The Sister Mountain or how Choquequirao is known to Machu Picchu is located in the Salcantay Mountain Range in Southern Peru and its height surpasses Machu Picchu by 10,000 feet. While living in Peru, my family took advantage of the proximity of both Inca ruins to visit. The trek was long, and the air was a challenge for those that were not accustomed to the high altitude. Even an occasional run in with an Alpaca was seen during our walk. Depending on where you came from determined the length of days one’s trek to the ruins took.
Choquequirao was built about the same time as Machu Picchu rumor somewhere between 1418-1471 first under the command of Pachacuti Inca Yupanqui and later finished by his son Tupac Inca Yupanqui. There is a lot of speculation as to its purpose, when it was built and why the site was abandoned. The main idea though, that it was a protection barrier between invaders and Machu Picchu, later most likely being abandoned after the murder of their commander Tupac. Sadly answers are frequently lost to time due to the unwritten language during certain periods and we truly will never know.
Nestled in the Vilcamba Valley the Choquequirao settlement was important for it appeared to be one of the last strongholds of the Incan Empire. As we walked my mind traveled back in time imagining what it would have been like if I had lived there. The views were breath taking. The absolute serenity of the area was mesmerizing. As I walked my narrow path at times, it was a little nerve-wrecking for it felt like you could fall off the mountain since protective barriers didn’t exist. The sounds were pure, the vista was saturated in shades of greens, browns, yellows and rustic hues. At times I even walked through a cloud! This was amazing, not being able briefly to see where I was going bits of light flickered through smelling the crisp clean air and as the cloud passed, brief glimpses of the view behind it re-emerged.
As the trek continued, we occasionally stopped to rest and to have a snack. While having our little picnic, we were able to visit and comment about everything we were seeing. My thoughts traveled to an imaginary child who might have lived here. What her life might have been like? What she might have played with or what types of foods were her favorites; if she was happy? The Apurimac River passed below; did she swim there? Fish? Walking through the ruins it was absolutely mind-blowing. Nowadays there are very limited areas remaining that an everyday person like me, can have a firsthand experience with the past; no barriers, no sign saying do not touch, no glass case between us.
What a blessing to have been there. For a brief moment transcending time, I shared space with the Inca’s!