Canyon Life

Quechua farmers once irrigated narrow, stacked terraces of volcanic earth along the canyon rim to make this a productive farming area. These ancient fields are still used for quinoa and kiwicha (amaranth) grains, and barley grown here is used to brew Arequipeña beer.

Most of those who live along the rim today are Collagua Indians, whose settlements date back more than 2,000 years. Their traditions persevered through the centuries. In these unspoiled Andean villages you'll still see Collaguas and Cabana people wearing traditional clothing and embroidered hats. Spanish influence is evident in Achoma, Maca, Pinchollo, and Yanque, with their gleaming white sillar (volcanic-stone) churches.

Steeped in colorful folklore tradition, locals like a good fiesta. Some of the larger festivals include La Virgen de la Candelaria, a two-day fiesta in Chivay on February 2 and 3; later in the month Carnaval is celebrated throughout the valley. Semana Santa (Holy Week) in April is heavily observed, but for a more colorful party, don't miss Chivay's annual anniversary fiesta on June 21. From July 14 to 17, the Virgen del Carmen, one of the larger celebrations, kicks off with parades on both ends of the canyon: Cabanaconde and Chivay. All Saints’ Day is well honored on November 1 and 2, as is La Virgen Imaculada on December 8.

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