Choquequirao Ma­chu Pic­chu's Sa­cred Sis­ter

Excelencias Turísticas del caribe y las Américas - - Lugar Con Encanto / Charming Places -

AT 4,000 ME­TERS ABO­VE SEA LE­VEL, IN THE MIDD­LE OF THE JUNGLE, VI­SI­TORS CAN MA­KE OUT THE BREATHTAKING TRACES OF ONE OF THE LAST STRONG­HOLDS OF THE IN­CA RE­SIS­TAN­CE IN PERU. IN 2017, THE SI­TE DESERVEDLY TOP­PED THE LIST OF LONELY PLA­NET’S BEST IN TRA­VEL IN THE RE­GIONS CATEGORY

The gra­yish steps look blurry un­der the feet of the vi­si­tor on his way to the top. Lis­ten to roa­ring sound of the wa­ter­falls and watch the An­dean lands­ca­pe from abo­ve: tree-car­pe­ted cliffs, the jungle of Cus­co and the snow-co­ve­red skirts of Sal­kan­tay and Pa­dra­yoc. The In­ca cons­truc­tion

seems to go back in ti­me when the last Vil­ca­bam­bas went to the squa­re whe­re the sun used to be wors­hip­ped and cros­sed the cob­bled streets and the rec­tan­gu­lar ku­llan­kas. Choquequirao is the abo­ri­gi­nal beauty of a Pe­ru­vian land whe­re and his­tory sha­re the sa­me spa­ce.

Lo­ca­ted so­me 4,000 me­ters abo­ve sea le­vel, .

What is now con­si­de­red an ar­chaeo­lo­gi­cal park was back in the day one of the last strong­holds of the In­ca re­sis­tan­ce against the Spa­nish co­lo­ni­za­tion in 1535. Then, Cus­co had been be­sie­ged and its in­ha­bi­tants found shel­ter in the ci­ties of the Vil­ca­bam­ba re­gion. Even­tually, they ca­lled Choquequirao their ho­me un­til the cap­tu­re and exe­cu­tion of their lea­der, Tu­pac Ama­ru I.

Fea­tu­ring a wi­de as­sort­ment of eco­lo­gi­cal zo­nes and abun­dant flo­ra and wild­li­fe, the ci­ta­del is mar­ked by con­tras­ting sto­ne buil­dings that melt per­fectly in­to the ma­jes­tic ecosys­tem. Vi­si­tors can ta­ke a clo­ser look at en­de­mic ro­dents and the lo­cal viz­ca­chas, pu­mas, con­dors, An­dean fo­xes and bears, as well as rock roos­ters –Peru's na­tio­nal bird- all in their na­tu­ral ha­bi­tats. Mos­ses, li­chen, be­go­nias, giant ferns, ichus and a great va­riety of or­chids draw the gree­nery of the ci­ta­del's su­rroun­ding lands­ca­pe.

Its stra­te­gic lo­ca­tion right bet­ween the Ama­zon and the im­pe­rial city of Cus­co tur­ned this pla­ce in­to an im­por­tant cul­tu­ral and re­li­gious en­cla­ve whe­re the In­cas pro­tec­ted their idols of gold and sil­ver, as well as che­ris­hed pie­ces of je­welry and ce­ra­mics.

Even though 70 per­cent of the city is cu­rrently co­ve­red un­der a thick blan­ket of foliage and many of its areas are now bu­ried, Choquequirao re­veals it­self as a genuine lost city of the In­cas. In the 18 squa­re ki­lo­me­ters uneart­hed by ar­chaeo­lo­gists, the ci­ta­del allows vi­si­tors to wit­ness the culture of that an­cient town that re­mains a deep-down part of the re­gion.

HID­DEN TREA­SU­RES

The Choquequirao Archeological Park is still ridd­led with le­gends about hid­den trea­su­res. The lavish step­ped cons­truc­tion with its twos­tory en­clo­su­res, stair­ca­ses, chan­nels, pla­zas, brid­ges and gra­ni­te al­tars got a na­me of it­self as “Ma­chu Pic­chu's Sa­cred Sis­ter”.

On their plat­forms, si­mi­lar to a lar­ge gree­nish car­pet and over­loo­king the snow-cap­ped Quory Hauy­ra­chi­na, vi­si­tors can ob­ser­ve the 22 “Fla­mes of the Sun” car­ved in sto­ne, as the ani­mal that sym­bo­li­zes the city. Up in tho­se hills, an­cient dwe­llers used to grow corn, co­coa, co­ca, cof­fee and fruit trees.

Its con­vo­lu­ted lo­ca­tion pro­tec­ted it for de­ca­des from the Spa­nish co­lo­ni­zers. Even to­day, reaching that point is qui­te an ad­ven­tu­re that ta­kes a two-day hi­ke. With no mo­re bag­ga­ge than a back­pack and all ne­ces­sary pro­vi­sions stas­hed in it, vi­si­tors must tra­vel 60 km up in the moun­tain and cross one of the world's dee­pest can­yons for­med by the Apu­ri­mac Ri­ver.

The Ar­chaeo­lo­gi­cal Park is vi­si­ted by ap­pro­xi­ma­tely 20 tou­rists on a daily basis, though that fi­gu­re could be stret­ched out to 30 du­ring the high-peak sea­son. In co­ming years, the­re are plans in the of­fing to build a ca­ble car which will trans­port as many as 400 va­ca­tio­ners every hour from Choquequirao to the town of Kiu­ña­lla, in a 15-mi­nu­te dri­ve.

But whi­le this stream­li­ning and mo­der­ni­zing mo­ment co­mes in, many will con­ti­nue to ven­tu­re out the­re and en­joy the ecs­tasy of wi­de­ning the lungs and the soul with this pa­ra­di­se of his­tory and nature. In the sa­me breath, they will for su­re pay re­ve­ren­ce for the sa­cred traces of one of the most stun­ning in­di­ge­nous cul­tu­res the Americas ever had.

pEn la ciu­da­de­la con­tras­tan las edi­fi­ca­cio­nes de pie­dra en per­fec­to equi­li­brio con la ma­jes­tuo­si­dad que ofre­ce el eco­sis­te­ma. In the ci­ta­del, sto­ne buil­dings ma­ke per­fect con­trast with the jaw-drop­ping ecosys­tem.

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