Riobamba has 11 rural parishes, each with different natural and cultural tourist attractions. San Juan, Calpi and Cacha are the most visited parishes, they have both Communal Tourism Centers and Communal Touristic Services with an adequate infrastructure to receive national and international tourists.
In these three parishes, you will find food services, accommodations, and guided tours. Their infrastructure includes themed museums and artisanal shops where crafts are elaborated from materials and fibers taken from their surroundings. These sites are complimented with the experiential knowledge of everyday activities and several cultural teachings- of a worldview that draws from the natural environment.
This socio-economic proposal of the community drives the development of the rural sector, where there are several attractive sites for a tourist looking to explore outside the city. The daily work of farmers, the way that they prepare their food and raise their animals, their customs and traditions are important elements of cohabitation in the community, and always interesting to experience for an outsider.
Calpi has many communities that have dedicated their efforts to promote community based tourism. Each one of the Communal Centers of Tourism has a different theme and a varied offer; the Palacio Real community specializes in the integral utilization of llama wool, from the llama within the andean worldview, to crafts made out of their wool and traditional dishes prepared with their meat.
Quilla Pacari is the Communal Tourism Center in Calpi, its name signifies the production of the earth with the help from the moon. What distinguishes this community is that the women, daughters of the goddess moon, work in different areas of the community but specialize in creating carrot jam for sale. This economic activity has given them independence and the opportunity to bring economic support to their households.
“Hieleros” of Chimborazo
Another place to visit in Calpi is the famous zone where the hieleros of Chimborazo live. Wondering what a hielero is? Hielero means iceman, and it was an actual profession which consisted of climbing to the icy territory in Chimborazo, to bring back ice for the cities and towns. Nowadays, residing in Calpi, is Baltazar Uscha, the man who has been denominated as the last hielero in Chimborazo. In the city of Moya, the young grandchildren of hieleros who mastered the art of extracting ice from the Andean Colossus, have created tours that consist on hiking the mountain to extract ice for tourists.
The communities of San Juan, resting beneath the skirts of the Chimborazo (the closest point to the sun), take advantage of this natural touristic wonder by organizing activities in the andean paramo. These activities include trails where you can explore the flora, fauna, and adventure routes that the paramo has to offer.
The Communal Centers you can find here are Chakana, that offers hikes and rappelling in a huge natural wall known as “Chorrera” and Casa Condor offers trekking through the most attractive sites surrounding Chimborazo, such as the polylepis forest and the Machay sacred cave, among others.
Cacha is widely known for being the chosen rest spot for Puruháes monks, the Shyrisys and the Incas. It is said the last Shyri-Inca king, Atahualpa, lived here. The Pucara Tambo Cultural Center tells the incredible history of the pre columbian cultures that inhabited Quito and the local community has maintained the Inca festivities such as the celebration of the four Raymis: Capac, Pakwar, Inti and KuyaRaymi. Here you can experience these colorful and folkloric traditions.
Let’s celebrate Riobamba, with its natural riches and interculturality!