. Currently, trekking is through a contemporary footbridge that is above the Apurimac River. There is no doubt that the journey is overwhelming, which takes one on a tour amazing ecological zones – the farming Andean valleys, hot and arid canyon descent, and the green environment canopied by the blue skies featuring dizzying snow of the Cordillera Vilcabamba, kapok trees, agaves, cactus, and lush cloud forest.

Your expedition (route) begins at Cachora that refers to a small city in the Apurímac province once you tour for nearly four hours from Cusco on the paved-cum-dirty road (150 km of which 10 km is full of dirt). I would suggest contacting mule packers who can turn out to be very good guides. In the town, there is one accommodation run by a local family, which is a good option.

Climate

This is certainly not predictable although there is clear cut dry and wet seasons. Dry days are from May to October/November, while the wet ones are from December to April. However, as the site is in the forested Amazon basin, showers can wet you anytime. So, do always carry your full rain gear (jacket as well as trousers). As the Apurimac Canyon becomes very roasted during the day, think of swimming in the river.

Tips

Carry sunglasses, camera, water, sun hat, insect lotion, sunscreen, sleeping bag, one full clothing per day, sweater, trekking shoes, coramina (glucose), flashlight, batteries, personal toiletries, medications, Peruvian currency, and a wind jacket.

Spend a minimum of two nights prior to trekking for acclimatizing to the altitude. For full fun, combining Choquequirao trekking and Machu Picchu along with Amazon adventure is recommended.

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