Where: High Andes, Peru
Best Season: October – April
Best Sights: Star of the Snow Indian Festival and the Ausangate’s glacier
Watch Out For: Take care to bring suitable clothing and equipment for glacier hiking
Trekker Bradley Cooper visits the remote areas of the High Andes to learn more about the descendents of the Inca.
From Cusco, Bradley heads out on his mountain bike into a remote village. He stays with Raoul and his Andean family, helping them to shear a llama and sharing a meal of fresh guinea pig. From here, Bradley heads to Ollyantaytambo, in the sacred valley of the Inca, where he meets writer and historian Peter Frost who tells him more about the last great battle of the Inca which happened here in these ruins.
From here, Bradley heads to the area around Ausangate Mountain which is home to Peru’s most colourful Indian peoples. Every year the mountain is the site of the ‘Star of the Snow’ or Qollyur’riti Pilgrimage.
The Qollyur’riti Festival, despite being supported by the Catholic Church, is very pagan in spirit and atmosphere. Along with a local family, Bradley joins more than 10,000 people, mostly Indians and campesinos as they make their way to the Sinkari valley, at the top of the mountain. The entire journey takes three to four days and is not for the weak of body or spirit.
Along the way, Bradley meets dancers in feathered costumes who are part of the procession, and the musicians play throughout the trek. At night the dancing continues, with the smoke of hundreds of cookfires. The food of the event is important, with each family carrying enough for themselves and for others to share. Finally, they reach the top of the mountain, the ancient pilgrimage site where invocations to the gods are pronounced and the ice from Ausangate’s glacier is collected and taken back to the villages where it is used as holy water for the next year.
You can fly to Peru with Delta Airlines. Visit their website to plan your trip, book tickets online and find out about their SkyMiles scheme.