In Ayacucho, in the district of Vischongo, is Titankayocc, the largest and densest forest on the planet in terms of the number of Puyas de Raimondi. Yes, the endemic and emblematic plant species of Peru that amazes for its characteristics of longevity and size, and that, in addition, contributes to caring for the environment.
This natural area, which covers an area of 1,200 hectares, was declared a Regional Conservation Area (ACR) in 2010 by Supreme Decree and is currently a must-see for tourists visiting the City of Churches.
La Puya de Raimondi was discovered in 1874 by the Italian naturist Antonio Raimondi in the department of Áncash. In honor of the European botanist, the plant bears his surname. They are also known as titankas, which is their name in Quechua.
The Puya Raimondi is a plant that only grows above 3,000 meters above sea level, hence its nickname of Queen of the Andes. It has the peculiarity that it must reach 100 years for its flowering stage, which is a unique moment, since it generates 8 thousand white flowers. But that’s not all: it releases 6 million seeds. After that show, its life cycle ends.
This species is also notable for its size. It is the largest of the puya genus and also of the bromeliaceae family. In its development process it can measure between 3 and 4 meters in height, while in the inflorescence it can reach 12 meters. That detail earned him entry into the Guinness Book of Records.
Titankayocc and Puya Raimondi
Titankayocc is populated by the Puya de Raimondi. It is estimated that there are 250,000 of different ages on the site, with noticeable concentrations in the highest areas.
But it is not the only plant in the forest. According to studies, there are more than 300 species. As for the fauna, there is also diversity. Birds are the most abundant. They take advantage of the puyas to form their nests. It is common to see hummingbirds, 30 centimeters, playing with the flowers. In addition, 10 kinds of mammals have been recorded in the forest, such as vicuñas, pumas and grassland cats.
This ecosystem also has a favorable value to counteract the effects of climate change thanks to its ability to capture carbon from the atmosphere. In this way, it also benefits the care of water reserves, an issue of great importance for this place.
Near to the Archaeological Sites
This part of the department of Ayacucho offers visitors other attractive places: half an hour from Vischongo is the town of Vilcashuamán, which was built on top of an Inca citadel that is more than 500 years old.
Despite the time and modern facilities, you can see pre-Hispanic walls and ceremonial temples, including a rectangular pyramid, in good condition. These monumental structures keep the patterns of Tahuantinsuyo architecture.
As if that were not enough, near Vilcashuamán is the Pomacocha lagoon, where you can see the Intihuatana baths, also considered the «bath of the Incas».
This place was the favorite of the Inca elite for relaxation activities. The building, made of polished stones, is stable. One of them is 13 angles.