You’ve probably never heard of Cumbe Mayo before. I hadn’t either. Not until we were in Cajamarca and everyone started talking about it.
So, we decided to schedule a tour. We took a ½ day tour, leaving at 9:30am, and returning at 2:00pm.
To be honest, we didn’t know a whole lot about where we were going until we got there.
What we did know was that there were some pretty cool rock formations, and the oldest man-made aqueduct (and possibly structure) in the Americas.
But, I wasn’t expecting to have one of the best days of our trip.
The national park is massive. There are trails that go all through the park and around the formations. Our tour also included a guide (Spanish speaking).
Having the guide was really helpful. He pointed out these amazing channels in the rocks (that are man-made) to help catch the water and guide it where they needed.
(These are massive. I have no idea how long it took someone in the year 1000 BC to carve these.)
He also pointed out petro-glyphs and explained their possible meanings.
He showed us rocks in the shapes of: a monk, a turtle, a guinea pig, a man and woman, and much more.
And Santa Clause!
We hiked and climbed through the formations. It was fantastic.
There are also indigenous people still living inside the park. They keep sheep and turn their wool into yarn. That’s what this young girl is doing.
Then we were on to the main attraction: the aqueduct. But to get there, we first had to climb through a tunnel.
The tunnel was really small and narrow. We had to turn sideways to get through. And, there was a small part that was completely dark with absolutely no light.
It was an easy tunnel to get through. I think our guide made it sound worse than it actually was.
The people living here (in northern Peru) in 1000 BC needed water on a more regular basis. So, they went looking.
They found it. On the other side of the continental divide. They then decided to find a way to divert the water over to the other side of the mountains where they needed it.
How’d they do that? By building an aqueduct through the rocks. They used the aqueduct to channel the water from one side of the continental divide to the other.
3000 years ago, you can probably imagine that they didn’t have much in the way of tools. But, just look at this precision!
They even devised a way to make the water flow up-hill, and a filtration system. The filtration happens by flowing through this series of 90 degree angles. The sand sinks to the bottom, letting the pure water continue flowing.
There is also a rock (big rock) where the people used to make sacrifices. There is no evidence that they performed human sacrifices. Only animals.
They would kill the animal on top of this rock, and then let the blood flow into the water (and aqueduct) below. The blood of the animal would purify the water, and therefore, the people and the crops as well.
I loved the time we spent in Cumbe Mayo. I wish we could have spent longer walking the trails and climbing the boulders.
But, we were off on another adventure in the afternoon: The Ventanillas de Otuzco.