THE CHICHA SORAS VALLEY

The Chicha Soras valley has many impressive landscapes. It is located on the border between the Ayacucho and Apurimac Regions – the river being the dividing line. The province of Sucre is on the Ayacucho side of the river whilst the province of Andahuaylas is located on the Apurimac side. This valley can be reached from branch roads off the interoceanic highway between Puquio and Abancay or from the town of Andahuaylas.

The two most important towns in historical terms are Pampachiri in Apurimac and Soras in Ayacucho. There are a multitude of archaeological sites. In Soras the church is constructed using the walls of an Inca temple. Pampachiri was the most important town during the time of the haciendas (major land owners). From the nineteenth century onwards rich coastal families began to take by force Community owned lands in the highlands. In many Andean valleys, such as the Chicha Soras they ended up owning the best lands and exercised political control.

Throughout the valley and on the high pampas there is evidence of great volcanic activity. There are two important volcanoes – Ccarahuasu (see Sondondo valley) and Sotaya located in Pampachiri. From the valley it is possible to see several well defined rock layers formed by previous lava flows. There are also many thermal springs – the best located in the district of Larcay (Ayacucho Region).

The greatest attraction in this area is an enormous stone forest located close to the Community of Llamcama on the highlands of Pampachiri. These stones were formed over 4 million years ago and also have a volcanic origin. The stones are huge and are found in different shapes and colours. You can walk for hours within the stone formations and will always come across something new. There is also a curious hill close by these formations called Pankula, which at first site appears to be made of sand. In another sector called Ayamachay a local family has constructed their home and animal corrals using overhanging sections of the conical stones for their rooves.

Traditional farming practices can be observed in much of the valley including community crop and land rotational systems (Laymes) and the cultivation of associated crops – such as maize with quinoa, kiwicha and broad beans on each of the terraces.

There are a large number of camelids – alpacas, llamas and vicuñas. In general terms this is an area rich in Andean flora and fauna. Pumas still live in steep rocky areas particularly on the Ayacucho side of the valley – though the chances of seeing one are very low.