Sanctuary rescuing animals that need it
Last year we spent quite a few days in Cusco as well as walking the Lares Trek to Machu Picchu. Given that we weren’t doing any trek this time round (we cheated and took the train instead), we were going to have almost five more days in Cusco to fill with new activities.
I asked Natalie at Oasis to contact Pachamama, the adventure agent in Cusco, to see if they could come up with a plan that would keep Poor John and me entertained and out of mischief for at least a little while.
Pachamama sorted out two great options—a custom-designed, full-day excursion to the Sacred Valley and beyond plus a half-day excursion in the other direction.
Day one took us to the ruins and market at Pisaq, the ruins at Ollantaytambo, the agricultural terraces at Moray and the saltpans at Salineas. But there was also a surprise visit to the Cochahuasi Animal Sanctuary.
It was our first stop of the day and a lot of fun, and it’s where I will begin a series of blogs about our Great Day Out.
A family-owned operation, the sanctuary has been going since 2007. It specialises in rescuing animals that have been abused or illegally trafficked. Many of their ‘residents’ are endangered, but there are plenty of common animals such as hawks and llamas.
The family is showing a lot of compassion and seem to be doing a very good job. For example, the pumas are gaining weight. They were confiscated from a discotheque where people paid to have a photo take with the cats. At the time they were take, each puma weighed only 40 kilos, but they’re slowly working their way up to a proper weight of 90 kilos each.
Then there’s the condor with the withered foot and the juvenile condor that is being taught to fly so it can eventually be released into the wild. I was gobsmacked to see it fly from high up in an apiary and have it sweep past me with confident flapping of already mighty wings.
Some animals have been brought to the sanctuary after being poisoned by farmers or others wanting to kill or subdue the critters. Two small deer arrived as infants after their mum had been killed. I’m not sure how the ocelot came to be there, but I was surprised to see how much it looked like a tabby house cat—and not much bigger either.
In addition to the animals, the family has a display of the different dyes used in creating alpaca wools fabrics for clothing and artworks. The display includes the plants used, the process, the colours achieved and the finished wool.
There’s also a shop selling top quality merchandise made by local women. If I didn’t already have a houseful of souvenirs I would have been very tempted.
As an aside, admission is by donation (on your way out) and we were generous. How could we not? I was thrilled with how close we could get to the animals, impressed by the care they were receiving and delighted with the photos I snapped. Hope you enjoy them too.