Tour Guides and Agencies
The colorful, all-natural, traditional weavings from the Huancayo area draw textile experts from across the world to not only buy weavings but also to participate in hands-on classes. If you have a real curiosity in the subject, Sasha McInne’s 22-day Textiles/Folk Art/Market Tour is the best option.
Sasha’s tours operate through her agency Puchka Peru Cultural Tours (Canada tel. 250/360-1898, www.puchkaperu.com), traveling through Peru stopping in Lima, Cusco, the Sacred Valley, and Arequipa. In Arequipa, travelers meet up with traditional Huancayo weavers to learn from their techniques and experiences. The energetic and knowledgeable Sasha grew up in Peru, knows the lay of the land, and exposes trip participants to a variety of weaving techniques, including knitting, braiding, embroidery, and backstrap and tapestry weaving.
For closer-to-Huancayo weaving experience, contact Juana Sanabria of Peru Andino Lodging (Pasaje San Antonio 113, tel. 064/22-3956, www.geocities.com/peruandino_1). Juana is a passionate weaver and patient teacher. She organizes in-house weaving classes and demonstrations at Peru Andino. Contact her before your arrival so that she can gather the necessary plants and fiber to make the natural dyes, which you will in turn learn to make and mix with wools that will eventually be woven into textiles.
Juana’s husband Luis is the mountain man of the family. As his contribution to Peru Andino, he leads a variety of organized treks into the surrounding hills and even into the nearby jungle. The treks can be contracted with as little as a day’s notice.
True adventure, however, wears the name of Lucho Hurtado. Lucho operates Incas del Peru (Giráldez 652, tel. 064/22-3303, www.incasdelperu.org, 9 a.m.–1 p.m. and 4–7 p.m. Mon.–Sat.), from which he rents mountain bikes and hands out free walking and biking maps to those who rent bikes or stay in La Casa de la Abuela, his hostel across the street.
The walks include the lake-to-lake circuit near Jauja and the loop above Huancayo; ruins and hot mineral baths at Matachico, north of Jauja; and a ridge walk between the villages of Ahuac and Chupaca that passes through a line of Huanca granaries and offers views of the snow-covered Cordillera Huaytapallana and Lago Ñahuimpuquio.
Lucho also knows the jungle around Chanchamayo and takes travelers out to his father’s ranch on the way to Pozuzo. Although Lucho also offers cultural classes and tours, we recommend him only for his outdoor adventures.
The other tour agencies in Huancayo offer cheaper tours that do not include food, entry fees, or truly bilingual guides. They are, however, much more economical at about US$10 a day. Recommended agencies include Peruvian Tours (Plaza Constitución on the side of the cathedral, tel. 064/21-3069, perutours [at] hotmail [dot] com) and Darqui Tours (Ancash 367, Plaza Constitución, tel. 064/23-3705).
© Ross Wehner and Renée del Gaudio from Moon Peru, 3rd Edition