Unlike its much popular neighbor, only a handful of tourists visit the ruins of Choquequirao, the mountaintop refuge of the Incan royalty, each day. The few who venture up there, are those willing to make a two-day hike.
Authorities in Cusco hope that will soon change thanks to a recently approved plan to build Peru’s first aerial tramway. The tramway will cost $45 million and will bridge the deep canyon of the Apurimac River. It is expected to make the Incan royal mountaintop of Choquequirao reachable in 15 minutes from the main road.
The plan calls for a three-mile-long route that is designed to carry 400 people an hour in each direction at a height of half a mile above the river.
Elias Segovia, the president of the Apurimac state government, tramway will bring about 3,000 tourists a day after it opens in late 2015.
“This is going to generate tourist services. It will generate great investment,” he said.
Officials hope the new aerial tramway will shift some of the tourist burden from Machu Picchu, where authorities have a limit of 2,500 daily visitors.
Choquequirao, which means “cradle of gold” in Quechua, is believed to have been the last refuge of Incan rulers who fled Cusco after its leader Manco Inca was defeated by Spanish conquistadors. It is draped over the fold of a lesser mountain in the shadow of Salcantay peak, surrounded by steep precipices.
David Ugarte, regional director of culture in Cusco, predicts the tramway will open up travel not just to Choquequirao but also other archaeological sites in the region.
It is the first of 24 tramways that Peru’s president, Ollanta Humala, envisions building in each of the country’s states to boost tourism.