The Ampay National Sanctuary, located in the Apurímac region, reopened its doors to tourism as part of the country’s economic reactivation after complying with the implementation of the health protocol to prevent the spread and spread of covid-19. Opportunity to return to one of the most fascinating destinations in southern Peru for its scenic beauty and biodiversity.
The Ampay National Sanctuary is part of the second group of protected natural areas, together with the Junín National Reserve and the Tingo María National Park, which adds to the tourist offer of 10 emblematic nature spaces that since last October 16 have progressively resumed its activities in the Ancash, Junín, Ica, Lambayeque, Lima, Loreto, Moquegua, Pasco and Tumbes regions.
Known as the “biological island of the Andes”, the Ampay National Sanctuary is located in the district of Tamburco in the Apurimeña province of Abancay. It was created on July 23, 1987 with the aim of conserving as intangible a relict of Intimpa or “tree of the sun” in Quechua, a plant species native to Peru, in association with a unique wild mountain flora and fauna, as well as such as the hydrographic basin of the Pachachaca River.
With an extension of 3,635.50 hectares, this natural area protected by the State is part of the concatenation of the snow-capped peaks of the Cordillera de Vilcabamba and the southern Andes. The altitude range goes from 2,900 to 5,235 meters above sea level, where the Ampay glacier is located, guardian of the Abancay valley.
Inside the National Sanctuary of Ampay there is an enormous diversity of streams and springs that give the place a unique beauty and importance. In the southern and lower section of the area is the majestic intimpas forest (Podocarpus glomeratus), the main conservation object of the protected natural area.
In the National Sanctuary of Ampay you can see the white-tailed deer, the Andean fox, the vizcacha, the skunk, the wild guinea pig, the taruca, and the puma; these last two species listed as endangered.
In birds, the Abancay spinetail hummingbird is commonly observed, considered endemic; the pololoco, the huallata and the condor.
Regarding the flora, the representative species of the sanctuary, the intimpa forest, the unca, the chachacomo, the wancartipa, mosses, ferns, lichens and various types of orchids are observed.
The tourist circuit begins at the Visitor Center and leads along a pedestrian path that allows the visit of the intimpas forest, between 3,200 and 3,600 meters of altitude. It has three natural viewpoints: Chuyllurpata, located in sector II, at an altitude of 3,150 meters, which offers a panoramic view of the city of Abancay and the sectors of Pucaorcco and Negromonte, as well as the upper part of Accoccasa in the sector of Corhuani.
The second natural viewpoint is Condortiana (sector II), located at 3,250 meters above sea level, which offers a panoramic view of the Cerro San Cristóbal forest and the upper part of the Pucaorcco forest. The third is Accoccasa, located in sector I, at 3,450 meters above sea level. From there you can see the associated forest of native species of Ccanchispuquio, Ñacchero and Pacopata, as well as the upper part of Chupapata, Ullpuhuaycco and San Cristobal, being the viewpoint with the most extensive views within the Ampay National Sanctuary.
Admission to the National Sanctuary of Ampay is free until December 31, 2020 for children and adolescents, as well as for older adults and public sector workers. The rate for adults is 11 soles and for foreigners it is 30 soles.
As part of the health protocol, all visitors are required to present, in printed or digital format on their mobile phone, the affidavit of health before entering the protected natural area.
The main objective of the Ampay National Sanctuary is to conserve the intimpa, an arboreal species that is currently in danger of extinction. It contains a large part of the snow-capped peaks between the Southern Andes and the Cordillera de Vilcabamba, which gives it a unique beauty typical of the landscapes of the mountains. The flora and fauna is very extensive and it is considered a “biological island”.
Biodiversity is accompanied by many streams, springs, lagoons and green areas, perfect for nature lovers. That is why you can see several species of animals, such as the white-tailed deer, the vizcacha, the Andean fox, the skunk, the puma, the taruca, the spectacled bear, mountain lions, wild cats and owls.
Bird watching is also very common in the area. There are the Abancay spinetail, the pololoco, the huallata and even the Andean condor. The forest of intimpas is the most representative of the place, but there are also other species of flora, such as the various types of orchids, the unca, the wancartipa or the chachacomo.
It is a tree native to Abancay that reaches 15 meters in height. Its branches are pyramidal in shape, measure between 3 and 6 centimeters and are sharp. Its name comes from the Quechua words inti (sun) and pa (tree), which means “tree of the sun”, or “tree of the Sun god”.
Indiscriminate felling is prohibited and it is known that they used to be cut down for firewood, Christmas trees or other uses in an incorrect way. However, with the authorization of the authorities, logging is possible (the wood is of high quality) only in certain sectors and on certain dates; this benefits the economy also destined to its conservation.
The three viewpoints are specially enabled by the strong tourist movement in the sanctuary and are kept in good condition by the authorities. The first is called Chuyllurpata and is located at 3,150 meters above sea level. It offers a view of the city of Abancay, as well as part of the snowy Ampay.
The second is Condortiana, at 3,250 meters high, which offers a great view of the Cerro San Cristóbal forest and the Pucaorcco area. The last one is the Accoccasa viewpoint, at 3,450 meters above sea level. From there you can see the forests of Ñacchero, Ccanchispuquio and Pacopata, belonging to the sanctuary.
The Uspaccocha Lagoon is one of the main tourist attractions and is preferred by most tourists. Getting to it and going through it takes approximately two hours. In Spanish it means “large lagoon” and it resembles a giant crater surrounded by a lot of vegetation. Its crystal clear waters achieve an incomparable reflection of the nearby mountains. The landscape is made up of high Andean forests of Ollantay trees.
There is also Ankasq’ocha, which means “small lagoon”. It is surrounded by the forest of intimpas, known as “magic forest”. Nearby are also the dwarf tree forests of Chachacomo and Chuyllur. It should be noted that, in the same territory of the sanctuary and in nearby areas such as Gentilcorral, Trujipata and Q’asca, there is evidence of cave paintings, which also means a route for those interested in the archeology of the sector.
This sanctuary is located just 5 kilometers from Abancay, heading north, about 10 minutes by car. The bus ticket from Lima to Abancay costs 80 soles and the travel time is approximately 16 hours.
It is located at points that vary from 2,850 to 5,200 meters above sea level. Due to the height, you have to be careful with the weather, since in the highest areas it can reach zero degrees, with the presence of snow-capped mountains. In the lower areas, the temperature can reach 16 degrees.
The most recommended is the trek that begins at the Ampay National Sanctuary Visitor Center, and then continues through other main areas, such as the Ampay mountain. This gives rise to lagoons, most located to the south. The glacier rises up to 5235 meters above sea level. If you have experience and are accompanied by a professional guide, you can also practice mountaineering or mountaineering in the snowy peaks.
Remember that you can make your visit throughout the year. However, plan your trip around the weather you want to encounter. Two very noticeable seasons can be observed in the sanctuary: the rainy season, between November and April, and the dry season, between May and October.
Although it is true that the rainy season can bring you some inconvenience for your walks, at this time you will find more attractive vegetation. However, it is not recommended if you want to travel long distances or practice mountaineering.
To enter the place you must have permission from the Ampay National Sanctuary Headquarters, located in the district of Tamburco. If you are part of a private tour from a tourist agency, they can coordinate it for you. Otherwise, it is important that you approach this institution.
Many are the routes that take you to Machu Picchu, but none is like the Inca Trail Tours, the most famous pedestrian path in the Americas. After flying from the capital of Perú, Lima, you will arrive in Cusco to walk for four days along a path through forests and dense fog, millenary stone steps and discovering the ruins of ancient fortifications and Inca cities, and all the time enjoying majestic views.