It is possible that when you are more than halfway to the Inca city of Choquequirao, you will glide thoughts of a beach, your feet in the sand, palm trees and an iced juice, and wonder what you do there, towards a city of stone, doing the opposite of a vacation, which amounts to physical rest? Then mosquitoes will come to take him out of his thoughts. You will see people dressed in traditional costumes, working crops of all colors, donkeys and other farm animals, including llamas, grazing. A muleteer on horseback that advances at the speed of Neymar, it is possible that this will cause some envy. It is also possible that at times you feel without air, but it is not just the height. The cornices, the jungle, the light that slides among the trees, the rainbows and the noises in the undergrowth, as if someone were accompanying him, but not wanting to be seen. When you hear this, be certain that you are hiking to a remote place between the mountain range and the jungle, the ancient city of Choquequirao.
Choquequirao, a great adventure
When the trip to Choquequirao begins from the edge of a hill, you will have to cross three mountains, cross the Apurimac river and then go up and down a path that winds through clouds that often touch to rain; When you have dirt on your face, you will feel that nature owns you. Something you should know, is that not for anyone, it is not Machu Picchu and its possibilities to arrive, by train, on foot or by bus, and that it is not something whose planning should be taken lightly. It is an Inca experience of deep sense, capable of expanding consciousness, directly related to the desire to arrive, the uncertainty for what is lacking and the conviction, apparently innate in the people who decide to take the walk to reach Choquequirao, even if you have to sweat for each toe or ask for forgiveness from the Pachamama.
Every effort has a prize and in this case: it is an ancient city with stone structures five centuries old, at 3,100 meters above sea level; terraces that in the past were the main agricultural lands to maintain the city, scattered by the steep slopes of mountains guarded by condors, temples, walls decorated with figures of llamas and alpacas, community housing; a museum of sculptures from the past, preserved at the height of the sky
Advantages of going to the Choquequirao ruins at this time
- Very far from everything: that is another fundamental value, another reason why it makes sense to walk 53 kilometers, for 5 days, to those constructions in the middle of the jungle. The Inca city of Choquequirao is still a place to discover.
- There is no one on the way: or at the summit, some other trekking lovers – mostly young Europeans – the people you will meet along the journey, in small rest stations and intermediate camps.
- You can tour the city alone: it is not to detract beauty from the wonder, but yes, thousands of people enter Machu Picchu every day. In Choquequirao you will not see more than 30 adventurous people.
In a present of incredible destinations promoted even in small boxes of phosphorus, it is difficult for it to enter and travel practically alone, a historical monument of the magnitude of Choquequirao. That is another aspect that justifies with creses the sacrifice of walking to this city. In addition, for now, you do not have to book the income so early, as in the case of Machu Picchu tickets to enter the mountain Huayna Picchu, or income to travel the Inca Trail to the door of the sun. In addition, in Choquequirao and other historical places in the middle of mountains, the crossing ends when you return to the starting point. So he has nothing left but to retrace every step he took.
The history of Choquequirao
If you think that Choquequirao was discovered by an American foreigner with a khaki hat, he asked some of the descendants of nearby families if they had heard of an ancient Inca city in the middle of the jungle, like Machu Picchu; Well, he’s right, it’s more, he’s the same American in a khaki hat. This foreigner, I contract a local shepherd as a guide, I also pay him for some donkeys and they started walking. Choquequirao means «cradle of gold» and was discovered by Hiram Bingham in 1909. However, while Machu Picchu reached the whole glory. The one that is considered his sacred sister (Choquequirao) was covered by the dense jungle thicket for much longer. And it was not until 1986 that the Peruvian government began the restoration work that made it possible, just some time ago, for people to reach the Inca city of Choquequirao, following in the footsteps of Bingham.
On the way to Choquequirao
The crossing begins at the Cusco airport, after a stopover in Lima. It is the starting point and the place where you will begin to feel the physiological effects of the exposure to height, the 3,400 meters of the city of Cusco, can make people from any coastal city feel discomfort, take it as a symbolic price, pay to enter the atmosphere of religious and cultural syncretism of the ancient capital of the Inca Empire. There are several ways to avoid the symptoms of altitude sickness, you can start by resisting the temptation of that pagan god called pisco sour.
You will board a truck along tortuous roads and leave behind all traces of connection with everyday life, this vehicle will leave you in the village of Cachora, from that moment you must walk, you can not stop or you run the risk of staying in the middle of nowhere. And the classic trekking situations will begin; right where the road ends, inside the post that functions as a refuge and where you can stock up and take something warm before leaving. The place is called Abra Capuliyoc (at 2,850 masl). There is a small wooden table (somewhat puny), a map, mosquitoes, backpacks. It will be surrounded by the immensity of the mountains, white landscapes covered with snow, and a gorge that causes vertigo. Peru with open veins.
You will have a team of porters, cook a guide and beasts of burden with the camp in tow, the team arrives in advance to the camping sites, to wait for you with the armed camp and the food ready. A luxury if you consider that you will walk between 8 and 10 hours per day. He will appreciate it.
First day of hiking to Choquequirao
The first day will have the challenge of a descent of 1,600 meters along 15 km to the banks of the Apurímac River, it is essential to use canes to avoid overloading your legs; Walk at your pace and do not rush. A mountaineering maxim holds that «those who go slow, arrive well». Saving your energy is equivalent to having some to enjoy dinner and talk during it. After 8 hours of rest until 4 o’clock in the morning, you will have a quick breakfast, usually based on Andean cereals.