Abancay, "the Valley of the White Lilies" in the Quechua language,
needs no further arguments to entice the traveler. Founded in 1574, this colorful
city, capital of the department of Apurímac, is famous for its superb
local cuisine, offering mouth-water dishes such as cuy relleno (stuffed guinea
pig), kapchi (a hearty soup of beans, milk and eggs) and huatia (meat cooked
over hot stones). A good time to visit is during Carnival, held here in April.
The city is overshadowed by a towering peak, Mount Ampay (5,235 meters), a
magical mountain which ensures the region enjoys one of the mildest climates
in the Peruvian highlands. The mountain is located within the Ampay National
Sanctuary, a protected area that is index.htm to natural forests lakes and snowclad
Abancay is the starting point to explore the attractions of the region: Curahuasi,
which produces Peru's best aniseed liquor; Saywite, one of the finest examples
of Inca sculpture and the imposing Apurímac Canyon, considered one
of the world's deepest, a wild and beautiful region which is ideal for trekking
and whitewater river rafting.
Those who have visited the area understand why the Chanca tribe and the Incas
fought for dominance of this region filled with lakes, gorges and valleys.
The area witnessed epic battles and legendary feats which today are still
ritually portrayed by the descendants of those civilizations, most of them
now peaceful farmers. Sondor Raimy (the Festival of the Condor), which symbolizes
the most bitter battled fought between the Chancas and the Incas, is reenacted
every June by the shores of Lake Pacucha, near the city of Andahuaylas, on
the northern edge of the department. The majestic lake is the setting for
a ritual involving thousands of actors who take part in one of the most impressive
rites in Peru, comparable only to the Inti Raymi festival in Cuzco.
Meanwhile, in the province of Cotabamba during July, visitors can witness
one of the most exotic and traditional festivals in the area: Yawar Fiesta.
This centuries-old rite involves a bull and a condor to symbolize the bitter
struggle between natives and Spaniards.
Apurímac is a wild and exciting place, a land where tradition and
old memories come together to make your stay an unforgettable one.