Awana Kancha: A Lovely Day Trip from Cusco
During my very first international journey I was making plans to spend a month volunteering abroad in Cusco, Peru. Not wanting to miss out on other cultural experiences and attractions in the area we decided to arrive a week before we were scheduled to start our volunteer work. Some of the time was spent in the Manu National Park, the rest of it was spent in and around Cusco. One of the attractions we looked forward to visiting was Awana Kancha.
At first we thought Awana Kancha was just a simple llama and alpaca farm that was open to public visits but it’s really much more than that. It’s a unique non-profit organization that is dedicated to preserving the cultural traditions of dyeing and weaving wool. It is a place where you can see the weaving process from start to finish, feeding the llamas and alpacas and then learning how the yarn is spun, dyed from natural sources and then woven into beautiful works of art.
After watching the dyeing and weaving demonstrations you can visit a small souvenir shop with the products that were made locally, signed by the very women who made them. The items are quite pricey but almost half of the profits go back to the local families instead of some for-profit corporation.
It’s been a while since I’ve been to Awana Kancha and now this stop is part of quite a few bus tours around the Sacred Valley. When we went Brandon and I paid a taxi driver to take us there and to Pisaq market further up the road. He waited for us at both destinations while we shopped and drove us back to Cusco, all for about $35.
Awana Kancha charges no admission but if you arrive on your own then it’s generally a self-guided tour. The only bonus to booking an organized tour is the guide you’ll get. Bring at least a few soles to feed the llamas and to “tip” the families if you plan to take their photo. Peruvians who are dressed in traditional clothing will generally expect a tip in exchange for having their picture taken.
The Verdict: I loved visiting Awana Kancha but a guided tour would have been a much better experience for us. Feeding the llamas and alpacas was the highlight of our visit.
How to Get There: There’s only one main road from Cusco to Pisaq and Awana Kancha is literally right off the road about halfway between the two. You can’t miss it.
Other Tips and Tricks: If your Spanish is seriously lacking or you don’t feel comfortable taking a taxi, or if you just prefer to have a guide take you around the Sacred Valley then seeing Awana Kancha through an organized tour is probably your best bet. If you’re on budget then you can save a lot of money by taking a cab and checking it out on your own.
Child Friendly? Children of all ages would love to have the chance to feed an alpaca and older children will enjoy learning about the dyeing and weaving process of Peruvians. Caution should always be taken when feeding the animals but the llamas and alpacas are friendlier than the vicuñas who are kept separated from the rest of the animals, on a small hill.
Pet Friendly? No