Cusco, 2018: Once again, at Andean Adventures Peru, this month we extended for another year our long association with the festivities held in honor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, at the picturesque Andean village of Paucartambo, some 108 kilometers (67 miles) from our main office in the city of Cusco.
Paucartambo has been honoring the image of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, held in its whitewashed adobe church, since the 17th century, and the founding family of our company, Andean Adventures Peru, has been participating in this four-day marathon of typical dances, somber religious observance and joyous celebration since the Saqra dance group was established in the mid-1920s.
The figure of the Saqra is often described as an Andean version of the European concept of a demon; however, the Saqra is a far more playful character, wholly devoid of the darker aspects of the Christian beliefs imported by the Spaniards to supersede the indigenous practices of Peru.
At the fiesta of Paucartambo, the figure of the Saqra plays a crucial role in the overall narrative of the event, as members of the dance group harangue the image of the Virgin when she is taken from the church in procession.
The festivities at Paucartambo, involving the participation of nineteen colorful dance groups and their respective bands of musicians, are held each year in the village and continue for four days, with the principal day honoring the Virgin falling on July 16th. The event has been acknowledged as one of Peru’s most colorful and vibrant religious fiestas, and it attracts hundreds of participants and thousands of pilgrims and tourists to a beautiful village which for the rest of the year is remarkable for its peaceful, timeless atmosphere.
The village is situated on the road between Cusco and the Amazon lowlands, which are visited by thousands of tourists each year, who take advantage of the relative accessibility from Cusco of Peru’s southeastern tropical forests, particularly the biologically diverse Tambopata National Reserve and Manu National Park.
To find out more about how you can enjoy Peru’s living culture and natural heritage with Andean Adventures Peru, contact us directly.