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Deciding Between Choquequirao and Machu Picchu: A Traveler’s Guide to Peru’s Iconic Ruins

Weighing the Challenges and Rewards of Peru’s Historic Treks


In the heart of the Andes lie two of the most enigmatic remnants of the Inca Empire: Choquequirao and Machu Picchu. Both sites capture the imagination with their breathtaking ruins and stunning natural backdrops. As a traveler, choosing between these majestic destinations can be challenging. This guide will delve into the details of each, helping you make an informed decision for your next adventure.

Overview of Machu Picchu


Machu Picchu, known as the “Lost City of the Incas,” remained hidden from the outside world until its discovery by Hiram Bingham. This site served various purposes, from a royal estate to a religious retreat.


  • Transportation: Easily accessible, with train services and buses available to the site. The famous Inca Trail also leads here for those seeking a hiking adventure.
  • Accommodation: Diverse options in the nearby town of Aguas Calientes cater to all budgets and preferences.


  • Architectural Marvels: The precision of Incan stonework is evident in structures like the Temple of the Sun.
  • Panoramic Views: Located between two peaks, Machu Picchu offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains.

Overview of Choquequirao


Choquequirao, meaning ‘Cradle of Gold’ in Quechua, is believed to have served as an administrative and ceremonial hub. It mirrors the structure of Machu Picchu but remains shrouded in mystery due to its remote location.


  • Trekking Requirement: The site is only accessible via a challenging 2-day hike, which adds to its allure for adventure enthusiasts.
  • Isolation: Its inaccessibility means it receives far fewer visitors, offering a more solitary experience amidst nature.

Unique Aspects:

  • Untouched Ruins: Much of Choquequirao remains unexcavated, presenting a raw and authentic look into Inca history.
  • Diverse Ecology: The trek to Choquequirao cuts through various ecological zones, offering a rich display of flora and fauna.

Comparative Overview

FeatureChoquequiraoMachu Picchu
LocationRemote, in the AndesNear Aguas Calientes, Andes
Accessibility2-day strenuous trekTrain, bus, or Inca Trail
Tourist TrafficFewer tourists, more secludedHighly popular, more crowded
Historical SignificanceLesser-known, similar historical significance as Machu PicchuWorld-renowned Incan site, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Unique AttractionsLlama Terraces, larger unexcavated areasIconic Sun Temple, Intihuatana stone, panoramic views
Ideal forAdventure seekers, off-the-beaten-path explorersThose preferring easier access, iconic historical sites
Tour Options3-day, 4-day, 5-day treks1-day, 2-day tours including Sacred Valley

Making Your Choice

Both Choquequirao and Machu Picchu offer mesmerizing insights into Incan history and culture. Your choice depends on what you’re looking for in your travel experience. Machu Picchu offers ease and accessibility with a touch of historical wonder, while Choquequirao promises an adventurous journey through less-traveled paths. Whichever you choose, you’ll undoubtedly be embarking on an unforgettable journey into the heart of the Incan empire.

Preparation Tips

  1. Physical Fitness: Both destinations involve hiking. For Choquequirao, a higher level of fitness is required due to the challenging terrain.
  2. Gear and Clothing: Pack lightweight, moisture-wicking clothing, a good pair of hiking boots, and rain gear. Don’t forget sun protection and a hat.
  3. Hydration and Nutrition: Carry enough water and high-energy snacks. Staying hydrated and well-fed is crucial.
  4. Acclimatization: Spend a few days in Cusco or a similar altitude to acclimatize to avoid altitude sickness.
  5. Guided Tours: Consider booking a guided tour, especially for Choquequirao, as it involves complex navigation.
  6. Respect Local Customs: Be mindful of local traditions and customs. Respect the natural and cultural heritage of the sites.
  7. Travel Insurance: Ensure you have travel insurance that covers high-altitude trekking and emergency evacuation if needed.

Ready to Explore?

As your journey through the heart of the Inca Empire draws near, consider these exclusive tours that promise an enriching experience:

  • 3-Day Choquequirao Trek: Embark on an adventure to Choquequirao, known as the ‘Sister City of Machu Picchu’. This trek is a blend of cultural discovery and natural beauty, ideal for those with limited time but an undying thirst for adventure.
  • 6-Day Choquequirao to Machu Picchu Journey: For the ultimate Incan experience, traverse from the ruins of Choquequirao to the iconic Machu Picchu. This comprehensive tour is for those who wish to immerse themselves fully in the majesty of these ancient cities.
  • 2-Day Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu Tour: Explore the enchanting Sacred Valley before marveling at the splendor of Machu Picchu. This tour combines scenic beauty with historical exploration, perfect for those who desire a more relaxed pace.

Each of these tours offers a unique perspective of Peru’s rich heritage. Visit our website to find out more about these and other exciting adventures that await you.

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