Mountain Biking

Huaraz: the adventure capital of the Andes


When you think of Peru, the first thing you think of is probably Machu Picchu, and rightly so as it is undoubtedly one of the most awesome (in the true sense of the word) sites built by human hands. But what you may not have heard about is the small town of Huaraz. Snuggled in the Andes in the middle of Peru, it’s the hub for adventure activities in this part of the world. I should know, whilst I was there I did most of them!

Mountain biking

Huaraz Mountain Biking

flickr image by Kong_

With some other backpackers I met in my hostel, we hired some mountain bikes, and took them on a bus up to the top of a nearby mountain. We spent the next few hours rallying down the rough road admiring the amazing views across the valley over to the snow capped peaks. There are various routes you can take, just ask your guest house or a local agency for advice.

Trekking

Cordillera Blanca

flickr image by tgraham

There are various different treks you can do here in the Cordillera Blanca. You can go on your own or, for the not-so-sure, you can hire a guide which is the easiest way as then you definitely won’t get lost! Plus you get all your equipment carried for you (on donkeys), all your food cooked for you and your camp all set up for you ahead of when you arrive shattered after the day’s trek.

The Santa Cruz trek that I did takes about three to four days depending on how fast a pace you set. You go through stunning scenery of wild cattle and horses, milky turquoise lakes, gentle pastures and beautiful snow capped mountains. The sky is so clear, you can see so many stars at night and the mountains glow almost fluorescent white. Sooo beautiful!

Rock climbing

Harder than it looks, Huaraz is a great place to try out climbing if you’ve never done so before. But MAN IT’S HARD!!! Your arms ache in places you never knew you had as you have to cling onto tiny cracks and crevices with your fingertips. Local guides cater for beginners and advanced climbers alike, so get your climbing shoes on and give it a go!

Ice climbing

Don some warm clothing and crampons, take an ice pick in each hand and get going! Don’t worry – with this and rock climbing, you’re all roped up so you won’t fall or rather if you do, you’re safe! Your guide will take you to a local glacier where you can start to practice your ice climbing skills for a fraction of the price you might be in other countries.

Partying!

In between the outdoorsy activities, Huaraz also has a small but lively night scene which centred for us on two places, the tiny but atmospheric Zero Drama bar, and the legendary Tambo nightclub. The music in the latter is a mix of the occasional Western track amongst lots of local salsa and merengue type stuff which requires everyone to dance mainly with a partner Latino-stylie! When in Rome.

Chilling

In between activities and partying, there is one great cafe not to be missed in Huaraz and that is Cafe Andino. Providers of great food, board games to help you while away the hours and stunning views of the snow covered mountains, Cafe Andino really has it all and is a fabulous place to kick back in at the end of a hard day’s “work”!

Huaraz in general

In total, I spent nearly 2 weeks in Huaraz! It was amazing and my favourite place in Peru by a mile. There is so much outdoor activity to do, coupled with nightlife and chill out stuff, I could easily have spent six months there, I didn’t want to leave!

If you go there, which I hope you do, I defy you not to feel the same…

Date posted: 25th May, 2011

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