Machu Picchu is the most well-known of the Peruvian ruins, but it’s not the only ancient site. (Thinkstock)
Apparently one Machu Picchu just isn’t enough. The Peruvian government is investing millions of dollars to develop “a second Machu Picchu” — the little-known Chachapoya ancient ruins — to attract visitors to the northern part of the country.
At the center of the project is Kuelap, a stone fortress that sits atop a mountain ridge in a cloud forest.
The Kuelap ruins in Chachapoya in northern Peru (Salta Conmigo/Flickr)
“Kuelap could be a second Machu Picchu, easily,” said Peruvian President Ollanta Humala. “With Kuelap, we can create a tourist circuit that will be as competitive as the south,” where the famous citadel is located.
Kuelap, built around 1300, was named a cultural heritage site in 2003, but it is a largely undiscovered gem when it comes to tourism — partly because it’s a steep climb to reach the site and its amazing views. This $17.9 million project is meant to solve that problem with a cable car system that will be able to transport 1,000 people an hour to the site. The cars will be operational in 2016.
There are several other ancient ruins in the area that are part of what the government calls the northern tourism circuit, including Sipan, Chan Chan, Leymebamba, and Gran Pajaten. The government hopes not only to revitalize tourism in northern Peru, but also to help ease some of the crowds at Machu Picchu.