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Inti Raymi: Cusco Inca festival on a budget

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inti raymi, Cusco

Inti Raymi: Cusco Inca festival on a budget

Inti Raymi festival – enjoy the Inca parade on a budget

Andean Trails’ Tom describes how to witness the incredible Inti Raymi festival in Cusco, Peru, without having to spend a fortune on tickets.

 

He writes:

 

June 24, 8am.

We’d been out the night before, drinking chicha (maize beer) among the raucous carnival atmosphere that invades Cusco around Inti Raymi, June 24.

Today’s morning hush was a stark contrast, albeit one or two locals were still groaning and rolling around in the street, sleeping off the excesses.

 

cusco-crowds-peru

Cusco

 

We arrived at Papillon café, ordered a coffee, and claimed prized seats on their terrace.

This was a perfect view over a currently fairly deserted Plazas de las Armas. But there was a wait.

 

9am

Coffee nursed to its deathbed, waiter hovering around, the terrace was full – in fact, every terrace in every café and restaurant around the plaza was now full.

More folk were also starting to gather in the plaza, sitting on steps, kerbs and plastic chairs they’d found who knows where. Thousands of people flock to Cusco to watch Inti Raymi, and most squeeze in here.

A full breakfast was ordered to maintain our pews. And yet at USD 10, double the normal price. it was cheap for the view we had.

In contrast, the full entrance ticket price at Sacsayhuaman, the ‘fuller’ Inti Raymi show, can be as much as USD 200pp or more. This café dwelling was Inti Raymi on a budget.

 

11am

A ‘respectable’ 10am beer, and then the show began with another respectable 11am beer. We needed the seats more than ever – having been sat on them for three hours already.

Inti Raymi in all its glory, was unfolding beneath our balcony.

There were pipes, dancers and gifts thrown and offered.

Dancers swept away the flower petals that were dished out. There were floats full of people in extravagant costume. Drums banged. A petrified mummy was carried past.

 

festival-cusco-peru

Cusco festival

 

We had a perfect eagle eye’s view, a toilet, refreshments if needed plus enough shade to not worry about being burned by the strong, Andean sun.

 

Sacsayhuaman

Just after midday, the procession had left the plaza and was heading up to Sacsayhuamán, an enormous chain of humans crashing through the streets, following their leader.

We missed what locals say is the overly theatrical re-enactment at Sacsayhuaman , with fake sacrifices and comfy chairs for those tourists that pay up to USD 200pp for a seat.

You can join the locals in the outskirts of the festival, albeit it’s very raucous and you need to be very careful with the belongings.

However, we’d spent USD 15pp in total, all on food and drink and then threw ourselves, with the locals, into the street entertainment, where folk dance to Peruvian music or march to bands.

The locals seem, in some senses, to have been frozen out of their own festival. By going to cafes and staying in the streets, the spirit of the festival seemed more real. But do make sure you order food and drinks – it’s only fair.

 

sacsayhuaman-Cusco peru

Sacsayhuaman, Cusco, Peru

 

More information about Inti Raymi 

June 24 is a very popular date to be in Cusco to see this Inca festival to mark the winter solstice in Peru, the shortest day of the year.

Resurrected in 1944, having been born in 1412 and outlawed by the Spanish ‘conquistadores’ in the 1530s, Inti Raymi celebrated the Incan New Year and winter solstice.

The Inti god needed to be offered tokens so that the sun and fertility would return.

It starts in the ruins of Qorikancha, the sun temple, and then flows through streets and the main Plaza de las Armas. Keep an eye out for people dressed as snakes, pumas and condors, ladies with brooms sweeping away evil spirits.

For those that make it to Sacsayhuaman, prepare for faux sacrifices and much pomp!

Contact us for more about this festival, tickets, Peru and more.

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