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Pachacamac - an ancient Peruvian site

Friday 17th August – Pachacamac

We woke normal Peru time (thank goodness) and had a pleasant hotel breakfast (after spotting some interesting tea choices of manzanilla (apple- I loved this), anise and coca. We were up early enough to walk to the chocolate shop Xocxactl and to the nearby Parque Kennedy, where we saw a sweet cat and a beautiful flowering tree.
After packing and dropping out bags at the desk we were collected by our private guide, Maria, at 9 o’clock. The small minibus drove us out of Miraflores along the Pacific towards the Christ statue on the hill. Apparently this 37m statue of Cristo del Pacifico is a bit controversial. It was only erected last year (2011) by Alan Garcia (the departing president) as a gift. Our guide complained that it was basically just a copy of the Rio Christ the Redeemer.
Then we headed inland along the main Pan-American through the suburbs.
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There were loads of small, half finished houses built up the hills. Apparently, in Peru, you only pay house tax (like taxe d’habitation) when you declare your house complete. Hence no house was ever technically complete- many houses had semi- construction on their roofs as if for another floor. So, poorer households save for each section of work, sometimes taking several years e.g. for bricks to replace corrugated iron, then for plaster etc. Only very wealthy people say their houses are finished- like some wealthy parts of Lima to the north. 48878876288_a790b2bec4_o.jpgWe continued out of Lima towards Pachacamac (town). The hills around Lima are very interesting as they look like layers of sand, folded over- so very different to what we see. Then, a short drive to Pachacamac Archaeological site. We parked the minibus in the front. A small group of llama went past with a herder and several very friendly hairless Inca hounds. When I asked, our guide said it was government policy to put native flora and fauna on archaeological sites for authenticity.
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Firstly we went into the excellent Pachacamac Museum. It was arranged mainly chronologically, with a nod to themes. We looked initially at the Huari/ Wari culture who preceded the Inca in Pachacamac (who only ruled the area for a very short time). The pottery was beautiful as was their totem to Pachacamac (look at it using the mirror to see both sides properly). I found the quipu examples very interesting.
THE PACHACAMAC SITE
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Quipu-
The Inca were a pre-literate society, but as a highly organised and centralised empire, wanted to keep tabs on what was going on. Their means to this end was the quipu. This was a long string hung with series of shorter, knotted strings. 48879394466_3e7683279b_o.jpg
By varying the knot type, the distance between knots and the colours, they could record troops, tributes, agricultural produce, population and probably their legends/ stories. It was almost writing. It would be read or “written” by a quipucamayo (memory guide). Unfortunately the Spanish did not agree with “unchristian” writing and he ability to read the quipu has been lost.

Then out of the museum to drive into the site and up to the first structure- a beautiful stepped structure (I always hesitate to say pyramid as, although the shape name is correct, the link with burial Egyptian-style can confuse).

48878865993_e77da85ac2_o.jpgPachacamac was a pre-Inca site built by the Moche and Huari between 200-800AD with Inca additions 800-1450 AD. It is 30 km south of Lima and the Temples of the Sun and Moon are especially impressive. The buildings are made of sun-dried bricks and only the aridity of the site has preserved them. So far 17 pyramids have been discovered along with a cemetery. An Early Intermediate (200-600AD) multicoloured fish fresco is impressive. The Huari (Wari) 600-800AD built the city as an administrative centre and their designs appear on much excavated material. Between 800 and 1450 (when the Inca arrived) the Huari Empire had collapsed and a confederacy, the Ichma (Yschsma), was in control. The Ichma joined the Inca Empire who included the Huari creator god Pacha Kamaq into their pantheon, retaining his oracle. Pacha Kamaq means Earth-maker and the Inca added him as a brother to Manco Capac. Another legend places him, Viracocha (the Inca creator god) and Manco as sons of Inti. In this version he makes man and woman but forgets to feed them. The starving
woman asks Inti to become their god and her son Wichama (?Viracocha) throws Pacha Kamaq into the sea to become God of the fish! The Inca 1450-1532AD built five more buildings: the large Temple of the Sun, The Acllahuasi (Chosen Women or Maidens House) for their sacrificial woman, the Palace of Taurichumbi (for the emperor) and the Seat of the Peregrinos (Pilgrims to the oracle) are all Inca additions. Sadly, Francisco Pizarro heard about Pachacamac in 1532, when holding Atahualpa prisoner, and sent an expedition to seize all the gold and silver there and destroy the oracle.
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The structure is currently being excavated and restored and its design and building was very clear. Bisecting it was the main North-South road, with
high protective walls.
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We continued our drive clockwise round the site where we could very clearly see the limits of Pachacamac town (the site boundaries are government marked as, even though not visible, it is clear that there is a lot of archaeology to find). The houses come right along the edge of the site. We stopped to look over the Palace of TauriChumpi (below- access not currently available).
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The Inca did not rule Lima for long, but a look at their “conquest” tactics is interesting. They operated a divide and rule system. A tribe/ confederation would be earmarked and the leader “invited” to join the empire. If he agreed, and most did, he would become an important regional leader. His children would be educated in Cusco (as elite hostages) and taught the Inca way of life before returning as the next leaders. A second thrust
would see enforced movements of people to areas they did not know (often speaking a different language) and a move of local Quecha speakers (as the Inca were) to troublesome areas (as with the Han).
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A note on the Wari Culture
Also known in the Spanish version, Huari. They were a Middle Horizon culture in the central Andes, in a similar area to the later Inca, 500-1000AD. Their capital city, also called Wari, is close to modern Ayacucho/ Huamanga. There are a number of their ruins in the Cusco area, including Pikillaqta (south of Cusco- we saw it whilst driving from Puno to Cusco). They probably added to the building of Sacsayhuaman. The Wari extended, much as the Inca did later, north towards modern Lima where they took over the ancient oracle of Pacha Kamaq and built the temples and administrative centre of Pachacamac, as well as adding to Huaca Pucllana. They were a centralised state, which could reasonably be described as an empire. They built temple, roads and terraces. Like the Inca they were pre-literate, but clearly had significant social groupings.
In 2013 an undisturbed tomb at El Castillo de Huarmey was discovered with 3 royal or noble women with high status grave goods. They probably fell foul of a prolonged drought c800AD and by 1000AD most of their population centres had dramatically declined, and raiding/ intergroup warfare had become common.
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Then we drove around past the Painted Temple (so called because much of the original red paint is clearly visible) and ended up parking at the bottom of the Temple of the Sun. A huge cactus impressively sat by the minibus as we began the gentle(ish) walk up to the temple. For me, it was interesting to see details of the original construction (a core of earthquake resistant boulders covered by mud-clay plaster that was clearly originally painted red and white- some still visible.) It’s estimated that over 50 million sun-dried clay bricks were used to build this temple alone! The Temple(s) are in fact, four pyramids, superimposed, built on an imposing rocky outcrop with spectacular ocean and inland views.
48878852098_6d9c3febac_o.jpg48879569372_a1eeb153f8_o.jpgWe walked around the temple on the zigzag path, which was probably also the original Inca entrance to the top where we rewarded by a magnificent view- out to the low pre-Andes one way and the Pacific and Islas de Pachacamac the other way. Our guide explained about the niches and the practise of sacrifice. Apparently, according to her, young noble people (mainly girls) would be raised in seclusion. If everything in the world was good (i.e. your sacrifice was not needed) when you became a woman you would be discharged and helped to find a good husband. However, if things were going pear-shaped (e.g. famine, no rain) you would be required for a sacrifice (which they may well have considered an honour!). The niches and seats at the top are known as the Pilgrims Seats (Sieti de Peregrinos).
We walked back down and the minibus took us to the last important structure- the reconstructed Maidens Temple or Acllahuasi (House of the Chosen Women). Now many people get all hot under the collar about reconstructions (see the fuss about Crete), but if done well, can give a real insight into how they lived. The reconstructed building shows the classic Inca architecture of a zigzag entrance, trapezoidal doorways and polished granite foundations. The Maidens (who would be priestesses by definition) living quarters look simple.
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Posted by PetersF 18:49 Archived in Peru Tagged peru lima llama archaeology inca pachacamac Comments (0)

Peru- Paracas

Ancient sites, deserts, pisco and beaches

Friday 17th August – Down the coast to Paracas
We drove back to the hotel and decided we just had time to have a light lunch there. We explained that we didn’t have much time to the waiter, so he brought us some lovely soup (sancochado which is beef, yucca/cassava and potato) and cold Cusco beer whilst we sat outside. Perfect timing as
the taxi collected us at 1.30.
We drove through Lima, over the major roads to the main Bus Station. Totally unlike our bus stations- we had to queue to hand/check in our luggage and get a receipt, then find the correct departure door and wait. Ours was Nazca via Pisco and Paracas. A longer wait than expected as the coach in was late, so we started half an hour later than we should have. Still, it was quite easy all in all. The coach was luxurious with footrests, free internet and
complimentary food! We set off south down the Pan-American Highway out of Lima and quickly we left the city and headed along the desert coast of Peru. It was interesting scenery of sandy hills, coast and small villages. By the time we reached Pisco town it was dusk and we arrived at Paracas in the later dusk having watched the sunset from the bus.
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The coach let us off and we had to collect our luggage by using our receipts as proof. Paracas bus station was a large open shed with a few plastic-tablecloth tables and a water bottle shop. Our taxi collected us and after a few minutes of road surprised us by turning off along a sand track (if that). Still, it turned out it was only a short cut to another road with our hotel on the left. The sweeping entrance was good and the lobby all marble and shiny. Our room was gorgeous- huge with a comfortable balcony over the swimming pools (yes, two) and Paracas Bay. We had pre-booked an evening meal at the hotel (Bahia Hacienda Paracas) as it was said to be popular and we had a wonderful sea view. Our really helpful waiter recommended some seafood, caught locally and very fresh, which turned out to be an excellent choice. A Chupe de pascado and a Lima butter bean lime salad (butter beans have been eaten for over 6000 years in Peru). He found some super local wine (Ocucaje Peru Fond de Cave Chardonnay – they have been in the wine/ pisco business since 1898 and this fruity white wine was great with the fish) to go along with it. We were persuaded to try Pisco Sour, which Steve liked, and I hated.
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Pisco is the capital of Pisco Province. It is a Quecha word meaning bird and the Spanish set up a villa close to the indigenous settlement. A vineyard there did so well that the 16th century Spanish invented a yellow/ amber brandy which is now called pisco. Chile has long tried to claim the brand, and even renamed one of its towns Pisco.
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Saturday 18th August – Paracas reserve
We woke quite early (still adjusting to the time zone, I think) and spent the early morning watching the bird life from our balcony. As it was dawn, but pleasantly warm, there were lots of birds feeding on the early fish shoals and even more so when the early fishing boats came in. I particularly enjoyed watching the pelicans with their distinctive looks and fishing techniques, as well as the large Peruvian Boobies. Steve got very interested in watching the kite surfers and decided he’d like to try kite surfer one day.
The bird life is the most abundant of land life in the area- a huge variety of birds are there- 216 species. We saw white-tufted grebes, Peruvian Pelicans, Peruvian boobies at least.
We had time before breakfast for a pleasant early morning walk along the bay (going right, towards Paracas town), then had an excellent breakfast of tamales (boiled corn and cheese in a banana leaf), before heading to the lobby to see if we could go to the Ballestas Islands. Unfortunately it was too windy (we didn’t notice in the bay, but when we later left it we could see the problem), so our guide proposed a tour of the Reserve instead. This turned out to be a better choice than the Ballestas as over the day we saw pretty much all the same animals (dolphins, guano birds, seals to name just a few). The minibus collected us and another family and set off left towards Paracas town (a very small town or a large village depending on your point of view), then slightly inland into the paracas themselves.
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Paracas is a Quecha word for sandstorm, which is what happens each year late Aug/ early Sept as the winds pick up and the skies fill with sand. The dunes in the area are a result of this phenomenon.
We stopped to buy a Reserve pass, then drove to the Red Mountain (a pre-Inca necropolis), which was opposite the Paracas Reserve Museum. The necropolis, Wari Kayan held several hundred burials in the Topara style c.100-250AD. They had associated ceramics (plain, red and white slip), food and weapon offerings. Each burial was seated and textile wrapped, facing north and looks very similar to early Nazca Culture burials. The museum started with an interesting room about how the area looked million of years ago (a rainforest before it dried out), including some fossilised landscapes. The remainder of the museum was really dedicated to the environment, both marine and land, around Paracas (including an environmental part upstairs).
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When we had finished our guide took us over the sand (literally- just like when we drove through Wadi Rum in Jordan) towards the Pacific. We came over and down a paracas to Red Beach (Playa Roja), which was a truly beautiful bay with very red sand. The island in the distance was called Pannetone Island (because it looked just like one). We spent a while here enjoying the rollers of the Pacific. Annoyingly, for Steve, he managed to break his sunglasses and it was so bright he had to wear them with 1 arm only until we got to Arequipa where he bought some fake Gucci’s to replace them in the Plaza de Armas. Then we drove back up the sand dunes and ending in an alien looking environment our guide jokingly called Mars (red, arid sand, no visible water, small rocky outcrops and NO ONE else around). He explained that the small piles of rocks (well larger than pebbles but smaller than rocks) were small hills made by people. They are called apachetas and relate to pre-Inca and Inca beliefs in the power of mountains. If you make or add to an apacheta you can have a wish or good luck (slightly different interpretations, but the general gist is the same), so of course we had to do this!
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Read the section about Inca mythology to understand the importance of rock piles. Certainly in Inca (and probably pre-Inca) times a small pile of rocks would mark your household place or huaclla (the size of which, of course, depended on whether you were a peasant farmer or an emperor!). It is understandable, given the terrain, that Andean cultures would have a thing about mountains (what with the earthquakes, volcanoes, altiplano and Andes peaks). Many sacrifices and necropoli are associated with mountains.
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The minibus took us past more sand dunes and beaches (no-one seemed to use these beaches- in Europe they would have been packed. Apparently Paracas is trying to develop itself as a seaside destination). We parked a short walk from the overhang that looked down over The Cathedral, where we were lucky enough to spot a whole school of dolphins. The Cathedral (or rather what was left of it after the natural arch was destroyed the 2007 tsunami) was covered with guano birds. It was very windy and we soon left to visit Devil Beach overhang. Our guide said this was one of the more dangerous beaches as it had a terrible undertow. We were getting rather hungry, so we headed back to our hotel for a late lunch of fresh seafood, which we ate outside with a glorious view of the bay. For wine- a recommendation from the maitre d’ was a local white; Vista Alegre Pinot from one of Peru’s largest vineyards, establish 1857. A lower alcohol wine since we had a longish journey, it was light and fruity and pleasant for lunch.
We spent the afternoon sitting on the beach chilling, before our taxi took us back to the Paracas coach station shed to catch the coach to Nazca. The same system of luggage check-in and off we set.
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Paracas Reserve
This is the only coastal / marine reserve in Peru. It is a World Heritage site of 335000 hectares (land and sea) and covers the ecosystem, geography and archaeology of the local pre-Inca Paracas and Chavin cultures. The sun shines around 18.7 °C all year and there is virtually no rainfall. Wind in general is 15 km/h but in the paracas time reaches 32 km/h.
In the sea there is abundant life -fish like bonito, toyo, anchovy, guitarfish, tramboyo, mero, corvine, chitas, lorna, silversides, pampanito, over 250 algae species, turtles, zooplankton and phytoplankton- the food chain fuel. Not to mention sea mammals Seals, sea lions, bottlenose dolphins, whales, Humboldt penguin and marine otters (seacats).
Between sea and land are crustaceans, algae and molluscs. In places there are stagnant pools where life has found a niche (mainly bullrushes (totora) which are woven into baskets).
On land the lack of rainfall makes it look very arid- animals are basically the desert fox, a few bats and reptiles (two lizard types and a gecko). The few plants that survive here are cacti and bromeliads (tillandsia).
The peninsula supported the Paracas Culture (c1200 BC – 100 BC), who perfected a water irrigation system enabling them to live in the arid area. The Peruvian archaeologist Tello excavated in area in the 1920’s at the Paracas Cavernas shaft tombs (evidence of reuse and of ritual use of the heads followed by re- interment). The Paracas culture was invaded from the north c150 AD by the Topara culture and they seem to have co-existed for some 100 years. Their interaction contributed to the development of the nearby Nazca culture. Interestingly the Pampa de Santo Domingo site (occupied from c6500BC) yielded a decorated quena (Peruvian flute)- the earliest example.
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Posted by PetersF 12:17 Archived in Peru Tagged birds desert beach peru paracas pisco inca chavin Comments (0)

Nazca to Arequipa

Monday 20th August - Arequipa: Jewel of the South

The overnight trip (19th-20th) down the Pan American Highway was amazing- from parched desert, to Pacific rollers, to high mountain passes.
OK, not a brill night sleep as we were too close to the road, but an excellent breakfast (with coca tea because Arequipa is very high 2380m above sea level) and a helpful staff who promised to move us during the day (which, to their credit they did and we had a nice room to come back to). It turned out that the Peruvian operator our company had used has simply forgotten to book half our holiday (I’m not sure how he thought we’d be in Nazca one week and simply arrive in Cusco another week with nothing inbetween!!). Luckily our UK operator sorted it out (the only downside being the god-awful coach we had to use between Chivay and Puno because the luxury coach we should have been in was overbooked).
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Back to Arequipa. We woke at a sensible time and the day was our own to do what we wanted. So, obviously, our first trip was a walk down to the Plaza de Armas. The city is very beautiful, gleaming white, and as we walked into the Plaza, the sun was shining in a blue cloudless sky for us. The Plaza was lovely, with colonnaded walkways around the edge, palms and a fountain in the centre and the cathedral on one side.
We avoided the ticket touts (there are loads) and decided to walk up towards Iglesia San Francisco to see El Misti volcano rising above the white buildings. Then we went round the back outside of the Cathedral, with its pretty cobbled and flowered streets. We carried on around the edge of the Plaza and back up Calle San Francisco, seeing the white Iglesia San Francisco (below) and a pleasantly quiet small courtyard/ plaza with a view of Chachani behind. Next to it was the colonnaded Mercado Artisanale with some quaint handicraft shops. The Historic Centre of Arequipa is a World Heritage site.

Heading back to the Plaza, we thought a bus tour later in the day was a nice idea, so we found a small shop and bought 2 tickets for an hour later. We went up to a second floor balcony overlooking the Plaza to have what turned out to be undoubtedly the worst coffee we have ever tasted (and this is Peru, home to coffee!). We left it! Then we went back down to catch the bus- we all walked around the back of the cathedral to catch an open-top (but with protective sun canopy) bus. The bus drove down Santa Catalina road and Casa del Moral, then down cobbled streets out of Arequipa centre past the small Parks of Grau and of the Naval Heroes towards Puente Grau (we saw an iron bridge (Puente Fierro) which was deigned by Gustav Eiffel and still in use). From it we could see an impressive red church opposite, which we later discovered was the La Recolta monastery.

Casa del Moral was built c1730 and is the best preserved baroque-mestizo architecture in Peru. Its name comes from the Mulberry (Moral) tree in the centre of the main patio. It currently belongs to the Peruvian bank Bancosur.
We crossed over and back down to go the other direction along the river Chili. Then we went over the Puente Bolognesi to see the Tambos (ancient buildings renovated/ rebuilt by the city in original style and rented as apartments). We drove a bit further into the Yanahuara district of Arequipa and arrived at a lovely palm filled Plaza with a beautiful white church in the right corner (The Iglesia San Juan Baptista de Yanahuara) and a beautiful six-arched Mirador de Yanahuara with excellent views of Arequipa’s volcanoes. There was writing along each arch, but (obviously) we could not read it. We walked around the white and yellow plaza and looked down the lovely cobbled yellow-white, flowered side streets.
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After a brief rest the bus set off up the Arequipan hills, almost to the edge of the city to the top of a hill in the Cayma district. The track led (by foot) to the Carmen Alto Mirador with amazing views of El Misti (active 5822m) Chachani (extinct 6075m), Pichupichu (5571m) and Arequipa itself. There was a bronze statue of Pachacutithat everyone wanted to photograph themselves with (whilst we had a cooling drink). A large school group was there too, as it was a compulsory trip.
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We admired the huge flowering cacti there (I believe these are used to make a drink as they are prickly pears- we tried one that night as a cocktail).
The Tuna or Cactus Fruit or Prickly Pear is an ancient Peruvian cultivar.
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Its image is on Wari, Chimu and Inca textile pictures. Its red-purple interior (green skin) tastes similar to sweet watermelon and makes a nice jam or drink).
Then back on the bus to go down the side streets of wealthy Arequipan houses (we could tell they were rich as the houses were finished!).
We passed Goveneche Palace to head to an Incalpaca factory. We were mildly interested in the techniques, but more interested in the cost of alpaca products. We were really lucky that they were selling alpaca blankets half price because they were a Burberry design and they had decided not to renew the contract.
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After the factory visit we stopped at the edge of a road and a taxi was called for us (apparently the bus was continuing on the 4-hour trip, but they hadn’t said this initially, so watch out). The taxi took us back (free) to the Plaza. We walked back up Santa Catalina street and found a small courtyard café (Alliance Française) opposite the monastery. It was hot and the altitude was high so, as we weren’t hungry, we had manzanilla tea and some nibbles. Some French tourists struck up a conversation about where they’d been which all sounded good. Then we went across the street to Santa Catalina Monastery.
Convent of Santa Catalina
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The monastery is not cheap to enter ($7.50), but is definitely worth the money. The entrance is not very prepossessing as it comes off the street, but it quickly opens to a courtyard. The metal turnstile entrance was manned by a friendly lady who said we could take any photos we liked. We turned the corner into the first cloisters- the Silence Patio (a tunnel-like area for the lowest of novices).
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And then it opened into an open courtyard with a fountain- the Novices Cloister. Then we arrived at the pretty blue and white Orange Tree Cloister, down Malaga Street to the Zurbaran room- a “museum” which was basically the richer nun’s collections of mainly crockery and religious artefacts (a little mawkish for our tastes) and next door to the shop, which sold religious gifts in the main. We bought some pale greenish pastels of coca for our trip to the Altiplano tomorrow. We then went down the long main road, Cordova Street, with all its differently dated rooms (right 18th C, left 20th C) and Toledo Street to the Orange Grove at the far end.
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Then the clay jar laundry, back to Seville Street and Granada Street to Zocodover Square (Arabic zoco=to exchange as nuns met on Sundays to exchange goods). Through the Great kitchens (lovely painting/ friezes down the sides) great-kitchens_48875740456_o.jpg and Chapel (very gold 1748) to the Main Cloister (1715-23) with its trees, confessionals and 32 friezes. We finished with the small display of the better paintings in the Convent before going back through the Silence Cloister and out.
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The Convent of Santa Catalina (or, as we called it, the Naughty Nuns Convent), dedicated to St Catherine of Siena is very large inside, a city within a city, filled with flowers on patios, arched streets, fountains and parks. In 1582 the first convent was destroyed in an earthquake, as were many of the buildings in Arequipa from which they took rents. A new convent, stronger than before was built in white, red and blue. The nuns (up to 500 in its heyday) built themselves private rooms rather than dormitories and as time went on the nuns began to live more material lives, paying little attention to vows of poverty.
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Many, if not most, were daughters of aristocrats and had little intention of being silent or poor. Behind the doors of the convent they acquired fine plates, cutlery, paintings etc. By 1871 it was so notorious that Pope Pius IX sent Sister Josefa Cadena to reintroduce proper
order (poverty, flagellation, prayer and fasting). I assume she was not very popular! It was reopened to the public in 1970 and the many religious painting found have been put on display. Around 20 nuns still live in the convent. www.santacatalina.org.pe
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We felt we’d spent quite a while in the convent, so we headed out for a cold drink and a search to find (initially) a replacement lens for the camera (no luck at all) and then a replacement camera (much more fruitful). We found buying a camera a really long-winded experience. At home we’d pick a camera, ask a salesperson for a boxed one, pay, leave. In Peru- oh no, nothing like that simple. Pick a camera (the easy bit), ask a salesman (now getting complex), who has to see id (ours) to sell us a camera (because his computer insists on it). Luckily we had copies of passports, which he reluctantly accepted (as we don’t use id in our country). Not finished yet. This took the best part of 20 minutes. Can we have our camera now? Oh no, NOW we have to take his printed out chitty to another desk for another salesman to check, then we can pay and FINALLY (this is now over half an hour) a salesman brings us our camera and insists on telling us how to use it (in Spenglish). The salespeople say this is typical of a sale and were really polite and apologetic about the process but they must have the patience of saints to do this all the time. So, long story short, we now had a working camera again.
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Now I wanted to see the Juanita mummy but S was less than keen (to say the least) so I just stuck my head round the corner before we went pack to the hotel for a rest before dinner. The Juanita Mummy (or Ice Maiden or Lady of Ampato) is in the Museo Santuarios Andinos, La Merced. She is the frozen and well preserved body of an Incan girl, aged 11-15, found on Mt. Ampato in 1995 by Reinhard and Zarate. She was killed c1450-80 by capa cocha (the Inca sacrifice by blunt trauma to the skull, crushing it). She was wrapped in a bright coloured aksu (burial tapestry), was wearing a cap of red macaw feathers, colourful alpaca shawl and silver brooch. Grave goods of good quality including gold and silver figurines accompanied her. Her whole body is so well preserved that it was possible to say her last meal was vegetables about 7 hours before death. Her good health and high quality grave goods suggest she came from Cusco nobility and her death during the reign of Pachacuti gives good information on life at that date (even down to hair styles). She is technically not a mummy as she was frozen rather than desiccated. Sadly the burial site collapsed shortly after when Sabancaya erupted and only two more bodies were recovered.
Heading out for dinner we decided to take pot luck up the streets around the back of the Cathedral, so we walked down Jerusalem Street to Santa Catalina where we found a courtyarded picanteria, the Wayrana. Inside we went up a level and ordered some fruit cocktails (non alcoholic) and alpaca steaks. We were pleasantly surprised when an unadvertised local band began to play and shortly after some dancers joined them for an impromptu show (the waiter said it was anyway) of local dance and music. Right next to our table was a pillar proudly displaying a certificate for the restaurant of earthquake proof construction (which was sort-of reassuring). The band ended up touting their CD, but it was nice enough and cheap enough for us to buy, so we did. A nice meal after a long day, so we wandered around the evening plaza life before heading back to the hotel (who had, as promised, moved all our stuff into a nice, quiet room).
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About Arequipa
Arequipa or La Cuidad Blanca (White City) is along the banks of River Chili with the volcanoes of the Altiplano as a magnificent backdrop. It has an excellent climate with sun and blue sky nearly all year. Peru’s second city, it is famed for its beautiful white buildings made from the
sillar, the volcanic rock from the nearby volcanoes. The area was first settled c7600BC, then by the pre-Inca Collaguas group (see Inca history and Chivay so see how this group were brought into the Inca Empire through the marriage of their princess to Sapa Inca Mayta Capac). Both the Collawas and Inca would have respected the mountains as life-bringers as their snow-capped peaks formed the ultimate headwaters of the mighty Amazon. Mayta Capa founded the city c1300 Ad and it was enlarged by the conquistador Garci Manuel de Carbajal in 1540 who renamed it Villa Hermosa de Arequipa. It did well in colonial times as the trading point for caravans taking gold and silver from the Bolivian Potosi mines to Callao Port by Lima.
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Posted by PetersF 14:27 Archived in Peru Tagged peru arequipa Comments (0)

Peru : Arequipa to Chivay vicuñas and volcanoes

Tuesday 21st August – Arequipa to Chivay

Now, we woke in a little trepidation given that our Lima contact had clearly forgotten to book half our holiday, but our UK contact had clearly sorted it because our coach to Chivay came to pick us up promptly at 8.00 AM. We collected from a few other hotels (inc M). Our guide was a local Indian with some strong views on social justice (though he was still a pleasant man). The coach stopped briefly at a coca outlet and he recommended buying coca leaves to chew to help with the altitude. Steve bought a smallish bag and off we started chewing. Half way up the altiplano we moved to sucking sweets. A bit further and, trust me, we were SO sick of coca I don’t think we’ll ever touch it again. Yes, I know it’s seen as a local natural cure for altitude sickness but, YUK. As a side note, as we went up I got a headache (not uncommon for me) so I thought, aspirin and took one. A bit further up and headache still annoying, so, fine, lets add a paracetamol (again not abnormal). At the top (the Mirador as I’ll mention later)- penny drops. I’ve got altitude sickness- reach for the Diamox Pills. OH YES, they work. Forget the natural remedy and go straight for the pharma next time.
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Anyhow, back to the trip. We headed out of Arequipa past increasingly less posh houses. When I commented on the tax situation of houses, our guide explained that many of the people where local Indians coming from the harder life of the altiplano as largish family groups and would work over many years to earn enough to buy each part of the house- e.g., work for 6 months to buy bricks for the lower floor and erect it, work 6 months to buy the roof and so on. He was also immensely proud of the fact that in the last earthquake some dozens of people in Lima died and not a single person in Arequipa died or was seriously injured due to better construction.

We headed pretty quickly out of Arequipa and up, up to the Altiplano, which is sparsely populated with just, isolated farms and tiny hamlets. We passed a few things on the way up, including a truck half way down a hill (it had clearly fallen off the road but everyone was OK), a deep depression in the hillside (guide said it was from an volcano eruption), several glaciers, some very empty desert-style areas, a few greenish valleys, some mining factories. Pretty much the whole time we could see snow-tipped volcanoes, either El Misti, Chachani, Pichupichu or Sabanaya. After a while we reached a higher plain with an amazing view of Misti. This is the Pampas Cañahuas (3500 m/11,482 Ft), Reserve and we were lucky to spot quite a number of wild vicuñas (on both sides). The vicuna were within a few paces of us and we stopped to look properly. The guide said we were lucky to see so many and so close, including a male with his harem and a few young ones.
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Vicuna, Alpaca and Llama
There are four types of camelids in South America/ Peru: Alpaca, llama, vicuña, guanaco. They originated in North America about 40mill years ago before moving to South America 3mill years ago. They became extinct in North America in the last Ice Age.
The alpaca (vicugna pacos) is a domesticated version of the vicuna, bred for its soft wool (it is too slender for a beast of burden) and food (alpaca steak is lovely). Alpaca wool is soft with a variety of natural colours (the Peruvians say 52) that is made into textiles. They are herd animals, kept 3,500-5,100m above sea level on the Altiplano. Each group has an alpha male with several females and young. The male will warn against attack and kick if needed. The rock art in the Mollepunko caves shows domesticated alpaca at a date of 4000 BC and they figure on Moche pottery. Originally it was believed that the alpaca’s ancestor was a llama, but DNA shows vicuna is the correct choice. Like their camel cousins, all the Andean camelids spit. Basically this is a projectile air and saliva (with occasional grassy stomach content included). They generally aim at other alpaca, llamas etc. All the camelids in Peru can cross breed and produce fertile offspring- an alpaca-llama cross is a huarizo (soft wool & gentle).
The vicuña (vicugna vicugna) is a wild camelid living in the high Andes. It is the ancestor of the alpaca and its wool is highly prized and very expensive. Not much is made as the animals have to be rounded up from the wild (because of its value the government has an annual round up to prevent poaching). Both in modern times and under Inca law the vicuna is a protected species (only Inca royalty was allowed to wear vicuna clothing). Until recently it was endangered (by the mid 70s only a few thousand remained, though numbers have recovered since). Most vicuna live in Peru in the Altiplano (3,200-5000m) where their thick warm fleece prevents them from freezing at night. It is the national animal of Peru, and you see it depicted everywhere. Like alpacas they live in family groups- male, harem and young and are somewhat territorial.
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The guanaco (lama guanicoe) is of the llama family and lives wild in the Altiplano. It is generally brownish with a grey face. The name derives from Quechua wanaku/ huanaco and the young are called chulengo. They live in family herds- male, females and young. Groups of 10-50 young male herd together. They live as high, if not higher, than alpaca and vicuna and are adapted to the low oxygen at these extreme altitudes with a blood rich in haemoglobin. A teaspoon of guanaco blood contains 4x more haemoglobin than humans (so, about 68 million cells). Their wool is as prized as vicuna, but hard to acquire.
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Finally, the llama, domesticated over 6000 years ago, possibly from the guanaco. They are the largest of the four camelids and used as pack animals (carrying 1/3 of body weight), food and for their soft wool. They live in herds. Llamas are often seen as pets as they are relatively intelligent and can learn simple commands. The name llama is a native name (young are cria).
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Shortly after this some strange geological formations, the road split between the road to Puno and the road to Chivay. We kept left towards Chivay and very shortly after stopped at a small café (Viscachani) and roadside market. We had an anise tea and wandered the market. I thought about the toilets until I went into them and then I thought again. Instead we walked to the nearby Andean lake, part frozen and were lucky to spot two black Puno ibises popping out of the rushes. Then, much to our guide’s annoyance, two people went on a stroll and were late back.
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So, off again, and past the high Andean Altiplano farms. Even at this height people lived, adapting to the altitude, raising mainly llama and alpaca herds along with small crop outputs. Many had artificial or enlarged natural, ponds in front with geese and duck. We had seen a small gauge railway running alongside us for some time and I asked about it. Apparently a railway for people was built between Arequipa and Cusco long ago, but it was so expensive (and not much quicker than road) that hardly anyone used it. We passed the abandoned station not long after. However, as mining in the area took off, the mining companies decided to take over the track for the ore, so it was still in sporadic use. We passed one of the mining villages en route (it was so high and such a long way that most miners lived there for several months so as to acclimatise to the altitude in order to work).
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Finally we reached the Mirador de los Volcanoes. This was the highest point of our journey (even in Peru) at nearly 5,000m (4890m/ 15,748’). There are over 80 volcanoes from the Quarternary Era. The view of all the volcanoes was stunning. We saw Ubinas, Mismi, Misti,
Chachani, Sabancaya (very active) and Ampata. There were apacheta towers everywhere (see my section on Paracas to explain apacheta). Steve with his massive lungs went jumping over the low walls up to a small hut (amusingly some one else from the coach tried to copy him and fell almost flat on his face). There was a small handicraft market (again) and a traditionally dressed lady with her llama pet (I assume to collect money for her photo).
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And now it was slowly down, down. This side of the mountain we came across llama and alpaca herds (with their herd dogs). Each herd was marked by the owner by ear-piercing a coloured tassel on each animal. They were free to roam (a bit like our system of common land) wherever, but the guide said they generally wandered home towards the evenings.
He told us little about the road we were travelling on. Originally it was an Incan track used by the runners- these were teenage boys (around 12-18 years old) who would take messages by relay from/ to parts of the Inca Empire. They had to be fit and able to run at altitude, so were often chosen from the local peoples. Tambos (rest houses) were built a day’s journey apart and stocked with food. In this way up to 400km could be covered in a day. It was considered an honour to be a runner and they were well paid (in kind and prestige). Most runners were retired at around 18. The Inca were keen on road building in order to establish a good communication network throughout their empire. By the end of the empire they had over 16,000 km of stone roads and suspension rope bridges up to 100m spanning the deepest of gorges. One such bridge, built in 1350 lasted until 1890!
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Into Chivay
We went around a corner and finally saw Chivay town far below us. Chivay (3,600m/ 11,811’) is pretty much the town in the centre of the Canyon. We snaked down to the town, stopping at the Main Plaza. Another traditional lady with her llama pet posed for photos as did a lady with a chained
vulture (our guide got cross at this as this vulture is endangered- he asked us not to pay her to try to dissuade her from the trade). The driver (local to Chivay) met his little daughter and amazingly managed the tight corners without touching once. We parked at the edge of town and walked down an uninteresting lane with high stone walls, to a large restaurant with the most amazing buffet. Alpaca everything (roast, grilled, casserole, spit-roast, fried....) and delicious puddings.

After a time relaxing after lunch, the guide offered a complimentary tour of pre-Inca/ Inca Chivay. Most of us agreed, but one couple wanted to go to the hotel, so we dropped them off, then went to the nearby town of Yanque where there was a beautiful church with mountain views behind before we came back to the coach park at the edge of town.

Ancient Chivay
We set off walking down a dusty path at the edge of town, and quickly turned a corner to see an amazing vista of the river (Rio Colca), canyon walls, terraces (pre Inca and Inca) and greenery. The path got thinner as we headed away from Chivay into the hills. After 10 mins of walking we reached the Inca wall (complete with built-in stepping stones to walk up it) and road. Set on top was the pre-Inca reservoir/irrigation system. Over the water basin we walked to the top of a hill with a view of the terraces all around us. Our guide showed us the lower pre-Inca terraces with the Inca ones above, including their field labs (circular depressions for crop growing surrounded by banks of terraces on the perimeter designed to create a mini-climate. We crossed the Inca bridge to see one of their colpas- hollowed-out depressions in vertical rock where food could be stored and kept cool using a) shade b) the updraught of cool air. Coming back we met a local with his donkey troupe carrying firewood back to Chivay.
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We walked back and our guide said would we like a trip to the Caldera (Hot Springs) Thermal Baths. Sounded lovely and relaxing, so we all agreed. A quick drive up the mountains brought us to a modern complex of several heated swimming pools. Each pool was set to a different temperature by a careful use of the cold and hot springs. We paid for towels and headed down to the end pool, a pleasant 35°. It had seats all around the edge so we could sit neck deep and admire the amazing canyon around us. After 40 mins we were wrinkled prunes, so we headed back to the coach, which took us to our hotel on the outskirts of town. It was such a steep cobbled entrance the coach reversed up! The hotel had amazing views and a whole-glass
restaurant (and oddly a French speaking concierge). Our room, in the courtyard below was large and comfy with fab views from the sofa. Our guide recommended a restaurant in town and organised a taxi to take us (sunset).
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Although it looked uninteresting outside the food was excellent (fresh fish and alpaca) and the show was the best we saw in Peru. The local musicians explained every tune they played and the instruments they were using, including a ancient quena. Then the dancers again explained (in English) the meaning behind the dances. The dances were, at times, quite suggestive like when the lady danced over the prone man!! We definitely saw the Diablada dance (from Puno), where the man wears a devil suit and mask.
Peruvian Dances
The Wititi is an Aymara (not Quecha) dance originating from the Altiplano/ Lake Titicaca area (with links to Tiahuanaco culture- the dance means shining warrior conquers the dark). The Collawas group/ tribe/ culture who moved to Chivay/ Colca brought the dance with them c1500BC. Later it was used to celebrate the alliance between Mayta Capac and Princess Mama Yacchi of the Collawas Union. This dance is a sort of romantic warrior dance similar to a Harvest Festival. It can be inside or outside and lasts as long as people dance. Men wear military costumes of straw monera (helmet), shirt, Llicllas (loaded blankets), unko (military Inca dress) or polleras skirt (the Spanish banned the unko) and chumpe (girdle). The women wear traditional dress (often with sweets in the apron) with huatos coloured braids and a black hat with different details depending on their collawa (e.g. White straw hat= snow) and coloured llama threads. The dance involves a honda/ huaraca weapon, which fires fruit. Hence the use of a hard straw hat! The Kashua (an outdoor communal dance) and the Huayno (a couples dance) are the most common. The Llamerada dance imitates a llama’s walk. Llipi-puli and Choq’elas are vicuna hunting dances. The Huaconda or Wanka dance is also well-known. The Karabotas- a brave rider with whips, broad hat, earflaps, chullo, alpaca/ vicuna poncho, dagger, and spurs leaps to music- probably dates to the rebellion of Tupac Amaru. Finally the Tinku, a kicking, circling dance.
The dancers were very keen that we get involved and Steve was quickly chosen to join in, given a traditional lady’s skirt and hat. He really enjoyed it and ended up doing a sort of conga. What with the wine (Tacama Gran Tinto- a Malbec/ Tannat/ Petit Verdot blend which was a deep crimson and smelt of blackberry, liquorice, cherry and at 12.5% strong for the altitude) and the coca leaves and the altitude and the long day (not to mention the 5 am get up tomorrow) we decided to call it a day at 10.30pm!
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Inca Life
Beyond the royal/noble life, most Inca were farmers. A breakfast of chicha (corn beer) would precede working the land until lunch. Then a lunch on corn with chili and herbs, or potato soup, of cornmeal bread, or if lucky stewed guinea pig. They made their own clothes from cotton or alpaca/ llama wool. If you were gifted, you may be trained as an artisan (craft or record keeping) and live a more comfortable life. An intelligent boy might become a yanacona and used as a page for the nobles or in priests. They would make contacts and could rise high. Finally, the most beautiful 10-year girls might be chosen to be “Maidens”. After studying religion they were put into noble or royal households as maids. Occasionally they were sacrificed and buried in mountains.
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Posted by PetersF 17:13 Archived in Peru Tagged animals volcano peru arequipa vicuna llama camel chivay Comments (0)

Peru : Colca Canyon condors

Wednesday 22nd August – Colca Canyon

We used our alarms to wake us, as there was NO WAY we’d naturally wake at 5 am. Breakfast (in the dark, but filling) at 5.30am and collection by bus at 6am. We passed the interesting street statuary (larger than life brightly coloured dancers) and collected the other people, before setting off for the road up to the Canyon.
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We stopped in the main Plaza de Armas at Yanque to watch the local women dance in their traditional clothes a sort of twirling dance called the Hillori. Our guide said it is performed every morning. Now it is said to be a celebration of Quecha peoples over their Spanish conquerors, but it doesn’t take a leap of imagination to see it as a pre-Spanish dance of celebration to the sunrise (in keeping with native sun worship). Our guide told us the “history” of the dance- When the Spanish took this valley they wanted the people to adopt Christian beliefs, but the people were not very enthusiastic. So, the Spanish took all the men away to work the mines, locking them in each night. The women in the village had Spanish soldiers billeted nearby. This way the tribe would die out. However, the men knew better. They had a way out, so they dressed as women and snuck back to the village en masse one night. Lo and behold nine months later came a population explosion. The Spanish had no idea what had happened and the women used their beliefs against them, claiming they were virgin births!
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As we drove along our guide told us about the history and customs of the area.
Originally, in pre-Inca times, there were the Hill People and the Valley People. Although originally of the same tribe, they had developed their own cultures over time and their interactions weren’t always harmonious. They bound their infants heads different (back to front or on two sides- later both banned by the Spanish), have different agriculture (terraces with crops, mainly corn and potatoes or Andean plateau livestock hill farming). I would imagine this is a folk recall of the Amyara and Quecha tribes moving north from the altiplano into the colca valleys. Archaeological and linguistic evidence shows this double immigration.
The local Quecha (pre-Inca) in the valleys had already an extensive terracing system, which was added to by the conquering Inca. As we drove I wondered why all the small fields had low stone walls topped with cacti. It was to deter donkeys from entering the field and hoovering up the crops. Apparently if your donkey entered a field the owner could take the donkey until you repaid him. If you refused the donkey went to “donkey jail” until you paid bail (which pretty much everyone did!). We drove along the winding banks of Rio Colca to the village of Maca, which had a very pretty little church (the 17th century Barogue Iglesia de Santa Ana) and courtyard. We stopped for toilets, church visit, stroll because we’d be too early for the condors otherwise.
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Then after 20 mins we carried on up the road, over the river to a tunnel through the rock. The story went that if you could hold your breath all the way through you could have a wish (I didn’t manage). The Canyon is deeper than the Grand Canyon and home to a stunning array of wildlife. A bit further up, passing terraces and small ponds all the way, we arrived at the Mirador Cruz del Condor (a 2 hour trip in total). Quite amazing! At first we perched by a wooden barrier close to a small statue, looking down/across the canyon and two brownish juveniles crossed several times. We moved a bit right and the two adults took off, sometimes flying solely, sometimes as a pair and sometimes the whole family group. At one point all four swooped overhead only a few metres above us.
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Brilliant! It was quite busy, but there was plenty of space for everyone. When our guide came back he told us we’d been REALLY lucky seeing so many and so close. It was now nearly lunch (we could not believe how long we’d been there) and we headed back down the same road, stopping briefly for some panoramic shots. Then we went back to the same buffet restaurant as yesterday.
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I was keen to try some local fruit, so tried the chirioya (custard apple) which is native to the Andean highlands. Its sort of heart shaped and custardy-creamy and tastes like banana meets strawberry. Another local fruit was the Aguaymento (Peruvian cherry or pysalis), which we already knew.
Then we headed to the coach station. Unfortunately, this is where the Lima guy’s negligence really hit us as the luxury coach we should have been booked on was full, so we were on a rickety “extra” coach for an unpleasant journey to Puno (should have got a refund, but didn’t). We went back the same way as we came up to where the road split to Puno, then headed through the Altiplano towards the large lakes outside Puno (we got off for a leg stretch), through the modern town of Juliaca (dusk) and finally to the bus station at Puno where our efficient lady guide met us and (thank goodness for efficiency) told us she had sorted everything out properly for us. A taxi drove us from the station to our hotel in central Puno. Neither of us was hungry (and we didn’t need the free air!) so we took the lift to our room (good, a bit corporate) and slept.

Colca Canyon- Cultures
The local people come from the Collawa/ Collagua and Cabana Cultures and it was they who started cultivating the valley sides with terraces. Interestingly the Collawas are Aymara speaking (coming from Lake Titicaca) while the Cabanas are Quecha speaking (coming from, probably, the Wari culture). They cropped potato, quinoa and maize. Either they or the Inca carved small colca (granaries of mud and stone) into cliffs or canyon walls. There are still pre-Inca hanging tombs in the area. The Inca arrived at 1320 AD and the Colca area (Caylloma) joined the empire. The Spanish, under Gonzalo Pizarro arrived in 1540 and took the valley, In 1570 Viceroy Francisco de Toledo ordered the people
to abandon their villages and move to centrally located Spanish pueblo (a clear attempt to control the population). Missionaries arrived in 1565 and built the first chapel in 1569. The first road was not built until 1940!
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Colca Canyon- Geography
The Canyon, at 4,160m, is over twice as deep as the Grand Canyon and probably the deepest in the world. The river starts at Condoramo Crucero Alto (High Condor Cross) in the Andes, through Colca Canyon, over Majes Plain and to the Pacific. Chivay, elevation 3650m is at the mid point. Above Chivay is livestock farming (mainly alpaca and llama), below is terracing. The area is home to the Andean Condor (Vultur Gryphus), Giant Colibri hummingbird, Andean Goose, Caracara, Chilean flamingo as well as the vizcacha (a rabbit sized chinchilla relative), the zorrino (skunk family), deer, fox and vicuna.
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Posted by PetersF 19:55 Archived in Peru Tagged animals birds peru church colca inca mama chivay yanque Comments (0)

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