Nestled in the Andes in the region of The Sacred Valley of the Incas is the living ancestral community of Rukha Ayllu, who live in the traditional weaving village of Huilloc. This incredibly authentic community comprises 25 families who form part of living history as direct descendants of The Incas. Valencia Travel identified this incredible community as one of their principal Responsible Travel priorities, where they directly collaborate with a community in need, providing social and economic assistance to the community in a sustainable manner. What better way to assist an Andean community and offer an enriching cultural immersion experience to their valued clients, with social interaction and a mutually beneficial exchange, all in line with the ancient Inca philosophy of "Ayni" or reciprocity?
The men of the Rukhu Community were once Inca Trail porters, carrying all the luggage and provisions for this epic hike to Machu Picchu. However, working as a porter requires incredible fitness levels, strength, and remarkable persistence. Some porters have suffered injuries caused by carrying heavy weights along the Inca trail, others have health issues that will not allow them to carry such heavy weights, and some are now retired due to old age. So how could these humble, hardworking, and hard-hit community members support their families and contribute to their community? Peru has no social security system for these highland people; they are far from even essential medical services and, in most cases, cannot afford health services.
This is how the Rukhu Allyu Community visit came into existence. The remarkable families of the community have developed an alternative way of supporting themselves by opening their doors to outside visitors. They have been open and warm in collaborating with Valencia Travel to offer to show their authentic and interactive way of life to the outside world and receive visitors to their community for this unique example of cultural exchange. They will greet all travelers with an authentic warm welcome and traditional hospitality. This is the perfect community visit for genuine local interaction with a typical Andean community and an excellent example of sustainable, responsible travel in the Sacred Valley of the Incas.
Visitors to the Rukha community will be greeted by a local community guide, the local children and musicians playing their tambourines and Andean flutes, who will accompany you to the central reception hall of the community on a 10-minute walk through the village. The guide, children, and even the llamas from the community will accompany you as you experience Andean living first-hand. You need to follow the sound of the traditional music, singing, clapping, and traditional dances of the region, where community members will dress you in traditional clothes from the community in their astounding welcome ceremony.
Following the sound of the traditional "pututu" horn, clients will participate in a traditional, ancestral ceremony, where the head shaman will prepare the ceremonial scene for this Llama Chuyay offering. The Chuyay ceremony consists of making an offering to mother earth or "Pacha Mama" and the sacred mountains called "apus" using "Illas" and "Conopas" which are tiny stone statues of llamas and alpacas that represent the fertility and health of the farm animals for the upcoming year. Each visitor will adopt a llama, leaving their bright-red mark, using natural dyes, on the forehead of their chosen llama to identify them. Where else in the world can you adopt a llama?
Agricultural Activities of Tarpuy and Yapuy
This specific activity includes a demonstration of the different seasons and cycles of the corn, wheat, tuber, broad beans, and varieties of potatoes grown in the community. You will visit the storage deposits, where different vegetables and grains are stored before they are consumed. Visitors will then take a 10-minute walk to the farm accompanied by Andean horns and traditional music and, on arrival, will take part in an offering to Mother Earth, asking her for a good harvest. Here there will be an exposition of the different growth cycles of each native crop, in which month they are harvested, and clients can use traditional Andean tools called "chaquitacllas" to loosen the earth for planting. This activity is traditionally done by the women of the community who will be there to assist you with this authentic activity. After this activity, there will be time for a short rest and snack, including "Chicha de Jora", the traditional corn beer, as your reward.
Pachamanca and Traditional Dancing
At around midday, you will participate in a demonstration of the pachamanca, with traditional dances and music of the community. "Pacha" means earth, and "manca" means pan, which perfectly describes this traditional type of underground barbecue. This delicious traditional dish that is cooked by the hot stones buried deep in the ground takes on the flavors of the earth and usually includes lamb, guinea pig, chicken, pork, potatoes, corn, and broad beans; while the food is slowly cooking away underground, you will have the time to dance "la huallata" a traditional dance of the region with the people of the community.
This demonstration will show you how to make several different types of headwear, including a beret, a "chullo" (typical long-eared Andean beany), wide-brimmed sunhats, and the traditional "montera" used by local women. You will also have the opportunity to learn the processes involved in their fabrication.
MONTERA: This is a hat used by women in the community made of woven grass, and single women will use this hat with plenty of fresh flowers, unlike their married counterparts.
SOMBRERO: This hat is generally made of lamb's wool and used by the men in the community. Single men will use one with plenty of decorations.
BERET: Is a chullo used by men with Andean animal designs
The moment has arrived for the passengers to say goodbye to the community. Rukha community members will form a circle and say goodbye to you with a special ceremony in Quechua. Of course, this activity includes a lot of music and dance in the typical fashion of this warm and inviting community.
Collaborating with authentic Andean communities enables Valencia Travel to collaborate with indigenous people in a way that maintains their traditional values and customs, as well as inviting outside visitors into their world to learn more about the customs and traditions in this part of The Andes. Peru is a diverse country with many unique traditions and legacies passed down through generations since Inca times. These unique and authentic families are only too happy to share their lives, and we are only too glad to help them promote their customs sustainably and responsibly in a way that is mutually beneficial for all.
Book your visit to the living Andean Community of Rukha Allyu on your next Peru trip here, with Valencia Travel, for a unique and authentic insight into rural communities in the Andes of Peru!