Paucartambo is a typical and beautiful town with whitewashed houses of adobe and tile with light blue wooden balconies that they're famous for the Virgen del Carmen festivity. Driving four hours by a dusty narrow road is the small village of Paucartambo, lying on the eastern slopes of the Andes, about 109 km away from Cusco city at 13,200 feet above sea level. For three days each year, from the 15th to the 17th of July, the town fills to overflowing with the thousands of devotes and visitors who come to participate to one of South America’s most vibrant and fascinating fiestas in honor of the “Virgen del Carmen”, known locally as Mamacha Carmen, patron saint of the mestizo population.
The annual Festival of the Virgen del Carmen or festival of Paucartambo is a colorful mix of Andean pre-Columbian ceremonies and Catholic religion in which masked costumed dancers relive ancient gods and rites. This Andean religious celebration reflects the centuries-old struggle between Christianity and pre-Columbian Andean pantheism, the Virgin is no longer just the Mother of God, she is also Mother Earth, or Pacha mama. The festivity shows the never ending battle between the forces of good and evil also.
This is a marvelous festivity where sixteen groups of beautifully costumed dancers (Saqras, Qhapaq Ch’unchu, Qhapaq Qolla), interpret a tangle of historical events, folktales and legends taking the streets with their troupes of musicians singing in quechua, meanwhile
"La Mamacha del Carmen" is carried through the most important places of the town like the main square, the church, the Bridge Carlos III, Also its bridge is made with stone and morter; that shows a strong colonial bridge with a perfect curvature that it was built in dry, diverting the river. Its construction took 5 years giving it a new sunrise to Paucartambo. the Hail and the village streets accompany by the comparsas and the entire population gathers quietly bearing candles, flowers and other offerings asking for blessings and protection.
This celebration, both magical and real at once, has a deep religious significance, because social relations and rituals can be seen as built, defined and maintaining the identity and customs of the Andean and mestizos peoples, clearly observed in the "guerrilla" between Qollas from the Altiplano (flat lands) and Ch'unchus from the jungle: symbolic culmination of this sumptuous feast where two nations are disputing the love of the Mamacha del Carmen.
In addition we have the great opportunity to witness a natural spectacle at the Tres Cruces de Oro to 12,100 feet, gateway to the Manu National Park.
Following dances are observed: