Enjoy the majesty surrounding Huaraz
While the city of Huraz is an interesting and truly authentic Peruvian town, it is the surrounding nature that must be explored to truly apprieciate the area. Preparing for the Santa Cruz trek was no easy feat. I had done numerous backpacking trips but it had been a couple years since my last one and none of them were at the altitude of the Cordillera Blanca. Okay, I had done a nineteen-day trek in the Himalayas, which dwarf this range, but it was with the aide of a porter so I carried only a small pack. Doreen had no previous backpacking experience. She had done some day hikes but even that was fairly long ago in her past. So, this would be a real test. It would span five days and generally keep us above 3800 meters and peak out at 4750 meters. We would have to carry all of our own equipment, clothes and food.
The summer prior to leaving for Peru, we trained a good two hours or more a day in the gym. We felt pretty good flying into Lima but once in Huaraz, it was another story. It was a hilly town and at 3200 meters a great place to acclimatize. The first couple days, it seemed enough to just walk around town. With our hostel up a steep hill, we saw that we were not in as good a shape as we thought but with each trip that we got stronger. It was time to up the ante a bit and we did a walk up to the cemetery and a longer one to some ruins. Though they were tiring we passed with flying colors. A new found friend at the hostel suggested a great day hike to Laguna Churup and said he’d even go with us as a guide and split the somewhat expensive taxi needed to complete the trip in one day. We jumped at the chance. He explained it was pretty straightforward though there was a bit of scrambling in the last part to reach the lake. It sounded like a good challenge and we looked forward to it with great anticipation the night before our departure. (read conclusion below in next Fondest Memory)
Biking in real Mountains "The Peruvian Andes"
It is fenomenal! ride through real mountain terrain with "riachuelos" , pigs on your way , gravel, dirt roads , valley, river beds, mountain view, high peaks, green planes and much more.......
El pasaje es fenomenal, manejar atravez de montanas reales con riachuelos, cerdos en tu camino, piedrillas, camino rural, valles, cuna de rios, vistas de montanas, picos elevados, verdes llanos y mucho mas..... mountain bike, although the locals drive with any 2 wheel bike. you can rent the bike at Monttrek tour agency.
sunscreen if you dont want to get burned even if you are near the snow crested mountains
The bike rental was $15 per day includes the safety gear, a custom trip route or map , and the bike repair kit.
Santa Cruz Trek: the Big Overpass
The third day we took the challenge of crossing the highest overpass of the trek. It took us about 1 and 1/2 hour to reach the top at 4700 meters above sea level. At the top, the view of both valleys was breathtaking. There were even more snowy peaks then at the camp since we got to see both sides.
make a mountain trip over to chavin
make a trip over 5000 meters altitude to archeological site of Chavin, located at 109 kilometers from Huaraz in the county of Huari. Also known as "El Castillo de Chavin de Huantar", it was one of the main religious centers of the west hemisfery.
We traveled to Huaraz to spend time at the lake pictured above and to be able to visit ruins. My time in Peru was limited to two weeks, as I went during a break between semesters in school, and over half of that was spent meeting and staying with Luis's family. After a brief fever caused us to delay the trip to Huaraz another night, we only had one full day in Hurauz - so we barely got to scratch the surface of this beautiful valley town located between the white (snow-capped) and black ranges of the Andes.
I would recommend planning at least a week in Huaraz so you can experience the town as well as enjoy the surrounding beauty. The town has wonderful local flavor, people, and customs, as it hasn't become a tourist hot spot. I wish I could have done a trek in the mountains and made it to the ruins. We didn't realize until we got there how far away both the lake and the pre-Incan ruins were: the lake was a 4 hour bus ride and the ruins was a 3 hour bus ride - in opposite directions. So we had to choose one trip, and the ruins won. How often do you get to see ruins from a civilization older than the Incas? We don't even learn that far back in school!
We arrived in Huaraz at night after the tourism agency closed, so we couldn't make any plans until the next morning at 0900 when they opened and we could find out when the buses left for the ruins. Unfortunately, they only left at 0800 and 1400, so we had missed the only bus our schedule would have allowed us to take by an hour. We started walking around, trying to figure out how we could get to the lake and back, when a man approached us about a tour. By this time it was 1015 and we were getting frustrated, so imagine our excitement when he was telling us about a bus tour that went to the lake and got you back to town by 1900. Luis hates tours because of how rushed they can be, but we were running out of options and actually needed something a little rushed. The bus was supposed to leave at 0900, but lucky for us, it was running over an hour late and we were able to get the last two seats!! The tour was in Spanish, but Luis was kind enough to translate it all for me. By the end of the day, we were able to see way more than we would have managed on our own. It was the way to go in a time crunch, but I would love to return and explore the area at a slower pace.