Sometimes referred to as “the other Machu Picchu”, Choquequirao is an Incan ruin in the mountains outside of Cuzco. Unlike Machu Picchu, however, Choquequirao sees only a handful of visitors due to the difficult two-day hike.
That could potentially change, however, as plans are in the works to shorten the access to a 15-minute ride on a tram. Many believe that this will greatly-reduce the sense of tranquility which is found at the outpost, although others argue it will open the ruin for a greater amount of visitors. Like Machu Picchu, Choquequirao is an Incan city with ornately-carved terraces and structures, and historians believe that this city in the clouds was once the retreat of royalty. Only about a third of the site has been completely excavated, however, and much of the city continues to remain hidden within the cloudy, sweaty jungle.
Historically, there is much more to Choquequirao than simply another city of the Inca. It’s believed by historians that this was the final outpost of warriors who laid siege on the Spanish at Cuzco, who upon staging a revolt to take the capital retreated back into the mountains. For the next 400 years, the city remained largely forgotten and isolated in the cloud forest until excavations began in 1970.
While only the hardiest of trekkers can currently visit the city, enduring the trek to Choquequirao is more than worth the effort. It’s a quiet, mysterious, and forgotten escape where you stroll through a ruin located away from crowds. It’s fascinating window into an ancient culture, and for the time being, it’s a sliver of history and a corner of Peru which you can largely have all to yourself.
Choquequirao is located 100km from Cusco, and it is accessible via a 2-day hike from the town of Cachora. Guides can be arranged in Cusco, and the overall trip length is typically 3-4 days.