Chincheros Indian Market (Mercado Chincero)
High on the Anta plains, at an elevation of 12,343 feet (3,762 meters), Chinchero is said to be the mythical birthplace of the rainbow. Certainly, travelers see a riot of colors here, from deep, vivid hues of woven textiles made by local families to the fantastic sight of the women of the village. Wearing traditional outfits—braided hair under broad red hats, crisp white shirts, black skirts—the ladies weave, sell, and drive hard bargains. Their work is particularly unique, as they use natural dyes, such as green Chilq’ua leaves, purple corn, and a parasite (Dactylopius coccus) that grows on cacti, which when combined with lime juice, produces vibrant crimson reds and oranges.
Travelers have many options to explore the town and its market, including private or group day trips or multi-day tours that may combine visits to Cusco, Machu Picchu, and various towns in the Sacred Valley. Some specialty tours focus on local communities and weaving while others allow you to bike the area.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Bring cash in small bills and coins.
- Hearty appetites and empty stomachs are rewarded here. On offer are various options, such as chicken soups with tapioca, chuno (a traditional freeze-dried potato product), and if you are lucky, roasted guinea pig.
- Because of the altitude, be sure to stay hydrated and take it slow.
- Chewing on coca leaves or drinking coca tea helps alleviate symptoms of altitude sickness.
How to Get There
Chinchero is about 19 miles (31 kilometers) from Cusco on the way to Urubamba. You can catch a bus from Cusco, drive a car from Machu Picchu, or join a guided tour that includes transport.
When to Get There
Chinchero is a year-round destination. For the best weather and fewer crowds visit during the spring (May and June) and fall (September and October).
For Archaeology Buffs Allow time to visit the town’s important Inca ruins, constructed by Tupac Inca Yupanqui around 1480. Within the archaeological complex are pre-Columbian walls, enclosures, staircases, and altars. Look closely and you will see that the historic center of Chinchero is built atop Inca foundations and walls.
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- Lares Trek
- Sacsayhuaman (Saqsaywaman)
- Maras Salt Pools
- Q'enqo (Qenko)
- Sacred Valley of the Incas
- Pre-Columbian Art Museum (MAP)
- Ausangate Trail
- Inca Museum (Museo Inka)
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- Plaza de Armas (Huacaypata)
- Cusco Historic Center (Centro Historico de Cusco)
- San Blas
- Inca Trail