Qoyllur Riti: A religious festival that moves mountains.


Days before Corpus Christi, 100,000 pilgrims build a city of tents at the foot of Sinakhara for a week and celebrate the birth of a new Inti and the miracles of Qoyllur Riti (snow star), a Christ painted on a rock.

The Qoyllur Riti maintains the spirit of the Hispanic festivals where the Andean men celebrate nature in its efforts to secure a relationship of 10 thousand years ago. The pilgrimage mobilized a hundred thousand people that make up a field- where there is a large number of stone streams, frozen rocks that disintegrate into Jarava Ichu ( Peruvian feather grass) when stepped on in a city at 4,500 m.

Pilgrims walk 8 km. from Mahuayani, a village two hours from Cusco, that during the party turns into a huge parking lot alongside a makeshift fair made of blue tents where you can plenty of food and items like flashlights, sweaters or jackets.

This year celebrations start on June 12 and end June 19. If you want to be a part of this great holiday, you can take a tour that includes transportation from Cusco to the start of the walking point, with a guide, meals, tents and sleeping bags, at U.S. $ 550 per person in groups of two. If you are on your own, it is advisable to leave Cusco on Monday between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m., so to get to Mahuayani at 2 a.m. on Tuesday. From here this is the start of the difficult trek to the Sanctuary.

Qoyllur Riti involves zero degrees Celsius temperatures, so acclimatization requires at least two days before in Cusco. Katya Calderon from the North Face Store advises that you wear clothing with Flash Dry technology ( sweat evaporates quickly), a fleece, a waterproof and windproof jacket and quick drying trousers to keep you warm. Hiking shoes must be flexible and waterproof. If you do not plan to repeat this type of adventure you can rent mountain clothing in stores starting at around S/. 20. Also drinking coca tea and eating lemon drops can help you overcome altitude sickness.

*Travel Guide*

_*Via Air:*_
LAN :www.lan.com, Avianca :www.avianca.com, StarPeru :www.starperu.com and Peruvian Airlines :www.peruvian.pe fly daily from Lima to Cusco. The flight takes an hour and 20 minutes. From U.S. $ 120.

_*Via Land:*_
Cars ( S/.30) and buses ( S/.20) to Mahuayani that leave the night of Saturday June 14 until Monday June 16. At the front door of the coliseum of the Casa de la Juventud ( taxi from the center of Cusco S/.4)

From Cusco to Mahuayani you should go 142km, this means about 2 and half hours by car. Some dance groups meet in San Pedro and trucks with pilgrims pass by the roundabout Pachacuti. If you ask nicely they will probably give you a ride.

_*Agencies:*_ Some tours depart for the Sanctuary on Monday 15 ( departure at 8:30 a.m. and return on Tuesday) from U.S. $200 per person for groups of 15. You can also arrange private tours departing on Monday night for a walk at dawn and return on Tuesday: U.S. $550 per person in double packages; U.S.$ 390 per person in packages of 3 people. 4 people from U.S.$ 290 each.

Upon reservation, you can follow the path to Tayankani ( from U.S.$650 per person for groups of 15) by Ocongate back to Cusco. For more information, Keros Agency: 987-789-343; Andina Origins :andeanorigins.com and Explorandes Peru :explorandes.com
Days before Corpus Christi, thousands of pilgrims celebrate the birth of a new Inti (Incan sun god) and the miracles of the Lord of the Snow.