Series 5: Seldom Visited Sites Andenes Zurite

Series 5: Seldom Visited Sites Andenes Zurite

Lyle Walker

Just west of Cusco you can explore the largest continuous terrace in the region, if not in all of Peru.

The previous 4 articles covered sites in the Sacred and Southern Valleys, now we will move to the West of Cusco where you will find the Anta Province. Aside from those that are traveling through on the way to the Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu, Lima or other locations, as well as those staying with us at GringoWasi, the Anta Province, in general, does not see many tourists.

The Andenes Zurite are located a little more than 42 km to the West of Cusco and are the largest continuous terraces in the Cusco Region if not in all of Peru, with the larger terraces being about 1 km in length, 30 meters deep and 3 meters in height. The word Andenes translates to terraces or steps and Zurite is the name of the nearby town.


(Photo: Lyle Walker)

Before being taken control of by the Peruvian government, the terraces were farmed and home to the Paliza family, their old colonial home is still on one of the upper terraces and is one of many buildings the Ministry of Agriculture now occupies. The Ministry of Agriculture now manages the archaeological site and operates it as a large laboratory. Here they test different growing methods and through cross-pollination, try to develop new varieties of crops. For instance, they introduced a new variety of quinoa back in 2012.

Aside from the terraces and colonial home, there are also ruins on the hill above the terraces that we have been told are referred to as Qenq. While the ruins above are accessible, it would be a difficult hike and according to some of the workers at the site, one would need a machete to blaze a path, as there is no established trail to get you there.


(Photo: Lyle Walker)

If considering a trip to the Andenes Zurite and you like pork, I would recommend stopping in our town of Huarocondo for lunch. Huarocondo is regionally known as the 'œtierra de lechon' or land of lechon. Lechon is pork that has been slow roasted, and while lechon is available in Cusco and many towns in the region, it is usually a piece of adult pig. Here in Huarocondo the pig must be 10kg or under and is roasted whole for 4 to 6 hours depending on size.

Up next will be my last installment in this series, a site dedicated to the moon and where you can experience an amazing local celebration virtually void of other tourists.

Lyle Walker was born in California, served in the Marines and has spent much of his career working as an industrial engineer. In 2006 he met and married his Peruvian wife, Lily, and in 2012 they moved to the Cusco region to open and run GringoWasi bed and breakfast, where they not only host guests but also help them with their planning. Lyle can be contacted by e-mail at peruvianmongo466@hotmail.com

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