All about the province of Paucartambo
Explore the province of Paucartambo
Paucartambo is a province of Cusco famous for hosting the festival in honor of the Virgen del Carmen. There you can also visit archaeological sites and the Tres Cruces de Oro viewpoint. Discover them!
The province of Paucartambo
Paucartambo is one of the thirteen provinces of Cusco. The districts that make up this province are: Huancarani, Kosñipata, Colquepata, Challabamba, Caicay and Paucartambo. The latter is the capital of the province.
The territory of this province has a high Andean part and another large part belonging to the jungle region, specifically with the Manu National Park. Its territory covers an area of approximately 6,925 square kilometers. According to the 2017 census, it has a population of 42,504 inhabitants.
Its name comes from the Quechua word 'Pawqartampu' which means 'tambo colorido'. During Inca times it played a major role as a point of trade between Cusco and the 'anti' or jungle region. Currently, many of its traditions are preserved, both Inca and colonial, as well as those of the different ethnic groups from the jungle.
Agriculture is the main economic activity in Paucartambo. Emphasizes the cultivation of potatoes, wheat and corn. Only five percent of its population lives in the city of Paucartambo. The rest inhabit the towns scattered throughout the province.
The most traditional face of the province can be seen at the festivals. And the most traditional festival in the entire province is the 'Fiesta de la Virgen del Carmen' which takes place every year between July 15 and 18.
Paucartambo has several tourist attractions such as the archaeological sites of Mauk Allaqta, the petroglyphs of Kosñipata, the chullpas of Ninamarca or Watoqto. However, the most famous site is the Akhanacu viewpoint from where you can see the called 'the most beautiful sunrise in the world'.
Paucartambo is located on the eastern fringe of the Andes Mountains, 110 kilometers by road from the city of Cusco.
The province limits to the north with the department of Madre de Dios, to the east and south with the province of Quispicanchi while to the west with the province of Calca.
The city of Paucartambo, the capital of the province, is located at 2,906 meters above sea level. Geographically it is located on the banks of the Mapacho River. It is the gateway to the southern jungle, to the Manu National Park.
How to get there?
To get to the city of Paucartambo from the city of Cusco, you must take the public transport buses that depart from 'Diagonal Angamos' avenue.
The trip takes approximately 3 hours. The cost of the route is approximately 20 Peruvian soles (about 6 US dollars on average).
History of Paucartambo
Paucartambo has a history prior to the appearance of the Incas. This territory was occupied by various ethnic groups such as the Poke, the Lares and the Wallas. Later, in the fifteenth century, it was added to the nascent Inca empire for whom said territory was very important due to the constant trade with the remote ethnic groups of the jungle.
Already in colonial times, some defeated Inca peoples (such as the Japo, Kijo or Q'eros) took refuge in the difficult limits of the eastern mountain range. In 1565 the Spaniards established the village of Paucartambo, of great importance for the production of food both in the mountains and in the jungle of Cusco.
On June 21, 1825, after Peru's declaration of Independence, the province of Paucartambo was created under the ordinance of the liberator Simón Bolívar. Today Paucartambo is a territory that keeps alive various aspects of its Inca and colonial past, as well as the influences of jungle ethnic groups in the region.
These are the main tourist attractions in the province of Paucartambo:
- Three golden crosses – 40 kilometers by road from the city of Paucartambo is the Akhanacu viewpoint from where you can see a beautiful sunrise. Every winter solstice (end of June) a rare phenomenon called 'white lightning' is seen there. That morning the sun appears as a mirage divided into three as if they were 'three golden crosses'. It is considered the 'most beautiful sunrise in the world'.
- The petroglyphs of Kosñipata – These mysterious petroglyphs are in the district of Kosñipata, 95 kilometers from the city of Paucartambo in the jungle of Cusco. It is also called Hinkiori petroglyphs. It has zoomorphic figures on rocks. Together with the petroglyphs of Pusharo (in Madre de Dios) they are the only cave samples found in the Madre de Dios River basin to date.
- Las chullpas de Ninamarca – These striking constructions are located in the district of Colquepata (near the town of Ninamarca), 141 kilometers by road from the city of Paucartambo. There you can see up to thirty chullpas (tower for funerary purposes) belonging to the pre-Inca era.
- Watoqto – This archaeological site is located just 18 kilometers from the city of Paucartambo. It is a tambo or administrative enclosure that communicated the Paucartambo region (the antisuyo) with the city of Cusco, capital of Tahuantinsuyo. Its adobe and stone structures have niches, stairways, terraces, and rooms.
The province of Paucartambo has a diverse climate due to its mountainous and jungle geography with different altitude levels. Its capital, the city of Paucartambo, is located at 2,906 meters above sea level. Its climate is humid temperate with temperatures ranging from a maximum of 24ºC. and a minimum of 4ºC. The rains are more intense from November to April, especially in January, February and March.
The biggest festival in the province is the one held in honor of the Virgen del Carmen. This festival stands out for the many and picturesque dances. You can also see gastronomic fairs, music shows, processions and many hubbub among the general population. It takes place every year from July 15 to 18. The main day is July 16.
The cost of admission to the 'Three Golden Crosses' viewpoint is 10 Peruvian soles. This is because the viewpoint is located in the Manu National Reserve. During your visit you can take advantage of knowing the landscapes and richness of flora and fauna of this Amazon region of Peru.
During your visit to Paucartambo, do not forget to bring a hat, sunscreen, mosquito repellent, comfortable clothing, a raincoat, as well as snacks, drinks, documents and cash.
There are few tours that include Paucartambo in their itinerary. The most important are those that include a visit to Tres Cruces de Oro (June 20, 21 or 22). Some services are also aimed at the Feast of the Virgen del Carmen (July 16).