A 45 minute drive fro the Sacred Valley, after crossing landscapes of spectacular beauty, you arrive at Willoq, a rural community that has been visited by selected foreign visitors since 1992, due to the pioneering initiative of Marco Bustamante, President & CEO of Peruvian Odyssey.
It all starts back in early 1990´s, when Marco Bustamante and his friends were enjoying a beautiful hike in the impressive Andes Mountains as part of their passion for nature. Suddenly, as they were trekking in the high Andes, they saw a little girl in her bright red beautiful dress and some feet away from them. She was only around 5 years old and was all by herself taking care of her family’s sheep. Marco invited her to join them as he wanted to offer her some snacks. However the little girl was afraid of approaching people she did not know before. As Marco really wanted to share goodies with her, he asked her softly one last time if she could get closer… She hesitated for a few seconds, but finally she decided to walk towards them and as she approached them, without saying a word and with a huge smile she opened up her mantle and offered the only potatoes she had for the day to Marco and his friends! This was a great lesson of generosity and spiritual richness for them, as her genuine intention was to give away everything she had.
This special meeting and the discovery of a new area, made Marco take the decision to transform this unexplored zone into a new and unique destination for Peruvian Odyssey’s guests and at the same time, being able to benefit the community with the development that Tourism brings along. Since then, this area is considered by our guests as one of the highlights of their entire journey!
As part of the ancient concept of Ayni or Reciprocity for opening their land, homes and friendship to us and to our guests, Peruvian Odyssey has supported these areas in several aspects:
• Creation and Training of traditional music band: In order to contribute with a better development of the children of this area, Peruvian Odyssey has hired music teachers, who created and organized a very unique music school band. Since we wanted to promote and put in value their own culture, our company has donated different typical musical instruments, based mainly in wind and percussion instruments (like the Incas had) i.e. whistles, tinyas, pinkullos, and drums, allowing children to participate in Cusco City Festivities for some years. The kids’ native music band received many cheers from the locals and was awarded with the most especial trophy at the City Hall by the local authorities. Kids feel really proud of it!
• Learning new experiences: In some occasions, Peruvian Odyssey offers the children the opportunity to travel and experience different realities and get to explore for the first time the great Inca complexes in Cusco area. These sites were built by their ancestors some hundreds of years ago and are of great interests for travelers from all over the world. This was a great way to make them feel very proud of their ancestors, their own culture and to feel like the Inca / Quechua ambassadors in different scenarios and events where they have been and / or performed.
Additionally, they visit the zoo, children playground and even the airport where they can see airplanes and other fun and interesting places and activities for the very first time. You have to see their huge smiles!
• Camaraderie Meetings: On special holidays, such as Student’s Day, Christmas, etc. Peruvian Odyssey has organized sport events after which, children receive gifts and celebrate the holidays with dances, food and hot chocolate, that specially kids love.
Peruvian Odyssey is aware of the external influence in this area throughout the years, and in order to prevent the loss of cultural values, we have developed some activities in order to maintain the traditional customs:
• Traditional Craft Workshops: In coordination with the communal authorities, Peruvian Odyssey organized workshops on making traditional hats and hunting caps that are typical and unique to the villagers here. They are now made for their own and for sale at Sunday fairs and / or to visitors.
• Creation of the Woman Craft Association: Peruvian Odyssey contributed in the formation of this association in order to encourage, improve and increase the production of amazing traditional textiles and handicrafts which are highly appreciated by visitors.
• Put in Value and Cultivation of Quinua & Maca project: These important pre-Inca cereals were almost extinct during colonial times. Quinua & Maca are a very important source of protein and enrich greatly anyone’s diet. Today these cereals are very much appreciated each time, not only in Peru but in many other countries. This is an agreement between the community, the Agricultural Research National Institute (INIA) and Peruvian Odyssey.
• Training Workshops: They have been provided to Willoq men, who are part of our camping team on the different Inca trails to Machu Picchu or alternative hikes, in order to improve the quality of services provided to our guests. They were also trained in camping techniques as well as in first aid.
• Preventive health campaigns: Significantly reduced the percentage of children with scabies and piojera; these diseases have almost been eradicated. However, prevention campaigns continue to avoid them to grow back. This is possible in partnership with the St. Olaf College from USA (Minnesota) and the local school is transformed into a rural health clinic which covers dental care and specialized care for elderlies, women and kids. In addition to the medical attention, necessary medicine is also provided and doctors keep a strict medical record of each villager in their computers.
• Emergencies: We also provide medical assistance even under death or life (critical) circumstances. Being there for them under such hard situations definitely made much stronger our relationship with these villages.
• Roads Improvement: They are really necessary especially during the rainy seasons and the work on the roads and potential landslides was possible in partnership with the Municipality of Ollantaytambo. Thanks to this, a better communication, accessibility and facilities become true for all the communities near the Patacancha river basin.
Peruvian Odyssey is committed to promote Tourism in the Patacancha Valley communities successfully and sustainably. Today there is hope and opportunity for villagers and their children thanks to the direct support of our company, our partners and of course our guests. We are committed to improving the quality of life of people through training, health campaigns, education and cultural activities and thereby contribute with the development of this region and of our country.