(3,400 meters) This interesting town displays its traditional architecture with narrow streets. It is an important AGRICULTURAL AND CATTLE-RAISING CENTER.
(3,090 meters) Capital of the Department of Ancash. It is the main city in the Callejón de Huaylas with a population of over 100,000. Most public and private offices are located here. Huaraz is the center for high-altitude sports and outdoor activities. Popular due to its geographic location and logistical resources, it is used as the base for many expeditions into the surrounding Cordillera Blanca and Cordillera Negra. The city is roughly 400 km north of Lima, about seven hours by bus.
(2,650 meters) This is a popular and friendly city, starting point of the route into the beautiful Ulta Valley that crosses the Cordillera Blanca via Punta Olímpica (4950 meters). On the eastern side of the mountains, lie the towns of the Conchucos, including Chacas, San Luis, Huari, San Marcos and Chavín de Huántar to the south and Piscobamba and Pomabamba to the north.
(2,537 meters) The old city was completely destroyed by an earthquake and enormous rock and mud avalanche on May 31, 1970. From the new city, one can see the full majesty of Mt. Huascarán, the highest peak in the Peruvian Andes at 6768 meters. Yungay offers road access to the beautiful Llanganuco lakes.
(2,256 meters) This friendly, warm city still maintains its traditional urban characteristics. Caraz is the starting point to get to Lake Parón, Cashapampa, the famous walk through the Santa Cruz Valley and the Cedros Valley, including the glorious Mt. Alpamayo, known as the most beautiful mountain in the world.
The Highest Transandean Tunnel of All
Heading north from Huaraz, we travel down valley until we come to Carhuaz, where we turn off to take the paved road which goes eastward up the gorgeous Ulta Canyon. Its meadows are carpeted in wildflowers and are surrounded by huge mtn.´s, combining to create a scene of indescribable beauty. Leaving the valley floor, we zigzag up to the tunnels entrance from where Natures splendor can be fully appreciated. To one side the mtn.´s viewed here include the west faces of Huascaran, Chopicalqui, and Chacraraju; and to the other, Chequiaraju and Ulta complete this unforgettable vista.
Up until quite recently crossing this part of the mtn. range required going over the Punta Olimpica pass. Now the new tunnel provides paved access. Exiting the tunnel reveals impressive views of the eastern side of the range. It seems like you could reach out and touch Mt. Contrahierbas. While descending to the picturesque village of Chacas, lakes of a variety of amazing colors are seen. The Andalusian architectural style has to this day remained intact in Chacas; typified by its narrow streets, balconies, and tile roofs. Chacas is known for its artisans who do fine woodworking, and for their stained glass creations that can be seen in the Baroque style church. In the lower part of this church, there is a museum that houses a varied collection of sculpted stoneworks. The Sanctuary of The Lord of Pomallucay is 40 min.´s away from Chacas. It provides a glimpse of the genuine art endemic to the Andes.
Like most mountain villages, the temp.´s in Chacas vary greatly from hot to cold depending on the season, and /or the time of day. Basic accomadations and restaurants can be found in Chacas.
The Missing Link
Huari is a relatively unknown destination among the tourist circuits of the region. However, the famous archeological monument of Chavin (see pages 15 and 16) lies within its boundaries.
While in Huari, you shouldn´t miss visiting beautiful Lake Purhuay (3150 meters), which boasts camping and picnic facilities. Another ¨must see¨ is the Maria Jiray waterfall. This 300 meter cascade is veiled in a multichromatic mist.
From Huaraz there are 2 ways to go to Huari. The first is Huaraz-Carhuaz-Chacas-San Luis, and the other is Huaraz-Catac-Chavin-San Marcos.
Huari has basic lodging and dining options. One culinary standout is the trout and trimmings platter prepared in the Acopalca vicinity near the turn off for Lake Purhuay.
Chavin archeological museum is located in the town of Chavin, 1 km from the archaeological site and has one of the largest collections of rock carvings. It was built with help from the Japanese government and has 14 exhibition rooms which shows the stages of the Chavin Culture.
Summit to Sea
Taking a paved road from Huaraz you first come to a panoramic viewpoint with spectacular vistas of the Cordillera Blanca called Punta Callan. From this high point of 4225 meters you will descend curve after curve before the terrain levels out to bring us to to the coastal city of Casma. This tour spans 147 km.´s and takes almost 3 hours by car. The agreeable coastal desert temp.´s of Casma range between 26°(79°F) in winter, up to 32°(90°F) in summer. Among the most popular beaches are Las Gramitas and Las Aldeas (noted for its privacy,tranquility, and fine white sands), as well as the turquoise waters of Punta Huaro, and the gentle bathing area of Tortugas which is suitable for a variety of water sports.
Casma is not only known for its beaches, but also for its archeological sites of great interest which play an important part in our history, such as Sechin. This site is dated at 3700ac and stands out for its stone sculptures, which include representations of severed heads and mutilated corpses with exposed intestines, that portray the ecstasy, the euphoria, and the pain of human existence. Sechin has an on site museum named for the researcher Max Uhle. Another equally important and interesting nearby ruin is Chanquillo, which features the most ancient Solar Observatory in the world. On a hill above its temple, 13 towers were aligned, probably to function as a solar and lunar calendar.
Casma has quality lodging options, and restaurants with a variety of tasty delicacies to make your stay more pleasurable.