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  Peru: Destinations : Sierra

Callejon de Huaylas y Chavin de Huantar

Chavin de Huantar

The natural beauty of Callejón de Huaylas lies in the paradisical qualities of its landscape located in the central section of an Andean valley formed by the Santa river, pinned between the Cordillera Blanca and Cordillera Negra (White and Black mountain ranges). The area possesses an excellent climate all year long with temperatures between 12° and 26°Celsius (53°-78°Fahrenheit) and has a number of attractions that testify to the existence of some amazing civilizations thousands of years old, dsitinguished among them is the Chavin culture.  

The landscape of the Cordillera Blanca (White mountain range), with snow-capped mountains and 650 turquoise lagoons, is within walking distance of the valleys, and a little further down, close to the river, are the Andean towns and villages of farmers and shepherds; making this a truly unique site.

The Santa Valley, in the center of the surrounding mountains, has an elevation averaging 3,000 meters (9,900 ft) above sea level and the water current flows from south to north. The land is very rich for agriculture, and there are currently vast fields of flowers that are exported, and they leave a sweet smelling aroma and decorate the valley with an assortment of beautiful colors. 
In the Cordillera Blanca you can find the highest peak in Peru. El Huascaran stands 6,746 meters (22,262 ft) above sea level, but of all the peaks, El Alpamayo is considered the most beautiful in the world for its nearly perfect pyramidal form.

The most important lagoons are: Canrash, Ventanilla, Pagarisha, Sacracocha, Huascacocha, Yanallullimpa, Huacuyacocha, Huachococha, Purhuay, Librón and Huamanripa.

For all those who want to mountain climb and take part in extreme sports, they can look to an immense number of possibilities at Callejon de Huaylas to find the biggest and best challenges. In this area one can take part in mountaineering (mostly in the White Mountain Range), hiking (around the perimeter of Llanganuco, Caraz, Cordillera Huayhuash, among others), rafting (Santa River), snow boarding (Pastoruri peak), hang-gliding and para-gliding, mountain biking, and rock-climbing. (Monterrey).

We recommend hiking across the White Mountain Range and finishing in Chavin de Huantar, accompanied by llamas and their shepherds.

The minimum recommended time to see the area is three days in order to also see the National Park of Huascaran, the villages of Callejon de Huaylas and their native people who possess a rich folkloric culture and who live among beautiful verdant fields of multicolored flowers and eucalyptus forests that perfume the air. For only $5, it's possible to eat a typical regional meal such as the "Pecan caldo" (spicy soup) and stuffed tamales with the "cuy", or guinea pig meat.

The archaeological attraction of Chavin de Huantar in Huari, is another appeal of this region of Peru, because even today it provokes one to marvel at its puristic style and terrifying appearance of figures that are unsurpassed by any other South American culture. The temple is constructed on superimposed levels of platforms with huge stone block walls meticulously placed on top. Frightening fixtures emerge from the stone walls in the form of half-human, half-feline heads with large teeth and protruding eyes; the cornice or trim is decorated with stylized mythological beings. The base, formed by two rows of large, perfectly engraved stones and a staircase of granite blocks, is also adorned with two cylindrical columns decorated like the trim.

It is most impressive to observe in the interior of the temple- also called the most ancient stone building- the main god of this Pantheistic religion. It is made of a granite stone in the form of a knife that is 4.5 meters (15 ft) tall, whose tip you will find firmly fixed into the ground and the handle of the knife reaching toward the ceiling. There are two etched faces on either side that project from the surface, and represent a malicious genius with an enormous feline head, and hair represented by stone snakes.

On the upper part of the handle, you can notice a receptacle from which a canal descends into the mouth of the feline that, according to archaeologists dedicated to Chavin studies, was used in human sacrificial ceremonies where blood would flow into the mouth of the feline.

The majority of the tours offer promotions that include excursions to Casma Sechin, a palace temple of stone and clay with 300 stone sculptures and a museum with an assortment of exhibits, and tours to Yungay, a place where you can find the "Campo Santo" or the cemetery of the lost city, known by the same name.


Northern Andes

When to go
Ecotourism, culture.
How to get there
By bus, car, or train.
Walking/hiking, observing, extreme sports
In Huaraz: accommodation, tours, transportation, food.

Callejon de Huaylas


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