There is nothing more beautiful than seeing the sunrise on the horizon, that every second of your life is worth it and being able to enjoy this wonderful natural phenomenon that occurs in the "Beautiful Viewpoint of the Three Crosses in Paucartambo, Cusco".
The Viewpoint of the Three Crosses offers one of the best sunrises in the world. It is located a few hours from the town of Paucartambo, 105 kilometers by road from the city of Cusco. But this natural spectacle does not happen every day of the year. It only occurs on the winter solstices, that is, on June 20, 21 or 22.
I invite you to be part of this great adventure, in one of the only two places in the world that allows you to see the sunrise.
One of the most beautiful districts located in Cusco is Paucartambo, a name that comes from the Quechua phrase Pawqar Tampu, which means "colorful tambo". It is a cultural center with an immensity of flora, fauna and ancestral customs. It is located at approximately 2,900 meters above sea level, next to the Mappacho River and has several tourist attractions, one of the most recognized being the famous Mirador de las Tres Cruces.
Tres Cruces de Oro is located in the town of Challabamba, province of Paucartambo, 105 kilometers by road from the city of Cusco.
The viewpoint is located at 3700 meters above sea level (m.s.n.m.).
From the viewpoint you can see the snow-capped mountains of the immense peaks of Nevado Ausangate and the first green areas of Manu. Paucartambo is 109 kilometers from the city of Cuzco.
The bus ticket to the city of Cusco costs 60 soles, while the journey takes approximately 22 hours.
After arriving in Cusco, you must take the paved road to travel 109 km southeast of the city. There are collective cars that will transport you to Paucartambo for about 20 soles per person, and you will arrive in four hours. From there it is 45 km to the Abra de Acjanaco, at a height close to 3800 meters.
Paucartambo is the starting point to go to the Manu National Park, one of the largest and most biodiverse reserves on the planet.
There is the viewpoint, on the edge of this protected area. Upon arrival you will enjoy an impressive view of the Peruvian Amazon, where one of the most beautiful sunrises in the world can be seen.
The door to this national reserve sets the limit between the mountains and the Peruvian jungle.
It is located between the departments of Cusco and Madre de Dios and has a territory of almost 2 million hectares.
This paradise of Peru is located between 300 meters high (from the Manu River and its junction with the Madre de Dios River) to 3800 meters high, near the viewpoint.
There it is possible to observe more than 250 species of trees, 1005 species of birds, 222 of mammals and 132 of reptiles. An incredible biodiversity for which hundreds of scientists have traveled to Peru in search of new species.
This is how the Viewpoint of the Three Crosses, is also known. This is one of the few places in the world where you can see the winter solstice in detail. The main attraction is not only the landscape that can be seen from there, but -as we mentioned- the sunrise and its great variety of colors. It is possible to contemplate the tonalities in the sky, the light and the shape of the sunrise in a very different way than what one is used to. It is not for nothing that thousands of tourists visit this place every year to admire this incredible natural spectacle.
On the other hand, from the viewpoint you also have a wonderful view of the Ausangate mountain range, a snow-capped peak that adorns the Paucartambo River. The landscape is also made up of the majestic Apuqañaqway mountain, which the locals call “protector of Antisuyo”.
It is right in the local community where the legend of the sunrise from the Viewpoint of the Three Crosses is told. It is a very special story for the local population, since it narrates that those who pass through the area go to the nearby snow-capped mountains to cleanse their souls thanks to the light that crosses the area. In addition, they point out that the Sun had the properties of cleaning bad feelings and emotions such as hatred, envy and anger.
During the National Holidays celebrations, the local authorities organize events at this tourist site. Many of them respond to the history and ancestral culture of the Incas. For example, before dawn the haywasqa takes place, which means "payment to the earth." It is a custom from pre-Hispanic times in which dances are performed and tribute is paid to nature. For this, a ritual is elaborated in which the Andean priest, or Pako, worships the Sun god and Mother Earth, or Pachamama, a goddess that represents fertility.
The viewpoint, being in the limits of the Manu National Park, is located in a protected area, which has certain rules. For example, it is necessary to take great care with all of nature, it is forbidden to pick flowers, get too close to the animals that live there or go off the indicated routes.
It is also mandatory to enter accompanied by a park ranger and to listen to their instructions. All this is done with the aim of protecting the fauna and flora on the site.
Before going to the viewpoint you have to pay a ticket to enter the Manu National Park. This costs 6 soles for children and adolescents up to 16 years of age, and 10 soles for adults over this age.
After visiting the viewpoint you can visit other tourist attractions in the reserve. For example, the Pusharo Cultural Historic Zone (with a cost of 50 soles to enter) or the Manu River Zone (with a cost of 150 soles).
Remember that it is a sector full of vegetation, so you must wear shoes and comfortable clothing for trekking. Try to bring sunscreen, a hat, insect repellent, and some warm clothing for the low temperatures at dawn.
The most recommended is to travel between the months of May and July, due to the mild climate and the absence of rain. Also, the sky is clearer before dawn, especially if you choose a date with full moon nights.
You can also travel in mid-July, since on this date the festival in honor of the Virgen del Carmen, also known as Mamacha del Carmen, is held. She is the patron saint of Paucartambo and during the festivities various artistic, religious, cultural and even gastronomic activities take place. In addition, you will see the local dances that represent the customs and daily life of the locals. For these reasons it is that Paucartambo has earned the recognition of "Folkloric Capital of Cusco".
The panorama is unique. Lovers of nature, photography and those landscape spectacles that leave an irreplaceable memory will find here a sunrise worthy of a movie. The period to appreciate it is from 4:30 to 5:30 in the morning. The sunlight forms a path in the sky for several minutes just like an artistic painting.
Most tourist agencies in the city of Cusco contemplate a two-day tour to Paucartambo. The tour begins early in the morning in the navel of the world, leaving with a private vehicle for Paucartambo, but not before visiting the archaeological complexes and the pre-Inca chullpas in Ninamarca. Already in the district, you can see the temple of the Virgen del Carmen or the museum of typical dances. The journey to the Viewpoint of the Three Crosses takes place during the night, with a short trekking route to this place.
The objective is to spend the night there in a camp (in the authorized areas that the guide will indicate) to be prepared for the arrival of the following day. Exactly between 4 and 4:30 you have to get ready to see the natural spectacle: a majestic sunrise.
During this phenomenon, two sunrises or, as it is known, a “double sunrise” occur. The first is based on a false start, where you can see sun glare rising through the vegetated horizon for about 20 minutes. The second shows the Sun in all its splendor, illuminating the dense jungle of Manu for approximately 15 minutes.
Some tourist agencies have permission to set up camps near the viewpoint. If the tour only includes trekking to this place, but not a tour of Manu, you can avoid paying the entrance fee to the natural reserve and only cover the company's expenses. If, otherwise, you travel on your own, you will need to pay the entrance to Manu and also be accompanied by an official and authorized park ranger.
During the night until dawn, temperatures can drop to 5 or 6 degrees. Being exposed to nature will give you the feeling of intense cold, so we recommend you take a special mountain tent (in case the tourist agency does not provide it).
We recommend you acclimatize before arriving in Paucartambo. Your stay in Cusco will serve you for that purpose. Do not forget to buy pills to avoid altitude sickness and drink coca tea.
In addition to the Viewpoint of the Three Crosses, Peru has other places with beautiful sunrises:
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.