Visiting Peru in the month of June, especially if you are in Cusco is a daily adventure, since it is just this month when the holidays are at their highest peak. Along with Qoyllur Rit'i, there are the celebrations of the Q'eswachaka Bridge, Corpus Christi, and the most important, the Inti Raymi, which is celebrated on June 24 every year. The Festival of Qoyllur Rit'i star of the Snow, is unique in many ways, and offers an experience that travelers from Peru and the world will never forget. The celebration begins on Saturday, people walk in the cold, along an extreme and dark road in order to reach the Sinakara Valley, near the town of Mahuayani and the peak of Ausangate (6,372 meters above sea level), where the celebration of the Rit'i Qoylllur Festival will take place. The area is filled with more than 10,000 participants in the festival: most of them are local people, but there are also some national tourists and some foreigners who come to participate in this great event. Many come with a special request, waiting for the Lord of Qoyllur Rit'i to respond, and others simply come asking for grace. This colorful festivity is organized by the municipality of Ocongate district and the regional government of Cusco. For these days the attendance in the town of Ocongate increases. Thousands of pilgrims from all over the southern highlands reach the foot of the Sinakara peak, the pilgrimage starts from the community of Mahuayani and is 8.5 km from the community to the sanctuary. This festival gathers thousands of pilgrims who share religious processions and masses held in Quechua. They also share the blessings that the priest gives in each Mass that is held in honor of the Lord of Qoyllor Rit'i. Throughout this celebration there is a duality of cults. The faithful and devotees light candles to the image of the Lord of Qoyllor Rit'i, but at the same time they entrust the prayers and secrets to the snowed one or Apu with great faith.The ritual, associated with the fertility of the land and the worship of the Apus (hills, tutelary gods), is part of one of the largest Native American festivals in America. The main ceremony takes place at the foot of the snow-capped Ausangate, the ritual consists of a pilgrimage of shepherds, merchants and onlookers who meet at the sanctuary of Sinakara in the village of Mawayany, at 4600 meters above sea level.
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
According to the belief, the Child Jesus, disguised as a shepherd, appeared to an indigenous child, Marianito Mayta, and both became friends. When the parents found them dressed in rich attire, they notified the parish priest of the place, Pedro de Landa, who tried to capture him but without success, because in the place of the Child a stone appeared. Marianito died immediately and the image of the Lord of Qoyllur Rit'i was fixed on the rock.
The Sanctuary of the Lord of Qoyllurit'i is located in the spot of Qoyllor Rit`i, at the foot of the Sinakjara and Colquepunco snow peaks, eastern sector of the Andean mountain knot of Chimboya, whose maximum exponent is AUSANGATE (6,372 m.s.n.). The temperature varies in a range of 12 Cº at midday and -10,5 Cº during the night.
The festival of Lord of Qoyllur Rit'i one of the most important Catholic festivities fused with the Andean, located in the place of Sinacara that congregates an endless number of pilgrims devoted to the miraculous image, entire populations of southern Peru, also called Nations that are organizations of devotees, come from different places of the provinces of Cusco. In spite of the imposition of the catholic religion the Andeans did not forget their religious traditions, maintaining them almost in hidden form. Nature, for them, had its own spiritual representations: the Apu, spirit of the hill; the Pachamama, the earth and the Inti, the Sun as divine doer. The festival begins on the day of the Holy Trinity, when more than 10,000 pilgrims ascend to the limit of perpetual snow. It reaches minimum temperatures of -4 ° C. The path is accompanied by a procession, fireworks and the symbolic market of Alacitas (fair of miniature crafts). After five hours of walking you will arrive at the sanctuary of the Lord of Qoyllur Rit'i, you will have to do the greeting of honor to the image of Christ the miracle in the afternoon all the devotees make their official entry by Nations, you will see a total almost 200 groups of musicians giving their official greeting that lasts almost all night, accompany different dancers who symbolize various mythical characters. The "pablitos" or "ucucos" who are the intermediaries between the Lord of Qoylloriti and the men and those who maintain discipline during the liturgical acts, are people dressed as bear (black suit made of thick cloth and wool, with a chullo) they make order and peace that they also call the soldiers of the Lord. The next day, the day of the serenade that begins with liturgical ceremonies in honor of miraculous Christ or also called peasant Christ. In the afternoon the serenade begins with a dance show parading through the atrium and interior of the sanctuary; at midnight a group of forts Queros, residents of what is perhaps the purest Quechua community in Peru, disguised as pabluchas, leaves for the summits of the snow (6,362 msnm) in search of the Star of the Snow that is enclosed in its entrails and also where the baptisms of the new dancers and judgments are done by the guards where they punish those people who have made mistakes and who already find out at the foot of the snowed place that is sent secret envelopes that up there read. Back in their communities, these strong settlers carry large ice blocks on their backs to symbolically water their lands with the sacred water of Ausangate. The central day after doing the ritual at sunrise comes down from the snow covered caravan headed by the Calvary towards the sanctuary; hours later the central mass is carried out later the procession of Lord of Qoyllur Rit'i , concludes with the farewell giving chants or (Watascama) to the gentleman finally they return towards the population of Mahuayani, soon to embark to their places of origin. The end of the procession takes place in the ancient Inca capital of Cusco with the processions of Corpus Christi, the streets and squares are full of people, music and color.
To start our tour , we will leave the city of Cusco in our private bus and drive along Cusco - Puerto Maldonado direct to the route of Tinki (3800 masl) and Mahuayani, where we will arrive at approximately 02:00 pm. On the way we stop at Urcos, where we will have some time to visit a beautiful lake with the same name. Then we will go to Cattca, an agricultural and cattle community where we appreciate the spectacular views of the region,to finally arrive in Ocongate, capital of the district with the same name here we will stay at Mahuayani (4600 masl). In the afternoon, we take the opportunity to visit the traditional local market, before having dinner at our camp.
This second day, we will wake up very early to take a nutritive breakfast. Then we will start our trek to the Sanctuary of Qoyllo Ritt'i located in an impressive place, surrounded by snow-capped mountains. We walk slowly through an uphill path along which we will meet 14 crosses that are venerated on the way; The last one is already located in the Sanctuary. Upon arrival, we will settle into our camp and enjoy free time in the afternoon. The exhibition of activities in the Sanctuary is impressive, as well as the number of pilgrims who attend this festival year after year. At night, we can attend the Mass in the Sanctuary; There are two ceremonies, at 6:00 pm or at 8:00 pm, after taking our dinner we will spend the nigth in our camp located at the Sanctuary.
This day is spent in the Sanctuary, watching and learning about the activities of the pilgrims. In the morning we go to the "Alacitas" market. Here you can buy miniatures like trucks, houses, livestock, university degrees and anything else you want. The legend says that whatever you buy and then surrender to the Lord as a sacrifice will become a reality thanks to the power of the Lord of Qoyllo Ritt'i. The Mass in the Sanctuary (10:00 a.m.) is the next event followed by the "Pablitos" Mass. The afternoon is reserved for other activities: the procession of the Lord of Tayancani and the Virgin, various dance performances, mass at the Shrine at 6:00 p.m. At night, after dinner, we enjoyed a spectacular show of Andean fireworks in which wood buildings are burned, then, the pilgrims climb the snow-covered mountain and glacier to lower the crosses to the Sanctuary. We retired to our camp.
After breakfast and having a last look at the celebrations around the Sanctuary we will prepare for the pilgrimage. We wait and attend the Blessing Mass and we leave in the so-called "24-hour procession", along with the rest of the pilgrims. The procession leaves the Sanctuary and passes through Calvario Machucruz, the lagoons in the sectors of Kumukasa and Alqamarina, until arriving at Yancocha, where we arrive around 6:00 p.m. Approximately 6 hours of walking. We have two options at this stage - sleeping for 3 or 4 hours until 10:00 p.m., when we start walking during the night towards Tayancani with other pilgrims. Or we can choose to get up early ( 4:00 a.m.), see the sunrise over Ausangate and arrive slightly late to Tayancani, this will be discussed and decided among all the members of the group during the trek.
After a spectacular night pilgrimage, we await the sunrise, the impressive ceremony of "Saludo del Sol" or "Sun Greeting" to descend to Tayancani and attend the blessing to the Shrine and town of the same name (08.00 hours). We attend the mass and then we continue our walk to a mountain pass for about 2 hours and then down to Ocongate ,here we have lunch. In the afternoon, we will board our private transport back to Cusco.