Huarez and the Cordilleras travel

Huarez and the Cordilleras


The beautiful peaks that surround the city Huarez have given the nickname “Switzerland of the South”. Situated in the Andean highlands, visiting Huarez and the Cordilleras is to take a step into a different world and a different time. Huarez is the capital of the Ancash region and the largest population centre in the Cajellon de Huayles. The Cajellon de Huayles is a 200km long river valley divided by the Rio Santa (Santa River). The valley is surrounded by two mountain ranges the Cordilleras Blanca (White Mountains) and Cordilleras Negra (Black Mountains).

The city of Huarez was devastated by an earthquake in 1970 and much of the old city was destroyed. Huarez was rebuilt but lost much of its ancient character. The surrounding towns and villages in the Cajellon de Huayles are noted for the Quecha speaking inhabitants and the maintenance of traditional cultural practices, dwellings and lifestyle in communities such as Recuay, Carhuaz, Caraz and Yungay. Visiting these communities gives a chance for travellers to understand the life of rural Peruvians and to experience modern Incan culture.

The Cajellon de Huayles is also home to Huascaran National Park situated on 6700 metre tall Mount Huascaran in the Cordilleras Blanca range. This 340 000 hectare park is an excellent place to experience outdoor sports. River rafting on the Rio Santa and climbing the Pastori snow field are popular activities here. There are over 33 pre-Incan archaeological sites that can be visited in the park. Huascaran National Par also has several features including glaciers, plateaus and lakes and a significant alpine ecosystem. It has been declared a Mankind Heritage Site by UNESCO.

The Chavin de Huantar, locally known as “El Castillo” (“The Castle”) is located about 46 kilometres outside of Huarez. The Chavin de Huantar was found by Peruvian archaeologist Julio Tello in 1919. Scholars estimated that the site was constructed in 327BCE and it is one of the earliest built stone structures in Peru.

The Chavin de Huantar is also the most significant remnant of the Chavin people, one of the earliest Andean civilizations. The site is composed was highly engineered and show advanced knowledge of hydrological engineering. Excavation has revealed that the Chavin people traded across a vast areas and the site included artefacts with origins as far away as Ecuador. The discovery of this site is comparable to the discovery of the Olmec people in Mexico. It is recommended that visitors take a full day to visit this site.

Date posted: 4th October, 2018

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