Peru's little-known alternative to Machu Picchu will open up to visitors via a cable car

22nd Nov 17 | Lifestyle

The archaeological site of Choquequirao is currently only accessible by a tough five-day hike.

Choquequirao, Cradel of Gold, Inca Site Peru

Climbing to Peru’s Machu Picchu is high up on many people’s bucket lists and the 550-year-old Inca trail is a highlight for many people who’ve travelled around South America.

Some 1.2 million visit the archaeological site every year (the 4-day hike is limited to 500 people per day) – but far fewer people see another attraction in the Cusco region – Choquequirao.  Known as Machu Picchu’s ‘sacred sister’ , it only draws around 3,000 – 4,000 visitors a year.

Choquequirao, the last refuge of the Incas, is 40 miles from Peru’s most famous tourist attraction and is currently only accessible via a five-day hike. The Peruvian government is looking to change that, however, with roads and a cable car connecting the site to its more famous neighbour, the deputy tourism minister Rogers Valencia Espinoza told Bloomberg.

The current hike to Choquequirao is tough but beautiful. It’s a 37-mile trek on foot and involves crossing the Apurimac River and traversing through a canyon.

The ultimate reward is the breath-taking and spectacular views from the mountaintop refuge, which sits 3,050 metres above sea level.

The new infrastructure will mean that tourists can explore the plazas, ruins and temples of the complex which covers 1,800 hectares, as part of a trip to its more famous neighbour, Machu Picchu.

Choquequirao means “cradle of gold” in the Quechua language and it dates back to the 15th or 16th century. Explorer Hiram Bingham, who introduced the world to Machu Picchu in 1911, actually visited Choquequirao the year before.

No dates have been confirmed for the new road and cable car but the Peruvian government are reportedly planning to double the number of tourists in the country to seven million by 2021.

© Press Association 2017