The department of Ancash, capital Huaraz, is located 408 km (254 mi) from Lima, 335 km (208 mi) from Trujillo and 636 km (395 mi) from Cajamarca on the Peruvian coast. Here you will find a wide array of tourist attractions and activities, especially outdoor sports and trekking. You will also find remains of the ancient Chavín culture in Ancash.
The Cordillera Blanca mountain range, the highest in the Andes, offers a range of treks and day-trips. The area is filled with lakes, lagunas and thermal baths, attracting tourists from all areas.
The Valley of Callejon de Huaylas is one of the best places in South America to enjoy superb mountain scenery and plenty of outdoor activities such as trekking, mountain climbing, mountain biking, skiing and rafting. It’s also a great place for the less adventurous who enjoy going for day walks and exploring the villages and their lively markets.
The 40 km wide valley runs north-south for nearly 200 km between the snow-capped mountains of the Cordillera Blanca (White Mountains) to the east and the Cordillera Negra (Black Mountains) to the west.
The main destination for visitors to the Callejon de Huaylas is the city of Huaraz, about 8 hours by bus from Lima. The setting of the city, at the foot of the Cordillera Blanca, is spectacular. You can see over 20 snow-capped peaks over 5000 meters, of which the most notable is Huascaran (6,768m), the highest mountain in Peru.
The first thing that strikes you on arrival in Huaraz is that it cannot exactly be called a pretty place, with most of the buildings built from concrete. This is because the town was completely rebuilt following a catastrophic earthquake in 1970 which flattened all but one street of buildings and killed half of the city’s population.
However, Huaraz can provide all the facilities and infrastructure required by tourism. There are numerous hotels and hostals of varying kinds.
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Tour Itineraries around Huaraz
These dazzling glacier-fed emerald green lakes lie about 50 km north of Huaraz. From the lakes you’ll get incredible views of the beautiful peaks of the Cordillera Blanca including Chopicalqui (6,354m), Huandoy (6,395m) and the twin peaks of Huascaran (6,768m and 6,655m). It can be the destination for a half day to a full day tour, depending on the activities planned for that day.
Pastoruri Glacier and Puya Raimondii plants.
This day tour offers a great opportunity to visit and walk on a glacier. The glacier is fairly flat and you don’t need any special equipment but, at 5240m in altitude, you need to be well acclimatized before going The trek up to the glacier takes about 45 minutes, although horses and mules are usually available to help the weary.
This trip is usually combined with a visit to the valley of Pachacoto, 57km to the south of Huaraz, where you can see the Puya de Raimondii plants. These strange plants, looking more like mutated cacti, are actually the largest member of the bromeliad family (relative of the pineapple). This species is considered to be one of the oldest in the world, and can be found in only a few isolated areas of the Andes.
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CHAVIN DE HUANTAR
The ruins of Chavin de Huantar are located to the east of the Cordillera Blanca, about 110km from Huaraz, and at an altitude of 3250m. This fortress-temple was constructed between 1200 and 300 BC and is the only large structure remaining from the Chavin culture. It is thought to have been a major ceremonial centre. In 1985 UNESCO designated it a World Heritage Trust Site. Most visitors come here on a day trip from Huaraz. It is a long 4-hour drive along a largely unpaved twisting road, but things should improve in the near future when the road is fully paved cutting the journey time in half.
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