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Choquequirao Ruins

Unearthing the Hidden Treasures of Choquequirao Ruins: A Journey to the Heart of the Inca Empire

Located in the Apurimac canyon about 6 hours by transport away from Cuzco (Peru), the ruins of Choquequirao are reached at the end of a 58 km round trip hike. This hike can be done independently, cheaper but more difficult, or with a tour operator, more expensive but easier. It takes between 4 and 5 days to reach the ruins of Choquequirao and return, while a trek to Machu Picchu takes between 8 and 9 days.

Only around 40 percent of the ruins have been excavated, although they have been beautifully kept. It would take at least a day to see everything in the Choquequirao complex. Buildings include steep roofs, terraces, and enormous walls, much as in MP. Although Choquequirao was constructed some 200 years before the Spanish conquest, it was abandoned for unclear reasons. Even while it is not in as spectacular a setting as Machu Picchu, the sunset views from the ruins of the valley and canyon are breathtaking.

The peace and solitude of Choquequirao were one of our favorite parts. We only encountered six other visitors the entire day. The government of Peru is intending to construct a cable car that runs all the way to the ruins, which will be excellent for the economy of the area but will have the unfortunate side effect of spoiling the area’s special ambiance. It’s time you made the trip, so don’t delay. Among the various treks we’ve done in the area, Choquequirao ranks among our top choices in Peru.

choquequirao ruins

The History of Choquequirao Ruins: A Glimpse into the Inca Civilization

The mysterious history of Choquequirao dates back to the 15th century, during the reign of the Inca Pachacutec, who also built Machu Picchu. The site was believed to be a royal estate and religious center, dedicated to the worship of the sun and other Inca deities. Choquequirao played a crucial role in the political, economic, and cultural life of the Inca state, serving as a center of exchange and trade in the Andean region and the jungle emirate.

The construction of Choquequirao lasted more than a century and was a testament to the Incas’ engineering and architectural prowess. The site covers more than 1,800 hectares and has a complex network of terraces for agricultural experimentation and consumption with its incredible microclimates, canals, buildings, and plazas, and the popular llamas that are at the bottom of Choquequirao all crafted with exquisite precision and attention to detail. Its strategic location, on the crest of a mountain overlooking the valley of the Apurimac River, made it a natural fortress and a defensive bastion against the numerous enemies they had.

Despite its grandeur and importance, Choquequirao remained hidden and abandoned for centuries after the Spanish invasion of the Inca Empire in the 16th century. It was not until the 20th century that the American explorer Hiram Bingham, who also discovered Machu Picchu, rediscovered the site and made it known to the world. But before this explorer, there were many treasure hunters who tried to rediscover but it was impossible because of the location and the little information about this place.

The Best Hiking Seasons

December through March is summer, and it rains a lot throughout those months, making it a horrible time to do mountain hiking. While there is minimal seasonal variation in the daytime in the Sacred Valley and Cusco due to their mountainous locations, the nights are warmer in the summer.

The months of June through August, during the northern hemisphere’s “winter,” have virtually no precipitation but instead warm days and chilly nights. The sights are crowded, the hotels are full, and the costs are greater. From what we’ve seen, the months of April and May as well as September and October (the “shoulder season”) are ideal. Both of our visits to Cusco were during the city’s off-peak seasons.

choquequirao ruins

Packing Checklist for Choquequirao Trek

What do you have to take with you?

What to put in your duffle bag for the Choquequirao trek?

Most tour companies will provide you with a duffel bag at your briefing and include horses who will carry up to 7 kgs or 14 lbs including your 2.5kg sleeping bag, mattress, and extra clothing. By Peruvian law, a duffel bag must not weigh more than 7 kilograms (15 lbs). This limit is set to protect the health of the porters or horses. All bags will be weighed before being accepted. If you require more than 7 kilograms, it will then be your responsibility to carry the extra weight with your day pack. In these 7 kilos, please count 2 kilos for your sleeping bag and 1 kilo for your sleeping pad. This leaves you about 4 kilos for your personal gear.


choquequirao map

choquequirao map

Exploring the Wonders of Choquequirao Peru Ruins: What to Expect

Today, Choquequirao is one of the most fascinating and impressive sites located in the heart of Peru. However, due to its remote location and difficult terrain, the site remains relatively untouched with only 30% rediscovered, making it an ideal destination for intrepid and adventurous travelers off the beaten path. Here are some of the highlights and wonders of the Choquequirao ruins that you can expect to find:

the terraces
the main square
the house of the Inca
the ushnu or ceremonial place
the sector of the llamas
food stores
religious water fountains
the priestly house
the house of the Inca
university sector