The province of Chumbivilcas in Cusco

Chumbivilcas is one of the thirteen provinces that make up the department of Cusco in southern Peru. The capital of the province is the district of Santo Tomás. It is known for its Inca and colonial past as well as for its customs and traditional festivities. It is also possible to visit Inca and pre-Inca archeological sites. The region varies according to its districts and altitudinal levels. Learn more!

The province of Chumbivilcas

The Cusco province of Chumbivilcas is made up of thirteen districts: Ccapacmarca, Chamaca, Colquemarca, Livitaca, Llusco, Quiñota, Velille and Santo Tomás. The latter district is the capital of the province.

The province covers an area of 5,371.08 square kilometers. One part of this territory is Andean mountains. The other part is tropical rainforest. It has a total of 66,410 inhabitants.

The name Chumbivilcas is of Inca origin and means ‘Chumpiwilcas’ which, translated into Spanish, means ‘Sacred Belt’.

Its population is mainly dedicated to agriculture and cattle raising. The most important rivers are the Velille and the Santo Tomás, which feed the Apurímac River.

In the tourist area Chumbivilcas is famous for its traditional festivities. It is famous for its bullfights, carnivals and takanakuy (a party in which two people fight fist to fist).

In addition, Chumbivilcas stands out for the ‘qorilazos’ who are skilled riders in dominating horses and roping the brave animals with their ropes.

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?

Chumbivilcas is located in the southwest of the department of Cusco.

It limits to the north with the provinces of Acomayo and Paruro. On the east with the provinces of Espinar and Canas. On the south with the department of Arequipa. And to the west with the department of Apurimac.

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, it is a 7-hour trip approximately. Buses can be taken at the Cusco bus terminal or at the bus stops on El Sol Avenue (at the Pachacutec Oval).

History of Chumbivilcas

The history of the province of Chumbivilcas goes back thousands of years. This is demonstrated by the Llamachay cave paintings located in the district of Colquemarca. There, camelid figures can be seen.

Later this Andean region was populated by different pre-Inca ethnic groups such as the Alk’awisas. In the province there are buildings that predate the Incas, such as the Chiñisiri necropolis and the chullpas of Toqra.

According to the Peruvian anthropologist, these ethnic groups surrendered peacefully to the Incas when the ruler Mayta Capac ordered the construction of roads and bridges that communicated them with the current territory of Chumbivilcas.

During colonial times Chumbivilcas was an important mining enclave. Its inhabitants were subjected to abusive labor in favor of the Spanish crown. Workers who refused were subjected and punished in places like the current complex of ‘Qaqa jail’, a prison inside a high stone formation.

During the rebellion of Tupac 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 located in the district of Colquemarca. They are cave figures of Andean camelids (llamas). They were drawn inside a cave. Precisely its name means ‘Cave of llamas’.
  • The necropolis of Chiñisiri – 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 jail – This unique attraction is located in the town of Haquira, on the border of Chumbivilcas and Apurimac. It is a room carved out of a large rock formation that served as a prison in colonial times. Qaqa’ is a Quechua word that means ‘Great rocky area’.
  • 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 group of terraces and enclosures, stairways, temples and even cemeteries. Its origins date back to pre-Inca cultures such as the Wari or Collao. However, most of its buildings were made by the Incas.
  • Archaeological site of Wanenqaqa – This group of tombs is located in the district of Llusco. There, remains of mummies were found where cranial trepanations were used in the Inca period.
  • Choquechampi Fortress – Also known as Fierro Chumpi, this pre-Inca archaeological complex was a fortress built on the hill of Choquechampi. It is located in the district of Colquemarca.

The climate

Chumbivilcas posee un clima variado que varía según la región donde se ubique. El distrito de Santo Tomás, capital de la provincia, se encuentra en una geografía montañosa (a 3,660 metros sobre el nivel del mar). For this reason its climate is cold temperate with temperatures of a minimum of 0ºC. and a maximum of 22ºC. Rainfall is heaviest from November to March. The rest of the year it is scarce.


Plaza de Armas - Chumbivilcas
Qaqacarcel - Chumbivilcas
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More information

The 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 festival includes dance and music demonstrations.

Chumbivilcas is also famous for the takanakuy festivity celebrated every year on December 25. This festival consists of a fist fight 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. In the district of Santo Tomás, civic demonstrations such as parades and music and dance shows are held. It is a good date to go.

During your visit to Chumbivilcas do not forget to bring cash (most hotels and restaurants do not accept credit cards), documents, sunscreen, rain poncho, hat (or cap) and warm clothing for the cold nights of the region.