The reserve is a refuge for some 6,000 vicuñas and home to other typical animals of the high Andean fauna: Andean foxes, Andean cats, tarucas and vizcachas; and birds such as the mountain gull, hummingbird, Andean eagle and kestrel.
Its natural beauty enchants visitors who admire an extensive plain with gentle undulations. The local climate is cold and dry. Its flora is represented by natural pastures known as ichu, grasslands and small areas of forests with qishuar and queñuales.
Every June 24, the Chaccu festival is celebrated, an ancestral rite whose objective is to shear the vicuña wool.
Created to conserve and sustainably use the vicuña, a South American camelid native to Peru and an emblem of the natural kingdom on the National Coat of Arms, as well as the biodiversity of the puna ecosystem, the Pampa Galeras Bárbara D'Achille National Reserve celebrates its 55th anniversary of creation as a natural area protected by the State.
Its main objective is to conserve the vicuña (Vicugna vicugna), in order to allow its sustainable use with benefits reverted to the high Andean inhabitants.
The Pampa Galeras National Reserve is located in the province of Lucanas, in the department of Ayacucho. It has an extension of 6,500 hectares; however, its area of influence is estimated at about 60,000 hectares that includes various peasant communities.
On May 18, 1967, the Pampa Galeras National Reserve was established and in 1993 the name of the renowned journalist Bárbara D'Achille was added, in memory of the late conservationist. The vicuña is the most representative and abundant species in Pampa Galeras and its protection and conservation motivated its creation. Another important species is the guanaco which, like the vicuña, is also found in the wild.
This natural area protected by the State concentrates the largest population of vicuñas in the country and in the world in a very small space. In addition, it protects the archaeological remains that testify to its ancient management in the place and houses species of wild flora and fauna of great importance to the region. Additionally, it is located near the Nasca Lines and is part of the tourist corridor to the department of Cusco.
In view of the importance of citizen participation as a mechanism for conservation, the Pampa Galeras National Reserve currently has a multidisciplinary team of official park rangers and volunteers who support environmental education, biological monitoring and control, as well as surveillance.
Since 1994, official capturing and shearing activities (“Chaccu” in Quechua, which is an ancestral practice) have been carried out in communities authorized to do so, under the supervision and control of the State.
A vicuña is sheared every two years and for each shearing it can produce, on average, about 200 grams of fiber. A productive life of 12 years is estimated for a vicuña, which means 6 shearing.
In addition to the vicuña and the guanaco, in the Pampa Galeras National Reserve you can see the taruca, the Andean fox, the vizcacha, the muca and the weasel.
Among the 20 species of birds existing in the national reserve, the most representative are the Andean condor, the parihuana, the serrana partridge and the quiula. In aquatic environments, the jergo duck and the sutro duck stand out.
As for the flora, more than 80 species have been identified in the Pampa Galeras National Reserve, among which the puya Raymondi stands out and, in the rocky valleys, the relict forests of queñua and quishuar. The characteristic vegetation is the pajonal.
When visiting the Pampa Galeras National Reserve, you can learn more about this protected natural area through the site museum and the Interpretation Center, where species of wild flora and fauna are exhibited. Also, you can learn more about vicuñas and guanacos by visiting the controlled management of wild camelids module.
The climate is very cold with an average temperature of 6°C. In winter they are registered until -5° C. In the months of November to March the rains take place, with precipitations between 300 and 600 millimeters.
Visitors to the Pampa Galeras National Reserve can also see the site museum located inside, reopened to the public from September 2021, and learn about the history of the vicuña and its relationship with other high Andean species such as the Andean condor, guanaco, Andean fox. among other.
The Pampa Galeras Bárbara D'Achille National Reserve covers an area of 6,500 hectares, in the province of Lucanas, Ayacucho, but its area of influence is estimated at 60,000 hectares, according to the National Service of Natural Areas Protected by the State (Sernanp) , which is in charge of this vicuña conservation area.
Most of the territory is covered by grasslands, vegetation that captures rainwater and the environment to filter it towards lower lands. But there are also relict forests of queñua (Polylepis sp.), a species that grows in the heights of the tropical Andes, above 3,000 meters.
Other species of flora characteristic of the reserve are the quishuar (Buddleja sp.), an Andean tree considered sacred that grows above 3,000 meters in Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia; and the yareta (Azorella compacta) a shrub similar to moss that can exceed 3000 years of life.
The Pampa Galeras National Reserve concentrates the largest population of vicuñas in Peru, and in the world, in a small space, indicates Sernanp. It is a species that lives between 3,500 and 5,000 meters above sea level in four countries in the region: Argentina, Bolivia, Peru and Chile.
Poaching put this species at serious risk, persecuted by illegal hunters, due to the value of its wool. In the 1960s, its population within the reserve barely reached 1,000 individuals, and in all of Peru there were barely 5,000 animals. For this reason, the vicuña was declared Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). It is currently in the category of Least Concern.
However, the recovery of the species required a group of conservationists to promote the creation of this reserve, which was completed in 1967. In a few years, the population grew. However, between 1980 and 1994, during the Peruvian internal armed conflict, there were attacks on the reserve and poachers reappeared. It was from 1991 when the government involved the communities in the tasks of conservation and use of the fiber, which managed to expel the hunters and give way to a sustainable business.
The chaccu or chaco is an ancient practice that consists of capturing and shearing the vicuñas to take advantage of their fiber, an input for the manufacture of fine garments of high value in the market. A kilo of vicuña wool can cost up to 500 dollars in the international market.
In the Pampa Galeras National Reserve approximately 14 chaccus are carried out each year, between May and November, but the central date is June 24, the day of the Peruvian peasant. Around 40 people participate in each shearing ritual. Then, the fiber must be cleaned, a job that women do and that requires great finesse and precision. The sale of vicuña fiber has become a profitable economic activity for the residents of Lucanas.
Although the vicuña is the star in the Pampa Galeras National Reserve, the protected area is home to other representative species of this ecosystem. The guanaco (Lama guanicoe) is another camelid that lives in these fields, but you can also see the vizcacha (Lagidium peruanum), the taruca (Hippocamelus antisensis), the Andean fox (Pseudalopex culpaeus), the muca (Didelphis marsupialis ) and the weasel (Mustela frenata).
In Pampa Galeras you can also see up to 20 species of birds, among the most representative are the Andean condor (Vultur gryphus), the parihuana (Phoenicopterus chilensis), the mountain partridge (Nothoprocta ornata) and the quiula (Tinamotis pentlandii). And in the lagoons are the jergo duck (Anas georgica) and the sutro duck (Anas flavirostris).
Cave paintings showing cave hunters and, of course, vicuñas, have been found in the reserve. There are also stone chullpas and ancient Inca traps to capture these animals. Currently, Peru is the first producer of vicuña fiber worldwide and Ayacucho is the region that heads this list, concentrating 34% of national production.
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