Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 29th 2013 Contents B9
Thursday, August 29, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
LIMA, Peru---The former moun-
taintop refuge of Incan royalty
has elegant halls and plazas much
like those of fabled Macchu Pic-
chu just 30 miles (50 kilometres
Yet only a handful of tourists
visit the ruins each day, those will-
ing to make a two-day hike to
reach its majestic solitude.
That is about to change: The
national government has approved
what would be Peru s first aerial
tramway. Bridging the deep canyon
of the Apurimac River, it is expect-
ed to make Choquequirao reach-
able in just 15 minutes from the
The 3-mile long cable car will
be designed to whiz 400 people
an hour in each direction a half
mile above the river. The president
of the Apurimac state government,
Elias Segovia, anticipates the $45
million 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" in hotels, restaurants
and other amenities, he says.
The idea is to shift some of the
tourist burden from Machu Picchu,
where authorities have a limit of
2,500 daily visitors and where
reservations are now required for
people who wish to hike the famed
Inca Trail to the ruins.
Currently, most visitors to
Choquequirao must fly to Cuzco,
the former Inca imperial capital,
then drive four hours on mountain
roads. Then it s another 12 to 16
hours on foot.
It s little wonder Choquequirao
gets only about five visitors a day.
"When we went there it was
the two of us and the two rangers,"
said Jeff Widman, a 27-year-old
Internet entrepreneur from Menlo
Park, California, who trekked there
with his wife, and continued on
to Machu Picchu.
Choquequirao, which means
"cradle of gold" in Quechua, is
believed to be the last refuge of
Incan rulers who fled Cuzco after
its leader Manco Inca was defeated
by Spanish conquistadors. It is
draped over the fold of a lesser
mountain in the shadow of Sal-
cantay peak, surrounded at 9,950
feet by steep precipices.
Its buildings and irrigation canals
meticulously hewn into rock are
as well-preserved as those of
Machu Picchu, its "top-of-the-
world" views equally spectacular.
Only about 30 per cent of
Choquequirao has been cleared for
tourism. The rest, for now, remains
covered in vegetation.
David Ugarte, regional director
of culture in Cuzco, predicts the
tramway will open up to broader
tourism not just Choquequirao but
also other archaeological sites in
It is the first of 24 that President
Ollanta Humala envisions building
in each of Peru s states to boost
Not everyone is happy about it.
Arturo Almiron, of the travel
agency Tours a Cuzco, believes it
will put off the kind of tourist who
wants to be thrown back spiritually
to the epoch when the city was
the Inca capital.
He fears visitors to Choque-
quirao will be robbed of the pos-
sibility of watching condors soar
in the quiet stillness of untram-
"Cuzco s very character is in the
preservation of its historical centre
and archaeological sites," he said.
"If we build a tramway, that
preservation is altered. A touch of
modernity is added that isn t very
attractive. Authenticity is lost."
Mandy Kalitsis of Toronto, oper-
ations manager for the Cuzco-
based Apus-Peru tour company,
acknowledged that Choquequirao
"will lose some of its charm."
"But as long as the government
manages (the tramway) properly,
I think it can bring some good into
the area," said Kalitsis, whose com-
pany organizes treks to Choque-
Peru s Housing Ministry and
Apurimac s regional government
are about to begin taking bids for
construction. Companies from
Switzerland and Andorra have
already expressed interest. (AP)
Tramway planned for
Machu Picchu's 'sister city'
This file photo shows the Choquequirao ruins in Cuzco, Peru. Choquequirao,
which means "cradle of gold" in Quechua, is believed to be the last refuge of
Incan rulers who fled Cuzco after its leader Manco Inca was defeated by Spanish
conquistadors. AP PHOTO
In this file photo, tourists look at the Inca citadel of Macchu Picchu in
Peru. AP PHOTO
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