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HUANTA AND LURICOCHA
THA CHARM OF AYACUCHO

Huanta, the province and city in Ayacucho region, occupies an area of 3,880 sq km. It is located about fifty km from Ayacucho city, and at 2,600 meters above sea level. The city of Huanta, also known as the "Emerald of the Andes", possesses a temperate and agreeable climate, because it is in the "brow of the Amazonian forest." Its temperature varies between 20 and 26 ║ Celsius.

The capital is Huanta, founded in June 1825. The province's seven districts, Ayahuanco, Huamanguilla, Huanta, Iguain, Luricocha, Santillana and Sivia include 101 population centers.

The area is renowned for fruit growing, and the production is of excellent quality, constituting an important resource. Among the different fruits grown here are the lucuma, palta (avocado pear), cherimoya and tara.

We shall attempt to describe in a few words one of its most attractive areas, San Antonio de Luricocha, the first district of the province of Huanta, in the Ayacucho region.

It is north of the Huanta district, at an altitude of 2,564 meters above sea level It borders with the Santillana district on the north, and with the Huanta and Huancavelica districts on the south, with that of Huanta on the east and with the "Departamento de Huancavelica" on the west.

Due to its weather conditions, biodiversity and care of natural resources, this is the fruit growing and ecological area par excellence in the "department", possessing a long tradition in agriculture and trading activity.

In Luricocha, man still lives in harmony with nature, while disposing of basic infrastructure and communications facilities, making both local and foreign tourists feel at home here.

There is a regular transport service all day long between the capital of Huanta province and Luricocha, covering the distance between both towns in around five minutes, while the traveling time between Lima and Luricocha is around nine hours, using the totally paved highway known as "Via de los Libertadores". Hence visitors may use their own vehicles or public transport that serves the Lima - Ayacucho - Luricocha route daily, being able to view the beautiful Ayacucho landscape on the way, as well as its colonial and archaeological treasures. Getting to know Luricocha is yet another way of admiring the beauty of Peru.

San Antonio de Luricocha, capital of the district by the same name, was founded on June 21, 1825 in the territory occupied by the Ayllus of RURI-COCHA and was given the status of "Villa" on November 20, 1905. Its etymology derives from the QUECHUA: RURI = parrot, and CCOCHA = region or lake, meaning: the Region of Parrots. Historians claim that the town's name stemmed from the abundance of these climbing birds, that were commonly known as RURI in the area, because in the fall they flock here from the canyons of the Mantaro river, especially from the Isccana and Inticcahuana annexes, where they go to eat the sugary fruit of the molle (Schinus molle), the leafy valley forests of these sturdy trees sheltering numerous flocks of these noisily squawking birds.

This district is located in a lush valley, full of fruit orchards, with a mild climate and temperatures ranging from 16 to 26░Celsius in summer. In colonial times it was an important Spanish settlement, and offers an interesting tourism circuit, featuring the following major attractions:

THE TEMPLE:
The city of Luricocha has a temple in typically colonial style, attractive due to its architectural beauty, size and combination of baroque and gothic style, becoming an object of admiration both for locals and foreigners.

THE "CASONA" (big house):
The ruins of the home of General Antonio Jose de Sucre (1824), are in Luricocha district, between the old Huanta-Luricocha road and the banks of the Luricocha River. According to historians, this house belonged to Don Delfin Lude˝a, and was the lodging place of General Sucre, during his pursuit of the royalist Virrey la Serna, who was escaping from the patriots. There is a portrait of Sucre on the fašade of the house.

HUATUSCALLE CANYON:
An ideal place for adventure sports and canoeing. It is on the left side of the road linking the districts of Luricocha and Santillana, by the church of Our Lord of Huatuscalle. One gets there by car in only half an hour.

WATERFALLS
a.- The waterfalls of Manzanayuq are northwest of the present community of OCANA, at a point midway along the road between Luricocha and Santillana districts. You get there on foot from the latter in only half an hour.

b.- The waterfalls of Munti Kuchu are located in the community of Canteria, in the district of Luricocha. You get there by car in 15 minutes from the district capital.

LOOKOUT POINTS
a.- The Pachapunya Lookout Point, including the Cross of Our Lord of Pachapunya, is located in the community of Chamana in the district of Luricocha. You can get there on foot in only half an hour and take some excellent snapshots as the view is unbeatable.

b.- The Ichu Cruz Lookout Point and Canyon are located northeast of Luricocha in the community of Atalambra. You can get to this community by car in 20 minutes and then, following the "horseshoe-shaped road", you can get to the lookout point in another 30 minutes.

Luricocha's most important festival is the "Fiesta de las Cruces" (Festevity of the Crosses), celebrated every year on May 3; during this festivity, for which the town readies itself many days in advance with masters of ceremony and assistants preparing their costumes and finery, the population goes wild with joy. There is no better occasion on which to visit this charming spot where you are bound to have a good time.