Experiential tourism in Cusco
Yes, Machu Picchu is essential in the Cusco region, sometimes we forget that only the Sacred Valley of the Incas deserves a few days.
In this place, you have the opportunity to know much better the culture of the inhabitants of the Sacred Valley of the Incas.
Here are 2 suggestions of unusual activities in Cusco, to live an unforgettable experience and perfectly complementary with the visit of Machu Picchu.
1. Visit to the Amaru community.
Only 33 km from Cusco and 8 km from Pisac is the community of Amaru. This community perpetuates their ancestral, agricultural and artisanal traditions, sharing them with travelers and receiving them with open arms. Taking into account the transmission of their language to new generations and the conservation of their environment, many initiatives have been established, in collaboration with local associations, to share their daily lives and raise awareness about their reality.
Spending the day with them will allow you to discover their crafts first. After the preparation of the wool and its spinning, we will take it to the surrounding nature to harvest plants and roots that will be used to dye the wool fibers and give these bright colors, so typical of Andean crafts.
Another main activity, agriculture. Land favorable for the cultivation of potatoes (with 4000 species on the list, Peru is the country where most of the potato varieties in the world grow), quinoa, corn, wheat, beans, etc. A golden rule in this community: only buy products that you cannot produce to stay as self-sufficient as possible.
This community also uses many medicinal plants to be treated or integrated into their daily lives, such as chamomile, lemon balm, mint or plants to prepare the emollient and traditional drink. In the midst of all these discoveries, a night in the inhabitant will allow you to live in traditional conditions and be able to exchange with the family that will host you, unforgettable experience during a trip in Peru.
The purpose of this stay is to know and value the customs of a traditional Peruvian community. It is thanks to initiatives like this that the richness of Peruvian culture is known in the outside world. Consciousness and genuine exchanges will leave you with beautiful memories and allow you to perceive Peru differently.
2. Crescent Community
7 km from Urubamba is Media Luna. It is a community that has established a series of activities and workshops to promote their traditions and lifestyle.
The visit to the community begins with the discovery of the manufacturing stages of the chicha, which should not be confused with the purple chicha, which has been consumed since the time of the Inca empire. It is a drink that is an integral part of Peruvian culture, especially in the Andes, and that according to the region, is prepared with different types of fermented corn, plants, fruits, and roots.
Our guide presents the complex art of traditional textiles, which is of great importance in the Sacred Valley. The entire manufacturing process is handmade and natural: hand-woven, natural herbal dyes, minerals, and insects. You will also discover the hidden meaning of colors and patterns, which are never left to chance!
Then comes the introduction to medicinal plants. In fact, if in Western countries this knowledge of plants has been lost over time, it is still very much alive in Peru. Community expert Ysabel presents the various healing properties of plants in her garden, which she considers her personal natural pharmacy. This is a very interesting introductory course because it allows us to realize how much nature gives us everything we need. In addition to the local plants in the Sacred Valley, you will be surprised to discover the secrets of the plants you already use at home, such as rosemary.
The visit ends big with Mrs. Gertrudis, owner of a guinea pig, the guinea pigs. If some travelers are sometimes surprised to see normally domestic animals in the home to be consumed, you should know that in addition to their meat, they are very important in the culture. The Incas even believed that guinea pigs could identify the origin of the pain of a person suffering. Even today, some people follow the rituals of placing a guinea pig on a sick person to find out what part of the body is affected.
This is a very pleasant initiative, with activities of a whole day or half a day, from Urubamba or Cusco through an agency in Peru. The whole day of activities even includes the opportunity to walk with Don Tiburcio, a local guide, to the magnificent site of Salinas de Maras or to Las Chullpas, a pre-Inca food storage site, and both offer a magnificent panorama.
Since recent years, Peru is acquiring gastronomic fame. In fact, it will also be an opportunity to try the delicious cuisine of La Señora Juana, which prepares good wood-burning dishes!