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Qeros, the last Inca community in Cusco
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Qeros, the last Inca community in Cusco

The queros or q’eros or simply qeros are an Andean population who are said to be the last lineage of the Incas. What is his fame due to? The compilation of its myths and legends give an account of a past closely linked to the Incas. Its inhabitants have sought to maintain their identity and traditions despite the overwhelming modernity. They live in the surroundings of the snowy Ausangate, considered sacred by the Incas. In 2007 the Qero nation was declared a Cultural Heritage of Peru.



Qeros Nation
Queros – Cusco


The Qeros, last descendants of the Incas?

  • The Q’eros are a Quechua community said to be the last descendants of the Incas.
  • It is believed that the first contact of these communities with modern civilization occurred only in 1950. Then, since Inca times (15th century) this nation dedicated itself to agriculture and herding llamas, just as their Inca ancestors did.
  • In the cultural aspect, the Q’eros have a lot to tell humanity. Its traditions and festivities are closely related to nature. They even preserve aspects of Inca medicine, astronomy and textiles.
  • The Qeros are experts in the manufacture of textiles and clothing such as chullos, ponchos, llicllas and more. They also master musical instruments such as the quena and the zampoña.
  • The Q’ero nation is divided into twenty sectors and five communities: Japu, Marcachea, Quico, Q’ero Totorani and Hatun Q’eros.
  • They inhabit mountainous regions that exceed 5 thousand meters above sea level. Due to their amazing culture and ancestral knowledge, in 2007 they were declared Cultural Heritage of Peru.
  • Currently some Qero communities offer an experiential tourism experience for visitors. This way they will know what their daily lifestyle is like, including working in the fields and herding animals.

Where are they?

  • The Queros nation is made up of several Andean communities located mainly in the province of Paucartambo in Cusco.
  • These communities inhabit high-altitude regions (up to 4,400 masl) such as regions of the Cusco jungle (at 1,800 masl).
  • Other Quero communities are located in the highest parts adjacent to the snowy Ausangate, the highest in Cusco (6,384 meters above sea level).
  • To promote the protection of this Quechua nation as well as the mountainous natural environment where they are located, the Peruvian State created in 2021 the Regional Conservation Area of ​​Cusco ‘Qeros – Kosñipata’ (with a total area of ​​55,319 hectares.

How to get there?

There are several routes to visit a town of the Qero nation. One of the routes most used by visitors is the following:

  • From the city of Cusco you must take a public transport bus to the town of Pilcopata in the district of Kosñipata, province of Paucartambo. This trip takes approximately eight hours.
  • The native community of Queros Wachiperi lives in this region. The entire place belongs to the Haramba Queros Wachiperi Reserve, in the middle of the jungle of Cusco.

History of the Q’eros

  • The history of the qeros dates back to Inca times (15th century) and even earlier. These Andean-Amazonian ethnic groups inhabit the ‘antisuyo’ regions, to the east of Tahuantinsuyo, the empire of the Incas.
  • The Q’eros had extensive communication with jungle regions like the Yine for the exchange of agricultural products. For this they traveled part of the Inca trails, the qhapac ñan.
  • The Qeros joined the Inca society and religion for several centuries. During the arrival of the Spanish in the 16th century, many Qero communities decided to isolate themselves in the high mountains of Ausangate or in the thick vegetation of the Cusco jungle.
  • Despite modernity, the queros jealously maintained the customs and religiosity of their ancestors. This is demonstrated by his clothing and way of life: he is mainly dedicated to grazing and agriculture.
  • It was only in the second half of the 20th century that the Peruvian State emphasized the historical and cultural importance of these Quechua peoples of Cusco.
  • In 2007 the Queros nation was declared a Cultural Heritage of Peru.
  • Currently some Quero communities have adapted to tourism as a way of survival. Some of these communities are the Queros Wachiperi, the community of Qochamoqo, Hatun Qero, Qero Totorani and more.

Are there tours? How to visit them?

  • Yes, there are currently tours to various Qeros communities that have seen tourism as a form of income.
  • Most of the tours are focused on experiential tourism of 2, 3, 4 days or more.
  • Some services also include walks near snow-capped mountains, lagoons and Andean towns with a lot of tradition.
  • The tours include everything: transportation, tour guide, lodging in Andean communities and Inca ancestral rites.
  • Prices vary from 200 to 400 dollars depending on the days of service and the tourism agency you choose.

Cultural aspects of Qeros

These are some cultural aspects of the Quero nation:

  • Religiosity – The queros adore the elements of nature such as mountains, the sun, the moon, the earth and others. The Ausangate is a tutelary snowy or ‘apu’ to which respect is owed because he decides on the life and death of people. In certain aspects, influenced by modernity, the Q’eros have saints and tutelary virgins such as the Lord of Qoylloriti, at the foot of the snowy Ausangate.
  • Textiles – The peasant communities of the Q’ero nation follow a textile tradition that dates back to Inca times. Its products are made with alpaca fiber threads, very soft and resistant. In its decorations there are cultural aspects such as the duality of life: day and night, male and female. Their textiles dye their garments with natural products such as cochineal. Their instruments are also made by hand, just like hundreds of years ago.
  • Music – The Q’eros maintain Inca instruments such as the quena, the panpipe and the tinya. The historical value of q’ero music is very important study material and recordings. Its use is during agricultural tasks and parties such as weddings.
  • Medicine – The medicine of the Q’eros follows the tradition of the Incas. They use natural products like herbs to treat the various diseases. For this they follow the tradition of shamanism. The shaman is a sorcerer who, by decision of the gods, has the power and family knowledge to cure or make people sick.

Learn more about the Qeros

  • The culture and tradition of the Q’eros was known to the world to a large extent since the publication of their myths and legends by Professor Óscar Núñez del Prado in 1955. In said work, he highlighted the propagation of the myth of the Inkarrí, for which there is hope of a return to the laws and traditions of the Inca State.
  • The Q’eros inhabit an area far from the main cities and districts of the Cusco region. They inhabit up to three different Andean ecological floors: from 4,500 meters above sea level (puna), 3,000 meters above sea level (Quechua) and 1,800 meters above sea level (yunga). Thus, they can subsist by producing different foods such as corn, quinoa, potatoes, oca, coca leaves and more.
  • The Q’eros are known as ‘the last Inca ayllu’. His worldview of the world differs from the worldview of modern man. Reciprocity and community work are its main value. Investigative work to discover more elements of their society is still under investigation.

 

By Ticket Machu Picchu – Last updated, December 27, 2022