Cusco, September 21st 2017: This month, Peru’s Ministry of the Environment declared the Three Canyons area in the Cusco province of Espinar a Regional Conservation Area, raising hopes that as many as two thousand local families will benefit from increased tourism to this area of outstanding natural beauty, archaeological heritage and living culture.
Situated in the Espinar district of Suykuytambo, some 241 kilometers south of the city of Cusco, the Three Canyons Regional Conservation Area is dominated by a series of naturally occurring towering rock walls, soaring more than eighty meters above grassy valleys and resembling some kind of vast fortress created by a race of giants.
Spread across an area between 3500 and 5000 meters above sea level, these vast volcanic rock formations overlook a landscape remarkable for its incredible variety of Andean flora and fauna, including native queña forests (Polylepis sp.), extensive native grasslands (Stipa ichu) and hillsides studded with the magnificent puya Raimondi, the world’s largest species of bromeliad.
The fauna sheltered by this pristine example of high Andean scenery includes pumas (Puma concolor), Andean deer (Hippocamelus antisensis) and the rabbit-like rodent known as the vizcacha (Lagidium viscacia).
In addition to its natural riches, the Three Canyons area is also home to the archaeological remains left behind by a series of ancient cultures. From 1000 BC to 1430 AD, the civilizations which settled in this part of Peru’s southern Andes included the Kaluyo, Tiahuanaco, Huari, Collao and Inca peoples.
This combination of natural scenery and archaeological heritage makes the Three Canyons of Cusco’s Espinar province an ideal setting for travelers seeking to get off the beaten track and experience another side of Peru.
Another aim of the Ministry of the Environment initiative which has created this new Regional Conservation Area is the promotion of experiential tourism, providing economic benefits for local people while introducing travelers from all over the world to a slice of Andean life. Clearly, given that in 2012 the Suykuytambo district –where the Three Canyons are situated- was declared one of the poorest places in Peru, the possibility of tourism offering a significant economic alternative for ordinary families constitutes a welcome innovation. Peruvian and international travelers will be encouraged to enjoy local cuisine, witness traditional dances, and experience other aspects of southern Peru’s living culture, including local farming and alpaca herding activities.
With its rugged topography and imposing scenery, the Three Canyons area also offers travelers the option of engaging in adventure tourism, including trekking, climbing, abseiling and river rafting.
Rich in natural, historical and cultural attractions, this little-known corner of the Cusco region promises to offer a new alternative for those seeking an authentic Peruvian experience.