Home to one of the world’s most iconic landmarks with Machu Picchu, Peru features on almost every cultural traveler’s bucket list. The country’s culinary scene, heritage, architecture, and textile traditions may be less visible than its archaeological sites, but they’re every bit as fascinating. Like other Latin American countries, Peruvian culture represents a centuries-old layering of native and Hispanic traditions. The living heritage of the country’s Quechua, Aymaran, and Inca communities can be felt in everything, from the colorful costumes and festivals to the food. For a better insight into Peruvian culture, here are some of the best living culture experiences in Peru.
Practically everyone comes home from Peru with a woven blanket, bag, or sweater. It's almost impossible to resist buying something. Because textiles — as well as artwork, painting, jewelry, and other handicrafts, are not simply an old tradition in Peru. They are literally woven into the fabric of Peru´s cultural identity. If you are interested in learning about the traditions behind the colorful textiles in the markets, consider going behind closed doors to visit artisans in their workshops. In the Sacred Valley of the Incas, there are a number of artisan communities you can visit to learn the processes involved in traditional Andean weaving such as Huilloc and Ccaccacollo for the ultimate living culture in the Cusco region.
Sampling fresh ceviche in Lima is par for the course. But what if you could really understand how such classic Peruvian dishes are made and take those skills home with you? Well, you can! Sign up for a cooking class and you'll eat and drink well, learn something, visit local markets and arm yourself with culinary skills to last a lifetime. The best living culture culinary experiences take you into a local market first to choose the ingredients Many classes include a cocktail lesson, too, where you can learn how to make a pisco sour -Peru's national cocktail. If you spend a couple of days in Lima, you will have an opportunity to savor the delicious street food and also refined dishes of world-renowned chefs. Furthermore, you will have the opportunity to learn how to replicate these delights at home by participating in a Peruvian cooking class.
Peru is packed with fascinating markets. The rustic village of Chinchero is an incredible local market, where visitors can come into contact with local traditions through a colorful market and ruins. Traditional markets are common throughout Peru, but the most beautiful objects and vibrant cultural displays are found in smaller towns and villages such as Chinchero. Chinchero is famous for its weaving traditions and you can watch live demonstrations. The market is quite small and although it’s become more touristy in recent years, it still retains much of its authentic character. Santurantinkuy at Christmas is another traditional market in Cusco, where the plaza de Armas is taken over by local villagers, to sell their wares just in time for Christmas. A local living Christmas tradition in The Andes of Peru!
The Uros people are perhaps the most fascinating of the various Peruvian ethnic groups. Their culture is one of the oldest still practiced in present-day Peru. The Uros are the traditional owners of Lake Titicaca and their presence in the area dates back to before the arrival of the Incas. The Uros began to build and live on floating islands as a way to defend themselves from the arrival of enemies and make a quick escape if required. The islands are constructed from Totora reeds that grow abundantly in Lake Titicaca. For the most incredible living culture Peru tour, contact us at Valencia Travel to arrange a visit to these magnificent floating islands on Lake Titicaca.
The Quechua word “Inti Raymi” which stands for ‘Sun Festival” is one of the most visually stunning festivals of Peru which is celebrated on the 24th of June in the city of Cusco. The celebrations are a tribute to the Sun God, one of the principal symbols of worship in the Inca culture. This ceremony which takes place at the Sacsayhuaman esplanade presently has over 750 participants who take part in the rituals with the same devotion and fervor as in centuries past. Some of the other sites of this ceremony include Haucaypata and Coricancha.
Virgen de la Candelaria
In February, the Virgen de la Candelaria (also known as the Virgen of Candlemas) festival is everything you would expect from a Peruvian folkloric celebration. Dancing, colorful costumes, music, with food and beverages flowing for days. Puno draws some of the best dance troupes from around the region, around 170 groups and 40,000 dancers. It is the third largest festival in South America, with preparations starting a year in advance and one of the best examples in Peru for living the culture of Peru´s festivals.
Boat along the Amazon to a stunning rainforest lodge where you'll experience the culture of the native Infierno community and explore the natural wonders of the Tambopata Nature Reserve. Paddle out into an oxbow lake to spot giant otters, learn about traditional medicines at the ethnobotanical center, see colorful parrots flock to a salt lick, and more. It's an amazing introduction to life in the Amazon! The lodge is owned and run by the Infierno Community and your stay directly supports their ongoing efforts to support local livelihoods, preserve their culture and conserve a 2,000 hectare private rainforest reserve. What better way to visit Peru than by directly living the culture of The Amazon indigenous people and supporting their survival in this remote region?
This ceremony which literally translates as ‘payment to the earth’ is traditionally held throughout the month of August in the Peruvian Andes. According to the inhabitants, this is the time when Pachamama is both hungry and thirsty and offerings usually consist of alcoholic beverages, various grains, raw silver, wine, and even fetuses of sheep and llamas. This ceremony is held in a number of sites including Lambayeque, Huaraz, Puno, and Cusco. Payment to the earth is an ancient custom in which our ancestors had a strong bond of respect, love, and worship with nature. Andean world religion is based on rituals that create bonds with people and their habitat. In the Andean cosmovision, Inti (sun) was its most important deity. Apus were the spirits that lived in the mountains, and Mother Earth was the deity of fertility. Payment to the earth is a way to show gratitude to the spirits related to natural forces and the benefits we receive from their abundance. At present, people still give offerings to the earth when they build a house. They believe that by doing so, Pachamama will bless them and protect their property. A fascinating insight into the living culture and ancestral ceremonies in the Andean region.