Huaraz

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Huaraz is a large town in the Cordillera Blanca region of Peru's Central Sierra.

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Points of Interest in Huaraz

  • Movies. Those travellers hankering for a new release in a movie theater will be disappointed to learn that there is no movie theater in Huaraz. Approximately a decade ago there was a functioning theater but it shut down due to low profits. There is sometimes the possibility to watch movies at Mi Chef Kristof where Huaraz Satyricon shows movies (often new releases) on their large 5 foot screen in the cafe, for 5 soles. Free popcorn is included with the price of admission. Huaraz Satyricon also screens the mountaineering classic "Touching the Void" (which was partially shot in the Cordillera Blanca, and dramatizes a now-legendary mountaineering trip).
  • Archeological Sites. Within walking distance of Huaraz is the Wari ruin of Wilcawain. Monumento Nacional Wilcahuaín is a small Wari tuin that dates bakes to 600 to 900 AD. This temple complex is virtually undamaged, providing a unique opportunity to see a complete pre-Columbian building in Peru. It is an imitation of the temple at Chavín, in the Tiahuanaco style. Wilcahuaín means 'grandson's house' in Quechua. The ruin was originally filled with mummies who were kept dry by using a sophisticated ventilation system. It is not only interesting in itself but can be visited on a great acclimatization hike that leaves right from town. It is easiest to take a combi there (uphill) and walk back via an old Incan trail (approximately 2 hours).

Huaraz is also the departure point for tours to see Chavín de Huántar, the center of a cultural and artistic revolution in Peru that took place between 600 and 300 B.C.E. Museums in Huaraz contain many fine examples of Chavin sculpture and older Cupinisque pottery.

  • Puya Raimondi. Puya Raimondi are the biggest pinapple plants of the world. They bloom with 50-75 years once for 9 months with 8.000-10.000 niches and a flower altitude of up to 10m higth, then they die. They grow between 3500 and 4700m altitude.
  • The Museo Regional de Ancash, The Museo Regional de Ancash houses the largest collection of ancient stone sculptures in South America. It gives information about all the cultures that have inhabited the Cordillera Blanca region. It is small but interesting, it has a few mummies, some trepanned skulls (an ancient form of surgery involving cutting into the skull) and a garden of stone monoliths from the Recuay culture (400 BC to AD 600) and the Wari culture (AD 600 to 1000). A pottery collection, textiles, and metal works cover the Wari, Chimú, and Inca cultures.

Huaraz Plaza de Armas

Huaraz Cathedral

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About Huaraz

Background

Huaraz stands tall at 3100m; travellers from Lima might need a day or two to acclimatize to the change in atmosphere. See Altitude sickness for advice and more information.

July is a good time to visit the region; the temperature is perfect for walking and the sky is free from clouds / rain. It's also a good time as the July period has many of Peru's annual event celebration dates. The town puts on a tremendous night of entertainment each year for most of the days, featuring live music and more. Well worth a look if you are in the region.

A town of 100,000, it blends a mix of modern and native culture. The town has many markets and shops catering to tourist needs and local needs. The food markets are especially interesting and are a great starting point for getting supplies for expeditions. Be sure to shop about before purchasing/hiring (especially for mountaineering gear) as often a better price can be found elsewhere with a bit of bargaining.

The town has many places offering cheap internet access; although a bit slow, the connection is usually reliable. The town has a big post office and a few banks. Huaraz also has a mix of old and new restaurants offering a variety of dishes. Cuy (guinea pig) is a regional dish; perhaps something to say one has tried but not something to make a diet of! There are a few night clubs and many bars open late. Common sense would advise people not to travel alone at night, but one feels safe in the city where the locals were very willing to help out where possible. Like many places in Peru, it's not wise to take much money with you at any one time if you can possibly avoid it.

Activities

Find the practical map guide in most of the bars or laundries.

  • Trekking - The region is a trekkers paradise; it features breath taking views and an escape from the hive of people seen in other famed trekking locations like the Inca trail. Although one could do it on ones own, it's advisable to get a guide / run it through a specialist company. There are many companies offering these services. The House of Guides (Casa de Guías) offers professional free information, and maps for a price. They have a ´check in/check out´ book which it´s advisable to sign, especially if traveling without a guide.
  • The Santa Cruz Trek takes 3-4 days and can be done independently or with a guide. There are numerous places in Huaraz where one can rent equipment if need be. The trek is fairly difficult, reaching 15,617 feet (4760 m), and offers amazing views of many of the great peaks in the area. Note there was a landslide in March 2012 making it very difficult/impossible to complete the traditional route from Cashapampa to Vaqueria. A route through the effected area has not been completed as at late April 2012 although this may change with the upcoming high season (May-Sept). It is still possible do a return trek out of Vaqueria up and over the Punta Union pass.
  • A homestay in Vicos or Humacchuco, When you are interested in some alternative form of spending your trip in the region of Huaraz it is a very good idea to do a homestay in Vicos or Humacchuco. Vicos (1 hour from Huaraz) is an authentic rural community,which gives visitors the opportunity to learn about its Andean culture, livingin harmony with its environment. Vicos has seven different guest houses whichare situated next to the house of your host family who will assist you duringall the activities. Possible activities are; helping the family with theirdaily activities like baking bread, harvesting honey, fishing or grazing withthe animals, helping the family on their farming lands, visiting localcraftsman, hiking through the fields while visiting the ruins of the Huari andRecuay while learning about medicinal plants, or hiking for a full day tohigh-altitude lakes and glaciers and enjoying the views with the CordilleraBlanca at the background. Humacchuco is another community which is a little bit farther away (2 hours from Huaraz). Humacchuco has six different guest houses situated next to the house of your host family like in Vicos. Also here it is possible to help the families with their daily activities and learn about their culture. Besides this Humacchuco also offers wonderful hikings to Lake Llanganuco, Lake 69, Maria Joséfa and a hike to the valley of Huaytapallana.
  • Visit parks and squares, When the weather is good visit one of the nice squares (Plaza de Armas, Plaza de Belen) or parks (Park at Iglesia San Francisco). Just sit down, enjoy the nice weather with a good book or just to watch people.
  • Laguna Wilcacocha, 15 minutes by combi (1 S) from Huaraz. Ask to stop in Chiwipampa, "al cruce de Santa Cruz". Then walk up on the path, 1h30, quite rough. The laguna is very small, but the view on the mountains is nice. 1h to get down.
  • Laguna Antacocha, same trip as laguna Wilcacocha, but a bit further (30 min, about 2,5 S, get down just before to enter Recuay).
  • Laguna Churup. Get a taxi in the morning to Llupa (3 S, waiting that the combi is full). Then walk on the main path to Pitec, just a cross where a man register and make you pay the entrance to the park (5 S for one day, 65 S from one night to one month...)(from there you can also go to the Laguna Shallap). The way is quite rough, 2-3h, but the view very nice and you will eat in front of the nevado and turquoise water. Get down in 1h.
  • walk to the mirador, 45 min, begining on the right side of the cemetery, to have a view of the city. You can follow further, it's nice, but there are cases of robbers, so bring the minimal.
  • go to the foot of Huascaran, the biggest mountain in Peru, 6768m. Take a combi to Mancos (5 S), then to Musho (2,5 S) where the path begins. But there are several ways and no indication, so don't go if you haven't good information or a guide. About 4h to go to the Refugio, and 2h more to the first snow.
  • go to the Therms of Monterrey, directly in combi from Fitzcarrald street (1 S). Or walk from Wilkawain's ruins (by combi, 1,30 S, 20 min), by the football place, go up the steps then follow straight, 1h30. You have a nice view on Huascaran.

The entrance to the therms is 3,50 S, for the public swimming pool or private bathtub. Warm !

  • the good place to see is Hatun Machay or stone forest, very impressive. Some climbers come there and sleep in the Refugio (30 S/night) or in their tents (20 S/night). You can rent material in Huaraz. Bring your food and water.

Get a combi to Catac (3,5 S) then a taxi collectivo to kilometer 131 (5 S) direction Conococha, where the path begins. Walk up 2h, easy. At the end you have to choose, take left. You have to pay 5 S the entrance for one single day. Get down 1h30, you can try hitch hiking to come back.

Food

  • Mercado central. On the second floor you can indulge in a true Peruvian set meal of soup, rice and chicken and limonade. All for 2.50 soles. The first floor is good for stocking up for your trek. Second stair, try the Comedor vegetariano.
  • Try a delicious and cheap (5 S) Ceviche in the restaurant Delfin, Gabino Uribe street near from the main plaza.
  • A 10 S buffet to have lunch in the nice Cafe 13 Buhos, near from the Casa de guias.
  • Tasty ice cream in Samuel's (1,5 S the cornet), Luzurinaga street.
  • Chifas, there are several in town. Their dishes are cheap and feed two. And in contrast to Peruvian cuisine they tend to sneak in some veggies. Chifa is a blend of Chinese and Peruvian fare, especially popular in Lima but widely available throughout the country for cheap. Buyer beware. Just make sure it's hot!!
  • La Brasa Roja, Luzuriaga 919. Great place for meat lovers, highly recommended (and frequented) by locals. Slightly upscale. The roasted chicken (S./9.50) and the burgers (S./10) are best value for money. Large portions.
  • Fuente de Salud. Very cheap, very tasty vegetarian food. Highly recommended for vegetarians and those who are feeling the effects of traveller's diarrhea.
  • Siam de los Andes. A traditional Thai restaurant in the middle of small-town Peru, serves up delicious curry and stir fry dishes. Price range: moderate: 15-50 soles per meal.
  • Creperie Patrick, Av. Luzurriaga 422. A well-known restaurant that serves up many different styles of sweet or savory crêpes, Creperie Patrick is also known to be relatively expensive: 25-50 soles per meal.
  • Mi Chef Kristof, Parque del Periodista (through the last passage on the right side of the first block of Av. Luzuriaga going north from the Plaza de Armas). Great restaurant where Chef Kristof will prepare amazing meals for you. The Peppersteak and the homemade pastas are a little bit more expensive than elsewhere in town but are a real treat.
  • Jirón José Olaya, Jirón José Olaya is the only street that remained intact through Huaraz' various earthquakes. It gives a good indication of what the town once looked like. On Sundays there is a street market where the local population sells regional foods. Sit down at one of the little “restaurants” and enjoy your Picante de Cuy.
  • Café Andes, José Antonio de Sucre 817 (one and half block up/east from plaza). This café almost delivers to its slogan, "barato y bueno," by serving delicious cakes for 2 to 4 soles per piece. Only avoid ordering coffee as you will get hot water and coffee concentrate.

Drinks

There are several bars clustered around José de la Mar and Cajamarca to still your thirst.

  • El Tambo, 2 blocks from Plaza Ginebra. Popular weekend club (slow on Thursday) that plays mostly salsa with short sets of house, reggaeton, and American music. It has a tree / wood theme.
  • Cafe Andino, 2 blocks from the Plaza de Armas, closed Mondays and January/ February. Delicious espresso and other coffee beverages. Can buy beans too. Excellent selection of books to borrow (with deposit), and good magazine selection to peruse while there. Loud, familiar music (Marley, Grateful Dead...). Friendly, accommodating staff. Great atmosphere. Free WiFi. Expensive, but good and healthy gringo food.
  • California Café, Jr. 28 de Julio, 568. Café with a big book exchange, also doubles as library. The Californian owner organizes ultimate frisbee matches every Friday. Just drop in at around 130PM (Dry Season, April-November) or 10AM (Rainy Season, December-March) if you're interested. One of the house specialties is their mixed fruit smoothie, called Surtido. This cafe also serves roasts its own coffees and is an ideal spot to hang for a few hours when first getting into town. Try their sandwiches, made to order with lots of variety. Also has free WiFi.
  • 13 Buhos Bar, Jose de la Mar & Simon Bolivar (2nd floor, above Makondo's bar). The owner, Lucho (who bears an uncanny resemblance to George Clooney), brews handcrafted ales, although he can be a bit pushy in trying to get customers to buy drinks. Typically there are a few varieties on offer: a dark hoppy stout or porter, a red, and a fresh lager that when muddled with yerba buena is delicious. Reviews are mixed: some people love this place, others swear that it should be avoided.

Shopping

At the Plaza de Armas there is an Artesania Market with a broad offer of nice souvenirs, bags, jewelry and clothing. Defenitly worth a visit. Furthermore there are some nice shops on the Av. Luzuriaga as well. The big market with food and a lot of small shops selling everything you can think of is situated at a street which goes parallel to the Av. Luzuriaga.

This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article Huaraz on Wikivoyage.

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