The villagers of the Andes

andean villages

The people of the Andes are the descendants of the Incas, and they still keep some wisdom from their ancestors along with other knowledge that is gradually becoming forgotten over the years. Most of these Andean villages are in Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador in South America.

How do these people come to live in the highlands where there is little oxygen, very cold temperatures and hardly anything grows?


After the Spanish invasion during the 16th century, and especially after the rebellion by the last Inca leader Tupac Amaru who was killed by the Spanish, some Incas were able to escape to high mountainous areas which the Spanish horses could not easily access. However, other Incas were forced to stay and ended up enslaved in mines.

In this way, the Andean people stuck together close to the snow-capped mountains and survived by helping each other, doing community work and turning the rocky lands into farms.

Still today there are some Andean towns high in the mountains and each village differs from the other villages in the clothes that they wear that they make themselves, just as it was in the Inca period.

Andean people
Andean villages
Andean people
Andean people

They all speak Quechua in the Andes, the main language of the Incas. Quechua is a language that you can still write and speak today.

The expression of the Quechua people is in their textiles, based on thousands of years of development and inter-generational transmission of knowledge. Traditional textiles are an open book of codes, symbols and information since the art of weaving in the Andes is a form of writing or language made up of visual metaphors that transmit values, cultural ideals and complex information about social memories, such as cosmology, astronomy, religion, myths and stories.

Learn some Quechua before you travel:


  • Allillanchu, Hi, Hello, How are you?
  • Añay / Sulpayki, Thank you. (It’s very important to make sure you pronounce the letter Lwell – if you pronounce it ‘supayki’ you could offend the person as it can be understood as ”go to hell”!)
  • Tupananchiscama, See you next time. (Never say adios / goodbye to the Quechuas, as it can be an offense to them. Adios to them could mean that you never want to see them again and you wish them death!).

But in most cases, when you say these words, the Quechua people will laugh and ask you repeat.

Andean people

Today, most Andean healers/doctors (chamanes) can be found in the town of Q’eros, and Andean astronomers for agriculture can be found throughout the villages of the Lares mountains and in many other places.

Andean Villages

andean villages

Journey to Machu Picchu through the Andean village of Choquecancha to experience Incan culture.

Choquecancha is located in the province of Lares. This small village has a population of approximately 200 people. The people who live here are proud of their Incan heritage. Hardworking and friendly, they value family above all. Visitors to Choquecancha enjoy interacting with this beautiful community and experiencing Incan culture.

Because of our relationship with this village, only travelers with True Mountain Traveler enjoy hands-on interaction with the local culture. You can take part in their farming, learn a dance, and more.

Choquecancha’s superior production of textile fabrics serves as a source of financial sustainability as well as social identity. Their textiles are famous not only within the Cusco region, but across the entire country of Peru. A visit to Choquecancha isn’t complete without trying on some of their traditional clothing.

Choquecancha is also a town rich with history. Remaining ancient Incan structures are still inhabited by the local people. When spending time in this village, history comes to life. You can’t help but imagine what Incan life was like.

We welcome you to our community and are excited to share this special view of Andean life with you. Join us on our cultural immersion tour.

andean villages
Cancha Cancha

Travel back to ancient Incan times in the Andean village of Cancha Cancha on your way to Machu Picchu.

Cancha Cancha is a small village located in the Lares Valley at an altitude of 3,650m / 12,303ft. It is the only Andean village that lacks modern technology. With no cars or electricity, this village is a beautiful place to enjoy nature while learning about the lifestyle of the locals.

The people who live in Cancha Cancha still practice real Incan traditions. You can see how they raise their guinea pigs and you’ll also learn about their traditional hand-woven textiles, made of llama and alpaca wool. More than 80 percent of the houses are original, ancient Incan constructions, made of stone with grass-thatched roofs.

You’ll also get to meet local children in Cancha Cancha. To support the education and health of this native village, True Mountain Traveler provides them with food and school supplies every time we visit. We invite our travelers to share in this support. You’re welcome to bring anything you would like to supplement the lives of these Quechuan-speaking children.

We’re delighted to let you experience our Andean community and culture. Enjoy a stay in Cancha Cancha on our Lares trek to Machu Picchu.

Lares Trek Routes

Lares mountains offer a number of trek routes to Machu Picchu

The Inca Trail in Peru

Top things you must know before sign up for Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
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