Discover Remote Inca Ruins on Foot… But For How Long?


By Tammy Leland

choquequirao ruins in fogI stopped dead in my tracks as Choquequirao first came into view across the vast Andean Valley.  It sat looming above the fog like some hidden Shangri-la and I swear it emanated a golden hue like the lost and mystical golden city of El Dorado.

Entering the site I heard the faint sounds of the quena, the Andean flute, playing. As we walked down into the vast terraces below, two condors flew overhead as if they were greeting the first visitors in a long time. We were completely alone except for the one local kid playing the quena.

It has been almost 8 years since my first visit to Choquequirao, the lost Incan sister city to Machu Picchu, but little has changed.  

choquequirao travelersWith a group of 8 adventure travelers, students, friends, and an English reporter we set out from Cuzco for the small town of Cachora, 3.5 hours west to the Apurimac Valley.  Our hosts, friends and longtime Apurimac Valley residents, greet us at the door of the Tres Balcones, the quaint guesthouse that sits among the muddy roads and adobe houses.  A burning fire and a meal fit for a king awaits us as we prepared for our 4 day hiking journey to Choquequirao and back.

We had come to witness what might be one of the last years of solitude for this incredible Inca site.  The government plans to complete a cable car by 2016, tres balcones cachorawhich is rumored to bring in 3,000 visitors a day.  According to the INC, only a total of 9,000 visitors made it to Choquequirao this year (that is only 1% of the total who visited Machu Pichu).

Up early the next morning, eager with anticipation, we meet with our local guide, Juan Carlos whose family has lived at the base of Choquequirao for centuries.  We will stop on the way to visit his brothers, sister and mom who still live days away in the small Andean village of Maranpata high up on the mountainside.

The entire trek is just as I remember it, hard and long with breathtaking views, expansive mountain scenery and pure isolation. Once again, Choquequirao offered us the key to the Golden City of the Incas and we had it all to ourselves.  One of the major highlights was visiting the expansive terraces below covered in white rocks all in the form of 22 llamas.  Nothing like this has been found in Machu Picchu or any other Inca sites.   But the true gift of this trip was walking with Juan Carlos whose personal stories wowed us all more than those of Hiram Bingham himself.

choquequirao trailWhat lies ahead for the small town of Cachora?  For Choquequirao?

Come see Choquequirao and walk the ancient Inca trail with Juan Carlos and his family and support Crooked Trails as we work with local communities like Cachora to build community based tourism.

Crooked Trails can organize your community-supported trek to Choquequirao and Machu Picchu any time of the year.

Previous PostNext Post

Share this Post