New Experience: the colorful Palccoyo Mountain and the last Inca bridge of Q’eswachaka
Despite receiving less attention than its more popular northern counterpart, Cusco’s southern valley contains its very own array of wondrous and impressive attractions. This end of the valley is irrigated by the Willkamayu River, which means sacred river in Quechua. Today, the river is better known as the Vilcanota or Urubamba, a powerful waterway that eventually turns into the Ucayali River, before travelling down into the jungle and giving way to the great Amazon River. The waters of this sacred river come from the Vilcanota Mountain range, some of the mountains in Peru that receive the most snow, and reach a maximum height of 6,372 meters above sea level with the revered Ausangate Mountain.
The increasingly recognized Seven-Colored Mountain chain is located within this very mountain range, and its most famous mountain – the Vinicunca – sits at 5,200 meters above sea level. Meanwhile, on the other side of this mountain chain lies the town of Palccoyo at 4,900 meters above sea level. This town has become the starting point for the less-athletic travelers, who look to access the colorful mountains in an easier, less complicated way. From here, tourists can reach the top of the mountain in only 45 minutes, and enjoy an overwhelmingly beautiful and privileged panoramic view of the Seven Colored Mountains. Visitors are encouraged to take a moment, let the surrounding silence quiet their thoughts, and admire the vast, all-encompassing beauty.
Cusco’s Southern Valley is a place full of history. Beyond its rich Inca past, this area was also the site of the greatest anti-Colonial rebellion ever held, led by el curaca (native leader) Jose Gabriel Condorcanqui – also known as Tupac Amaru II – a descendent of Tupac Amaru I, who was the last Inca executed by the Spanish conquistadors. The people of the nearby towns of Tinta and Tungasuca supported and participated in the rebellion against the Colonial oppressors, joining together and marching into to Cusco to lay siege to the city, only to be defeated. The town of Urcos houses a grand monument that pays tribute to this great indigenous rebellion against Peru’s Viceroyalty.
In the province of Acomayo, within the district of Pomacanchi, one can find the gorgeous Four Lagoons, one of Cusco’s more remarkable natural attractions. The Pampamarca, or Tungasuca, Lagoon – located at 3,750 meters above sea level – is the highest of the four, and houses a variety of birds, including flamingos and ducks.
The province of Canas is located south of the Acomayo province and features the beautiful Apurimac River. This river gets its name from the Quechua words Apu and Rimac, which mean “the oracle,” or “great speaker.” Its waters originate in the Mismi Mountain, located north of the Colca Valley. Over the centuries, these waters formed a canyon that the Incas built bridges to cross, one of which is the Q´eswachaka Bridge, the last remaining Inca bridge built with ichu (straw from the high Andes), located in the Quehue district. Declared an Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO, the bridge undergoes yearly renovations using ancient Inca techniques, and was formerly part of the huge network of Inca roads and paths that made up the Qhapac Ñan, a series of trails used by the Inca armies to maintain dominance over Tahuantinsuyo, the Incan Empire.
Q’eswachaka’s unique beauty and the traditions surrounding its upkeep, which are maintained to this day, are testaments of the rich history and unique personality that this archeological gem holds and continues to represent.
VIPAC Adventures offers an excellent alternative for visiting and touring of these attractions. The visits include:
Operates: daily, departing from Cusco hotels.
Duration: 10 hours.
Includes: Transportation in a private vehicle, an expert guide fluent in the selected language, admission to Palccoyo and the Q’eswachaka Bridge, lunch, a coca tea.
Does not include: hiking gear and footwear.
- Visited Sites:
Palccoyo Seven Colored Mountain
- Q´eswachaka Bridge
- We suggest you bring:
- Thermal or warm undergarments. There is snowfall in the area from June to August.
- Mountain hiking boots. Not sneakers.
- A wide-rimmed sun hat.
- Battery charger.
- A small backpack.
Depart from your hotel in the early morning towards the town of Palccoyo, located 3 hours south of Cusco. As you make your way through Cusco’s Southern Valley, you will have the chance to see the Willkamayu, or Vilcanota, River, which originates in the heights of the Vilcanota Mountain Range. After arriving at the town of Pitumarca, you will begin your ascent up a narrow dirt path lined with stunning views of the surrounding mountains, which takes you through the town of Palccoyo, to the base of the Seven-Colored Mountain network. From here, hike up a path that takes you to the top part of the mountain, where you can take some time to admire the marvelous views of the colorful mountains. Palccoyo offers easy access for those who wish to enjoy the site without having to endure exhausting hikes. After spending some time connecting with the surrounding nature and powerful Apus, descend and head to the Canas province in the Quehue district. Here, you will have the chance to see and learn about the last Inca Bridge that sits over the Apurimac River, a river named for the Quechua words Apu and Rimac, which mean “the oracle,” or “great speaker.” The Q’eswachaka Bridge is made with ichu, a straw from the high Andes, and was declared an Intangible Cultural Heratige by UNESCO. Each year the bridge, which forms part of the incredible Inca network of paths and roads known as Qhapac Ñan, is renovated using ancient Inca techniques. Q’eswachaka’s unique beauty and the traditions surrounding its upkeep, which are maintained to this day, are testaments of the rich history and unique personality that this archeological gem holds and continues to represent.
Price per person USD 150.00
For two people. Request a special price for more people.