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Sondondo Valley and Andamarca Valley

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Sondondo Valley and Andamarca Valley

Sondondo is a valley of great diversity of flora and fauna. It has an excellent climate, its breezes mix with the aroma of the eucalyptus forests.


In the Sondondo valley -made up of the districts of Andamarca, Cabana Sur, Aucara, Chipao and Huaycahuacho- it is possible to spot the flight of condors.


Andamarca is considered the historical capital of the rucanas, a Quechua word that means “working people”. This culture (700 - 1400 AD) developed in the area until it was finally subjugated by the Inca Pachacutec. It presents pre-Inca terraces that work with an underground hydraulic system.


Its flora and fauna has a native vegetation among which the molles, maguey, eucalyptus, broom, among others.


Andamarca Valley

The Andamarca Valley or also called the Santo Domingo de Acobamba Valley, is a deep Andean valley formed by the San Fernando River, a tributary of the Mantaro River, with a warm and rainy climate and with many smaller towns dedicated to agriculture. It is located in the province of Concepción, department of Junin.


This isolated valley with an almost tropical climate is the only known place where you can see birds already discovered and that have not yet been described, such as the "Mantaro Thornbird", "Mantaro Spinetail", "Mantaro Wren" and the "Milpo Tapaculo". ". You can also find the endemic birds Eye-ringed Thistletail, Black-spectacled Brush-Finch, Creamy-crested-spinetail and the Large-footed Tapaculo.


The ecosystem of the Valley is that of the very humid Tropical Low Montane forest, and ranges from 3,800 to 2,700 meters above sea level.


The route begins in Huancayo, then you must take the Concepción - Santa Rosa de Ocopa - Comas highway, going up the paved road PE-24a or the route to Satipo, an excellent route with which it can be complemented.


This first section can be used to observe the surroundings of the Pomacocha lagoon, at 4,400 meters of elevation, where despite the cold, you can see birds such as Mountain Caracara, Andean Ibis, Southern Andean Flicker, Andean Gull, Giant Coot, Crested Duck.


Following the narrow road, you reach Comas, the largest town on the route, where there are basic lodgings and restaurants on the way.


The next section, Comas - Runatullo, is of interest, because among the bushes, it is possible to find the Eye-ringed Thistletail.


Up to this point the road is paved.


From Runatullo, take the DEVIATION TO ANDAMARCA through the unpaved highway JU-108, which is in good condition. In this segment, the areas of greatest interest are found at the beginning of the descent to the valley, where there is a well-preserved cloud forest. Take extra precautions, as the road is a single lane.


Among the bushes, the Stripe-headed Antpitta, Streak-backed Canastero, Many-striped Canastero and the Tufted Tit-tyrant can be found.


Already descending and from 3,000 meters high, shortly before reaching Andamarca and among the bushes, it is possible to hear and observe the "Mantaro Thornbird".


The race continues, passing through small towns where there are excellent habitats for bird watching, and it is possible to see: Shining Sunbeam sp caumatonota, the endemic Fire-throated Metaltail, the Creamy-crested Spinetail, the "Mantaro Wren", as well as the Citrine Warbler, Red-crested Cotinga.


The valley extends to the town of Santo Domingo de Acobamba. If the visit is for one day, this is the maximum point to undertake the return. Although the road continues and following it you can go to Huancayo, the remaining section is 220 km. And the paved road has little maintenance, in addition to the frequency of landslides, especially in "vaqueria". This makes it difficult to continue on the route. Only if you have more days and a 4x4 vehicle with a raised body is it reasonable to continue and climb the Pariahuanca - Huaytapallana Route and reach Huancayo.


How to get to Andamarca?

In your own vehicle, from Huancayo, go to Concepción and take the detour to Ingenio, and then follow the PE-24a road, which is the one that goes from Satipo. We must cross the towns of Santa Rosa de Ocopa - Pomamanta - Comas.


In the town of Comas, you can have breakfast and do the last purchases.


You must continue along the highway on the way to Satipo, until the town of Runatullo / La Libertad, where you must take the detour and follow the JU-108 unpaved road on the way to Andamarca.


This Valley is the place of interest. The valley extends to the town of Santo Domingo de Acobamba and is full of small towns.


You can continue and return to Huancayo through Parihuanca - Chilifruta, but it is not recommended because it is longer and has sections where a four-wheel drive vehicle and elevated bodywork are necessary.


Although most of the few vehicles that travel this road are linear motorcycles, you must be very careful because the road is narrow almost all its way, with large abysses of more than 700 meters high, and there is often a lot of fog.


There are only rural D2, 84 and 90 fuel service centers and car services, such as mechanics and tire repairmen, can be found in Comas, Andamarca and Santo Domingo de Acobamba.



The entire valley is dedicated to agriculture. Its people are very friendly and hospitable, because they are located on a main road. What I do recommend is not to enter the minor roads, where there is no traffic of strangers and there is suspicion of outsiders in general.


Good days to travel are on Sundays because there is a fair in the towns of Comas and Andamarca and there are many visitors. On those days the towns are closed and they must make a detour and avoid the urban center.



The climate of the Andamarca Valley is almost tropical, but most of the access route is above 3,500 meters, so it is necessary to bring the necessary shelter. The months between May to October will be the best.



There are no restrictions to visit this place. Security is good, but it is advisable to walk it only during the day and not enter the minor paths.


In each of the towns: Comas, Andamarca and Santo Domingo de Acobamba there are lodgings, restaurants and a police and military presence.


Sondondo Valley

In the department of Ayacucho there is a beautiful valley with a great diversity of flora and fauna. One that has an ideal climate, sunny and with breezes that increase the aroma of the eucalyptus forests that surround it. This is the Sondondo Valley, located in the province of Lucanas, at 3,550 meters above sea level.



Any date is appropriate to visit the Sondondo Valley, since the climate in the region is usually sunny, although it is recommended to always bring a coat to resist the classic cold nights of the Andes. However, to avoid the rainy season, it is preferable to travel between April and November.


How to get to Sondondo?

From Lima, there are several ways to get to the Sondondo Valley. The first option is to take a bus to Huamanga (the redBus ticket costs between 35 and 90 soles and the trip takes an average of 9 hours) and then go by car or van to the province of Lucanas, to finally reach the district of Andamarca.


Another way to get there is via Ica (6 hours from Lima and with a cost of approximately 40 to 120 soles), then move to Pampas Galeras, Puquio and, finally, to the district of Andamarca, from where the journey begins.


To plan an ideal trip to the Sondondo Valley, it is preferable to choose the month of August. Why? On the 15th of that month, the Patronal Feast of Sondondo to the Virgin of the Assumption is celebrated, which is the most important celebration of the place. For several days different activities are carried out, including cultural, religious and artistic.


Other traditional festivities are the Humita and Rafting Festival (April), the patron saint festivities in honor of San Pedro (June 29), the San Isidro Labrador patron saint festival (August 26-30) or the Water Festival (September).


Sondondo Valley: A natural and adventurous destination

It is a mysterious space with a fascinating geography, which not only contains great biodiversity and cultural richness, but also several important historical events for Peru.


This natural space has narrow and deep ravines, and its climate favors the production of fruits and tubers. The temperature varies between 14°C and 24°C, with an average humidity of 55%. A favorable climate to escape from the humidity of Lima.


You can see a wide vegetation, with many types of plants such as eucalyptus, broom, molles, maguey, among others. The landscapes are another story: beautiful natural works of art between basins, ravines, plateaus and mountains. They are scenarios that invite travelers to practice ecotourism and where each photo will resemble an authentic postcard.


In addition, the Sondondo Valley is one of the best examples of occupation and sustainable management in the valleys of the Andes of Peru. Many cultures have passed through here and to this day there is sustainable agricultural activity in the local populations.


Vestiges of the Wari Culture and the Inca Culture have been recorded in this area, whose members adapted to this natural landscape to create infrastructures for agricultural and livestock production.


This valley was the birthplace of the great chronicler Felipe Guamán Poma de Ayala, which is why it has a monument in the Plaza Mayor de Sondondo (in the town of Sondondo, inside the valley), next to the colonial buildings that surround the Plaza de Armas. and the main church.


Some tourist attractions in the valley are the Limayhuacho Waterfall, located very close to the town of Sondondo. The imposing waterfall is approximately 100 meters high.


With its 150 meters long, the San Cristóbal tunnel is another attraction in Sondondo. It is not recommended for travelers suffering from claustrophobia, but crossing the tunnel is a unique experience. It is surrounded by abundant vegetation, water and landscapes.


The best known tour to the Sondondo Valley

In Ayacucho there are many tourist agencies and most of them offer tour packages to the Sondondo Valley.


As a traveler, you have to prepare to see the archaeological sites that will be displayed during the tour, the ritual centers of mysticism, the stone forests, hot springs, platforms, underground aqueducts, waterfalls, the majestic flight of the condor, vicuñas and, above all, everything, participate in experiential tourism together with the inhabitants who still maintain the traditions of our ancestral cultures.


Sondondo is the birthplace of the renowned scissors dancers, declared Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO and the literary and tourist route of José María Arguedas.


Here you can also see traces of other cultures such as the Antamarkas, Rucanas, Anqaras and Soras. In addition to Sondondo, in the valley there are also the towns of Andamarca, Cabana Sur, Aucará, Chipao, Mayobamba, among others.



It is essential to ensure that the tourist agency that offers the tour to the Sondondo Valley offers transportation (round trip), lodging and food options, excursions, information on the prices of entrance tickets to various attractions, official tour guide , and permanent medical assistance.


Day 1

If the tour is contracted from the traveler's city of origin, the first day begins with the arrival in Ayacucho. Here you have to worry about the acclimatization process, since the tour will take place at more than 3 thousand meters above sea level.


With coca tea, some pills and hours of walking, it is enough to acclimatize and avoid the symptoms of altitude sickness. You can spend the day visiting the city of Ayacucho, its churches, mansions, tourist viewpoints, among other attractions.


Day 2

Here begins the adventure. At the beginning of the Sondondo Valley route, you cross the Morochucos plain, the Tincoq suspension bridge over the Pampas River, Huancasancos and Putaccasa. The Andean landscape there has no comparison and the maximum peak of the route is 4,200 meters above sea level.


The tour guides leave enough time to appreciate the Andean fauna, such as wild ducks, yanawikus, seagulls, foxes, alpacas, llamas, guanacos, and vicuñas.


The route continues with a visit to the Pumaranra stone forest, which has a volcanic origin. Afterwards, tourists come across the most important cosmogonic ritual center of the Wari and Inca periods, the Apu Osqonta, carved into three immense platforms on natural rock at 5,200 meters above sea level.


Travelers usually leave an offering as a sign of good omen for the Andean gods. Then you arrive at the town of Andamarca, where the inhabitants still preserve the ancestral traditions for their organization, agriculture and spirituality. It is possible to find lodging there.


Day 3: The flight of the condor

After a delicious and nutritious breakfast in Andamarca, you walk towards the Qhanopata viewpoint. From there you can see one of the most famous shows in Peru: the flight of the condor, the largest non-marine bird in the world, considered the king of the skies of the Andes Mountains.


The Sondondo valley is home to hundreds of condors that, to the delight of tourists, "offer" a spiral flight and perch on the rocks. This valley is the natural habitat and the largest source for this bird, since from here pairs of condors leave to populate other places in the Andes.


That is why this valley is a Protected Area or Condor Reserve Zone, the largest in Peru. After witnessing this unforgettable spectacle, the route continues to the town of Chipao, where you can visit the mini volcanoes and medicinal hot springs.



It is possible to find restaurants in the towns along the valley route. However, it is recommended to bring a light snack to appease hunger during the walks.


The day ends when we return to the town of Andamarca and visit the Ciudadela de Poodle, the terraces of the Wari tradition, to finally visit the Museum of the Scissors Dancers.


The inhabitants of the district of Andamarca usually delight travelers with manifestations of rituals, stories of legends, myths and Andean stories. In addition, they play the harp and the violin in musical demonstrations.


Cycling circuit through the Sondondo Valley

This mountain circuit is of advanced difficulty, and for travelers who want to combine landscapes and natural spectacles with moments of adrenaline and extreme adventure. The route is long (61 kilometers in total), so it is suggested to be in very good physical condition.


The route begins in the Andamarca district, considered the gateway to the Sondondo Valley.


It is necessary to hire a tourist agency to carry out this circuit, which can also provide bicycles specially manufactured and adapted to the rugged terrain. At the beginning, a slope of moderate difficulty is traveled to the archaeological complex of Caniche, with the aim of observing the terraces of the Wari Culture.


Then, the pedaling continues to the town of Mayobamba where the bicycles are placed to one side to witness the flights of the condors, considered by many to be the main attraction of the valley. The thermal baths in Mayobamba are ideal for relaxing muscles and recovering energy to continue with the circuit.


The end of the cycling route is the town of Chipao, with a visit to the Chipaomarca archaeological complex and the Puyas Raimondi Forest.


To return to the town of Sondondo, take an old Inca trail that borders the Mayobamba River, inside the Sondondo canyon. On this route, you will cross a hydraulic mill, the Limayhuacho waterfall and, in addition, you will see the classic Andean mountainous landscapes.


Once in the town of Sondondo, the ascent begins towards the town of Cabana Sur, with its particular church and the Huasonjocha and Jolpajocha lagoons. The last part of the circuit is done along the road between Cabana Sur and Andamarca. But it is here where you suffer the most because the last 350 meters to reach Andamarca are of vertical elevation.


Where and what to eat?

In the towns that are part of the route there are many restaurants where you can try the local and traditional cuisine of the Ayacucho region.


One of the main stews to enjoy is the humita, a kind of sweet corn cake, stuffed with cheese and steamed.


It is necessary to ask for a sarapela (sopa de mote). To prepare it, the locals soak the mote a day before so that it softens, then they continue to boil the mote accompanied by the beef and its condiments. It is a traditional dish that is frequently served during the festivities.


Fried trout is a special dish, since in the Sondondo river there is a great variety of this fish, which is prepared accompanied by salads, corn and potatoes.


We must not forget the olluquito with meat, a dish that is prepared based on drained ollucos that are cooked with parsley and other condiments.


In each restaurant they serve the kanchi or the "cancha", roasted white corn that is served in a bowl to suit the diner. Its preparation here is special, since the cancha corn is placed in a clay pot, which gives it a different flavor.


In the case of drinks, the best thing to do is to try the sora aja (corn jora girl) and the molle aja (molle chicha).


Where to Stay?

In the towns of Valle del Sondondo there are cheap options to spend the night, including shelters for tourists. But if you decide to extend the trip further, in the department of Ayacucho there are hotels for all budgets. However, if you plan to travel during Easter or on holidays, it is best to reserve accommodation at least one or two months in advance.


Among the most recommended and centrally located hotels are the Hotel Las Américas (on Avenida Alianza), the Hotel Santa Rosa (on Jirón Lima), the Hotel Colmena (on Jirón Cusco), and the Hotel Misky Samay (on Calle Francis Vivanco).


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