The Santa Tierra Festival on Lake Titicaca

The Santa Tierra Festival on Lake Titicaca

In Andean myths, Lake Titicaca, the sun, moon and stars came out of Lake Titicaca, as did Manco Capac and Mama Ocllo, the legendary founders of the Inca civilization. The lake and some of its islands are still considered sacred sites in Andean culture to this day.

 

While the floating islands of Uros top most visitors’ lists of attractions, the traditional populations on scenic Taquile and Amantani islands are also a major draw. There, locals still speak Quechua as their first language, and wear the same Spanish peasant dress with Andean touches that they have since the Spanish conquest.

The third Thursday of this month (the 16th this year) the two temples of Amantani open, the only time all year that they do so, for the Santa Tierra festival. Those lucky enough to visit the island on this day can watch as locals perform rituals at this site which have been done for thousands of years.

The ancient temples, located on separate peaks, are testament the islanders’ ancient dualistic belief system. They are known as the Temple of Pacha Mama and the Temple of Pachatata and were built to worship Mother Earth. A representative of each group races to a midpoint between the two temples. According to tradition, if the representative from the Pacha Mama wins the race, there will be a bountiful harvest that year.

If you can’t make it to Amantani this January 16th, you can still hike to the temple any other day (although it will be closed) and circle it three times before making a wish. Or, you can simply enjoy the sun set over the waters of Lake Titicaca from the peak. If you choose to visit the island as part of the popular two-day Uros, Amantani, Taquile tour, you will be able to stay with a host family on the island to learn more about the local way of life. Often, dances are held, giving visitors the opportunity to don native dress and participate. For more information regarding trips to Lake Titicaca, feel free to contact Pirwa Travel Service at pirwatravel@gmail.com- our specialists have more than a decade’s experience providing travel services in Peru!

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