The Other Inca Trail
Inca Ruins of Choquequirao
At its height the Inca Empire spanned much of South America, stretching down into the lowlands of South America and pushing up into the highlands of Colombia. This enormous empire was centred on Cusco, high up in the Peruvian Andes.
This region, rich in archaeological ruins, is most famous for the Incan City of Machu Picchu. The breath-taking views and amazing setting make this the iconic Incan ruin and the Inca Trail one of the most famous in the world. The high cost of the trek, which on average costs $500 or more, combined with the long waiting list makes the decision on whether to make this walk a difficult one. Personally, given my near empty bank account, I decided not to go.
Instead of taking the Inca Trail I decided to take a lesser-known trek to the Incan ruins of Choquequirao. Less well known than Machu Picchu, this city is set in a beautiful location and is easily the same size, if not slightly bigger. The other great thing about Choquequirao, is at there are almost no tourists present at the site.
Trekking to Choquequirao is actually slightly more difficult than going to Machu Picchu, because you have to organise everything by yourself. However, the fact that you are organising the trip by yourself makes everything so much cheaper. Instead of $500 per person, the walk to Choquequirao is closer to $50 per person.
The trek to Choquequirao, normally takes two days. One day there, overnight at the base of the hill, which you climb the next day, explore a bit and then head back. My personal advice, if you have the energy, would be to climb the hill on the same day and sleep at the top. That way when you wake up the next day you’re ready to explore the ruin, without the painful climb to get there.