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Soy Mujer Aymara
(Vicenta Mamani)

"Soy hija de la Pachamama.
La papa, el chuño y la quinua son mis alimentos.
El Illimani, Mururata y Huayna Potosí, son mis guardianes.

Soy mujer de trenzas negras, con pollera multicolor,
con manta color de la tierra, símbolo de prestigio y autoridad, 
hecha con mis propias manos de lana de alpaca, llama y vicuña, 
animales originarios y sagrados de los Andes".

The Aymara Nation as an ethnic group does have its origin in the population, which settled in the Andes high plateau before the arrival of the Spaniards. The first nomadic hunter-gatherer arrived about 10.000 ago in this region and stayed between the high plateau and the coast. In the Andes region they where mainly living from hunting Guanacos, Vicuñas and Viscachas while at the coast they subsisted from seagulls, whales and sea fruits.

In the Azapa Valley near Arica are the first permanent settlements of these people. 8.000 B.C. they developed burial rites, consisting of the mummification of their deaths or parts of them, which are now known as the Chinchorro Culture.

Together with the permanent settlement they began to develop agriculture about 5.000 B.C.. First there was cultivated corn and quinoa (a species of goosefoot) and later on pumpkin, manioc (also called yucca and cassava) and potatoes.

After domestication of the South American camel-types Lama and Alpaca about 1.000 BC these animals where used as productive livestock for the transport during caravans between the coast and the Andes. 

The rise of the Aymara Empire began after the fall of the Tiwanaku culture about 1.200 A.C.. When the Inca Empire extended massively during the 15th century these cultures where conquered and extended their living- and production space to the Lluta Valley, Camarones, Camiña, Tarapacá and Pica. From the 16th century onwards and during the Spanish domination the Aymara people where abused as workforce for the mining of silver and nitrate. 

Today´s Aymara territory is divided through numerous national borders and located between western Bolivia, South Peru, North Chile and Northwest Argentina.



(6 Days / 5 Nights)

Within the following days we will be introduced into the customs and traditions of the Aymara people. Together with members of the indigenous community of the Altiplano Highlands and the coast of Arica we will learn about their agriculture and the weaver handicrafts. We will be present when there will invoked the two most important gods for these people, Pachamama and Inti Tata during religious ceremonies. Our tour will lead us to unique settings like the Lauca National park – without any doubt one of the most beautiful parks in Chile and the famous Chungará Lake, the highest lake on earth. 

Day 01 - ARICA 

Welcome at the airport and transfer to the Hotel in Arica, where we will have time for a lunch in case of an early arrival. In the afternoon we will make a circuit to the most important attractions of the city, including the Plaza Colon, the San Marco Cathedral, the house of culture and the fishermen´s wharf. The tour ends with a visit of the Morro Hill, which offers a marvelous panoramic view on the city. Overnight In Hotel Arica (****) in Arica

(Including breakfast and lunch) 

Today we leave Arica to get to know the close by Azapa Valley. We will make the first stop at the vegetables market, where the indigenous people of the valley do offer the products of the valley. Here it is officially allowed to buy and consume the leaves of the Coca plant, which the Aymara do use in order to protect themselves from mountain sickness. 
The tour continues towards the ancient street of the Sombrero Hill, passing by the Geoglyphs of Alto Ramírez (showing people and animals like camels, snakes and lizards) for a visit in the highly interesting archeological museum of San Miguel, where we will find some mummies of the Chinchorro Culture, which are some of the oldest mummies of the world.
In the afternoon we will arrive in the Azapa Valley, where we will have the opportunity to help the Aymara people with their harvest of fruits and vegetables as the Papaya or the Tomato. We will learn a lot about their traditional techniques, but also about the introduction of new procedures as for example the "drop by drop irrigation" which enabled the cultivation of significantly bigger surfaces within the Azapa Valley during the last years. 
Overnight In Hotel Arica (****) in Arica.

Day 03 - ARICA - BELEN 
(Breakfast, lunch and dinner)

Today we will leave the city in order to get to the small village of Belen, approximately 133 km from Arica and in the altitude of 3.240 meters above sea level. On the way we will visit the Lluta Valley including its Geo- and Petroglyphs and the Canyon of Cardona. On midday we will arrive in Belén. The village was founded in 1625 by the Spaniards and does have 140 inhabitants. On midday we will hike to the Pukará of Huaihuarani, a fortress of the Pre-Inca Age in it original condition without any restoration, about 6 km west of Belen and declared as an historic monument in 1983. From here we will have an excellent view on the traditional terrace-cultivation with crops and sweet corn.
Overnight with an Aymara Family in Belé.

(Breakfast, lunch and dinner)

After a familiar breakfast we continue to travel to Socoroma, another picturesque Aymara community in the Pre-Andes on 2.800 meters of altitude. Here do live 130 inhabitants which do predominantly live from the Alfalfa and Oregano Terrace Cultivation. From Socoroma we will continue to Putre, one of the most important cities in the Chilean part of the High-Andes – the Altiplano. It was founded in 1580 and does have 1.200 inhabitants. 

On our arrival we will be welcomed according to the Aymara tradition by Yatiri ("The Knowing" = Shaman of the Aymara), who will hand us over a hand-loom wrought textile bag filled with Coca leaves. These leaves will be used in a subsequent ceremony, when the Yatiri invokes Natural forces (the Pachamama = mother earth) and their ancestors. During this ceremony we do concentrate in fertility of plants, animals and human beings. Apart from this, it will be asked for protection and well-being in return for the Coca leaves, which we will hand over to Pachamama for nutrition. 
Overnight in Hotel Qantati in Putre.

(Breakfast, lunch/lunch-box and dinner)

Departing from Putre we will visit the Lauca National Park, which was declared Biosphere Reserve by the UNESCO in the year 1981. On the way will make a stop at an Apacheta, a ceremonial site, which is used since centuries for religious purposes by Lama-caravans. Here we will leave a stone as a gesture of gratitude for the guardian spirits of the Andes- highlands. 

Soon we do arrive in the village of Parinacota, one of the most beautiful villages of the High-Andes with Pre-Hispanic origin with a very well preserved church of catholic missioners, which was declared national monument. Here we will find the administration of the Lauca National Park and the visitors center. This is the starting point of an appealing hiking-trek to the Chungará Lake, which is on an altitude of 4.517 meters and therefore one of the most elevated lakes of the world. During our picnic we will enjoy the view on the volcanoes Parinacota and Pomerape. In the afternoon we will visit the small village Chucuyo, where we will have the opportunity to participate in the fabrication of textiles in the traditional way, before we do return to Putre.
Overnight in Hotel Qantati in Putre.

Day 06 - PUTRE - ARICA

After breakfast we will drive back from Putre to Arica and the airport. It is recommendable to take an evening flight from Arica.


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