At night, believers would use the reflection from the moon that cascaded atop snow-capped peaks as a guide to make their way up the sacred Colque Punku glacier. The tradition goes back centuries for pilgrims from various indigenous groups in the Andes who have made the journey through the Sinakara Valley in Peru during four days of religious festivities known as Qoyllur Rit’i, Quechuan for “the snow star.”
“When you go to Qoyllur Rit’i, you’re in a different space,” says Richart Aybar Quispe Soto, who has taken part in the pilgrimage for more than 35 years. “You get there, and you’re transformed. I go there to be in the snow, to be near the stars, to be close to the moon.