In Peru, destinations to live like (and with) the locals
Isla Amantaní (Jose Porrás/Wikimedia Commons)
By Nick Rosen
July 10, 2012
Most travelers to Peru interact with Peru’s indigenous cultures in one of two ways: they either see the remains of the cultures’ past at places like Machu Picchu or Chan Chan, or they see a kitschy, touristy version of it (posing for photographs with an alpaca in the Colca Canyon or the dancers at a restaurant in Cusco, for example).
More and more tourists, however, are seeking a more authentic glimpse into how people live in Peru’s countryside. This has given rise to a boomlet in so-called turismo vivencial, or homestay tourism, in which visitors can live within local communities and learn about their way of life.
Here are some great options for homestay tourism:
Isla Amantaní, Puno
Lake Titicaca is one of the highest navigable lakes in the world, shimmering in the Peruvian and Bolivian altiplano at an altitude of more than 12,000 feet. Scattered around the lake are a small handful of small islands; the Islands of the Sun and Moon in Bolivia, and Taquile and Amantaní in Peru.
Taquile has been on the tourist circuit longer than its compatriot Amantaní, but according to seasoned travelers, it is Amantaní that preserves a more authentic experience. Here, you can learn about the customs of the islanders, as well as their handicrafts and their lifestyle. Meanwhile, you will be surrounded by miles and miles of Lake Titicaca’s blue waters.
The Sacred Valley is a world-famous tourist destination. If you’d like to leave behind the buses and see how people have traditionally lived in the area, however, there are a number of options to get off the beaten path. One highly recommended option is Misminay. The community is especially proud of its work as weavers, and you will see how local women turn wool into beautiful clothing and blankets.
When they had to make mannequins of the ancient Mochica royals and commoners for the Señor de Sipán museum, archaeologist Walter Alva knew where to look for models: Mórrope. That is because the Morropanos are basically direct descendants of the ancient peoples who dominated Peru’s northern coast; more than a few people have referred to Mórrope as the “last bastion of the Mochicas.”
Mórrope’s inheritance was not just physiological, however. It was also cultural. The town still remains a hotspot for traditional ceramics, cooking and music. There are locals who still harvest local cotton and turn it into weavings as their ancestors did thousands of years ago.
The town is also home to a sixteenth-century church, which combines Spanish and indigenous elements, both in architecture and worship. Community tourism is just beginning in Mórrope, and the town is in the process of finding more homes to house visitors.
The Colca Canyon is a fantastic destination for nature lovers, with its towering rock faces and soaring condors. It is also a fascinating cultural destination, as well, as its valleys house both Quechua and Aymara-speaking peoples dedicated to a traditional way of life.
The Rumillaqta Tourist Services Association in the village of Sibayo fuses both aspects together with its highly-recommended tours. Visitors will stay with local families, and local guides will lead them on hikes to explore small canyons, caves and other local attractions, all while providing lessons on local culture. Some 700 visitors per year stay in the community.
Leave a comment. It will be sent to a moderator for approval. We do not publish profanity or offensive remarks. We only publish comments in English.