Apus: The spirits of the sacred mountains

Terra Explorer
December 18, 2020

The Apus, one of the main reasons why we love and identify with the nature of the Andes.

Many travelers come to Peru to go on a Machu Picchu day trip, one of the most visited tourist attractions in the world, but what most do not know is that we have many more sacred mountains in our country.

If you are passionate about traveling with extraordinary landscapes and the worldview of ancient cultures, you will love discovering the meaning that the Apus had and continue to have in our world.

Apus meaning 

The Apus are mountains of great importance. According to the Incas, they were divine and protective entities that ruled over the destiny of human beings. Today, for Andean men, they continue to retain the same importance of yesteryear and the tradition that each Apu has its own spirit and name.

 Their meanings in Quechua are: “Sir”, “majesty”, and “God”.

Our country is surrounded by Apus, and we can appreciate them or even explore them while we hike or trek, take canoeing or rafting expeditions, bicycle tours, among other outdoor activities.

The most important Apus

  • Auzangate Apu

ausangate important apus terra explorer

With a height of 6,384 m.a.s.l. Auzangate is the fifth-highest mountain in Peru, located in the Vilcanota mountain range, 100 km from Cusco.

It is surrounded by incredible natural formations such as turquoise lagoons, stone forests and glaciers that make it a magical destination. It is also one of the most important pilgrimage centers in the Andes, where the Qoyllority festival is celebrated every year in June.

  • Veronica Apu

veronica important apus terra explorer

 It is only 50 km from the city of Cusco. It has a height of 5,682 m.a.s.l. being the highest point of the Urubamba mountain range. Her name was originally Waynawillca, which means “Young Sacred”.

It can be seen in the distance from different points of the city of Cusco or the Sacred Valley, as well as from some hikes such as the Inca Trail or Ancascocha.

Related: What can we learn from the genius stroke of Inca architects?

  • Salkantay Apu

salkantay important apus terra explorer

Its name comes from Quechua and is a contraction of Salqa, which means “wild” and Antay, which means “to produce avalanches”. Located in the Vilcabamba mountain range, near the citadel of Machu Picchu, it has a height of 6,264 m.a.s.l. and is considered the “protector of the territory”.

“Payments to earth”

One of the most significant ways to honor the Apus is through payment to the land, an offering originated by the Incas, and that, even though this empire disappeared five centuries ago, it is a tradition that is still preserved to this day in most Andean communities.

For us as Terra Explorer, it is important to bring travelers closer to the Andean world, and that is why we give them the opportunity to participate in a respectful way in this ceremony, where the land is worshiped and thanked as a source of life and prosperity.

Related: Hacienda Huayoccari: A Peek Into The 20th Century Elites Of The Sacred Valley

What does Terra Explorer offer you?

Hikes to the most important Apus in the Andes.

One of them is the Inca Trail, where you will hike a 43-kilometer route in a total of 5 days, sleeping in luxury campings. The destination of this trek is the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu.

Another is the hike to the Salkantay Apu, a 6-day trek through little-explored areas with spectacular landscapes such as snow-capped mountains, colorful lakes, impressive mountains, glaciers, and native tree forests.

If you come with your family and want an activity designed for everyone, the trek to the Auzangate Apu is perfect for you. During four days, you will pass through incredible lagoons and glaciers, and you will be able to enjoy the views with tranquility since the walking distances per day are short, and do not demand high physical demands.

Now that you know a little more about the Apus, which one of the hikes we offer do you prefer? At Terra Explorer, we have various itineraries for you. If you want to get to know Peru in an authentic and spectacular way, get in touch with us, and we will help you design the trip of your dreams!


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