Central Andes region of Peru, in the Department of Ancash (Departmento de Ancash)
Vicos is a Quechua village. Quechua is a collective term for indigenous mountain people of the Andes who speak a Quechua language, despite having different ethnic backgrounds. This language was imposed on the original inhabitants by the Incas.
Quechua, Spanish. Quechua is the first language for most inhabitants of Vicos, and is spoken in the home and in early years of school. Later years of schooling are in Spanish. Young children and elderly women may speak only Quechua.
Vicos lies at an elevation of about 10,500 ft, at the base of Huascarán, the highest peak in Peru and the second-highest peak in South America. The thousand or so inhabitants, primarily farmers, weavers, and bee-keepers, are spread throughout a large hilly area. They have maintained their culture by growing more than 100 varieties of native potatoes. The residents have focused on community-based tourism for their economic development.
The region and its people were the focus of a long-term anthropological study by anthropologists from Cornell University in the 1950’s. Some 50 years later, a student at Cornell from Peru recovered the raw material from the decades-old study, and used it as the basis for her dissertation. As a result of her work, the historical material has served as the basis for a local museum, and has also informed the current residents about the history of their ancestors.
COMMUNITY LIAISON: Pablo Tadeo Cilio
Our major contact in Vicos is Pablo Tadeo and his family. Pablo works with RESPONS, a local travel agency based in Huaraz that encourages responsible travel. He is one of ten members of the local tourism committee, which Crooked Trails and The Mountain Institute helped to establish. Pablo lives with his wife and three children on a farm in Vicos and serves as one of the host families for home stays.
Crooked Trails has worked on several projects in Vicos to help establish a local sustainable and responsible tourism industry. Our first project was a cultural mapping project: we interviewed local residents to help them determine what they might have to offer a fledgling tourist industry (for example, bee keepers might have honey to sell to tourists, local cooks might provide meals for tourists and homestay guests), and created maps that pinpointed locations using GPS. As a side benefit, these maps helped establish land ownership rights in the region. Since that initial project, we have continued to help develop the tourist industry by establishing ethical guidelines, creating a documentary film on the impacts of tourism, and helping to develop a responsible travel center called “Yachaqui Wayi.” Currently we are working to bring smokeless ovens to the members of the community.
Crooked Trails has been working in Vicos for over a decade, since 2000.
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