Huaraz is located in the “Callejón de Huaylas” Andean valley. It has an area of more than 180 km flanked by the White and Black mountain ranges, and it is crossed by the rushing Santa River. Huaraz has several microclimates and altitudes from 1,000 meters above sea level to 6,747 meters above sea level. It starts at the Conococha Lagoon (4,100 meters above sea level). Huaraz is the starting point to know all the “Callejón de Huaylas’ “attractions. The best season to take a Huaraz tour is during the Andean summer (from May to October). The rainy season is from November to April.
The “Callejón de Huaylas” is a complete circuit with several and integrative attractions, therefore, it is recommended to visit it all along with the traditional tourist spots such as the Main Square Cathedral and churches. The “Callejón” is composed of Recuay, Aija, Marcará, Carhuáz, Mancos, Yungay and Caraz, where the visitors will have direct contact with the natural beauties, culture and folklore. During the Huaraz tour, you will see the wonderful sculpture and architecture in the Willcahuín and Honcopampa “chulpas” or graves, as well as the Janku tomb, and places like Huallac, Kekamarca, Marcún and Keyash.
Huaraz was named “Natural Paradise of the World” in the Swiss Tourism Awards 2007 that was carried out in Lugano – Switzerland.
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Huaraz is the capital of the Ancash department. In this region, fossil remains from the 13th century BC were found in the Guitarrero cave, located in the Callejón de Huaylas.
By the year 1200 BC the Chavín culture arises and develops until the year 200 BC. They influenced the Recuay or Huaylas and Wari cultures.
The Chavín culture was established in the Chavín de Huántar city, 2 km from the confluence of the Huachecsa and Mosna rivers. They carried out activities such as pottery, usually monochromatic pieces with zoomorphic shapes, felines, monkeys, lizards, snakes and birds. Regarding sculpture, they left several pieces like the Lanzón monolítico, which depicts the god snake, the Tello Obelisk which depicts two mythical deities or a double god carved on the obelisk’s surface, the Raimondi Stele which depicts a god with two croziers in his hands and the tenon heads (some with anthropomorphic features and others with zoomorphic features – feline and bird of prey). They were inserted into the walls of the main temple and Chavin castle.
The Recuay or Huaylas culture develops between 200 BC and 600 AD. There is not much information about this culture, however, the most accepted theory is that it was a continuation of the Chavín culture. They were ceramists and stone carvers. Their economy was based on agriculture and South American camelid-cattle raising, using their meat and leather.
The Wari culture flourishes between 600 and 1200 AD, spreading up to the current departments of Lambayeque at the north, Moquegua at the south and the rainforest of Cusco at the east. After the Inca empire, the Wari civilization is the largest regarding territory. Their main activity was the militia, they fought and conquer new territories. They established distinctive architectural centers in many provinces such as Piquillacta in Cusco and Pachacamac in Lima.
Ancash is located northwest of Peru and borders with the Pacific Ocean at the west, with La Libertad at the north, with Huánuco at the east and with Lima at the south. It has an area of 35,915 km² and a population of 1,084,000 inhabitants.
The geography of Ancash has sharp altitudinal contrasts. It has turquoise-sea beaches in the coast, the Cordillera Negra foothills from 1,000 m. a. s. l. rising in the Santa river’s valley to 2,800 meters until it reaches the country’s highest mountain, the Huascarán, that is 6,768 meters high, in the Callejón de Huaylas and then it descends to the eastern highland up to the Marañón canyon at 2,400 m. a. s. l.
The two highest mountain ranges cross this region. The Cordillera Blanca is 180-km long and it has 27 snow-capped mountains that are over 6,000-meter-high and more than 200 that are above 5,000 m. a. s. l. There are 712 glaciers in 486,037 km2 with an 18,458 km3 estimated volume of hydrological potential in solid state.
The Santa river’s course shapes the Cañón del Pato, which is the continuation of the Callejón de Huaylas. It has a length of 40 kilometers, and it has an average height of 1,800 m. a. s. l. The highway that connects the cities of Chimbote and Caraz is located along the canyon. This route is part of the Huascarán National Reserve, that has an area of 340,000 hectares and has the purpose of protecting the world’s longest tropical mountain range, its flora, fauna, geological formations and scenic beauty as well as preserving the ecosystems of the Cordillera Blanca that are the nation’s natural, scientific and cultural heritage.
One of the region’s main activities is the adventure and nature tourism, however we can also visit the archaeological zones of Chavín and Recuay.
Among the adventure activities we have:
Regarding the cultural tours, 33 archaeological sites have been identified, they include rock art, settlements, platforms systems, pathways, farming terraces, chullpas, tombs, viewpoints, fortifications, irrigation canals, micro dams, etc. The most representative are Auquispuquio, Cullicocha, Queshquepachan, Paccharuri, Quilcayhuanca, Nuevo Tambo, Cayesh, Pachacoto and the pre-Hispanic road from Olleros to Chavín.
Regarding fauna, we can find several species due to the good condition of the plant formations. We can find more than 120 bird species and 10 mammal species. The most representative are the Andean condor (Vultur gryphus), the torrent duck (Merganetta armata), the puna tinamou (Tinamotis pentlandii), the yellow-billed pintail (Anas georgica spinicauda), the crested duck (Lophonetta specularioides alticola), the white-tufted grebe (Rollandia rolland morrisoni), the giant coot (Fulica gigantea) and the Andean gull (Larus serranus).
Among the mammals we can find pampas cats (Oncifelis colocolo), Andean cats (Oreailurus jacobita), spectacled bears (Tremarctos ornatus), Andean deer (Hippocamelus antisensis) a big-horned ruminant larger than a deer, and the vicuña (Vicugna vicugna). Other important species are the white-tail deer Odocoileus virginianus, the cougar (Puma concolor incarum), the vizcacha (Lagidium peruanum), the long-tail weasel (Mustela frenata agilis), the hog-nosed skunk (Conepatus sp.), the culpeo (Pseudalopex culpaeus), among others.
The park has a wide variety of microclimates which make possible to have several types of vegetation that are closely linked. 779 high-Andean species have been identified and are distributed in 340 genera and 104 families. The bromeliads are represented in this diversity by the puya Raymondi (Puya raimondii), a species that has the biggest inflorescence in the world and is one of the park’s objects of preservation.
We can also find relict forests and several gamineous species that shape the puna grassland.
In the Huascarán National Park we can also find quisuar (Buddleja coriacea) and queñua (Polylepis sp) relict forests that are mainly located north of the Llanganuco area. There are also high-Andean prairies, puna grass and various bofedales located above 4,500 m. a. s. l.
Considering the diverse altitude levels in the region, the weather varies depending on the area and season.
In the department’s coast, during summer, between December and April, the temperatures vary between 21°C and 30°C, and in winter, between May and November, we can find a colder and wetter weather with temperatures between 12°C and 22°C. In the zone’s valleys the temperature varies between 12°C and 23°C.
In the high-Andean zone, the minimum temperature can be -8°C and the highest 22°C during the dry season.
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