North east of Lima lies the Cordillera Blanca, a section of the Andes with peaks higher than anywhere else on earth except the Himalayas. It’s high, rugged and beautiful with the occasional snow capped peak and hanging glacier. It took us two days of driving on winding mountain roads to reach the region and we spent a few days exploring a little. There is so much to do and see here that some hikers and mountaineers spend months.
Our first stop was the village of Chavin de Huantar. Reaching the valley where this village lies, you drive up over the mountain range to 4,200 before a rapid winding descent to 3,300m past landslides and many, many mountain villages. We visited the archaeological ruins of Chavin. Construction began here about 1200BC (3,000 years ago). This site had amazing stone tunnels and small rooms, some of which have been excavated. There is also significant art work in the form of stone carvings.
Along another valley, entering Parque Nacional Huascaran we encountered giant Bromeliads. The Puya raimondii is native to the high Andes regions of Bolivia and Peru. The photos tell the story of these, the world’s largest bromeliads.
As with almost everywhere else in Peru, especially in the mountains, there are people making a living from the land as they have done for centuries. In the mountain regions this varies from crops to tending small herds sheep and/or alpacas. We never tire of seeing how people live and work the land. The terraced mountains have been like this for centuries and people work hard in these regions, growing and harvesting then drying, preserving or transporting to market along the roughest of mountain tracks.
A highlight of the Parque Nacional Huascaran was Laguna Paron. The stunning turquoise lake sits at 4,000m. the drive to reach this lake was just 32km from our campsite and took 3 hours. The deeply potholed track from town took us past small farming blocks as it wound its way up to the mountains. Into a huge gorge with near vertical sides, the road clung to the edge and climbed higher past waterfalls and towering peaks. The gorge finally opened out we were rewarded with the spectacular lake view.
Worth it don’t you think?
It’s amazing to us that you can be just 9° south of the equator and yet be surrounded by snow and glaciers.
Its really hard to choose the photos for this blog, so here is another one!
So leaving the town of Caraz after 3 nights camping in what will possibly be our all time favourite campground in Peru and possibly South America, we drove north towards Trujillo on the coast, thinking that it would take a couple of hours – leaving us time to visit an archeological site.
Well that plan failed dismally as the road turned into Canyon de Pato. A little research might have prepared us for this specatuclar and at times scarey canyon drive. Scarey because of 20 or so tunnels we had to drive through (single lane, no lighting!) and the massive drop-offs over the edge, down to the river below. The drive took hours as we stopped over and over again to photograph rock walls, tunnels, cliffs and waterfalls.
Ok, just one more….