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Altitude: 3,262 m / 10,700 ft, Population: 1,219, Phone Code: 054



Maca, situated 23 kilometers (14 mi) west of Chivay on the south side of the river, lies at the foot of Volcán Sabancaya and Nevado Hualca-Hualca. This little village was very nearly destroyed by repeated eruptions of Sabancaya in the late 1980s, and then an earthquake in 1991. The village church, Iglesia Santa Ana (1759), was severely damaged, but continues to stand proudly today. The façade is decorated with carved flowers and a balcony once used by missionaries to preach to the indigenous peoples. The interior is decorated with baroque altars and a 16th-century image of Christ.


A curious site awaits visitors just west of town: the Choquetico Stone. Similar to Saywite Rock near Abancay, this stone is a carved scale model of nearly 10,000 hectares (24,711 ac) of Collagua farming terraces in Colca Canyon. Archeologists believe it may have been used in ancient rainmaking rituals. The surrounding hills are adorned with colcas, stone and adobe granaries from which the canyon gets its name. Maca is still an agricultural hamlet, growing potatoes, corn, alfalfa and barley.

At Choquetico, there is also a viewpoint, hanging tombs and rock paintings. Others day hikes are to the Wañamarka archaeological site and to Mirador de San Miguel lookout point, both to the south of town.

According to legend, Inca ruler Mayta Cápac gave this town its name, for the fierce resistance its residents gave to his army: in Quechua, “macca” means “to fight.” The people here originally spoke Aymara, but now Quechua is the main tongue. Only a few speak Spanish. This is the only canyon village to reenact the capture and assassination of the Inca ruler Atahualpa. The most important feast day is the Virgen de Candalaria (Februry 2-3).

Maca has very limited services. You may stay at the casa vivencial, El Mirador (Tel: 466-162, Cel: 959-707-860). The town has no restaurant. It may be reached by public transport.


Other neighborhoods in Colca Canyon: Cabanaconde, Huambo, Yanque, Coporaque, Chivay and Pinchollo.

01 Jun 2012

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