All about the province of Chumbivilcas
The province of Chumbivilcas
The Cusco province of Chumbivilcas is made up of thirteen districts: Ccapacmarca, Chamaca, Colquemarca, Livitaca, Llusco, Quiñota, Velille and Santo Tomas. This latter district is the capital of the province.
The province covers an area of 5,371.08 square kilometers. A part of said territory is Andean mountains. The other is tropical jungle. It has a total of 66,410 inhabitants.
The name Chumbivilcas is of Inca origin and would mean 'Chumpiwilcas' which, translated into Spanish, means 'Sacred Belt'.
Its population is mainly dedicated to agriculture and livestock. The most important rivers are the Velille and the Santo Tomás, which feed the Apurimac River.
In the tourism sphere Chumbivilcas is famous for its customary festivities. They are famous for their bullfights, their carnivals as well as the takanakuy (feast in which two people fight to a clean fist).
In addition Chumbivilcas stands out for the 'qorilazos' who are skilled riders in mastering horses and tying with their ropes to brave animals.
Finally the province of Chumbivilcas is famous for the archaeological sites of Wamanmarca, Wanenqaqa, Choquechampi as well as the chulpas of Ch'iñisiri.
Where is it located?
Chumbivilcas is located in the southwest of the department of Cusco.
It is bordered to the north by the provinces of Acomayo and Paruro. To the east with the provinces of Espinar and Canas. To the south with the department of Arequipa. And to the west with the department of Apurímac.
Its altitude is varied. Santo Tomás, the capital of the province, is located at 3,660 meters above sea level.
How to get there?
Santo Tomás, the capital of the province of Chumbivilcas, is located 209 kilometers by road from the city of Cusco. To get there you must make a trip of approximately 7 hours. The buses can be taken at the bus terminal in Cusco or at the bus stops on El Sol avenue (at the Pachacutec oval).
History of Chumbivilcas
History in the province of Chumbivilcas goes back thousands of years. This is demonstrated by the cave paintings of Llamachay located in the district of Colquemarca. There you can see the figure of camelids.
Later this Andean region was populated by various pre-Inca ethnic groups such as the alk'awisas. The province features pre-Inca buildings such as the necropolis of Chiñisiri and the chullpas of Toqra.
According to the Peruvian anthropologist, these ethnic groups peacefully surrendered to the Incas when the ruler Mayta Cápac ordered the construction of roads and bridges that connected them with the current territory of Chumbivilcas.
During colonial times Chumbivilcas was an important mining enclave. Its inhabitants were subjected to abusive work in favor of the Spanish crown. Workers who refused were subdued and punished in places like the current 'Qaqa jail' complex, a prison inside a tall stone formation.
During the rebellion of Túpac Amaru II in 1780, many inhabitants of the province were part of the army led by the Inca descendant. Finally, after the independence of Peru in 1821, the creation of the province of Chumbivilcas was made official on June 21, 1825.
What to see and do in Chumbivilcas?
These are some of the most famous tourist attractions in Chumbivilcas:
- The cave paintings of Llamachay – These paintings are found in the district of Colquemarca. They are cave figures of Andean camelids (llamas). These were drawn inside a cave. Precisely its name means 'Cave of flames'.
- The Chiñisiri necropolis – In the community of Ccora, district of Livitaca, is this pre-Inca cemetery made up of about 370 chullpas (circular constructions). Its name comes from a Quechua word that means 'Where the bats lie'.
- The chullpas of Toqra – This archaeological complex (probably of Inca origin) is located in the district of Chamaca. As its name indicates, it is made up of chullpas (rectangular buildings with cone-shaped roofs). The material used was carved ashlar. Precisely the word 'Toqra' means 'ashlar'.
- Qaqa prison – This singular attraction is located in the village of Haquira, on the borders of Chumbivilcas and Apurímac. It is a room carved into a large rock formation that served as a prison during colonial times. 'Qaqa' is a Quechua word meaning 'Great rocky outcrop'.
- Wamanmarca Archaeological Site – This archaeological site is located in the district of Santo Tomás, capital of Chumbivilcas. It is a citadel made up of a set of terraces and enclosures, stairways, temples and even cemeteries. Its origins date back to pre-Inca culture such as the Wari or Collao. However, most of its buildings were made by the Incas.
- Wanenqaqa Archaeological Site – This set of tombs is found in the district of Llusco. There, remains of mummies were found where cranial trepanations were used in the Inca era.
- Choquechampi Fortress – Also known as Fierro Chumpi, this pre-Inca archaeological complex was a fortress built on the Choquechampi hill. It is located in the district of Colquemarca.
The weather in Chumbivilcas
Chumbivilcas has a varied climate that varies according to the region where it is located. The district of Santo Tomás, capital of the province, is located in a mountainous geography (at 3,660 meters above sea level). That is why its climate is cold temperate with temperatures of a minimum of 0ºC. and a maximum of 22ºC. The rains are more intense from November to March. The rest of the year they are scarce.
Traditional festivities are very famous in Chumbivilcas. It highlights the fights of Toqto (February 2) in which the communities of Canas and Chumbivilcas face each other throwing stones with guaracazos. The party includes dance and music demonstrations.
Chumbivilcas is also famous for the takanakuy festival held every year on December 25. This festivity consists of bare-knuckle fights between people from the same community to demonstrate the strength of the competitors. It takes place in different communities of the province.
Some tips for your visit
Every June 21st the anniversary of the creation of the province of Chumbivilcas is celebrated. Civic demonstrations such as parades and music and dance performances are held in the Santo Tomás district. It's a good date to go.
During your visit to Chumbivilcas do not forget to bring cash (most hotels and restaurants do not accept cards), documents, sunscreen, raincoat, hat (or cap) as well as warm clothing for the cold nights of the region.