Visit locals from Collasuyo, famous for being the fastest hand spinnersand alpaca knitters in the world! Located at 3800 meters above sea level in the southern high plateau ofthe Peruvian Andes, Collasuyo is home to the majority of MINKA’s textile producers. More than 500 rural indigenous families use the expertise, wisdom and science of their ancestors to transform alpaca fibre into high quality garments.
Observe MINKA’s work in connecting local producers to international markets. Products once only available to foreigners through extensive saleschains are now more directly available to consumers. The MINKA Fair Trade Trail allows producer groups to share their millennia-culture and life experiences with the rest of the world.
Location and access
The community is located 30 minutes away from Juliaca, San Ramon Capital, in the department of Puno. There is public transportation from Puno to Juliaca, a 30 minute journey.
The communities are at 3800 meters above sea level on a high plateau. Juliaca has dry and cold weather. The rainy season is between December and April. During this period rainfall can reach 55mm. This is a region with beautiful landscapes and many attractions such as quaint Andean towns, archeological ruins, lakes and forests.
The high plateau is the region where many plant and animal species, that are cultivated and raised worldwide, were initially domesticated. For thousands of years the people here have been growing bitter potatoes, maca, kañiwa,quinoa and kiwicha. They were also the first to raise llamas, alpacas and guinea pigs.
Artisans in this region are the Minka’s greatest producers of hand spun, hand knit alpaca products. The 500 rural families that make up Collasuyo are heirs of ancestral techniques in not only transforming alpaca fibre but also for their production of organic grains with exceptional nutritional ideas. The majority of the community’s products are sold to foreigners, and as a result they rely heavily on intermediary chains in order to sell their products. In the past this has led to low unfair and exploitive pricing. Since working with Minka they have had the opportunity to participate in fair trade ecotourism. Producers now have the chance to connect directly with consumers and share their traditions and millennial culture with them.
The areas main attractions are the beautiful passages found on the Andean high plateau, archaeological ruins and the rich and ancient human culture. This region’s inhabitants are the recipients of a wide variety of ancestral knowledge in regards to agriculture andt he manual transformation of the alpaca fibre. The knitters and spinners who live here have techniques that make them some of the fastest in the world .The opportunity to stay with these families and learn about their culture and products is an experience of great value to any visitor.
The community offers treks through the Andean high plateau, visits to Chacas lagoon and various artisans committees as well as demonstrations as to how the alpaca fiber is transformed from raw material to finished product. A display of high quality alpaca garments are also made available for purchase.
Community members are in charge of the pickup and return of guests to their hotels. Transport from Puno to Juliaca is done by public transportation, in the company of a guide from the community. In Juliaca, transport to all communities is made with private transportation and all transportation is included in the tour package price. A guide and a buffette style lunch, made from native regional products, are also included.
Once visitors arrive in the community, they are received with a warm welcome from leaders of various committees. Explanations and demonstrations about the artisans work with the alpaca fiber are then given. After a late lunch visitors are returned to either their hotel in Puno or to the airport in Juliaca. As Minka offers flexible packages, tours to these committees can either be a one day visit, as described above, or if preferred, an overnight stay.
What to bring
Warm clothes and a flashlight for walks at night. Raincoats during the rainy season, this takes place from December to March. The heat is intense during the day due to the high altitude; bring a hat and sun block. A personal first aid kit if possible and any medication you may be taking.