Talking about the Stone Forest of Pampachiri in Andahuaylas seems crazy, although stones are inert elements of nature, they are also elements capable of creating unique landscapes that leave you stunned. These stone formations are so imposing and silent that they rise capriciously forming the famous stone forests that we can find in different parts of our country.
Thus, the beautiful region of Apurimac also has a beautiful stone attraction; the Pampachiri Stone Forest, which originated three million years ago due to the accumulation of volcanic material in the area.
Pampachiri and its stone forests have been gaining popularity for some years. To discover why people are attracted to you, you will have to see it with your own eyes. Pampachiri, which means “cold pampa” in Quechua, is a town full of natural attractions, with innumerable historical traditions and a very rich culture. One of them is this stone forest, located one hour from the town, in the middle of the pampa de los Pabellones. It extends over 60 hectares and is just over 3,600 meters high. This is a detail that is not minor, since many people are affected by altitude sickness. However, that should not be a reason to stop visiting this incredible natural corner. The stone forest of Pampachiri is a paradise for photography lovers and for those looking to live a different experience.
Although touristically it is known as "the Smurfs' Village" due to the resemblance of the rock formations to the houses where these popular characters lived, it is also popular by other names. Some prefer to call it "Village of the Andean goblins", since according to local belief these beings appear near the forest. However, its real name is Ayamach'ay, which means "the cave of the dead". These caves, villages, valleys and plateaus with the name AYA abound in the Peruvian highlands. According to legend, the Ayas or Gentiles were a very ancient civilization that populated the areas of Peru for many years.
The Pampachiri stone forest is located in the district of Pampachiri, province of Andahuaylas; framed in the department of Apurímac.
The stone forest is located at about 3600 meters above sea level. But, the district of Pampachiri is located at about 3360 meters above sea level.
It is believed that the origin of this spectacular rocky landscape of Pampachiri was the product of the eruption of the Qarwarasu and Sotaya volcanoes, about 4 million years ago. The matter expelled by the fury of the volcanoes would have given rise to this geological zone. Added to this were the rains and the wind that, like two artists, shaped these stones into cones. Some of the formations have very sharp points and others are more mushroom-like. In general, they have a height of 8 meters, although sometimes they exceed it, reaching almost 10 meters. However, the mushroom-shaped rock formations are not the only ones you will see. With a little help from your imagination, you will find rocks that resemble human faces, animals and plants.
The most incredible thing is that some rocks have a large space inside, which has been used by the residents as a food deposit for their animals. One of the main activities in this area is grazing, so they did not hesitate for a second to use this gift of nature.
In addition to the shapes of the rocks, the color given by quartz, one of the minerals present, is also surprising, giving it a very attractive hue. On the other hand, depending on the location of the sun, the landscape can change color, turning an intense orange during twilight. For this reason, it is best to visit Pampachiri during sunset. In these hours the colors are unique and the wind, passing through the rocks, generates a sharp and strange sound.
As well as Cajamarca or Pasco, the department of Apurímac also has a stone forest worthy of admiration and visit. It is called the Pampachiri Stone Forest, which is one hour from the town of Pampachiri and which, in turn, is three hours from Andahuaylas.
This Stone Forest originated three million years ago due to the volcanic material that was part of the area. But what is interesting about this place are the conical formations that the rocks have, which can rise 10 meters, creating a truly peculiar and surprising view. It is often known as "the village of the Smurfs" as it has forms so similar to the famous cartoons and that makes it so unique within the tourist attractions that Apurímac offers us. That is why we recommend you go with your camera to take the photos you want and enjoy this wonderful view.
The Pankula hill, located 30 minutes from the Pampachiri forest, has a height of 3800 meters above sea level, it is located between the Llancama and Huaccoto communities. Culturally it is an important Apu of the surrounding towns but it is also a tourist attraction that currently has the attention of its visitors who reach its top by trekking or renting horses. Once located at the highest point, tourists usually practice meditation or simply admire the view and recharge their energies with the connection they make with Pachamama. Learn more about this enigmatic and mysterious place in the following video:
If after touring Pankula in the Stone Forest, you are looking for even more adventure, you can start a one and a half hour walk to the beautiful Roqrosqa lagoon. It will be an impressive path!
The stone forest to be found in the district of Pampachiri, have the same climate; this is cold and dry. Likewise, it has two well-defined seasons:
The rainy season; covers the months of November to March. During this period, rain, hail and lightning are very frequent, characteristic of the high-Andean areas. For this reason, in this season the minimum temperature is 4 °C and the maximum reached is 17 °C.
The dry season; covers the months of April to October. During this period the sky is clear and the absence of rain is noticeable. Therefore, the minimum temperature during these months is 5 °C and the maximum is 19 °C.
The coldest months within the dry season; They are the months of June and July. Where the temperature drops to 0°C. Since, during these months the high-Andean areas are in the frost season.
The Pampachiri stone forest is located in the district of Pampachiri, framed in the department of Apurímac. This majestic place has an area of 60 hectares. Likewise, the rock formations found there are the product of the erosion of two volcanoes, the Qawarasu and the Sotaya, this occurred more than four thousand years ago.
Etymologically the word "Pampachiri"; It comes from two Quechua words "pampa" whose meaning is flat space and "chiri", which means cold. Similarly, the stone forest is called "Ayamachay" which means cave of spirits. They gave him that name. Since, some settlers say that this space was inhabited by gentiles that one day disappeared due to a rather strange phenomenon; the rising of two suns. As a consequence of such a phenomenon currently; when the moon eclipses these characters they revive and complain in a language different from the one spoken by the people, a language that only some elders of Pampachiri understand.
Today the stone forest has become an attraction much visited by many tourists who come to the province of Andahuaylas; causing astonishment among them. Due to the peculiar formations that these rocks have. Many of them named it “the house of the Smurfs”. Because the resemblance that the formations have with the house of "the Smurfs" is impressive; one of the best known television series worldwide.
Likewise, the Directorate of Commerce and Foreign Tourism of Apurímac together with the local authorities; they play an important role in diversifying the appeal. They are also constantly signaling and maintaining the route.
Walk in the stone forest of Pampachiri or house of the Smurfs
The entire area of the Pampachiri stone forest is purely for hiking; most travel agencies offer trekking tours around this place; These are divided into two zones:
First zone: This section of the walk is quite simple. Therefore, it lasts approximately 30 minutes. During the tour you will be able to appreciate rock formations very similar to the houses of the "Smurfs". And these are currently used as homes or warehouses for products from the inhabitants of the area. Likewise, the formations that you will observe are quite impressive and can measure up to more than 6 meters in height.
Second zone: This section has a moderate difficulty. Likewise, the tour of the entire area lasts approximately 3 hours. During the journey you will be able to observe that the rock formations project different figures; among them zoomorphic, phytomorphic and even anthropomorphic. Most of these formations reach up to 6 meters in height.
There are several ideal places to camp within the stone forest; the place is really very mystical and has a lot of magic in the environment. Therefore, being able to observe the starry sky; next to imposing rock formations is a fascinating experience. In addition, many travelers choose to carry out this type of activity; some on their own and others with the help of a travel agency.
To get to the Stone Forest of Pampachiri. First of all, you must go to the province of Andahuaylas – department of Apurímac. To do this, we will take the city of Cusco as a starting point, go to the land terminal; and take a bus to Andahuaylas. The cost of the ticket ranges between 50 to 80 soles and the travel time is approximately 7 hours. The difference in prices is due to the category and type of service provided by each company.
Once located in Andahuaylas, you must take the services of a bus to the town of Pampachiri; Due to the tourist influx, some drivers usually make a transport service to the same attraction. Finally, it only remains to coordinate with the driver of the vehicle. The cost of the ticket is S/.15.00 and the trip lasts approximately 3 hours.
The good news about visiting the stone forest in Pampachiri is that you do not need to pay an entrance ticket.
Because the place is freely accessible, it is not subject to a set schedule. But, we recommend you visit between 9:00 am to 5:00 pm maximum; due to return transportation.
There are no restaurants or shops near the stone forest. But, if you go back to the Pampachiri district you will be able to find some stores; restaurants and some hostels, this town is an hour from the stone forest.
From the stone forest of Pampachiri it is possible to trek to the Roqrosqa lagoon, located in the town of Cabra Wasi. This 90-minute route runs through beautiful landscapes until it reaches a lagoon of volcanic origin. It presents cold waters and a greenish color, contributed by the minerals present in the water. However, what makes it special is the fact that, when people approach the shore, air bubbles begin to come out of the lagoon. When people move away, it returns to its resting state.
It is also worth climbing to the top of Cerro Páncula, from which you can get beautiful panoramic views of the entire Pampachiri stone forest. Viewed from a certain angle, Pancula Hill has the shape of a perfectly molded dome or dome.
Another unmissable thing to do is a walk along the shores of the Pacucha lagoon, one of the largest and most beautiful in Peru and another important tourist destination in Andahuaylas. The lagoon is located at an altitude of 3,200 meters and, in addition to incredible views, allows travelers to enjoy exquisite cuisine. You can also do different activities, such as boat rides, horseback rides or bicycle rides to explore the lagoon. Lovers of adventure tourism have the option of paragliding as an alternative activity.
The Pachuca Lagoon has the particularity that its waters are suitable for taking a bath, since their temperature is around 16 and 19 degrees.
Once you decide to visit Palccoyo Mountain, you could add the best destinations to combine the history and experience for your trip to Peru. Peru offers the most beautiful destinations, culture and naturals. we recommend to extend your holidays and choose these best destinations and prepare your itinerary: