Archive for February, 2012
February 24 – March 4th
The Verano Negro (Black Summer) Festival is celebrated the final week of each February in Ica’s Chincha province with the objective of the festival is to highlight Afro-Peruvian culture, food, poetry and dance. Celebrations are centered in the district of El Carmen in the city of Chincha and among other cultural expressions include gastronomical fairs, art fairs, wine and brandy fairs touting the region’s most famous products, poetry reciting contests, and especially dances, parties, and parades around the Plaza de Armas (city center)- all celebrating the richness of Afro-Peruvian cultures.
The colorful and riotous festivities is one of the most important events to occur each year in the Chincha Province, and lucky travelers who chance upon it will have the chance to see folkloric dances like the landó and panalivios in dance contests, shows, and parades, and see musicians playing traditional instruments such as the Peruvian cajón, maracas, and even the jawbone of a donkey.
You can get to the city of Chincha, considered the cradle of Afro-Peruvian folkloric culture, in the province of Chincha in the Ica Region by taking a bus from Lima. The trip is about 200km south. If you’re using Lima as a base, Pirwa has two locations in Lima’s Miraflores District, Pirwa Inclan B&B and Pirwa Prada Backpackers, with in-house travel desks from Pirwa Travel Service where you can get all the help you need to arrange bus transport or other trip details.
Highlights from the Official Program-
Verano Negro 2012
Friday, Feb 24th
07:00pm: Inauguration at Chincha’s Plaza de Armas.
Saturday, Feb 25th
10:00am: “Raspa Fresh 2012″- the famous smoothies/icees of the Peruvian coast! Sample the wares in Chincha’s Plaza de Armas
10:00am: VIII National Marinera Contest at Chincha’s Coliseo Cerrado. Make sure to stop by to see the graceful national dance of Peru which is danced with handkerchiefs.
12:00pm: XXIV Grape Stomping Festival at the Naldo Navarro Winery. This is a good chance to pick up some of Ica’s famous wines and Peruvian pisco grape brandy!
05:00pm: Cajón Playing Master Class at the Cajón Players of Peru Creative Network (Calle Lima 518). Learn how to play the iconic Afro-Peruvian instrument
Sunday, Feb 26th
10:00am: First Session of the Great Cajoneada (Cajón Playing Fest) in the Plaza de Armas
11:00am: Raspa Fresh 2012 in the Plaza de Armas
12:00pm: Selection & Crowning of Miss Verano Negro 2012, with performances by the Afro-Peruvian Ballet, Los Ochoas Orchestra, and Grupo Kaliente along with raffles and gifts at Las Totoritas Beach
02:30pm: Great Bingo in the Plaza de Armas
Monday, Feb 27th
07:00pm: Inter-provincial bus, Chincha – Pisco route, from the Plaza de Armas
Tuesday, Feb 28th
04:00pm: “Caress of Living Nature Art Show” at Chincha’s Library
08:00pm: Great Afro-Peruvian Dance Parade around the Plaza de Armas- don’t miss your opportunity to appreciate the great variety of Afro-Peruvian music and dance, and also party along!!
Wednesday, Feb 29th
04:00pm: “Caress of Living Nature” Art Show in Chincha’s library
05:00pm: “Ebano & Clay” Art Show in Chincha’s Cultural Center
08:00pm: “Marinera in a Thousand Ways” Open-Air Party in the Plaza de Armas
Thursday, March 1st
08:00pm: Urban Dance Open-Air Party in the Plaza de Armas
Friday, March 2nd
09:00 pm: Open-Air Party featuring local and national artists
Saturday, March 3rd
08:00am: Touristic Circuit throughout Ica, organized bythe Social Services Administation of Chincha
10:00am: Gastronomical Fair in the Plaza de Armas. While in Ica, be sure to pick up some bottles of the most famous product to have developed in the region, pisco grape-brandy, and sample one of the most traditional meals of the region, carapulcra stew!
11:00am: SENASA’s Theatrical Presentation, “Erraticating the Fruit Fly in the Ica Region” in the Plaza de Armas
02:00pm: “Marinera in a Thousand Ways” at the Plaza de Armas
08:00pm: Afro-Peruvian Festival in the Plaza de Armas
09:00pm: Watch local and national artists perform and compete in a traditional Peña at the Gambug de Amador
Sunday, March 4th
09:00am: “Getting to know Chincha” Tour- Sign up at Chincha’s Cultural Center
10:00am: The Great “Cajoneada” (Cajón Playing Party) in the Plaza de Armas
10:00am: Gastronomical Fair in the Plaza de Armas de Chincha
07:00pm: Closing and Prize Ceremony at Chincha’s Library
09:00pm: Open-Airl Dance to the sounds of the Orquestra Bony band in the Plaza de Armas!
The New 7 Wonders Foundation based in Zurich’s the Heidi-Weber Museum has been launching campaigns for years which seek to raise awareness. In the New 7 Wonders of Nature campaign 2007 millions of voters weighed in, awarding rank according to ‘unique beauty‘, ‘ecological significance‘ and ‘historical legacy‘.
Now, they’re doing a by-continent edition. For the New 7 Natural Wonders of South America, Peru has more sites nominated than any other country and the poll is OPEN for voting. Bolivia’s representing as well, so can we get some support for Peru and Bolivia?
The Current Rankings
Amazon Jungle: Ranking #1
We think this one’s a sure thing, after all, it’s so large that it accounts for more than half of the world’s remaining rainforest and spans Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana. Not to mention that it boasts the greatest collection of flora and fauna in the world- 1 in 10 species are found there, including 1 in 5 of all birds- and a great number of plants with pharmaceutical value.
Let Pirwa Travel Service get you there! Check out a sample itinerary from previous post here.
Colca Canyon: Ranking #4
Colca Canyon is twice as deep as the Grand Canyon, and from its formative river which flows from glacial Andes to the Pacific, to its volcanoes, hot springs, it’s a landscape of extremes. Most travelers who don’t have time for a more involved trek or rafting trip at least visit the canyon for a day to stop at Condor’s Cross and watch at close range the massive and endangered Andean Condors (the world’s largest birds of flight) as they circle in search of food.
Colca Canyon is located in Arequipa, where Pirwa Travel offers various tours and treks. We also have a centrally-located hostel in sunny Arequipa, boasting a rooftop terrace with an unbeatable view of El Misti Volcano. Bright and cheery Pirwa Park Hostel offers various types of accomodations from shared dorms to private rooms, and at the travel desk you can also arrange what excursions tempt you.
Huascarán National Park: Ranking #5
This Andean Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage Site boasts Peru’s highest peak, Huascarán, along with other impressive snowy peaks. This pristine refuge protects 663 glaciers and 296 lakes, and plant and animal species including several endangered mammals
#7 Alpamayo Mountain
The symmetrical Mount Alpamayo with its 60 degree slope might not be as tall as neighboring peaks of the Cordillera Blanca, but was voted by an international survey of photographers and climbers in 1966 as “the most beautiful mountain in the world.”
These 2 sites aren’t going to make it without your help!!
Cotahuasi Canyon, the world’s deepest, is a geological wonder of unsurpassed majesty stretching between Coropuna and Solimana mountains- how can it be dragging at #9?! Pirwa travel offers trekking, camping, and rafting trips through the canyon, so we know what an awesome effect it has on travelers. Can we get some votes for Cotahuasi, guys?
If you have the time, a trek into the Canyon of Cotahuasi, known also as the Canyon of Wonders, will take you through 19 different ecological floors, boasting waterfalls and pre-Inca ruins , and, oh, what’s this, Pirwa Travel has you covered: Check the detailed info on our prior blog post about Cotahuasi, and click the link at the end if you must must must participate in one of our treks.
Remember when we wrote about the surreal landscape of Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia? Largest salt desert in the world? So far, it looks like it’s not going to make it! Ranking is currently at #11, which is a tragedy. This child of prehistoric lakes, with its peaks of ancient submerged volcanoes referred to as ‘islands’ and carved by erosion into a delicate filigree, its brine lake under a salt crust, picturesque lagoons where flamingos breed, and giant cacti, deserves a spot on the list. During the rainy season, a light layer of water converts it into a giant mirror, and it’s expanse and flatness makes it more preferable for calibrating satellites than the oceans.
Check out our special post on Uyuni- even if you just check the pics it’s amazing. The landscape of Uyuni is often referred to as Dali-esque, which seems fitting. Daniela at Pirwa La Paz is your Uyuni expert and ready for questions, as is the friendly Pirwa Travel staff, which offers 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 day tours through the Uyuni Salt Flats.
VOTE, VOTE, VOTE!!
The website for voting on South America’s 7 Natural Wonders is here. You have to create a login in order to ensure that you’re a real person, but it’s quick. Cotahuasi Canyon and Salar de Uyuni deserve to be on that list, so we hope you’ll help them out!
Spending this week in Lima and wondering what to do? We’ve already covered some ideas for Valentine’s week in Lima, but thought we’d update with some new events. For example, Parque de las Leyendas is admitting married couples for free today, February 14th, and those who are dating get in 2 for the price of 1 from 9am to midday. Other options for this week:
“Romances & Loves”: A Night in the Cemetery
No matter when you come to Lima, you shouldn’t miss Presbyter Maestro Cemetery. As part of its cycle “Nights of Full Moon”, this Saturday Feb 18 a circuit has been scheduled featuring the love lives of the notable figures there laid to rest known as “Romances and Loves”. This includes historical figures such as Ricardo Palma as well as ex-presidents such as Manuel Prado Ugarteche and Felipe Salaverry, the latter who wrote to his wife before his death, “I have loved you as much as one can, and take with me into eternity a profound burden of not having made you happy. I preferred the good of my country to that of my family, and ultimately neither one nor the other has been permitted me.” It’s a 3 hour tour that costs S/20.00 (soles), with buses leaving Jr. Puno 228 (where tickets are already being sold) at 6pm. Bus, Guide, and reenactment included.
The Ministery of Culture has just inaugurated a new exhibit in the Museo de la Nación (Av. Javier Prado Este 2465, San Borja) which covers the route of the Inca Trail, the great network of trails which united all of Tahuantinsuyo during the XV century. Known as the Qhapac Ñan, or royal road, it departed Cusco in four directions and united the empire across what is now Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, and Colombia. It’s free until June of this year, from 9am-7pm Tuesday to Sundays. It includes photos, texts, videos, and items used by the chasquis or foot-messengers. The same route in the modern day is also shown in a photo gallery highlighting the daily lives of trail-side communities.
When you’re ready to tackle a trek along some segment of the Inca Trail, the most popular of which is the Classic 4-Day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, remember that our Pirwa Travel Service is a licensed operator!
Pirwa Hostels: Feeling the Love
Of course, we’ve been feeling the love this month as well, which is why for all of February 2012 and March 2012 we ‘re offering special promotional prices in Lima, Cusco and Machu Picchu. Now you can stay at Pirwa Inclan B&B or Pirwa Prada Backpackers in Miraflores, Lima for 15% less. You can check out our discounted prices here, just enter in your travel dates and the hostel and when you click “check availability”, the new prices will pop up.
Visiting Puno these next two weeks en route to the famously vibrant Virgen of Candelaria Festival? You can’t visit Puno without exploring the millennial culture of the traditional islands of massive Lake Titicaca, the world’s highest navigable lake. Its surprisingly transparent waters stretch between Peru and Bolivia and provide refuge for more than sixty different bird species such as the Parihuana, which inspired the colors of the Peruvian flag. Together with the surrounding high plateau, it forms the Titicaca National Reserve.
One of its most unique draws is the famous Floating Islands of Uros, 40 manmade islands made of the lake’s prevalent plant: the totora reed. They are the home of about 2,000 people of the Aymara-speaking Uros tribe (also known as the kot-suña, or People of the Lake), one of the continent’s oldest cultures. The same reeds from which the islands are constructed are used for building houses and boats, the root can be eaten or made into a tea. Islanders rely on fishing, weaving, and tourism for their subsistence. Visitors can often arrange to embark on a short reed boat ride while at Uros.
Another fascinating stop is Amantani Island, whose approximately 4,000 traditional Quechua-speaking residents still don a mixture of Spanish peasant dress with Andean accessories, adopted shortly after the Spanish Conquest. Most tours of Lake Titicaca begin with the Floating Islands and then continue on to Amantani, where there are no inns but where local families welcome travelers for meals and offer their homes for the night. You’ll be able to see grazing alpacas along the terr It’s a 2-hour hike to one of the islands two hilltop temples, Pachatata (Father Earth) or Pachamama (Mother Earth). They are not used during much of the year, although on January 20th half the population congregates at one, half at the other. A representative from each temple races to a midpoint between the two peaks, and the coming year is predicted based on who which temple wins the race. Guests are generally invited to try the native dress and attend a dance in the evenings.
Most travelers visit Taquile Island after spending the night in Amantani. Taquile was known as Intika when it was incorporated into the Inca empire. During Colonial times the Spanish converted it to a prison. It was finally returned to the people of Taquile in 1970, and like Amantani and the Floating Islands of Uros, is managed collectively. Visitors can explore the pre-Inca ruins and stone agricultural terraces still in use. This is also a wonderful place for purchasing textiles, as the traditional weavings and embroideries of Taquile are considered to be some of the highest-quality artisan products in Peru; they’ve even been proclaimed “Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity” by UNESCO. You’ll notice while on the island that it is the men who knit and the women who weave. They can cost more on the island than in Puno’s artisanal markets, but buyers are supporting the artisans directly.
Pirwa Travel Service, our own tour operator, can arrange 2-Day tours embarking on Lake Titicaca from Puno and visiting the Floating Islands of Uros, Amantani Island, and Taquile Island. You can check out the detailed program here: 2-Day Lake Titicaca Tour: Uros, Amantani & Taquile. For those looking for nearby lodging, Pirwa Puno Backpackers is located just a 15 minute walk from Puno’s Lake Titicaca harbor. You can see Pirwa Puno Backpackers by clicking here, and to the left some of our lovely volunteers!
- Prepare for the cold and dry Puno weather, with the average temperature hovering around 45 degrees, dipping as low as 30 degrees in the June to August winter months and rising as high as 60 degrees in the December to January summertime.
- Don’t let the cold weather lure you into a false sense of security: use plenty of sunscreen no matter which time of year it is, as the high altitude means the sun scorches.
- Symptoms of altitude sickness include nausea and fatigue, plan to take the first day easy just in case, resting well and hydrating, perhaps with some coca tea, a preferred local remedy.
- Puno has no airport, with the nearest located in the city of Juliaca 28 miles north of Puno. Many travelers opt to arrive by bus, with buses by reputable companies like Cruz del Sur and Ormeño arriving throughout the day from Cusco, Arequipa, and other cities. Pirwa Travel can assist you with your transport needs as well if you’d like some help.