The area of Choquequirao presents a "crazy geography" (Raimondi), because traveling only a few kilometers in direct line we find great differences in altitude.
Between the lowest point (Playa San Ignacio, Huanipaca), placed at about 1,450 meters above sea level, and the highest point (Nevado Padreyoc, Santa Teresa), located at 5,771 meters above sea level, we discovered a great diversity of landscapes due to the different Ecological Floors existing in the area, each with its different Ecosystems.
Considering that Choquequirao houses a dozen different Ecosystems, it is convenient to cluster them into macro-zones of life, which we will call Natural Regions.
Yunga fluvial (1,000-2,300 m.asl)
It is the transition region from the Andean zone to the Amazon. It corresponds to funds of inter-Andean valleys, fluvial-alluvial cones, steep hillside areas with some terraces.
The atmosphere is warm, humid in the summer and, where there is enough soil, exists dense vegetation.
Includes Ecosystems of: xeric shrublands, xeric montane shrublands, xeric montane forests, montane seasonal forests of Yungas.
Quechua (2,300-3,500 masl)
It includes valley bottoms, more or less extensive fluvial-alluvial cones, medium and high slope terrain, intermediate terraces, and prairies.
It has temperate climate.
It includes Ecosystems of: Humid pluviestational montane forests of the yungas, pluviestacional altimontanos forests of the Yungas.
Suni (3,500-4,000 masl)
Transition region to the Puna, from mild to cold weather. Morphologically it includes lands in hill, high valleys, terraces and high slopes, high prairies, plateaus.
Ecosystems: Polylepis altimontanos pluviestation forests of the yungas, low forests and Arbustales altimontanos of the humid puna, Pajonales and scrublands altimontanos of the humid puna, Bofedales high andinos of the humid puna.
Puna (4,000-4,500 masl)
In general, it includes high plateaus, plateaus and steep slopes, covered mainly by “ichu” or wild straw.
The climate is frigid, windy, with frequent frosts. There are many of swampy areas.
Ecosystems: High Andean Shrubland Pajonals, Yoncas Extra-Seasonal Andean Pajonals, High Andean Pajonals Of Wet Puna, High Andean Andean High Andean Forests Of Yungas, High Andean Bofedales Of Wet Puna, High Andean Andean Vegetation Of Yungas.
Janca (> 4,500 masl)
It corresponds to higher mountains, with glaciers and snow. There are mainly rocky areas, with very little vegetation. The climate is frigid, snowy, with strong winds and severe frosts.
Ecosystem: subnival geliturbated vegetation of humid puna.
The Flora in Choquequirao consists of about 2,500 species, distributed in 851 species of dicotyledons, 512 monocotyledons, 268 pteridophytes, 89 lichens, 20 hepatic, 31 fungi, 6 algae. It presents 93 species endemic of Peru and 44 species protected by Peruvian legislation; in addition there are 13 species important for their rarity, which we report below.
N ° - FAMILY - RARE SPECIES
1 - Araliaceae - Oreopanax apurimacensis Harms
2 - Araliaceae - Oreopanax weberbaueri Harms
3 - Bromeliaceae - Puya iltisiana L.B. YE.
4 - Bromeliaceae - Puya roezlii E. Morren
5 - Euphorbiaceae - Dalenchamphia acuminata
6 - Iridaceae - Mastigostyla herrerae (Vargas) Rabean
7 - Iridaceae - Mastigostyla major Ravenna
8 - Flacourtiaceae - Xylosma sp.
9 - Lomariopsidaceae - Elaphoglossum yatesii (new records)
10-Lomariopsidaceae - Elaphoglossum squamatum (new records)
11-Lomariopsidaceae - Elaphoglossum hystrix (new records)
12-Myrtaceae - Acca (relict woods)
13-Myrtaceae - Myrcianthes (relict woods)
Source: Data obtained in field evaluations by the technical team of Regional Conservation areas, 2008.
Orchids in the area constitute an important group. 288 species of various genera have been found: Stelis, Odontoglossum, Bletia, Epidendrum, Masdevallia, Oncidium, Sauroglossum, Cyrtopodium, Govenia, Pleurothallis, Maxillaria, Lepanthes, Habenaria, Epistephium, Erythrodes, Galeottia, Telipogon, Stenia, Stenoptera, Stellilabium, Pharmipedium and Rusbyella, among others.
A total of 208 bird species have been recorded, of which the most represented families are Thraupidade (34 spp.), Tyrannidae (31 spp.) And Trochilidae (25 spp.).
It includes twenty protected species in danger of extinction, among which the "Andean Condor" Vultur gryphus.
Among the mammals are 19 species, distributed in 5 orders and 13 families. They include the "spectacled bear" Tremarctos ornatus, the "osccollo" Leopardus jacobitus, the "puma" Puma concolor and the "deer" Andigena hypoglauca.
Among the lepidoptera are 21 species distributed in 4 families.
Among the reptiles are 05 species, distributed in 02 families:
Chironius sp., Tachymenis peruviana, Erythrolamprus sp., Peruvian Dipsas, Proctoporus sp.
It is important to mention the CHOQUEQUIRAO A.C.R.
(Regional Conservation Area), create on 2010 in the Cusco Region and covering an area of 103,814.39 ha, including part of the provinces of Anta and La Convención.
The Choquequirao A.C.R. encloses wonderful ecosystems of puna, humid montane forests and dry forests, also it houses important Inca archaeological centers; its unique scenic beauty and its high diversity in endemic flora and fauna make it an attractive tourist destination.
It would be important that the Apurímac Region processes similar Regional Conservation Area in its neighboring territory, to complement A.C.R. already established in Cusco and reinforcing the ecological conservation of the area of Choquequirao.