Peru tramway opens up 'Machu Picchu 2'

4th Sep 2013

Peru-bound tourists on trekking holidays who have marvelled at Machu Picchu can now enjoy a similar, hitherto unheralded experience just 30 miles away.

The ruined city of Choquequirao is one of the South American country's most revered cultural sites.

It was once a mountain-top refuge of Incan royalty, with elegant halls and plazas akin to Machu Picchu's fabled ruins.

UNESCO World Heritage Site Machu Picchu is one of the world's most easily recognisable landmarks.

It came first in the Travellers' Choice Attractions awards' Top 10 World Best Landmarks 2013, announced by TripAdvisor.

Choquequirao, the so-called "Cradle of Gold", conversely attracts only handfuls of tourists and has been virtually anonymous … up until now.

Only those tourists on private journeys willing to make a two-day trek have been able to appreciate its majestic solitude.

But the Peruvian government has now approved what will be country's first aerial tramway for late 2015.

Bridging the deep canyon of the Apurimac River, it will make Choquequirao reachable in only 15 minutes from the nearest highway.

The three mile (4.8km) long cable car route will take 400 people an hour in each direction, a half mile (804m) above the river - bringing in about 3,000 tourists each day it is predicted.

Authorities want to switch some of the tourist burden from Machu Picchu, where there is a restriction of 2,500 daily visitors and reservations are now needed for people who wish to hike the famed Inca Trail to the ruins.

Choquequirao is thought to be the final refuge of Incan rulers who fled Cuzco after its leader Manco Inca was overcome by Spanish conquistadors.

It is draped over the fold of a lesser mountain in the shadow of Salcantay peak, flanked at 9,950 feet (2,895m) by sharp precipices.

Its buildings and irrigation canals painstakingly hewed into rock are as well-preserved as those in Machu Picchu - its "top-of-the-world" outlooks just as stunning

Only about 30% of Choquequirao has been approved for tourism, while the remainder stays submerged in vegetation.

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