Seldom Visited Site #6 – Andenes Zurite

The previous 4 posts covered sites in the Sacred and Southern Valleys, now we will move to the West of Cusco where you will find the Anta Province, aside from those that traveling through and those staying with us here at GringoWasi, the Anta Province in general does not see many tourists, so it is still relatively untouched by tourism.

Zurite 1

The Andenes Zurite are located a little more than 42 km to the West of Cusco and the largest continuous terraces in the Cusco Region if not in all of Peru, with the larger terraces being about 1 km in length, 30 meters deep and 3 meters in height.

Zurite 2

Before being taken over by the government, the terraces were farmed and controlled by a wealthy family, the old colonial home is still on one of the upper terraces and is one of many building the Ministry of Agriculture occupies. The Ministry of Agriculture now manages the archaeological site and operates it as a large laboratory, here they test different growing methods and through cross pollination try to develop new varieties of crops, for instance they introduced a new variety of quinoa back in 2012.

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Aside from the terraces and colonial home, there are also ruins on the hill above the terraces that we have been told are referred to as Qenqo, like to site above Cusco. While the ruins above are accessible, it would be a difficult hike and according to some of the workers at the site, one would need a machete to blaze a path, as there is no established trail to get you there.

Zurite 3

If considering a trip to the Andenes Zurite and you like pork, I would recommend stopping in our town of Huarocondo for lunch, Huarocondo is regionally known as the “tierra de lechon” or land of lechon. Lechon is pork that has been slow roasted, and while lechon is available in Cusco and many towns in the region, it is usually a piece of adult pig, here in Huarocondo the pig must be 10kg or under and is roasted whole for 4 to 6 hours depending on size.

Huarocondo

Up next will be my last installment in this series, a site dedicated to the moon and where you can experience an amazing local celebration virtually free of other tourists.

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Seldom Visited Site #5 – Naupa Iglesia:

Naupa Iglesia (Choqueqilla) is another site within the Sacred Valley, and is also a fairly easy site to get to, yet not many people visit it. The closest main town is Ollantaytambo which is approximately 8 km to the Northwest and it is near the town of Pachar where you can find an excellent micro brewery, the “Cerveceria del Valle Segrado”. There are several ways to reach Naupa Iglesia, but no matter which way you choose, you will have to do a bit of light climbing up the terraces as the best part of the site is in the cave at the top.

Terraces

To get to the base of the terraces you can take a taxi from Ollantaytambo or Urubamba directly to the site, or if you are already touring the Sacred Valley by car, ask the driver to make a stop here. If you prefer the more budget friendly buses, then on the route between Urubamba and Ollantaytambo, you would just have to tell the driver you want off the Pachar, the stop is right next to the Cerveceria del Valle Segrado. From the brewery you would cross over the river, turn right heading towards the train station, then turn left before reaching the next bridge and follow the road to the first railroad crossing.

Once at the first railroad crossing you have 2 options, continue following the road to the second crossing, or follow the railroad tracks to the left. I have talked to a few people that have walked along the tracks and they have indicated that there is a trail and plenty of room in the event a train passes, but I have not done this myself, so I can not personally say. Once at the second railroad crossing you must walk along the tracks to the right, until you reach the bottom of the terraces, once there the way up to the cave on top is easily followed.

Up

Like so many Inca sites there are terraces at this location, and to get to the interesting structures one must first conquer the terraces by climbing to the top. As you ascend you will pass a large stone that has had a small structure built at it’s base, this is a good opportunity to take a breather before finishing your climb to the top, once at the top you will be greeted by a fairly large cave and some of the first thing you are likely to notice are the wall with niches on the Left side, and the stone wall on the right side that has been cut and shaped to form another niche or what some might say resembles a door way.

Mosaic

There is also a large stone sitting in the center of the cave opening and once you continue up into the cave, you will notice that this stone has also been carved, on the stone you will find three niches, with the center niche having a 3 steeped Chakana (Inka Cross) type of design on it and two protrusions on either side. There are a wide variety of theories as to what purpose this site served, and aside from the fact that is does appear to have been a ceremonial site, I don’t think anyone really can say, but I do find it interesting, and normally empty.

Stone

Up Next will be a location to the West of Cusco where you can see the largest terraces in the Cusco Region, if not in all of Peru.

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