Visiting the Inca ceremonial site of Machu Picchu rightly takes the plaudits as ‘the top thing to do’ when in Peru, but the country has a whole range of fantastic sights snapping at the lofty heels of the ‘Lost City of the Incas’ (the name given to it, inaccurately, by American academic and explorer Hiram Bingham).
That said, Machu Picchu takes some beating – its location alone is spectacular: a mountain high above the Urubamba river that has seemingly been rearranged, Lego-style, as a terraced citadel on a saddle between two peaks. If you’ve trekked the Inca Trail, which takes you past a multitude of other Inca construction en route, you’ll appreciate the majesty of this archaeological wonder all the more.
Still, if you’d like an Inca site all to yourself, then the rougher-hewn Choquequirao – The Cradle of Gold – is a better bet. Although the 20-mile trek in from the village of Cachora is by no means as impressive as the Inca Trail, you’ll be rewarded with much more space and time to make your own ‘discoveries’ amidst the partially excavated ruins.
Sure to set pulses racing is Keshwa Chaca, the only remaining example of the grass bridges that the Inca used to span the canyons that cleft their mountain network. Renewed in 2003 using the traditional technique of weaving grass into ever-bigger braids, Keshwa Chaca stretches across a 100-foot-wide section of the Apurimac River as it snakes its way towards Cuzco.