Ayacucho is in the Southern Sierra region of Peru. The population is about 100,000, altitude 2,700 m. Ayacucho is embedded in a broad sunny valley with mild climate. It is home of the Morocucho people, a group of the Quechua.
During the 80's and early 90's, Ayacucho was mostly under control of the Sendero Luminoso, an extreme leftist terrorist group. After the
successful anti-terror fights under president Fujimori, the influence of the Sendero Luminoso decreased almost completely. In the recent years, some singular activities have come up again. The area of Ayacucho is declared as zona de emergencia (emergency zone), but the only practical restriction for normal tourists seems to be the recommendation not to travel in the area during night time.
The Tourist Office is found in the Plaza de Armas.
The Airport has flights from Lima. Small airlines in Peru are a bit sketchy, but a good alternative for those who don't like a rough long bus ride.
Daily buses to and from Lima on a well paved road. (9-10h) - It goes over some high mountain passes which make some people sick
Daily buses to and from Pisco the same well paved road. (6h)
Daily buses/colectivos to and from Huancavelica offer 3 alternatives (note: dirt roads may be impassible in the rainy season):
The direct way via colectivo to Julcamarca, a second colectivo to Lircay, and a third colectivo to Huancavelica (all dirt roads). With luck and an early start, you could make it through in one day. Basic accomodation is available in Julcamarca and Lircay, if necessary.
Via Rumichaca and St. Ines. Take a morning bus along the main road from Ayacucho to the coast until Rumichaca (paved and in good condition), and then catch a bus to Huancavelica (departure 10:30 AM, dirt road). The landscape is unique and impressive, most of it is between 4000 and 5000 m above sea level.
Take the morning bus to Huancayo, get off at Izuchaca (8-10 hours) where the dirt road becomes paved, and then catch onward local transport to Huancavelica (~1 hour).
The above three options also work in reverse. However, the bus from Huancavelica to Rumichaca leaves at 4:30 AM.
Daily buses to and from Andahuaylas, run only by Los Chancas (12/2013 leaves twice daily at 8 am and 8 pm, 7-8 hours )The road is now paved all the way; magnificent scenery.
Willy Del Posa Posa runs a Tourist Agency Near the Plaza de Armas. He proved honest and helpful on a few occasions.
Mirador de Ayacucho. Between the central market and Santa Clara church, on Jr. Grau, take the No. 15 minibus (1 sol) to the village of Huascura at the top of Picota Mountain (the one with the big illuminated white cross), then ask for directions to the “Mirador de Ayacucho”, take the dirt road uphill from the bus stop about 20 min until you reach the white cross. The view is spectacular. You can walk back down (about 1-1.5 hr) by the stone staircase near the chapel. (You can also take a taxi up for s/8-10)edit
High quality wool and alpaca tapestries, carpets and embroideries can be found in Barrio Santa Ana. You come there following the Av. Grau. A number of family run shops line the Plaza Santa Ana. In most you can see weaving in process, and purchase tapestries. Santa Ana is the main outlet for many of Ayacucho's weavers. The shops on the Plaza Santa Ana typically feature both the work of the owner's family, as well as tapestries, embroideries and other artesania that they purchase from throughout the area. Most of the families with shops on the Plaza Santa Ana have been in the weaving business for several generations. The Santa Ana tapestries are woven on upright looms. The best are made from handspun yarns, and dyed with natural dyes. Many of the motifs are drawn from archaeological textiles. Ayacucho is also known for its eye-popping three dimensional designs. Many of the shops are set up with a typical handicraft store in the front room. It is often necessary to ask to see the better, more expensive tapestries.
Galería Latina, Plazuela de Santa Ana #105, Phone: 528315, e-mail: email@example.com, Spanish preferred. In the Plaza Santa Ana right opposite the church you can find the Galería Latina, a multi-generation family run gallery that exhibits and sells high quality tapestries from some of Ayacucho's best weavers. The family has exhibited their weavings, and those of the weavers featured in their shop, at a number of international handicraft exhibitions in Zurich, Switzerland. As with many Santa Ana shops, from outside, Galeria Latina looks like a usual handicraft store, but if you ask, they will be glad to show you their little carpet exhibition and the weaving rooms in the backrooms. The price for a wall carpet is about US$ 350, but it's worth that money.
The Cafe of the University (UNSH(?)) is in the atrium of a lovely colonial building besides the Cathedral at the Plaza de Armas.
Magia Negra (Black Magic) - a few blocks from the Plaza de Armas. Serves Pizza, is a bit upscale and comfortable for Americans and a foose ball table
Don't miss the best hamburgers ever, served by the street vendors near the plaza at night. Perfect drunken food. You should get the 'triple'. You can get it with a cheap thin hamburger, egg, hotdogs, potatoe sticks, olive mayonase. It is recommended to get it "sin lechuga" (without lettuce) as lettuce is supposed to particularly harbor micro-organisms. Don't eat too many.
Via Via, (On a balcony overlooking the Plaza opposite the cathedral). Good coffee. Safe salads and some interesting mains make this a place to head for. The views and frozen Naranjada are excellent. Popular with well to do locals as well as the few gringos in these parts. Free WiFi. Nice atmosphere.edit
Los Warpas, Jr. Callao, 370 (2.5 blocks uphill from the Plaza de Armas; half a block up from the Hotel Rivera and across the street from the Hotel Samary). Noon to 21. This large restaurant serves very good full lunches of local food for s/.7 (12/2013); the menu changes every day: soup, choice of three main dishes, a fruit drink and either an appetizer or desert. In the evening they serve roast chicken (s/.10) and Chinese dishes (s/.3-4). Very tasty and excellent value. s/.3-10. edit
No name Chifa, Jr. Asamblea, 127 (Very close to Plaza de Armas). morn-late. Small, popular chifa. Good food. Standard chifa prices but the plates and portions are huge. Caldo de gallina (a huge bowl of chicken soup with noodles, s/7). The most expensive dish is Milanesa de pescado (s/15) which is an enormous fish fillet prepared just like Wiener Schnitzel and served on a huge plate of white rice, french fries and onion salad. A good thing for tourists is that the menu is in photographs on the walls and at the door so you can go by and see exactly what they serve before you go in, and then point to the picture of what you want to order. s/7-15. edit
China Wanlin, Jr. Asamblea, 257 (Pedestrian street just north of the central square). morn-late. Good Peruvian-Chinese food. Very popular. If you search through the extensive menu, you can find a couple of authentic Chinese dishes (like chicken with oyster sauce) that you might find in Toronto or New York. s/6-18. edit
Centro Turístico Cultural San Cristobal, a block and a bit from the Plaza de Armas, 28 de Julio 178. The best place for caffeinated beverages (i.e. it actually has cappuccinos, Americanos, etc.). There are a few little cafes here. As the name of the centre suggests, the area is intended for tourists and is a bit pricier than other areas.
(General Note: Peru has undergone considerable inflation in recent years and the $3 hotel rooms with private bath simply do not exist in Ayacucho any more; unfortunately the big 's/10' signs over the doors still exist. Many hostal signs say 's/10 for private bath and cable TV' -- one sign says 's/10, one price only' -- but this is simply not true: when you inquire, the price is s/25-50 for a single room.)
On the road towards the bus station, some places offer nice but simple double rooms for less than 20 soles, and 13 soles for the use of only one bed. There are about nine hostales close to the square at Puente Nuevo, just a few blocks from the Plaza de Armas (real prices: s/20-50).
Hotel La Crillonesa, half a block from the main Mercado and just a few from the Plaza de Armas, Nazareno 165. They ask for 50 Soles for a room with private bathroom and double bed, but may accept lower offers. Rooftop terrace (great view), cafe, cable TV in most rooms, 24hr hot water (you may have to ask the staff to turn it on), fast WIFI (get a room near the central modem), friendly service. You may like being near the market and the bustling pedestrian-only street that goes by it. The hotel is very noisy except at night (22:30-6:00).
Hostal Florida, Jr Cusco 310, ☎ 312 565. is a good option for budget travelers. Nice views from the top rooms and they offer WiFi during the day and sporadically at other times. A matrimonial room is 50 soles with bathroom, while a single is 35 soles with private bathroom. (But can be negotiated lower). Note that showers are electric - i.e., not truly hot. Note that breakfast is not included in the price despite what they may tell you over the telephone. However, some travellers report a number of items of value are stolen from their room in this hotel, and when reported, owners becoming very unpleasant.edit
Huari/Wari is the oldest urban center in the Andes You can visit the ruins and the museum (2 Soles, US$ 0,60) daily. Take a colectivo in Av. Cáceres to come there (0:45h, 2 Soles). On the way back, be sure to get a colectivo before 5PM, otherwise it may become difficult.
La Quinua is a nice village with old buildings. Nearby, you can visit the Pampa de Quinua with its 44m high obelisk, remembering to the famous battle of Ayacucho in the Peruvian war of independence. The colectivos to Huari proceed to La Quinua.
Expreso Los Chankas, Pje Cáceres 150. Perhaps the only place to offer direct service to Cuzco. 55 Soles each for a 22-hour ride on a semi-cama bus. Buses at 6:30AM and 7PM.