Hey, fellow travelers! Since it’s been two years since my dream visit to Cuzco, Peru, I thought I would write a guide about one of the most incredible travel memories I have: Inti Raymi. On June 24, people from all over the world gather in Cuzco to witness this unique Inca festival, and in 2015, I was lucky enough to have that opportunity. So, in order to give back, I’m sharing a few personal ideas and tips about this awesome event!
Reasons to experience Inti Raymi in Cuzco
Inti Raymi is known as the biggest annual Inca festival and is celebrated during the winter solstice, which is when the sun is furthest from the earth. The festival takes place for one whole week, and its peak takes place on the 24th of June. Inti Raymi is indeed celebrated in a few different countries in South America, but the one place where you should participate this festival, at least once in your life time, would be in Cuzco, Peru. Here are a few reasons why:
- During the week of Inti Raymi, Cuzco is a totally different city. The city celebrates day and night, and there will be parades, locals dancing in traditional outfits, street fairs, street banquets, etc.
- You will see reenactments of religious ceremonies complete with beautiful costumes and traditional music. It’s seriously a huge production!
- Up to 25,000 people gather to witness this festival every year, so you get the idea of how special it is.
- It’s on the way to Machu Pichu. If you plan to visit this wonderful Inca site, why not just plan it around Inti Raymi? That’s what I did, and I wouldn’t have organized it any other way.
- Last but not least, why not? It really is a unique and once-in-a-lifetime experience!
Getting your tickets
The final festival that takes place on June 24 is the ceremony that you would not want to miss. The reenactment on this day is divided into three parts; the first two parts take place in the city (Korikancha and Plaza de Armas) and is open for the public, but the final reenactment in Sacsayhuamán requires a ticket. Unfortunately, getting the ticket from the actual event organizers is a bit complicated and gets sold out fast because they mostly sell it off to travel agents. I’m usually not a tour fan, but I would suggest it specifically for this occasion. Sacsayhuamán is long uphill drive from the city and walking there would actually lessen the chance for you to enjoy the first two parts of the ceremony. Furthermore, aside from your tickets, most tours would provide you with transport and lunch. In the end, it really isn’t a bad deal! Locals have their own pricing and some usually don’t buy tickets; they would hike towards Sacsayhuamán and climb on the hills to get a good view of the ceremony. I really wouldn’t suggest this because the hills are very rocky and steep. But of course, it’s your choice 😉
Of course at this point, you are wondering how much the ticket would cost. The price of the tickets range from 100 USD, depending on your seating. The official government website is in Spanish, but you can click on Inti Raymi Year and choose “compre sus entradas“. You will have to provide basic information and choose which seating you prefer. Buying tickets from tours would range differently as well, starting from 170 USD. I realize it’s quite up there for the price of a budget traveler, but like I said to myself, once in your life is enough.
Other tips for Inti Raymi
So, if you finally decide to attend, here are a few other tips to note before going to Inti Raymi:
- This is a one-day itinerary, so be sure to clear your schedule!
- Wear layers! It’s both windy and sunny in Cuzco during the festival because the sun is at its highest point.
- Bring plenty of water, a hat and sunscreen. You will be on your feet starting at 8am, so stay hydrated!
- Keep an eye of your belongings. Like I mentioned, more than 20,000 people will be there!
- You will see many people bringing and selling rainbow flags, which is the official flag of Cuzco. I actually recommend that as a personal souvenir for yourself!