At the dawn of the world, when the earth was flat, in out part of the planet the seas flooded to where s the present day city of Arequipa and the plains of Majes stand. At that time the rivers of the coast they were just streams, and in the highlands the volcanoes held between them lakes inhabited by giant fish. In the highland pampas frolicked the first cousins of the now guanaco and vicuna. The condors were double the size of modern day condors, flew solemn, and met other condors to mate. In those times, the days were sunny, but it rained every night. In the highland forests lived quishuares, queñuales, huge mammals as tarucas, chinchayas (bears) vizcachas and one also found birds like partridges, kivios, ñanduces, among others. In the trees nested cuculíes, chillchas, and hummingbirds. The pumas and foxes had their dens rocky hillsides. Life was very quiet and full of happiness.
At that time, rising above the surface of this part of the earth, stood the apus: Ampato, the Ccorepuna and their ayllus. El Misti, Chachani and other volcanoes did not exist yet. The apus lived together in mutual considerarion with their wifes and children. The robust Ampato volcano, one of the highest (about 7,000 m), had its wife, Walca Walka, and son, Sahuanjea. Ccorepuna, even higher than the Ampato, was very rich and was surrounded by a lot of gold. So it was that it was called "Ccorepuna" which in Quechua means "golden Volcano". Ccorepuna´s wife was "Solimana" and together they had a beautiful daughter.
To communicate with each other they sent their messages via Ayllus and the grand bridge of "Koyche" (rainbow). Sometimes lightning and thunder interpretated messages between the mighty apus. Also, at times, the apus used high flying birds or fast land trabeling mamals to speak with one another.
In respect of the Father Sun, who had lavished them with a life of splendor and prosperity, both apus decided to sacrifice something of real value. The apurs agreed that they would have to sacrifice one of their children. Being an impossible task to decide which child to sacrifice, the apus entrusted to the decision to the wise "pacpaco" (owl). Since this point the night owl has become known as the soothsayer of doom and death and thus the tune of its song is feared to this day.
The "pacpaco" entering the labyrinth of "huku pacha" (hell), with the help of the "laycca" (witch), read from the "table" the desires of the sun god, and thus resolved to deliver the princess daughter Ccorepuna, as an offering to the father sun. They announced the decision in "Hanac Pacha" (heaven) and "Kay Pacha" (the world). The message was carried by the thunder, lightning, birds, and mammals to all corners of the world. The announcement saddened in both of the apus, but the news was most devastating for the young Sahuanjea who has fallen in love with the princess. The two thought to fight the decision and form their own ayllu, thus unifying the Colca and Cotahuasi.
Sahuanjea, hearing the tragic news, disobeyed agreements of the apus of not traveling beyond the boundaries of their own domains. He traveled via huge caverns and cracks to avoid being seen, but unfortunately failed in his attempt, because the "Anas" (skunk) crossed his path and told the "pacpaco" who alerted the apus through thunder and lightning.
Al enterarse de tan fatídico intento de Sahuanjea, ambos apus acordaron, poner obstáculos para impedir futuros intentos de rapto. Dichos obstáculos consistieron en labrar unas zanjas muy profundas.
Upon learning of Sahuanjea fateful attempt, both apus agreed that they should put obstacles in the way to prevent future attempts. These obstacles took the form of deep trenches. Ampato threw rocks and spewed fire to dig a deep canyon in the form of a "V", which he called "Ccolcca". While Ccorepuna threw fired and used his golden shovel to form another deep canyon in the shape of a"U", which he called "Ccotahuasi". This is how both the enonmous canyons of Arequipa were formed.
Sahuanjea cried and suffered with no remedy and his tears took the form of hot lava, which melted the snow that covered the heads of his parents. This run-off formed "landslides" that swept down mud, lava and ash that dammed up and covered the Ccolcca in a place very close to "Ccahuanacunqui" which was the capital of ancient Cabana culture. The dammed river began to form a giant lake, whose waters flooded up the canyon to where nowadays one find the towns of Pinchollo and Yanque.
Sahuanjea, in a new attempt to save his beloved, crossed along the newly formed crest of the dam in the darkness of the night and kidnapped the princess. Once he had returned, he pleaded with his mother Walka-Walka, asking that she help him hide his beloved. She agreed and they hid the princess from the wrath of the apus.
Upon learning of what had happened Ccorepuna demanded that his daughter be returned so that she could be given in offering to the Father Sun
The mother Walka-Walka and her son convinced the apu Ampato to defend the happiness of the young lovers, and he refused to return the princess to Ccorepuna. Thus began the war of the Apus, the two ayllus.
Ccorepuna erupted in anger, sent tons of fire and molten lava flying, and launched a giant boulder against the apu Ampato through his "huaraca" (slingshot, a weapon of war). The huge stone struck with loud noise stronger than that of thunder and generated stronger winds than that of a hurricane. The boulder landed near the foothills of Walka-Walka forming a large hole that became what is now Mucurca lake. With the impact of the stone the earth shook, the dust rose, the sky darkened, and for several days the birds could not fly.
Ampato responded by sending a missile through his slingshot that he threw with such a force that it flew through the air like a comet and from his head erupted fire, which lit the night and day. The stone landed very near the Ccorepuna, in a place called "Cejpa" (which in Quechua means torn), the impact caused a deep hole which today is known by the name of Cepia, where water of Cotahuasi river forms a giant waterfall.
Then, Ccorepuna, adjusting his aim and summoning all of his strength, sent a thunderous shot that scaped the body of Ampato and left a deep wound in the side of Ampato. The attack caused Ampato bend to one side and to release mounds of smoke and lava, and thus it is that the crater in Ampato is located off to one side.
The Ampato, mortally wounded, made his last effort, aided by the fiery breath of his son, and threw one last withering "huaracazo". He used a very heavy, medium-sized, metal stone. The stone traveled whistling and roaring through the air and hit directly on the head of Ccorepuna. The world heard a deafening scream as lava flowed from Ccorepuna´s head like blood. In this moment the whole earth quaked as the impact was so big and loud that is was felt in other worlds. It was then that the many rocks that formed Ccorepuna were turned into dust, which traveled high in the air and placed seemingly endless darkness over the chamber of the apus. Absolute silence reigned
When the darkness finally faded and Father Sun illuminated the face of the earth, one saw the aftermath of destruction and chaos. The mighty Ccorepuna lay on one side, headless. It is since this point that they now refer to Ccorepuna as "Ccoropuna" in Quechua means "headless ". On the other end of the valley lay Ampato, bent over, spewing lava, and obviously dying.
The Sun father learned of the tragic war that had caused the death of his beloved apus. Thus he punished his ayllu by removing the water that filled their gaps, drying up their rivers, and overflowing the dam that Sahuanjea had created. Many plants and fish died. The vicuna, alpacas, and many other animals moved far away. Only the condors, for their love of the princess, remained as witnesses to what had happened during the war of the apus.
After thousands of years, the first humans came to live in the giant Colcla and Cotahuasi canyons. After making offerings to the mighty Ampato, they learned that the princess had taken human form and lay huddled in the powerful arms of her protector, Ampato. They mistakenly gave her the name of "Juanita".
The Sahuanjea is the only one who remains alive to this day. He lives with the hopes of one day reconnecting the two mighty canyons and towns that reside therein.
Populating Cotahuasi was not too difficult. The bottom of the canyon, having been wrought into a shape "U" on both sides of the river, left large terraces that facilitated the planting of potatoes and other crops. On the other hand, colonizing the Colca canyon was more difficult. By having the form of a "V", the shape of the canyon made it difficult to form terraces. But it was, that at the bottom of the old lake, formed by the dam Sahuanjea, that the towns of Maca, Madrigal, Ichupampa, Achoma, Yanque, and Coporaque were formed. Seeing that its inhabitants were hard workers, the Inca were rewarded by the father sun with a golden corn. It is now a staple crop in the region that provides food for many people.