The Cordillera Central of Peru
This part of the Andes is one of the most spectacular of all the Cordillera. The stunning scenery with the highest Peruvian mountains and glaciers, with turquoise lagoons, it is a paradise for trekkers and mountain lovers.
The department of Ancash is currently the third economic region in Peru, after Lima and Arequipa. The wealth of the region comes from two sectors: the fishing industry and specially fish meal and fish oil industry in Chimbote (coastal region), Peru is the world's largest fishmeal producer and exporter and the mining with Antamina (owned by an Australian, Swiss and Canadian multinational) the largest copper and zinc mine in the country and one of the most important in the world's, also producing bismuth, molybdenum, silver, lead and gold.
Huascarán National Park
This park is located in the Cordillera Blanca with 160 km (100 mi) long and an area of 340,000 hectares (1,300 sq mi), declared by UNESCO as Reserve of Biosphere Core in 1977 and Natural Heritage of Humanity in 1985 for the richness of its flora and fauna as well as the beauty of its landscapes. The park contain 663 glaciers, 296 lakes and endemic plant and animal species such as the Puya Raimondi, a species of cactus in the same family as the pineapple that produces 8,000 flowers just before he died and the Oso de Anteojos (spectacled bear).
Some peaks are popular with climbers and it is possible to do horse riding, cycling and trekking. The highest mountain in Peru is located in the park, Huascaran reaching 6,768 m (22,199 ft) asl and Alpamayo (6,120 m / 20,074 ft) known as "the most beautiful mountain in the world" according to the German magazine Alpinismus in 1966. Experienced trekkers can enjoy skiing at 5,500 meters (18,000 ft) above the Alpamayo and Copa glaciers.
Callejón de Huaylas
The Alley of Huayllas is a valley along the Santa river, bordered by the majestic snow-covered Cordillera Blanca (White Mountain) to the east and the Cordillera Negra (Black Mountain) to the west with peaks over 5,000 m (16,000 ft) but typically getting no snow. In the Callejón there are a multitude of picturesque villages and offers opportunities for rafting in the Santa river.
410 km / 255 mi (8 hours) north of Lima at 3,091 m (10,138 ft) asl, this medium-sized city of 130,000 inhabitants is the capital of the department of Ancash. Huaraz was almost totally destroyed during the earthquake in 1970 and very little remains of the colonial city.
Museo Arqueológico de Huaraz
Located in the main square (plaza de armas), the Archaeological Museum is very interesting and not just for its many archaeological pieces of various civilizations such as Chavin, Moche, Wari and Recuay, but also for its room exhibiting the regional costumes and especially the garden that displays a hundred finely engraved rocks and typical plants of the region as the Puya Raimondi and the Qeuñal.
This important administrative center of the Wari culture (approx. 1000 AD) is located 8 km (5 mi) northeast of Huaraz. Willkawain (grandchildren house in Quechua) consists of several constructions build with stones fitted without mortar, which seemed to have been haphazardly set with small stones used as a filler between the larger stones, but some of these assemblies form figures such as llamas and condors.
For a moment of relaxation, there are two thermal baths. One in Monterrey located 7 km (4 mi) north of Huaraz, with water temperature 49° C (120º F), ideal to fight rheumatism and stress. The other one in Chancos is located 30 km (19 mi) from Huaraz (4 km / 2.5 mi from the village of Marcará) called the "fountain of youth".
50 km (31 mi) north of Huaraz, the small town of Yungay was wiped off the map in a few seconds on May 31, 1970. An earthquake of magnitud 7.9 on the Richter scale shook the region. The quake destabilized the northern wall of Mount Huascarán, causing a rock, ice and snow avalanche and burying the town of Yungay and its 22,000 inhabitants (with a total of 66,000 deaths in the region). Yungay has been rebuilt at 2 km, a park was installed at the site of the tragedy, Campo Santo.
66 km (41 mi) north of Huaraz, this charming town of 25,000 inhabitants enjoys a mild climate at 2,250 m (7.380 ft) asl and is the starting point for trekking, climbing and rafting.
Cañon del Pato
At the north of Caraz, the highway snakes through a deep canyon for 30 km (19 mi), impressive for its landscape and the winding road on the edge of the precipice.
This stunning natural site in the middle of the mountains at 3,850 m (12,628 ft) above sea level at the foot of Huascaran is composed of two lagoons with turquoise water, Warmicocha and Orkoncocha.
This beautiful glacier is located south of the Cordillera Blanca, 3 hours from Huaraz.
Unfortunately, due to the effect of global warming, one of the most beautiful glaciers of Peru is currently retreating quickly.
Recently, it is prohibited for any hiker and skier, you can only approach to take pictures. There is still the wonderful view through the forest of Puya Raimondi, the endemic plant of Peru and the beautiful lagoon Patacocha.
Chavín de Huántar
This complex was the capital of the Chavin culture and was built in 850 BC. Located in the Callejón de Conchucos 4 hours east of Huaraz, at 3,177 m (10,421 ft) asl, it is the most important archaeological site in the central Andes.
Chavin de Huantar is composed of a U-shaped plaza with a sunken circular court in the center, several pyramids built of stone and crossed by an extensive network of maze of tunnels with a sophisticated ventilation system that inspired the construction of the tunnels of the rescue operation during the Japanese embassy hostage crisis in 1996.
These galleries lead to several rooms, one of them in the Templo Viejo (Old Temple) contain a sculpture of the Lanzón or Smiling God in charge of the soil fertility and the seasons, a monolith of nearly 5 metros (16 ft) tall engraved with mythological drawings, depicts a human-feline hybrid.
Inside the Templo Nuevo (New Temple) also called Castillo (Castle) for its impressive size, the galleries are the most important and its purpose is still a mystery.
Cabezas clavas (carved stone heads) also combining human and feline traits, protude from the temples walls.
Huayhuash is located south of the Cordillera Blanca from the town of Chiquián 100 km (62 mi) south of Huaraz.
Paradise for mountains lovers, it is ideal for practicing mountaineering and trekking, one of the most beautiful trek in the world, 8 to 13 days reserved for experienced hikers.
You can see many lagoons and the second highest peak of Peru, Yarupajá (6,634 meters / 21,760 ft asl).
Capital of the department of Junín, this big city of 445,000 inhabitants is located at an altitude of 3,249 meters (10,657 ft) in the Mantaro valley 300 km / 186 mi (5 h 30) east of Lima. Its main economic activity is agriculture (corn, potatoes, wheat and artichokes), trout farming and handicraft production. In the neighboring village of Conchas, artisans make mates burilados (carved pumpkins) sold in all markets in the country. The region has a dry and mild climate with big temperature differences between day and night. The Sunday market that takes place in the Huancavelica Avenue, exhibits a varied local crafts.
Train of the Andes
The Ferrocarril Central Andino connects Lima to Huancayo.
The trip of 346 km (215 mi) is made in 12 hours by one of the most impressive travel in the world, through 69 tunnels, 58 bridges and passing Ticlio, a mountain pass reaching 4,782 m (15,685 ft) above sea level.
It was the highest railway in the world until the construction in 2007 of the Qing Zang line in Tibet that reach to 5,068 meters (16,623 ft) asl.
From Huancayo, you can reach the city of Huancavelica by a more popular train called the "Tren Macho"... Because "departs when he want and arrives when he can" by the whims of its old locomotive.
Recently renovated, now seems to be more punctual. The trip of 128 km (80 mi) in 4 h 30 is every day and the scenery is beautiful.
Capital of the department of the same name, this beautiful colonial city of 174,000 inhabitants is located 558 km / 347 mi (9 hours) of Lima and enjoys a pleasant climate at 2,760 m (9,053 ft) above sea level.
Ayacucho is known as the City of Churches for its 33 churches. It is also the capital of Folk Arts and Handicrafts of Peru, famous for its altarpieces (retablos), white boxes with floral decorations and containing a multitude of small figures carved in wood.
In Ayacucho also made reddish colored ceramics depicting personages or churches, leather goods, alabaster sculptures a white stone call Huamanga and silver filigree jewelry.
Its carnival is one of the most famous in the country and Ayacucho is considered the second most important city in the world after Seville in Spain, for the celebration of Holy Week which takes place for 10 days.
Ayacucho handicraft is sold throughout the country and the other economic activity of the region is agriculture (potatoes, cocoa and coffee) and mining (mainly gold and silver).
You can appreciate the work and the workshops of artisans in the Santa Ana, Puca Cruz and Bethlehem.
Ayacucho is famous for its 33 churches. The most important are the beautiful Cathedral of the 17th century with a sober façade contrasts with its gilded baroque altarpieces and silver altar, the Santo Domingo Temple built in the 16th century and its golden altar, the San Francisco de Asis church and convent with engraved wooden altars, Santa Clara and the Compania de Jesús (Society of Jesus).
Ayacucho also has some architectural treasures with huge colonial houses like the Casona del Corregidor Nicolás de Boza y Solis mixed style of the 17th century and now the seat of the Prefecture, the Casona del Obispo Cristóbal de Zamora de Castilla y Zamora currently the Conference Center of an university and the Casona del Marqués de Mozobamba del Pozo, a mix of Inca walls and colonial style.
Sanctuary of Pampa de la Quinua
34 km / 21 mi (50 mn) from the city, is the Pampa of Quinoa where took place the battle of Ayacucho that ensured independence for America on December 9, 1824, considered the end of the Spanish American wars of independence.
A commemorative obelisk of 44 meters (144 ft) high was built here and in the village of Quinua we can visit the house where the Act of Capitulation was signed between Viceroy José de la Serna and General Antonio José de Sucre. Every year is celebrated here the Semana de la Libertad Americana (American Freedom Week) around December 9.
Archaeological complex of Wari
20 km (12 mi) of Ayacucho are the ruins of the capital Wari (600 to 1200 AD). It was a big city that housed 50,000 people. The waris ruled over an empire almost as big as the Inca empire.