Huarocondo is my favorite village when I want to spend some time away from the traditional tourist track. Quiet and away from the hustle and bustle of Cusco and the Sacred Valley, it is the perfect place to relax and recuperate after a long trek. It is also a great village to immerse yourself in authentic Peruvian life.
Every few weekends there is some kind of local celebration in the town plaza with lots of dancing, music, and chicha. You wake up in the morning to the sound of livestock being herded over the cobblestones to their daytime pastures and the smell of lechon roasting in nearby ovens. Few people here speak any other language besides Quechua or Spanish, so it is helpful to know a little of either.
Expect monthly celebrations in Huarocondo(Photo: Cathy Fulton)
In the mornings you can get a traditional soup for your breakfast from the ladies who set up their kitchens in the square. Later in the day, lechon (roasted pork) and tamales are available from open-air cafes (I recommend La Casa del Lechon). Huarocondo is famous for this finger-licking (literally) slow-roasted suckling pig, and the village even celebrates an annual lechon festival every November 1.
While in Huarocondo, if you need supplies, there are several small tiendas in town that carry the basics. But if you need a market fix, like I occasionally do, the village of Izcuchaca is a short 15-minute colectivo (shared taxi) ride away. The bustling Sunday market there offers veggies, prepared food, thirst-quenching chicha, clothing, live animals, and much more, and is worth a visit. There are several restaurants, banks, and pharmacies, etc. in Izcuchaca as well.
Izucachaca's Sunday market promises a variety of food and everyday necessities (Photo: Cathy Fulton)
I love to hike on the local roads and trails, enjoying the bucolic countryside. Invariably I run into friendly farmers to chat with and it is not uncommon to be invited into their homes for a brief visit.
There are several easy walks from Huarocondo:
From the plaza, when facing the cathedral, take the street to the right, (Jr. Independencia) and walk west out of town up into a fertile valley, past corn and quinoa fields and into pastures for sheep, cows, and donkeys. You will be following irrigation canals and creeks most of the way. If you go up about three kilometers, you will have a panoramic view of the valley, local hills, and snow-covered Andes in the distance. Return the way you came.
Hikers rewarded with breathtaking view (Photo: Cathy Fulton)
You can walk on the road east of town as far as you wish. Following it just up to the top of the first hill only takes about two hours round trip, and you get a beautiful view of the village, framed by fields of corn and quinoa.
For a day excursion, continue walking east on that same road and you will find yourself in the village of Huayllacocha. One of the locals spotted us walking and made sure we were invited to the upcoming local watia festival on May 1. The road eventually comes to Lago Huaypo. On the way, you will probably see harvested fields being rooted by lots of little piggies. Now you see who provides the meat for Huarocondo’s lechon ovens!
The lake is a nice place to stop for a snack or lunch. You can return the way you came, or continue up the road east until you reach the paved highway, where you can wave down a bus or colectivo going toward Poroy. Get off at the intersection at Poroy, take a colectivo to Izcuchaca and then another back to Huarocondo.
Lago Huaypo early fall (Photo: Cathy Fulton)
You can head south on the road that runs in front of the cathedral. Again, you will pass through quinoa and fava bean fields and then the tiny Rahuan Qui community. In about five kilometers, you will also pass by the Incan terraces of Andenes Zurite. Turn back at any time, or continue to Ancahuasi and take a colectivo to Izcuchaca and then to Huarocondo.
It is about an hour taxi or 1 Â½ hour colectivo trip from the heart of Cusco to Huarocondo. Colectivos line up in Huarocondo's plaza all day long and leave for the nearby town of Izcuchaca every 10 minutes or so.
The only accommodation I know of in Huarocondo is GringoWasi BnB. Budget friendly, delicious food,comfortable beds, and welcoming hosts. You can't go wrong staying a few nights or weeks with them.
Cathy Fulton is a somewhat nomadic US citizen who has spent two (southern-hemisphere) summers in Peru. She enjoys staying in one place for one to two months savoring the local way of life, getting to know locals, hiking, and exploring the food and fiber. You can read more about her Peruvian slowtravel experiences here.