The Qoyllur Ritti, “Snow Shine” or “Snow Star”, is one of the most relevant festivities in the Andean World. It combines the veneration of the Sun, of the Christian icons and of the portentous deities that inhabit the sacred snow-capped Apu of Ausangate.
Since the 1920’s, the Festivity of the Lord of Qoyllur Ritti, has become a massive religious event attracting milliards of people coming from different parts of Peru and abroad to ascend up to 5200m, where the famous Sanctuary is located, in the area of Ocongate within the province of Quispicanchis. An impressive multitude of pilgrims arrives at this point after an approximated 6-hour hike to venerate the Christ, which is painted in one of the rocks at the Sanctuary, and the sacred Apu of Ausangate.
The legend explains how the image impressed in the rock was the result of the friendship developed between a peasant named Marianito Mayta and a strange boy of extremely white complexion, which appeared to him in 1870. The little boy kindly asked the peasant to make a new dress for him. The peasant traveled to Cusco and visited the Bishop of the city, as he was the only one to have similar textiles than those dressed by the little boy. The suspicious Bishop ordered someone to follow Mayta, as he thought someone had stolen the holy dresses from the church and was giving a bad use to them. But when the priest arrived at Sinakara, an intense shine originated from the place where the little boy was standing, and when he tried to grab him, he became a Tayanca tree with the image of Christ in agony. The little Mayta peasant was buried below a stone in the same place of this apparition. This stone with the signs of Christ is currently venerated by all the pilgrims and is located in a sacred chapel in the same place.
The pilgrimage takes place once every year in the spectacular area of Ausangate, the Sanctuary being located at the base of Mount Sinakara, in an impressive spot, surrounded by breathtaking snow-capped mountains and glaciers. The Ten Nations or ten brotherhoods that belong to Paucartambo, Quispicanchis and Tahuantinsuyo provinces attend the event. Masses, ascents to Mount Sinakara and simulated battles lead to the cohesion of all the brotherhoods and make this a very special and colorful festivity, surrounded by the cold of the awesome scenery.
Our pilgrimage trek follows the long-established tradition and runs in five days, giving you the chance to live this very special event as a part of it.
Day 01 (June 10th): Cusco - Mahuayani
Day 02 (June 11th): Mahuayani – Sanctuary of Qoylloritti
Day 03 (June 12th): Santuary of Qoylloriti
Day 04 (June 13th): Sanctuary of Qoylloritti – Yanacocha – Night Pilgrimage to Tayancani
Day 05 (June 14th): Tayancani - Cusco
Crew: Tierras Vivas Representatives in Cusco and a professional bilingual Tour Guide.
Transportation: Transportation by private van, a train round trip (Expedition Class).
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We leave the city of Cusco in a private bus, and drive along the Cusco – Puerto Maldonado highway in the direction of Tinki (3800m/12464ft) and Mahuayani, where we will arrive by 02.00 pm approximately. On the way we pass through Urcos, where we may spot a beautiful lagoon with the same name, continue on to Cattca, an agricultural and cattle raising community where we can appreciate the region’s spectacular views and finally cross Ocongate, capital of the district with the same name. We then continue on to Tinki, starting point for most treks in the Ausangate area, and finally Mahuayani (4600m/15088ft) after an approximated 5-6h drive. In the afternoon, we take the chance to visit the local market, before having dinner at our camp nearby.
We wake up early and after our breakfast, we start our hike up towards the Sanctuary of Qoylloritti, located in a breathtaking spot, surrounded by snow-capped mountains. We slowly hike through an uphill trail along which we will encounter 14 crosses that are venerated on the way; the last one is already located at the Sanctuary. Upon arrival, we are accommodated at our camp and enjoy free time in the afternoon. The display of activities at the Sanctuary is impressive, as well as the number of pilgrims attending this festivity year by year. In the evening, we can attend the mass at the Sanctuary, being two ceremonies, one at 06.00pm and the other at 08.00 pm. Dinner and camp at the Sanctuary.
This day is fully spent at the Sanctuary, following the activities of the pilgrims. We attend the “Alacitas” market in the morning. This is a very curious display in which one buys miniature goods such as trucks, houses, cattle, university titles and others, with money that is only valid during the Qoyllur Ritti festivity, according to one’s real wishes. The legend says that whatever you accomplish in this game will come true thanks to the power of the Lord of Qoylloritti. The Soul Mass at the Sanctuary atrium (10.00 am) is the next event followed by the “Pablitos” mass at 12.00 pm. The afternoon is reserved for other activities, for all wanting to join them: the procession of the Lord of Tayancani and the Virgin, several dancing performances, mass at the Sanctuary at 06.00 pm and the singing to the Lord at 07.00 pm. At night, after dinner, we enjoy the spectacular “Burning of Castles”, in which wooden constructions with fireworks are burnt, followed by the “Child’s Dance”. Afterwards, the pilgrims ascend to the snow-capped mountain and glacier to bring down the crosses to the Sanctuary.
After an early wake up, we pack our bags and get ready for the pilgrimage. We wait and attend the Blessing Mass at 10.00 am and at noon, we leave in the so-called “24 hour procession”, together with the rest of pilgrims. The procession leaves from the Sanctuary and runs through Calvario Machucruz, the lagoons in Kumukasa and Alqamarina sectors, until reaching Yanacocha, where we arrive at around 06.00 pm. We then sleep for 3-4 hours until 10.00 pm, when we start walking during the night towards Tayancani. Night hike.
After a spectacular night pilgrimage, we wait for sunrise and the impressive “Sun Greeting” ceremony (07.00 am) to descend to Tayancani and attend the Blessing to Sanctuary and village of the same name (08.00 am). We attend the mass (10.00 am) and then follow our hike up a mountain pass (2h) and then down to Ocongate (1h), where we have lunch. In the afternoon, we board our private transportation back to Cusco (5h), where we expect to arrive around 06.00 pm.
The festival of the Inti Raymi or Feast of the Sun God, was a ceremony practiced by the Inca in honor of their god Sun or called Inti (Quechua), this ceremony was the most important of the Inca Empire, since the sun was its maximum deity.
This ceremony was held in the capital of the Tawantinsuyo empire (Cusco) and was held every winter solstice. This feast was held in the final period of the harvest and the beginning of the winter equinox of the Andes, that is, in the second half of June. This ceremony was celebrated in the main square of Cusco, in the time of the Incas. Inti Raymi 2018
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