Observing the flight of a condor, the largest bird of prey on the planet, is one of the most amazing experiences due to the exceptional display of this solitary animal when it soars in the high Andean sky. And in Cusco there is a privileged place to enjoy this event: the Mirador de Chonta, one of the new tourist destinations worth visiting.
Located in the district of Limatambo, in the Cusco province of Anta and at 3,400 meters above sea level, the Chonta Viewpoint boasts a landscape of exceptional natural beauty. There, snow-capped mountains, forests, rivers, lagoons and a canyon stand out, which serves as the ideal setting for the condors to spread their enormous wings and let themselves be carried away in complete freedom by the placid blue sky adorned by undaunted clouds that resemble cotton flakes.
For the Incas, the condor or “kuntur” in Quechua was a “messenger of the gods” that communicates the upper levels of the religious world or “Hanan Pacha” and the earthly world or “Kay Pacha”.
This bird symbolized strength, intelligence and exaltation. He is highly respected because he predicts the sunrise every morning and with his vital energy he is capable of dominating the high Andean peaks.
As its name indicates, the Chonta condor viewpoint offers to observe one of the most famous natural spectacles of the Andes Mountains: the flight of the condor.
The site has three viewpoints from where you can see the Apurímac river canyon. To get there you must walk for approximately 1 hour. Already throughout this walk you can appreciate beautiful Andean landscapes and condors flying over the place.
The third viewpoint, the furthest and highest, is preferred by visitors. From there it is possible to appreciate with a better view the flight of up to ten Andean condors (depending on the weather and the time of the visit).
Where is the Chonta Viewpoint?
The Mirador de Chonta is located 98 km northeast of Cusco, a journey that you can travel in 3 hours and a half.
Geographically it is located in the Apurímac river canyon, over 3,400 meters above sea level.
When you arrive at the community of Chonta, where you will find the ticket office to access the viewpoint, you will have to take a medium-difficulty walk. In the 3.2 km of this trek you will find incredible landscapes, have your camera ready!
What to see at the condor viewpoint in Chonta, Limatambo?
The Chonta viewpoint has paths along the slopes of mountains, which show impressive landscapes of the Apurímac canyon. In addition, in some sections of the 3.5-kilometer journey, condors can be seen flying over the place.
There are three viewpoints located in strategic places from where you can see the flight of the condors. The third is the busiest for visitors as it offers the best views. According to the local park rangers, between 3 pm. and 4 p.m. It is the best time to appreciate birds.
It is possible that on a bad day (especially due to rain) the condors do not decide to fly over the place. Unfortunately, in these cases it is likely that the visitor will not be able to appreciate this natural spectacle.
The Andean condor is the most famous bird in South America. It is a symbol in the national coat of arms of Bolivia, Ecuador, Chile and Colombia.
Its scientific name is Vultur Gryphus. It is the largest flying bird in the world after albatross. It has a height of up to 1.42 meters and a length (with wings in flight) of up to 3.30 meters.
Its natural habitat is the Andes Mountains, although it can also descend to the Pacific coast. It is estimated that it can fly an average of 3 kilometers a day. Its flight can reach up to 5 thousand meters of elevation.
The condor is characterized by its black plumage. It also has white plumage around the neck. Males have a reddish crest while females do not. It feeds on carrion, which it can perceive from several kilometers away due to its great sense of sight and smell.
Condors make their nests on the most inaccessible peaks of the mountains. They manage to live up to 60 years in their natural habitat and 75 in captivity. They are monogamous because they choose a partner for life. It is estimated that they hatch 1 egg every two years.
For the Incas, the condor was a sacred intermediary bird between the world of the living (the kay pacha) with the heavenly world (hanan pacha). For them, the condor did not die but was resurrected by throwing itself from the high mountains to the ravines. Then they rose into a new cycle of life.
Currently, the condor is in a ‘vulnerable situation’.
How to get?
The most direct way to get to the Mirador de Chonta is to take the Cusco-Abancay highway and continue until kilometer 80, where the district of Limatambo is located. Then, you have to take the detour to the community of Chonta along a carriage trail of approximately 18 kilometers to the viewpoint ticket office. The entrance fee is 10 soles. Finally, you have to undertake a walk of around 3.5 kilometers.
- The tours to the condor viewpoint in Chonta cost between 40 to 60 dollars per tourist.
- The tours include: pick up in Cusco, complete transportation, lunch, entrance fee and tour guide.
- The tours can be hired online or in person through a tourism agency in the city of Cusco.
Trip Without Tour
- Some tourists prefer to visit the condor viewpoint in Chonta on their own.
- For this, a trip must be made from the city of Cusco to the Chonta viewpoint, passing through the district of Limatambo.
- At the door of the viewpoint you must pay the sum of 10 Peruvian soles (approximately 3 dollars).
- The return trip follows the same direction: Chonta – Limatambo – Cusco.
- Traveling on your own can be cheaper than traveling on a tour, but requires good organization.
What other tourist attractions will you find near the Mirador de Chonta?
If you plan to travel to the Mirador de Chonta, you can take the opportunity to visit other interesting places. Here are some ideas for you!
It is one of the most representative farms of the Cusco region, where fruits such as avocado, orange, lucumas, grapes, custard apples, among others, are grown. It is conditioned to receive visitors, who will be able to access guided tours and taste the harvested fruits.
Tarawasi Archaeological Complex
This Inca archaeological center is located in the district of Limatambo and it is a ceremonial center in which a stone altar or “usnu” stands out, agricultural terraces with their respective fountain and irrigation channel, as well as walls and trapezoidal niches of great size.
The Incas not only had great devotion to Inti (sun god), but also paid a very special cult to Mama Killa (the moon), whom they considered Inti’s wife and the representation of the feminine side of the firmament. Thus, this civilization built various places in honor of the moon, among which is the Temple of Killrumiyoc, in the Ancahuasi district. Considering the moon as responsible for crops and everything that comes out of the earth, Killarumiyoc was also a large Inca agricultural complex.
Here you will find terraces, water channels, platforms, cultivation areas, an ushnu or pyramid, and even a cave with petroglyphs. But the most striking element of Killarumilloc is a large rock located in the center in which the Incas carved a half moon that served as a throne for the Inca. This archaeological complex is simply exciting!
Recommendations to visit the Mirador de Chonta and its surroundings
- Have you already dared to know another of the incredible corners that the mountains of Cusco hide? Do not miss these tips!
- Wear dark-colored clothing to avoid attracting the attention of the condors.
- Visit the venue between 1 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. and you will have more chances of spotting condors.
- In the rainy season (from December to April) it is more difficult to find condors in full flight.
- If you want to visit both the Chonta Viewpoint and the tourist attractions around it, book a tour with an agency. You will save time and learn more about the history of this place!
Best Tours in Peru
Many are the routes that take you to Machu Picchu, but none is like the Inca Trail tours, the most famous pedestrian path in the Americas. After flying from the capital of Peru, Lima, you will arrive in Cusco to walk for four days along a path through forests and dense fog, millenary stone steps and discovering the ruins of ancient fortifications and Inca cities, and all the time enjoying majestic views.
- Salcantay Trek Peru
- Palcoyo Mountain Tour
- Cusco to Manu Tour
- Humantay Lake Day Trip
- Huchuy Qosqo Day Hike
- Half Day Cusco City Tour
- Llactapata Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
- Qoyllur Riti Festival
- Apurimac River Rafting
- Vilcabamba Trek to Machu Picchu
- Inti Raymi and Machu Picchu Tour
- Salkantay Inca Trail Combo
- Waqrapukara Peru Full Day Tour
If you want to visit Machu Picchu, we recommend you to book your Machu Picchu ticket in advance, so you will enjoy your vacation in Machu Picchu without any problem.