1. Mountain recreation. Round these parts, playing in the out of doors is likely to involve mountain sports and activities. By any measure, it’s a mountain sport paradise. Rock climbing, mountain climbing, mountain biking and downhill, trail running, hiking, high altitude birding and photography. Paradise.
2. Cultural richness. Cliché perhaps, but who cares? (I’m writing this for free). There are many things to be seen, and amazing people to meet in the Callejon de Huaylas and Callejon de Conchukos. Do some readings, perhaps some asking around, and let your curiosity be your inspiration. Want to bake bread in a wood fired oven? Do you want to visit and learn about pre Incan ruins? Maybe you are interested in water management issues, and want to get the skinny on how water is used and managed locally? Would you like to work with some local kids of limited resources? Study Quechua? All of these things can be a nice one-day activity or more – they are all available to you and terms are negotiable.
3. Non Profits. There’s a lot of selfless volunteering happening here. Locals and expats from all over the world have formed or joined N.G.O.s dedicated to, among other things:
– The betterment of children’s lives by improved access to healthcare, nutrition, education, empowerment and self reliance.
-Sustainable tourism; meaning that locals are involved in creating, marketing and sharing in the proceeds of the “tourist products” they offer.
-The growing and marketing of organic food. From education of practicalities to physical labor, volunteers and international technicians are raising local standards and food quality for everyone.
4. Our electricity here in the valley is fully hydroelectric, thanks to Rio Santa!
5. Peru is the #1 producer of organic coffee on the planet. Peruvian coffee makes you more charming that you already are!
6. Chocho, the ceviche of the sierra! So good
7. Bike friendly distances, good local bike mechanics, and plenty of places to ride. Watch out for the doggies!
8. Small, family-owned businesses rule the Huaraz area.
9. Bob Dylan’s birthday is celebrated here in Huaraz, and it’s a serious hootenanny.
10. Cheap and comfortable night busses to the City of Kings, if you need a little whiff of big city smells. Perhaps a good sushi dinner, movie in a real theatre, or a bookstore. Maybe you want to buy some polyurethane, curry paste, or a posh mattress?
11. There is a vibrant community of adventurous souls that call Huaraz home. This is a place that tends to attract interesting people of all stripes. You want the inside scoop? Ask a local
12. Good locally made ice cream. Really good.
13. Cheap strong sandals made out of tires. They can get stinky, but hey, you can’t beat the price.
14. Handmade gloves, scarves, and hats sold from the sidewalk any time of the year. People aren’t wearing enough hats – don’t you agree?
15. Flowers are plentiful and very inexpensive, and like almost all things they’re local.
16. Urban fish farming. You are very welcome to visit the trout farm up on the high end of Av. Antonio Raimondi. You can even buy a little bag of food and make ‘em go crazy in a feeding frenzy. Cheap fun.
17. One central market area that has many hundreds of smallish, independent vendors selling every thing and service you could want.
18. Diverse and vibrant Expat community.
19. Drunken festivals in the streets. Watch out for the puddles – it isn’t rainwater.
20. Excellent climate year-round. We have 364 days of sun every year. Well, maybe 363. Um, at least some sun every morning. OK – so we have a rainy season. A lot of places do, it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Get out there and get at it. Bring sunscreen and raingear just to be sure.
21. Every Sunday there’s a local food fair on Jr. Jose Olaya, one of the few local streets that remain much as it’s always been, despite multiple natural disasters that have destroyed most all other parts of town through the years. Desperate to try cuy, olluco, choclo con queso, chocho y kushuru? Remember – every Sunday it’s on.
22. Huaraz has two different microbrew/craft beer operations. What? It’s true! We’re talking real beer made by real people that you can actually talk to. No other place in Peru of any size can claim this fact (it’s believed at time of writing) and even if they could, our beer is better!
23. There is an amazing lending library here in Huaraz, the Adam C. Kolff memorial library. Adam, and his parents, spent considerable time in this area doing some amazing work with the Mountain Institute. Adam was an early advocate for the Cordillera Huayhuash, and turned many people on to the area – including this writer. In his memory, there is a nice book lending library with a lot of great titles. It’s located in the 3rd best café in Huaraz. Books, and reading, are positive forces in the universe.
24. In many restaurants in Huaraz, a set lunch “menu” can cost about 5 soles. A very good deal.
25. There are highly skilled mountain workers available locally to help you achieve your goals in the hills, should they be needed. Mountain and trekking Guides, Porters, Cooks, and Arrieros. Professional, experienced, and usually a lot stronger than you. While visitors often come from areas where they “do it themselves”, here you can hire good people to do it for you, and animals to carry the load. Think about it. Also be aware that folks offering their services outside of bus terminals and on the street are probably not worth their weight in poo.
26. As awesome as Huaraz is, you may want to get out of town and stay in one of the excellent mountain lodges this area has on offer. They’re located steps away from national park limits, and you can count on peace and quiet, amazing views, and acclimatization that you can’t get in town. Tempted?
27. The Huaraz Map Guide – it’s free, and contains very few spelling mistakes.
By: Chris Benway.