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  Peru: Destinations : Sierra

Huancayo-Mantaro Valley

Mantaro Valley

Huancayo, capital of the Junin Region, is found in the beautiful and fertile Mantaro Valley, 3,271 meters (10,728 ft) above sea level. The valley is the main commercial center of the southern sierra of Peru. All of the towns of the valley produce their own food and pursue their trade, principally as artisans, and they celebrate the typical festivals of the year. During the Huancayo anniversary festival, which happens in November, people from all parts of Peru attend to exhibit their typical foods, crafts, dances and music. The city market offers a mini version of this each Sunday. Also, you can visit the witch market which contains a series of natural medicines and mystical services to satisfy all tastes. 

Make a point to visit the Salesiano School Museum (el museo del Colegio Salesiano), which has more than 5,000 collection pieces including; birds of the jungle, butterflies, insects, reptiles and fossils. Also, you can visit the Wanka Identity Park in the San Carlos district, a fascinating mix of surreal constructions united with indigenous plants and trees, demonstrating the cultural history of the Mantaro. 

All of the Mantaro Valley is rich in culture. You can visit Torre-Torre, next to the Libertad Hill. You can also see the Warivilca ruins 15 kilometers (9.3 mi) from Wari, with it's traces of pre-Inca temples of the Huanca tribe. Between Pilcomayo and Huayo (also 15 kilometers) you can find the Geophysical Institute of Huayo; there it is called "Magnetic Equator" for it's proximity to the mountains which provokes a center of magnetic waves due to the high altitude.

Found to the east of the Mantaro River are the towns of Cochas Chico, Cochas Grande, Hualahoyo, San Agustín Cajas, San Pedro, Hualhuas, San Jerónimo and others. All of these towns are worth visiting for their landscapes, typical foods, alpaca fabrics and many other reasons. With temperatures averaging between 12° and 16°Celsius (53.6° and 60.8°F), the region's tours last approximately 4 days. 

It is necessary to know that the Junin region is the stage for the Peruvian Andes and has a tradition that dates back to the pre-Inca era. It was inhabited by pre-ceramic hunters, like the Pumpus and Tarumas in the Mantaro Valley and in Jauja, where another famous tribe lived "los Wankas". 

Approximately15 thousand years ago, this region was filled with societies of hunters, collectors, and fishermen. They inhabited the caves and rocky places where they left behind lithic instruments and rupestrian paintings, that we still observe today, as a witness to their existence. In Callavallauri, close to Huancayo, they have found arrows, knives and stone scrapers that, according to the archeologist  Hans Horkheimer, belong to a slightly advanced paleolithic period.
These ancient humans, during their evolution process, domesticated Camelidae (camel family) in the high and low regions of valleys and gorges. They discovered farming and shepherding, activities that are still maintained in the area.
Long before the Incan era, this region was inhabited by the "Pumpus", semi-savage and wild people that quite possibly arrived from the jungle in search of salt.
3,000 years ago, the horticultural villages in the Mantaro Valley encouraged agriculture and were visited by other small populations like the "Chavines" from the north, the "Nazca" from the central coast, and the "Tiahuanaco" from the Peruvian-Bolivian high plateau. In Ataura (Jauja), Pirwapuquio (Chongos Bajo) and Wari Willka (Huancán-Huancayo) you can still observe remains that testify to the trails left behind by these societies. The flatlands of Junín were known as the region of the "Pumpus". They obtained nourishment from roots, herbs, and other products from the ground. They sustained a bloody rivalry with the "Tarumas", which lasted until the arrival of the Incas.
Like in the pre-Incan period, at the turn of the year 1000 A.D., the "Wankas", ancient population of the Valley, consolidated their cultural personality. Quarrels with other populations increased as each wanted to obtain control of the land within the valley. Among them were the Yauyos of the Cañete river, the Wancho of Rímac, the Collique of Chillón, the Asto de Huancavelica, the Chancas of Apurímac and Ayacucho. This is why today there is still so much cultural and archaeological richness, and the valley is visited by around 50,000 tourists each year, according to data from Peru's Secretary of Tourism.

southern Sierra of Perú.
When to go
Between May and September.
Archaeological, ecological, and cultural.
How to get there
By bus, car or train (Ferrocarril Central Andino).
Hiking, observation.
In the region.




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