This festival takes place in the days before Corpus Christi (May/June
The sanctuary of the Señor (Lord) of Qoylluriti (Snow Star) is located in the foothills of Mount Sinaq’ara 136 km from Cusco at 15,000 feet (4.57 km). This is one of the great pilgrimages that have been bringing the people of the Andes together since ancient times.
During the festival, all the “nations” around Ausangate Mountain send their “gift” or delegation of dancers and musicians which are offered both for the Cristo de las Nieves and for the Sacred Mountain. In this way, they show their gratitude and ask for a bountiful harvest, livestock protection, welfare, and health. At present, this Indian-Catholic event has been held every year since 1780, just before the catholic celebration of Corpus Christi, bringing thousands of pilgrims and visitors to maintain and renew the traditions, faith and worship to the Lord of Qoyllurit’i. They are always accompanied by the pilgrims, native dances and the Pablitos or Ukukos (half man, half bear), a magical being who mediates between men and the spirits of the mountains. This character is also responsible for carrying a symbolic piece of ice from the mountain that will renew the waters and rivers of their own group or nation.
The trip we offer is the same pilgrimage practiced by the people of this land.
1 – 8 Guests
Experience | Difficulty
- Beginner, amateur, enthusiast and semi-pro photographers
- DSLR, mirrorless, compact or iPhone cameras
- Moderate schedule
- Travel by car or minibus
- Moderate elevation changes and lots of walking and hiking (none of our adventures have difficult hikes)
- (non-photographers also welcome)
Weather | Sun
May – Temps 70/40 F 20/2 C Sunrise 5:24 | Sunset 7:23 (19:23)
September – Temps 75/42 F 24/5 C Sunrise 6:10 | Sunset 6:35 (18:35)
- 4 Days
- Travel, landscape, nature, wildlife and people photography
- Professional photographer | guide
- Photo walks & discussions
- Small group size (1-8 guests)
- All Meals
- National Park Permits
- Local transportation
Arrival Airport:Cusco– Transfer time to hotel 30min
Departure Airport:Cusco – Transfer time to hotel 30min
Our adventure begins in the morning on the first day and ends at and of the last day.
Travel Visa: Note required
ITINERARY Lord of Snowstar Festival
At 05.00am we begin one of the most important pilgrimages of the Andes towards Lord of Qoylluriti Sanctuary(15,000 ft (4.57 km)), located in a breathtaking spot and surrounded by snow-capped mountains. We slowly hike though an uphill trail, along which we will encounter 14 crosses that are venerated on the way; the last one is already located at the Sanctuary. Upon arrival, we will be accommodated at our camp, take a rest and then we’ll have breakfast. Afterwards we will visit the chapel with hundreds of indigenous people, visitors and the groups of dancers and musicians. Lunch.
In the afternoon we’ll visit the “Alacitas” market. This is a very curious display in which one buys miniature goods such as cars, houses, cattle, university titles and others, that are only valid during the Qoyllurit’i festivity, in line with one’s real wishes. The legend says that whatever you accomplish in this “ritual”, will come true thanks to the power of the Lord of Qoyllurit’i. We stay overnight and then have dinner.
This day is fully spent at the Sanctuary, following the activities of the pilgrims. We attend the “Alacitas” market in the morning. This is a very curious display in which one buys miniature goods such as trucks, houses, cattle, university titles and others, with money that is only valid during the Qoyllur Ritti festivity, according to one’s real wishes. The legend says that whatever you accomplish in this game will come true thanks to the power of the Lord of Qoylloritti. The Soul Mass at the Sanctuary atrium (10.00 am) is the next event, followed by the “Pablitos” mass at 12.00 pm. The afternoon is reserved for other activities, for all wanting to join them: the procession of the Lord of Tayancani and the Virgin, several dancing performances, mass at the Sanctuary at 06.00 pm and the singing to the Lord at 07.00 pm. At night, after dinner, we enjoy the spectacular “Burning of Castles”, in which wooden constructions with fireworks are burnt, followed by the “Child’s Dance”. Afterwards, the pilgrims ascend to the snow-capped mountain and glacier to bring down the crosses to the Sanctuary.
After an ealy wake up, we pack our bags and get ready for the pilgrimage. We wait and attend the Blessing Mass at 10.00 am and at noon, we leave in the so-called “24 hour procession”, together with the rest of pilgrims. The procession leaves from the Sanctuary and runs through Calvario Machucruz, the lagoons in Kumukasa and Alqamarina sectors, until reaching Yanacocha, where we arrive at around 06.00 pm. We sleep for 3-4 hours until 10.00 pm, when we start walking during the night towards Tayancani. Night hike.
After a spectacular night pilgrimage, we wait for sunrise and the impressive “Sun Greeting” ceremony (07.00 am) to descend to Tayancani and attend the Blessing to Sanctuary and village of the same name (08.00 am). We attend the mass (10.00 am) and then follow our hike up a mountain pass (2h) and then down to Ocongate (1h), where we have lunch. In the afternoon, we board our private transportation back to Cusco (5h), where we expect to arrive around 06.00 pm. End of our Lord of Snowstar Festival Trek | Photo Expedition.