Nestled into the stunning mountains and highlands of Peru’s Sacred Valley is the town of Chinchero – well-known for its historic ruins and iconic weavers. One great way to experience the town and its surrounds is on a Chinchero trek. Read on for details of the incredible full-day experience, which can be included on any private, tailormade trip to Peru with Aracari.
Wonders of Chinchero Trek
On a recent trip to the Sacred Valley, I had the opportunity to head out on a Chinchero trek that opened my eyes to the natural and cultural wonders of the region. I am delighted to share with you my first-hand account of the experience and hopefully inspire you to embark on a similar adventure on a tailormade trip to Peru.
Weaving with the Community
It all started with a morning pick-up from my hotel. My expert guide and driver met me for the 1 hour drive from Urubamba to our starting point of Chinchero. Upon arrival, we headed to one of the many weaving centers that the town is known for, all of which work to revive the cultural textile traditions of the indigenous communities. The weavers greeted me with a hot tea, and casually sat me down to start teaching me about the different types of fiber they use to weave (llama, alpaca, sheep, etc). I felt all the different kinds and the women then began skillfully hand pulling and spinning the fibers into yarn. During the demonstration they also taught me, with translation from my guide throughout, about how they naturally dye the yarns and eventually how they finely weave it all into beautiful textiles.
As the demonstration came to a close I was shown through their attached shop should I have wanted to purchase any textile souvenirs to bring home with me before beginning the my trek. I then had a brief but fascinating tour of Chinchero town and ruins, walking through the ancient streets, church, and grass covered terraces to better understand their history. I loved that the day began with cultural activities before I embarked on my trek.
Trekking to a Mountain Plateau
As I walked out of the ruins to begin the trek, I was greeted by a few friendly llamas and their caretakers who would be accompanying me on my hike. What a perk! Obviously I had to stop and take a few llama selfies before starting the ascent.
I then gradually ascended for about 1.5-2 hours through fields of potatoes, flowers, and Andean grain – all without a single other person in sight. The locals accompanying took time to share their knowledge on the regional plants and educate me on the uses of llamas in their community. The people (and the llamas) are extremely welcoming and friendly, so I took full advantage of the opportunity to ask questions and get to know them during the hike. Chatting also made for a good excuse to take a break. Though the hike isn’t overly strenuous, it is at very high altitude and therefore can be considered moderate – difficult.
The scenery was stunning, and at a certain point we moved from dirt paths to hiking without a trail! It felt like a truly authentic hike through the region, with locals taking me on a route that other tourists would never be able to find. Finally, we reached our mid-point, a gorgeous mountain plateau, where the women from the weaving center and members of their community were waiting for us.
A Sacred Ceremony & Alfresco Picnic Lunch
Atop this panoramic, exquisite mountain plateau, the community began to perform a sacred ceremony to the pachamama, or the mother earth. In their native Quechua language they began speaking to the Gods, asking for a good harvest and thanking them for all that they have given to the members of the community. They also gave gifts to the pachamama by pouring chicha, or corn beer, onto the ground and planting gorgeous flowers into the fields. They even invited me to join them in the ceremony, passing me a cup of corn beer to also drink and share with mother earth.
Though the ceremony was put on especially for me, the community only will participate if it is the correct one for the season and if they truly believe in what they are doing. I witnessed the potato crop ceremony, but it could vary depending on the time of year you go on the Chinchero trek.
Following the sacred ceremony, an alfresco pop-up picnic lunch atop the mountain plateau was ready for me. In a spacious tent there was a private table adorned with sparkling dinnerware and beautiful textiles. I ate a variety of fresh seasonal salads, soups made with Andean super-foods, and heartier meat-based options. A lighter alternative is to opt for a box lunch, though you lost the 5-star dining experience in a remote location that is (in my opinion) once-in-a-lifetime.
Trek to Little-Visited Ruins
After lunch, and saying goodbye to the weaving community once again, I began trekking the final leg of about 1-hour. This was all descent, and along the way I had sweeping panoramic views of the mountains and valleys. The locals even let me try walking the llamas! I then reached the little-visited ruins of Machucollpa. My guide gave me a tour, explaining the ancient use of the ruins as food-storage, before continuing about 5 minutes down an original Inca trail to the car. I hugged my new llama friends and the locals goodbye, and began the journey back to Urubamba.
Travel in the Sacred Valley
Peru’s Sacred Valley is a must-see destination on a trip to the country. At Aracari, we can arrange experiences like this Chinchero trek, similar cultural Peru hikes, or any highlights of the Sacred Valley, as a part of a completely bespoke and tailormade itinerary. The region is also perfect for first class travelers and explorers alike, as it has some of the best luxury hotels in Peru. Contact us if you’d like to start planning your trip!