Like I mentioned in my introduction, this lake is a 4 hour bus ride from Huaraz, so plan accordingly. Also, the tourism agency doesn't open until 0900, so try to gather your information on the bus schedules the day before lest you miss the bus you would like to take. The tour we took was scheduled to leave at 0900, but if you want to spend more than an hour or so at the lake - we were only allowed 30 minutes because the tour left late - then travel on your own.
You reach the Llanganuco Lake via bus by traveling up the mountain on a windy road. I don't have an accurate time of how long it would take to trek to the Lake from the bottom of the mountain, but I would guess a day.
However you get there, Llanganuco Lake is a beautiful place. It has boats you can take on the water, but I could easily pass an afternoon sitting on the grass with a picnic and enjoying the amazing scenery.
- Hiking and Walking
- Mountain Climbing
Moneumento Nacional Wilcahuain Ruin
This a Wari ruin that dates back to 1100 AD is an imitation of the temple at Chavin. It is not only interesting in itself but can be visited on a great acclimatization hike that leaves right from town.
- Hiking and Walking
Plaza de Armas
Though not particularly attractive compared to the main square of Cuzco, Lima or Arepquipa, this Plaza stands as a testament of the resiliency of the people of Huaraz. The town has been devasted by several earthquakes, the most recent one in 1970, that leveled nearly the entire city. Though perhaps a bit 70s in design, the Plaza as all those in the Latin American countries is a central area for meeting and relaxing.
Explore the Cordillera Blanca
Dramatic landscapes are the order of the day on any short drive or hike emanating from or around Huaraz. Some of the most spectacular views are found on the road to and at the Llanganuco Lakes, turquoise lakes hemmed in by some of the Cordillera Blanca’s ice-caps. The lakes are easily reached on day trips from Huaraz or via longer trekking routes.
- Hiking and Walking
Chavin de Huantar
Date: 29 Nov 2003
Interesting temple complex with a 4.5m monilith inside. One of the most interesting things for me was the water system which they think was used to make different sounds come from the temple. These water channels are hidden under the main square and have vents to let the noise through.
Huascaran National Park
Date: 2 Dec 2003
Climbed up to Churup at 4,450m with a local guide and a guy from the Huaraz university. Great views of the valley didn´t get to see the tops becuase of the cloud. Very much like NZ but very much higher :)
- Mountain Climbing
- Hiking and Walking
Caraz - Satisfy your sweet tooth here
This area is known for its sweets, and as the guide said, the women are sweet too, but you can only taste the food! The best part about this place is is the sweet and creamy dairy spread they make that is like nothing I've ever tasted. It's almost like caramel but not sticky and spreads like peanut butter. A must if you are in the area. You can sample the two flavors and buy a container to go for 5 soles. The women who sell the good stuff are widows whom the town rallied behind after their husbands died to help them with the business, and it is doing well. The Holstein cows in the mountains help, as they produce excellent milk. (Note my other tips about the delicious ice cream. :))
The town square is also a nice place to walk around as you take breaks between sampling the goodies in the area.
MOUNTAIN HIKES AND TOURS
Huaraz is a major tourist hub and it a prime destination for hikers and international climbers. There are many tourist agencies, especially along Av Luziriaga, where you can organise climbing treks, rent equipment, practise rock-climbing, etc...
I am not a climber, so I cannot give tips about climbing here.
But it is very easy to organise tours to the surrounding sights. There are 3 sights that seemed to be more promoted - Llanganuco, Chavin de Huatar and Pastoruri. If you can, go to these sights in this order as the altitude of these places increase progressively, so you will have a chance to acclimatise.
What I noticed is that all the tour agencies sell more or less the same tour packages (cheaper if you get all 3, that sort of thing). But on the day itself, everyone from various agencies seems to be bundled into standard buses and brought to the sights together. So, yep, you are all herded around like cattle, and told you have 20 minutes for this place and that. Note that during the holiday season, the tours are mainly taken up by Peruvians, so the tours are definitely conducted in Spanish. For English private tours, you may have to request for them and the prices will definitely soar.
I hate this sort of tour, but since I could not do the mountain hike by myself, this was my only chance to experience a bit of the Huaraz magic.
As an animal science major, one of my favorite parts was getting to see the farm animals in the area. Cows, pigs, chickens were very common, while fewer sheep, goats, and donkeys were around. And, like the rest of Peru, there were lots of dogs. I got very excited when I saw a Brown Swiss cow, as our common dairy breeds are Holstein and Jersey. This was very fitting, as Huaraz is known as the Peruvian Switzerland and Brown Swiss are of course from Switzerland.
The people in the mountains are poorer than the surrounding areas, but they work extremely hard working the land to clothe and feed their families.
Some other animal pictures are in the travelogue Leaving Chimbote.
DO IT WITH ANDEAN KINGDOM
If you go to Huaraz you can't miss ANDEAN KINGDOM, you have to go there, they gine you free maps and information they have very beautifull and amazing trekkings with a very good service, also there you can do mountain, you don?t have to have experience, I went to 2 mountains there, it was amazing, all the equipment provided by Andean Kingdom, a very good equipment...
and also you have a lot of things to do in Huaraz and I tell you people... do it eith Andean Kingdom
- Hiking and Walking
- Mountain Climbing
In 1970, the worst natural disaster in Peru's history happened here. There was an earthquake, followed by an avalanche from Huascaran. There used to be a town here called Yungay. But after the earthquake and the avalanche, in 3 minutes, the town ceased to exist. 25,000 people died. Yungay was reconstructed elsewhere but here in Campo Santo, was the exact spot where it all happened.
There is a little conical hill which was then a cemetery. As it was a high point, many people scrambled towards it and 92 made it there. Now, there are reconstruction of an arch and a huge cross to represent the bodies of the disappeareds who had been buried underneath the massive rubble all over town.
The other group of survivors were children from a school that happened to be located near a mountain away from the path of destruction. These 300 small children were put up for adoption all over the country later.
In the distance, there is a facade of a cathedral which is a reconstruction of the cathedral that had once stood there. When the avalanche came, the cathedral was still holding on. In fact, 4 palm trees from that time were still standing (although 3 of them are dead now) as they were protected by the cathedral and the avalanche passed right around them. Many people, upon seeing the impressive cathedral, ran INTO the cathedral to hide there. One young man tried to enter but it was full and the doors closed on him. So, he had to run up to a mountain nearby. In fact, this saved his life as he lived to tell the tale.
What happened later was that after the avalanche came a series of gigantic rocks and one massive rock hit the cathedral and utterly destroyed it. The cathedral collapsed like a pack of cards. And days and weeks after, during the excavation, they found there were many spaces around the collapsed structure. Hence, the people inside were not crushed to death, they died of asphyxiation because they could not escape. Gosh!
Meanwhile, the massive rock is still standing where it had rolled to. It is huge!
We reached the starting point of Pastoruri at around 1pm. We were told that we were now standing at an altitude of 5,000+m. There is a path of 2km that we had to walk to reach the glacier. I had bought some coca leaves and popped a small load in, and at the advice of the guide and the driver, I walked really slowly.
I did not know how but some of the teenagers were already well ahead. Meanwhile, there were others who had turned blue and breathless, and had taken a rest by the side benches. A handful more had thrown up and returned to the buses to die. One could ride horses to the 1km mark, but after that, you still have to walk up the remaining 1km to reach the glacier. I plodded on slowly, breathing hard, but not stopping once. It started to snow. This is perhaps my fourth time to see falling snow. Yeah! Meanwhile, I chewed and sucked the coca leaves.
After crossing the 1km mark, I gave myself a little pat on the back and pressed on. There were Peruvians who came up to ask me if I wanted to be carried to the terminal front of the glacier. What?? I could not believe my ears! You mean there are people who pay to be carried on the back? Sheesh… no, gracias.
After nearly 1 hour, I finally finally finally managed to reach out and touch the damn glacier!! Yes, I did it. I am now at 5,400m!! Gosh, this is the highest I have ever been in my entire life!!!! And yes, I have made it! Never once did I think I would not be able to do it. It is all in the mind, you CAN do it!
I tried to walk on the glacier but it was too slippery for me and after 5 or 10 minutes, I spat out the coca leaves, chewed new ones and began the easier hike back.
CHAVIN DE HUANTAR
Chavín de Huantar is an archaeological site built around 800 BC. It is the only large complex of ruins remaining of the Chavin culture. The site is located at an elevation of 3150 meters, between the Andean mountain ranges of the Cordillera Negra and the Cordillera Blanca.
The city's location at the head waters of the Marañón River, between the coast and the jungle, is very centralised and hence, became an influential spot with strong interchangees of ideas and material goods.
At its peak, the Chavin culture influenced the other cultures in the northern region like the Cajamarca culture and the Ica and Nazca cultures in the southern region. There are many tunnels and culverts which form a labyrinth underground which channelled water from nearby rivers. However, due to earthquakes, water is no longer running in these tunnels.
I recalled that the Cajamarca culture in Cumbe Mayo and the Nazca culture both had excellent irrigation canals. I can imagine that they had shared the same influence from Chavin.
There are a series of tunnels made by massive rocks. There are obelisks and stone monuments with relief carvings depicting jaguars, caymans, and various other anthropomorphic forms. Inside a narrow criss-cross passageway, stands the famous sculpture of the Lanzón, which is assumed to be a supreme deity of Chavin de Huantar. There are also numerous carvings of heads of animals sticking out of walls.
Chavín de Huantar has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. But the best Chavín reliefs from this site are displayed in the Museo de la Nación in Lima.
visit national park huascaran
ational Park Huascaran, considered the highest snow-capped mountain of Peru. It is located at 22 kilometers from Huaraz and it has an altitude of 6.768 m.a.s.l., in an area of 340.00 hectares. This park has a varied flora and fauna.
The Huascaran Park was declared Natural Patrimony of Humanity by the UNESCO in 1985. It is characterized by its famous lagoons of intense colors; some of which are: Paron Lagoon, Llanganuco, Laca, Querococha.
visit llaganuco lagoon
Llanganuco: 3,800 m.a.s.l (12,464 f.) - 25 Km (16 miles) northeast of Yungay (45 minutes by car)
The lakes, Chinancocha and Orconcocha, are situated within the Huascaran National Park and are fed by the melting snows of mounts Huascaran, Huandoy, Pisco, Yanapaccha, and Chopicalqui. The Chinancocha Lake or “female lake” is practically at the foot of Mount Huascaran, and it is characterize by the intense green turquoise color of its waters and the thick queñua forests that grow on its shores. The other smaller lake, called Orconcocha or “male lake”, is located at the end of the glacier valley, and its waters are light blue.