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The Peruvian Snow Star Festival: A Day of Snow, Sun and Dancing

     When you decide to go on a travel adventure, there are often two ways to approach it. One of those ways is hitting the highly recommended places and destinations. These places are universally found in almost every guidebook and are usually considered classic. The primary reason that these places are highly recommended is that they offer familiar sights and comforts that visitors are looking forward to. Although these locations are a bit more crowded than others because of their reputation, you should also take note of the fact that they are classic destinations for a reason and that thousands, if not millions, of visitors before you have given them good reviews and high ratings, hence their popularity.

The second approach when deciding a travel adventure destination is to research, ask around and come up with places that are not so popular yet they pique your interest and ignite your wanderlust. If you choose this approach, the best way to pick an itinerary is to consult a good tour operator. They can give a list of potential places that cater to your need for a tougher, more robust adventure. One of these destinations is the Snow Star Festival celebrated in the Sinakara Valley in southern Peru.

Locally called "Quyllur Rit'i", the festival's name literally translates to "Lord of the Star Snow." Over 200 years ago, in the year 1780, a young boy named Manuel helped a struggling native herder in taking care of his flock. As a result, the herd propspered and the herder's father wanted to reward Manuel with clothes. However, when he sent the herder to town to buy clothes , he discovered that the sample of Manuel's clothes that he was bringing was only only worn by archbishops. The church then sent a party to investigate but as the investigator tried to grab Manuel, the boy turned into a bush that had an image of Christ hanging from it and the herdsman died of shock. He was buried under a rock with an image of Jesus painted on it, which is now called "Lord Star of the Snow." The festival is celebrated one week before the feast of Corpus Christi , which takes place in late May or June to coincide with the full moon.

Although the sanctioned by the Church, the festival has roots from ancient rituals that are performed by the original occupants of the area, long before the Catholic Church claimed Peru. The people visiting and celebrating the festival nowadays celebrate differently from the traditional rituals. They climb the mountains in the area on the first day and kneeal at dawn and greet the rising sun. Others climb glaciers to bring back blocks of ice and crosses that are believed to have healing properties.

Another noteworthy aspect of the festival is the native dancing that accompanies it. The experience of seeing hundreds of people dancing merrily on glacier ice is said to be so spectacular and breathtaking, that essays and photos will never do a good job of describing it. If you are looking for a high-altitude adventure that few people have gone to, the Snow Star Festival should be your next travel destination.

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NEI tours offer interactive cultural experiences, not just passive visits to must-see sights. If you need assistance in planning a cultural, adventure or wildlife viewing trip to Peru or want to learn what this country has to offer, please call us at 800-869-0639 or visit for more information. We offer "soft" adventures as part of our luxury Peru tours.

Posted on 2014-01-07, By: *

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