Chincheros: 3762m (12,343 ft)
One of the kids’ highlights on our Journey to Machu Picchu was our visit to Centro Texil Urpi in the high Andean village of Chinchero that sits half way between Cusco and Urumbamba in Peru’s Sacred Valley.
The centre was set up to preserve and celebrate traditional textile techniques such as wand-weaving and natural dyeing with the overall aim of supporting families within the weaving communities and providing them with a secure and sustainable source of income.
On arrival we were welcomed with a cup of muña tea – the Andrean mint tea (which my 6-year-old loved!) – along with a smile from a toothy llama and his diminutive alpaca cousin. The children enjoyed feeding their new fluffy friends, including a handful of guinea pigs that they found in the, um.., section showcasing Peru’s traditional cuisine!
The artisans offer informative and entertaining tours around the centre, demonstrating each of the various stages involved in traditional textile production – from washing and dyeing alpaca wool to spinning and weaving the colourful yarn into exquisite table runners, cushions, wall hangings etc. The tour finishes in a little marketplace where the women are given the opportunity to sell their work directly to tourists, cutting out the middleman who would otherwise take a disproportionately large percentage of their profits.
The tour is free for both adults and children.
A Video Tour of Centro Texil Urpi, Chincheros with Kids
Watch the video to see the various steps in textile making. The children’s highlight comes at around the halfway mark when they discover how red dye is made using the blood from cochinillas!
Chincheros (or Chinchero) is also home to a beautiful 17th century colonial church, which was built directly on top of an Inca temple or palace. Inside the walls and ceilings are covered in intricate paintings – definite worth a peek (we weren’t allowed to take photos). In the plaza outside this catholic church artisans sell their wares. We bought a gorgeous rug from a very fragile-looking old lady and a couple of Peruvian pipes for the children from a man whose marketing skills we couldn’t help but admire (see video below)!
Behind the church a series of agricultural terraces cascade down the valley and the mountain views from here are spectacular. An impressive stone wall borders a wide grassy plain where the children enjoyed stretching their legs and blowing dandelions. It can be easy to forget how high you are up here and our kids needed frequent reminding to take it easy!
On our way back through the village we spied a wonderful chess set – the Incas vs The Spaniards! My daughter immediately took the side of the Incas and her father – who happens to be Spanish – sheepishly took up position on the white side.
As the children were on the verge of a hunger meltdown we pulled into a little cafe near the car park to give them a toasted cheese sandwich (the only thing on the menu) and enjoyed a cup of muña tea ourselves. We later discovered (which was a running theme throughout this holiday) that there is a good restaurant nearby called La Casa de Barro, located at 147 Miraflores Street.
Watch the video below to see why I couldn’t help but admire this man’s marketing strategy!
On our way back to our hotel in Urubamba we stopped to take a few snaps at Mirador Raqchi, which offers incredible views of The Sacred Valley.
Allow one hour for the textile tour and another hour for a leisurely stroll up to and around the archaeological site of Chincheros.
Chincheros is located half way between Cusco and Urubamba – approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour by car from each side. There are a number of textile cooperatives in Chincheros. The one we visited is called Centro Textil Urpi.
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Family Guide to Peru
To view all our blog posts and videos in the Peru With Kids series see our destination guide to Peru for Families.