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»Other highlights, recommended trekking routs in vilcanota mountain range. Or celebrating the "Star of the Snow"

FESTIVAL OF Q'OYORITI (Qqoyllorriti in Quechua)

Celebrating the "Star of the Snow"

tour Itinerary   tour What To Bring  tour Included During The Trek  tour Not Included  

This once-a-year amazing festival - little-known outside Peru - features a massive pilgrimage with thousands of participants representing local Indigenous groups gathering on the slopes of glaciers in the province of Ocongate. The pilgrims celebrate the "Star of the Snow" with a night trek to the top of three mighty glaciers. Since the arrival of the Spanish to the Peruvian Andes, the alpaca and llama shepherds from the highlands around Cusco started a tradition of a pilgrimage to the Sinakara Valley 4,800m.a.s.l./15,744ft. to pay homage to the Apus (spirits of the mountains) and ask the Apus for more fertile herds, abundant wool production, and bountiful harvests, all essential to their survival.

Another interesting layer was added to the Andean rituals and ceremonies when the Catholic Church claimed the miraculous apparition of a crucified Christ (The Lord of Qqoyllorrity) in the Sinakara rocky area nearby, which attracted a new wave of pilgrims from the cities, including merchants and tourists.

The Festival of Q'Oyoriti is the proof that the ancient Andean traditions and beliefs are still very much alive and celebrated every year. It reaffirms the tenacious survival and strength of the Andean religion and cosmology. It is also a unique event where one can witness, on the way up to the glacier, the fascinating melding of the Andean belief and catholic religion.

  South-America, Cusco - Perú, Vilcanota Mountain Range
  4 days and 3 nights
  USD. 470 per person.
  June 6 to June 9, 2009
  Nature, Cultural,Spiritual,Adventure
  Minimum 4, maximum 16


DAY 1: MAY / 29 - Cusco - Ccatca - Ocongate - Mahuayani - Sinacara.

We leave Cusco in the morning, and drive by private bus or van on the road leading to Puno until we reach Urcos. From there, we take an unpaved road in the direction of Puerto Maldonado, passing by small villages of shepherds and weavers in the highlands.

In the afternoon, we can admire the beautiful Vilcanota range looming in the distance with the peaks of Ausangate, Jampa, and Qolque Cruz dominating the landscape until we enter the Ocongate District at 3,800m.a.s.l./12,464ft. We continue until we reach the trail head at the village of Mahuayani 4,200m.a.s.l./13,776ft. where we meet with our porters and horses. (Each group will have a guide, horsemen, and a cook.) Total ride: approximately 4 hours.

The 8-kilometer trek will take us approximately 4 hours. We trek amidst a dramatic landscape of soaring peaks and glacial highland plains dotted with odd clumps of Andean grass ("icchu grass") .The trail winds along crosses and stone formations until we reach the natural basin of Sinakara at 4,800m.a.s.l./15,744ft. A wide valley where we set up our camp.

DAY 2: MAY / 30.- Full day of exploration around pilgrimage site

Today we hike around the Sinakara valley. We can witness the arrival of thousands of pilgrims who enter the valley, grouped according to indigenous communities and clans (80% of the participants are Quechuas, 10% Aymaras, and 10% city people or mestizos). Dancers dressed in elaborate and colorful costumes waving the banners of Peru and Cusco accompany each group. The rituals are almost the same for each group, and, after a visit to the catholic chapel, they raise plastic tents at their assigned locations (called "celdas") We can observe all the activities, including merchants selling the famous "alasitas" (amulet-like plastic toys such as car, houses, computers,), which symbolize the dreams and wishes of the bearer, to be blessed by the local "shaman or "curandero." There is a constant flow of pilgrims arriving and settling into the valley.

We can observe all the activities, including merchants selling the famous "alasitas" (amulet-like plastic toys such as car, houses, computers,), which symbolize the dreams and wishes of the bearer, to be blessed by the local "shaman or "curandero." There is a constant flow of pilgrims arriving and settling into the valley.

DAY 3: MAY / 31 .- Exploring the Sacred Glaciers

Next day, we will hike to one of the sacred glaciers (about 4 hours) accompanied by our own curandero who will perform a private ceremony for our group.

We will continue to explore the area and observe the indigenous groups as they divide themselves between the three glaciers to perform their individual ceremonies and century-old rituals.

During the afternoon, we enjoy the dancing and ceremonies near the catholic chapel.

Day 4: JUNE / 1. - The Main Celebration - and return to Cusco

This is the main Day of Q'Oyoriti. In the morning, we watch the groups as they return from the glaciers and form a spectacular procession, carrying blocks of ice, which they have carved from the glacier. After a midday mass, comes the celebration of the Lord of Tayancani, (also Lord of Qqoyllorriti) to which both pilgrims and visitors are invited to participate.

After the procession, the participants return to their communities, still dancing, and preparing for the next important celebration, that of Corpus Christy. Our group returns to Cusco.



  • Pre-Departure briefing at your hotel 1 or 2 days before departure:
  • Nights are cold (below 5 centigrade) we recommended a four-season sleeping bag
  • A backpack.
  • Hiking boots, sneakers and shoes.
  • Long pants and shorts
  • Long sleeved shirts and T-shirts
  • Warm clothes: sweater, jacket and fleece
  • Rain Gear
  • Camera, films, batteries
  • Sun block
  • Personal toilet items and first-aid kit
  • A pocket knife
  • A water bottle and purifying pills
  • A change of underwear
  • Hat or cap to protect from the sun, rain, or cold
  • A towel
  • Snacks: energy bars, chocolate, biscuits, dry fruits, etc.
  • Cash and local currency (no ATM machines)
  • Walking stick (optional)



  • Pick up from several hotels all the members, then transfer by Bus or Van to Mahuayani Village (trailhead)
  • Return trip to hotels in Cusco.
  • Large igloo tent - double occupancy
  • Individual mattress
  • Toilet tent
  • Kitchen tent.
  • Dinning tent.
  • Tables and chairs.
  • English-speaking professional guide
  • Expert cooks
  • Porters and horses
  • 3 meals daily during the trek
  • Daily snacks
  • Daily afternoon tea
  • Hot water for washing
  • Daily morning boiled and cold water to fill water bottles
  • Emergency oxygen equipment and medical kit.
  • Transfer by Bus or Van from Mahuayani to Cusco.



  • Breakfast the first morning (you can order an early breakfast at your hotel)
  • Dinner on day 4
  • Tips to the crew (guides, cooks and horsemen)


  • Single tent: USD:30
  • Sleeping bag, rent will be order in advance USD: 30.


* Participants in this trek should plan on at least two or three days of acclimation at around 3,400m.a.s.l./11,100 ft. Cusco's altitude.
* We can arrange for accommodations and tours before and after.


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