It is another "Lost City of the Incas" rediscovered officially late in 20th century located high on a ridge spur almost 1.750 m. above the raging glacier-fed Apurimac River and surrounded by towering Salkantay and Humantay snow-capped peaks.
This Inca archaeological complex at the beginning of the XVI Century, built on base of stone. Archaeologists presume that it is about one of the many lost cities in Vilcabamba, where the Incas took refuge in 1536.
The Inca archaeological complex at the beginning of the XVI century, built on base of stones, occupies an extension of 2 hectares. Archaeologists presume that it is about one of the many lost cities in Vilcabamba, where the Incas took refuge in 1536. Choquequirao is an extraordinary complex that was built in the last years of the Inca Empire (1471 - 1527 a. C.). It was possibly, one of the control points for the entrance to the Vilcabamba region, and an administrative core with political, social and economic functions. It consists of nine architectonic groups made of stone and a system of 180 platforms, apart from residential houses, administrative, craftsman, irrigation system, among other constructions built in base of stone.
The sectors that from it are defined by the topography of the place. They had different functions and they communicated by means of pedestrian accesses to the main square. You can appreciate a complex hydraulic system designated probably to domestic, ceremonial and agricultural use.
Having into account the geographical location of Choquequirao in comparison to other complexes of the same period, it seems that it had the function of being an Inca enclave towards the hot valleys of the river Apurímac. Its inhabitants devoted to the intensive agriculture and performed ceremonies where water was an important worshipping element. Furthermore, it was a storing place of several products coming from other zones as well as a restinga place among the valleys of Apurímac, Vilcabamba and Vilcanota.
The Manco Inca dynasty resisted the Spanish conquerors during 40 years (1536 to 1572) from this fortress in the Vilcabamba area. The Spanish conquerors were never able to expel them from it.
The building of Choquequirao is the work of Inca Pachacútec successors Túpac Inca Yupanqui (1471 - 1493) and Wayna Cápac (1493 - 1527). Household and ceremonial pottery has been found here that bears both the classic Cuzco style and also from other populations who came to live here to build and permanently populate the area. Most likely, they were experienced farmers who knew how to build and use farming terraces in high Amazon forest areas.
Choquequirao was probably one of the entrance check point to the Vilcabamba region, and also an administrative hub serving political, social and economic functions. Its urban design has followed the symbolic patterns of the imperial capital, with ritual places dedicated to the Sun (Inti) and the ancestors, to the earth, water and other divinities, with mansions for administrators and houses for artisans, warehouses, large dormitories or kallankas and farming terraces belonging to the Inca or the local people. Spreading over 700 meters, the ceremonial area drops as much as 65 meters from the elevated areas to the main square.
Trek to Choquequirao
93 Km / 58 miles from Abancay (Department of Apurimac) is the village of Cachora. Then, travel another 30 Km / 19 miles (2-days hike, walking an average of 8 hours a day). Located at 3,050 m.a.s.l. on the border with department of Apurímac, the Choquequirao archeological compound was not built to be a place of easy access. Reaching it demands two days of disciplined trek, largely compensated by the beauty of the landscape that wayfarers cross from the beginning of their expedition.
The road starts at Cachora (2,300 m.a.s.l. ), a small town in the Apurímac department, after traveling four hours on the mostly paved road from Cuzco (145 Km paved and 10 Km of dirt road). Mule packers can be contacted there who can also act as guides. A local family offers accommodation and the only telephone in town. Approximately 40% of the Choquequirao Inca ceremonial center has been cleared of vegetation. The remaining area is formed by a complex terrace system built on extremely steep slopes. A very impressive stairway of 180 terraces has been recently spotted. It descends from one of the ceremonial center flanks and reaches the river open to swimming.
The Trek route (5 days / 4 nights)
Cachora, Choquequirao, San Ignacio, Huanipaca, Conoq hot springs, Cuzco. Awesome scenery and panoramic landscapes from high altitude jungle.