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Huaraz

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Cordillera Blanca : Huaraz
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The stunning Peruvian countryside
Huaraz is a large town in the Cordillera Blanca region of Peru's Central Sierra.

Understand

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.

Weather

During the dry season which peaks in July-August, the days are warm and sunny (perfect for trekking!) while the nights are clear (perfect for star gazing!) but can be extremely chilly.

During the wet season which peaks in January-February, the days are cooler with rain typically in the afternoons and extending anywhere from a few brief minutes to several hours. The nights are warmer than the dry season with the clouds trapping the day's warmth. It is usually quite foggy in the hills above town at night so navigating can get a bit tricky.

Get in

Huaraz is approximately 8 hours coach drive from Lima; it's simple and a reasonably cheap and reliable service. Movil Tours, Ormeño, Cruz del Sur and CIAL are most frequently recommended bus companies.

When you arrive you will find out that ´captadores´ are trying to bring you to lowly recommendated hostels and places. They spread bad words about the hostel you are willing to go to. Do not believe any of these popular phrases like: that hostel is always full, that hostel is far away. Especially at Cruz del Sur it is tough to leave. These 'captadores' get commision for each night you stay at the place that they recommend.

There are several daily buses to and from Chimbote & Trujillo. Movil Tours [1] & Transportes Linea [2] are the best (US$14, 9 hours to Trujillo), followed by Chinchaysuyo & Comite 14, all of which only travel by night, & continue to Trujillo. All night buses travel on the tar sealed road from Huaraz to Pativilca (Caral is near there) to the Panamerican Highway, midway between Trujillo & Lima.

Transportes Linea [3], America Express & others run from Trujillo from 6AM or earlier to catch the 8-8.30AM bus of Turismo Huaraz & Yungay Express from Huaraz via Caraz & the spectacular Cañon del Pato. It's a rough 8 hour bus ride, the buses are basic for the unsealed road (Caraz to Chimbote) and may be overcrowded between Caraz & Huaraz. The views are stunning. Price is around US$7 (S/. 25). The schedule is seasonal and not operating as of Nov. 2012. Less specutacular route via Casma is running 4-5 times a day. If you have your own vehicle, obtain permission (& confirmation of entrance times if maintenance is in progress) from Proyecto Chavimochic in Trujillo (Telefax 044 272286) or Viru to leave the Panam (485 km north of Lima) via the well kept Brasileiros maintenance road alongside the canal to the north bank of the Santa River to Cañon del Pato. It is possible to cover Trujillo to Caraz in 5 hours (+ photo stops) on this straighter, smoother road. Almost 40 tunnels are large enough for all but the largest tourist buses.

There are also day buses between Huaraz & Chimbote via the Callan Pass, Pariacoto & Casma (for Sechin). Longer, rougher & not quite as visually stunning.

Every 20 minutes or so combis leave Huaraz for Caraz visiting Carhuaz and Yungay on the way.

Paraiso Natural (Jr. 28 de Julio at 27 de Noviembre) runs three times daily (6am, 1 and 3 pm) buses to La Union, where you can continue on to Huanuco by frequent shared taxi or twice daily bus. It is about 5 hour trip to La Union (S/.20), and then 3.5 (by Shared Taxi, S/.25) to 5 hour (by bus, S/.13) to Huanuco. It is a all-paved good alternative route to the interior (Pucallpa, Huancayo etc.) without going back to Lima and a spectacular route going over high altiplanos and through canyons.

Get around

In Huaraz, taxi's are cheap and fast for getting about the town.

Be wary of dubious taxi drivers / cabs. Peru does have a problem with taxis in some places, and tourists have been known to be mugged/assaulted in them. On a non-sexist note, female travelers should be careful not to travel alone, especially in taxis and especially at night. That said, Huaraz is a comparatively safe city--for males and females--and is easily maneuvered by the seasoned traveler, particularly those who can speak Spanish. However, just as in any part of Peru, staying aware of your surroundings and avoiding potentially dodgy situations is advised.

Also if you need to rent a car to go out of the city, are a variety of companies that make this service, the most prominent being Andean Rent a Car. You can contact trough email alquilercamionetas@gmail.com or call (043)422423 /943626780 in order to get information about the cars, trucks, prices, etc. Andean Rent a Car offers a good service with a drivers that know the routes.

See

  • 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 back 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 once every 50-75 years for 9 months with 8.000-10.000 niches and a flower heights of up to 10m, then they die. They grow at altitudes between 3500 and 4700m.
  • 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.

Do

  • 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 one's 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. This trek goes from Vaqueria to Cashapampa (or in the reverse direction), through Quebrada Santa Cruz ("Santa Cruz Valley"). There are numerous places in Huaraz where one can rent equipment if need be. The trek is intermediate difficulty, with a high pass at Punta Union, at 4760m (15,617ft). The trek offers amazing views of many of the great peaks in the area. An avalanche in March 2012 changed the Santa Cruz valley significantly, making it more of a rocky desert-like plain as opposed to the green meadow it was before.

If you choose a guided tour, ask them if you'll have to pay for a bus back to Huaraz after the trek. If so, insist that they give you the S/20 before you start the trek. When I returned from the trek, they had no money on hand at the office so they could not reimburse me before I had to leave town.

  • 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.
  • Hotsprings. There are two hotsprings nearby. The first one is called Monterrey which is about 10 km north of the center of Huaraz and accessible by Combi#1 departing in front of the mercado central (S/.1). The Monterrey Hot Springs tend to be more public in nature and due to their close proximity to Huaraz sometimes can be very crowded. You can choose the pool or private bath (called pozo). The other one, Chancos Hot Springs is 27km north of the center of town. To get there go to "Terminal Terrestre" and catch frequent collectivo heading to Caraz and get off at the small town of Marcara (S/.3). From Marcara its about 3km to the hot springs via taxi collectivo (S/.1). Addition to pool (S/.1) and pozo (S/.2), there are seven saunas in caves (Called Cueva) (S/.5). Time limit is supposed to be 15 min but how much longer you can actually stay is depends on how they're crowded.
  • Laguna Churup, (take a combi for s/1.50 (or s/3.00 for gringos) to a town called Llupa). free after 3:30pm. The combi/collectivo driver will try to convince you to pay him s/10.00 to take you all the way to Pitec, which is the start of the Churup trek. Otherwise, you will be dropped off in the small village of Llupa, which you take a beautiful footpath up to Pitec; roughly 1 - 1.5 hour hike (about 4km...nobody seems to know for sure). From Pitec, you pay a s/5.00 entrance fee to the National Park guard waiting there and begin the incline trek to the laguna. This is not a hike for beginners; but you don't have to be a professional either to complete it. 2 hours of uphill trekking from about 3,800m to 4,500m in altitude. Once you reach the waterfall (1.5 hours into the trek), you must then do a vertical climb either using the trees and bushes to the left of the waterfall, or using the wire ropes available a bit further away from the waterfall. If possible, bring climbing gloves to protect your hands from the ropes cutting into them. Within 10 minutes you will see the sign announcing the altitude, with the Laguna behind it. It's a breathtaking view, and quite cold and windy, so be sure to bring a proper jacket. s/5.00.

Buy

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.

Eat

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 en the homemade pasta's are a recommendation! It is a little bit more expensive but also a real treat to yourself!
  • 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.

Vegetarian Restaurant

  • Fuente de Salud. Jose de la Mar 562, Very cheap, very tasty vegetarian food. Highly recommended for vegetarians and those who are feeling the effects of traveller's diarrhea.
  • Salut y Vida.Jr. Leonisa Lescano 632, two block east from the Plaza de Armas, Open for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner until 10 pm (mas or menos). Set menu S/.5.5-6 for lunch/dinner and S/.4-5 for breakfast. Also choose from menu would cost S/.10-.
  • Comedor Vegetariano inside el Mercado Central is very cheap and excellent, managed by friendly ladies. (S/. 3-5)

Drink

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.

Sleep

  • Alpes Huaraz, Jr. Ladislao Meza no 112 Barrio de San Francisco, (just go up 7 minutres Jr Julian de Morales), +51 43428896, [4]. checkin: 1; checkout: 12. rosahhs@hotmail.com Beautiful, quiet, family run hostel with a great rooftop view of Huaraz and tasty breakfast (3 soles for eggs). Good wifi. You can rent your equipment from them and order dozens of tours for most competitive prices. They can pick you up from your bus station - just ring them on arrival and you will pay 3 soles(Telf.: 0051-043-428896 - Movil: 0051-01-945927440 - RPM: 0089657). The best part, even if you're catching a night bus after returning from a trek, they will let you take a nice warm shower and chill out for a couple hours. 20 Soles.
  • Olaza´s Hostal, [5]. Five blocks from the Plaza de Armas. Rooftop terrace with good view of surrounding mountain where you can get served breakfast (coffee, freshly squeezed orange juice, toast included in room price). Internet, TV with small DVD collection, stacks of magazines, kitchen to use, really clean. US$20 for double bed, private bathroom.
  • Hostal Churup, [6]. Located 5 minutes walk from the center of town, this hostel offers an excellent service to travelers, including secure storage of luggage, breakfast, free wireless internet, and washing facilities. Family run, they are helpful and offer lots of useful advice on travel and trekking. Prices range from 25S/$6 (dorm excl. breakfast) to $32.
  • El Tambo, Av. Confraternidad Oeste #122 (well hidden opposite the stadium). Fine hostel close to the bus terminal and four blocks from the center. It offers free internet, laundry service, kitchen use, communal area with cable TV and DVD and a simple breakfast is included in the price. Low-season price s/.10 pppn.
  • Hospedaje La Cabaña, [7]. Sucre 1224, 5 minutes walk from main square of Huaraz. Helpful, friendly, family-run guest house from US$4pppn. S./40 for a double room w bathroom. wifi and (basic) kitchen facilities.
  • Steel Guest House Huaraz, [8]. Alejandro Maguiña 1467, 10 minutes walk from the city centre. Internet, kitchen for guests, private parking, sauna, great view of the city and the mountains, pool table, book exchange, etc. Affordable pricing.
  • Caroline Lodging, [9] phone=+51 43 422588. 6–15 mins from the main square and located in safe and quiet part of Huaraz. The owners can be strange and even cold at times, but this is a bargain basement hostel and they will definitely help you if you ask. Don't be put off by any chilly exteriors. the price includes breakfast. A dorm for 15soles incl breakfast and free pickup from the bus station. Can you ask for more? The have also laundry service, free tourist information, mountainbikes, internet, Free kitchen facilities, book exchange, bbq, mini cinema + dvd (free to use). They charge for internet and don't have wifi in the main hostel, but they have free wifi in the much superior annex around the corner. Just call and they pick you up. And because of this Recommended by thousands of travellers, Lonely Planet, FootPrint and Routard.
  • Hotel Galaxia, Jr. Juan de la Cruz Romero 638 (corner of A. Caceres, 1 block from Av. Tarapaca / 27 de Noviembre), +51 43 422230, [10]. Friendly, quiet, family-run hotel that nonetheless offers privacy. Good value for rooms - a double (2 persons) costs 40 soles, including cable TV, hot water, WIFI services, modern. Rooms on the street have floor-to-ceiling windows.
  • La Casa de Zarela, Jr. Julio Arguedas 1263, La Soledad (Ave. Roman Castilla y Arguedas, close to La Soledad Church), 51-43-421694, [11]. checkin: 2:00am; checkout: 11:00am. Located in Huaraz´s La Soledad neighborhood, this hostel is great for those looking for more comfortable surroundings. There is an in-house restaurant that operates from 8am-10pm and serves a decent breakfast. They also have great views of the mountains from the 3rd floor terrace. There is also a patio on both the 2nd and 1st floors. There are also several common areas, including one on the first floor that is particularly spacious. Complimentary internet and wifi is available. Central Huaraz is less than a 10 minute walk away. There is a plaza in front of La Soledad Church, which is a half block away. $12.
  • San Sebastian Hotel, Jr. Italia 1124, 0051-43-426960, [12]. A small hotel situated on the upper side of Huaraz City. All rooms have ensuite facilities. Some rooms have mountain views. There are various terraces that allow views of the surrounding peaks. Staff are friendly and helpful. Hotel is always neat and clean. Breakfast included in the price. The restaurant is open in the evenings for drinks and meals. Computers and WiFi available for internet access. Useful place to stay when exploring the surrounding areas. $50 - $110.
  • Monkeywasi, Jr. Agustine Mejia 797 (Solidad Alta), +51 221 265, [13]. checkin: 11:30 AM; checkout: 10:00 AM. Monkeywasi is a small, friendly hostel for climbers, trekkers and backpackers. s/15-s/20 Soles. (9°31'55.40S,77°31'21.35W)
  • Virgin del Carmen, Juan de la Cruz Romero 662 (Three block east from the main plaza), + 51 43 421729, [14]. Good value hotel close to the center. Friendly, and on the quiet street. With wifi, good (gas) hot shower, common kitchen, rooftop terrace. Most rooms face inside atrium. from Single S/.20 Double S./35 shared bath. S/.20 and up.
  • Casa De Jaimes, Calle Alberto Gridilla 267 - Huaraz, [15]. Very cheap and clean hostel, 10 soles per night, including breakfast. They have computers for internet, very friendly staff Rooms for 1, 2, 3, and 4 people, with private bathroom is 12 Soles, with shared bathrooms is 10. The wifi is very strong, they also have a tour agency within the hostel to arrange tours for Huayhuash and Laguna 69. 13 rooms, all with tv's 10 Soles.

Stay safe

  • Eating. Be careful as to what you eat as it is almost certain that you will get food poisoning and/or diarrhea at some point during your travels in Peru. Being pro-active can limit your exposure:
    • Avoid drinking un-clean water
    • Be picky about what food you eat and ensure that it has been cooked properly. What might appear to be well established restaurants can be just as bad as street traders when it comes to food hygiene.
    • Consider buying food at a grocery store and cooking yourself to avoid food poisoning the day before you leave for a trek.
  • Sunscreen. Since Huaraz is physically and visually far from the Pacific Coast beaches, it may not occur to casual visitors to buy and use sunscreen. For those people who are planning on trekking into the mountains, or doing mountain climbing, sunscreen is a vital resource. The thin air and high altitudes increase the effects of UV penetration.
  • Altitude. 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. Be careful with so called guides or ´captadores´ who has brought you to hostels. They push you to go for a strenuos hike next day for a 'good' price. There is a guy call himself 'Max' who push you to book two or three different hikes at once. You will have a hard time getting money back no matter how sick you get after the first hike or find out how expensive he is. Do not hesitate to contact the Tourist Police or iPeru tourist information if you have a problem with (so called) tour operators. They are very helpful.

Get out

  • Trujillo. At least 2 bus companies (Movil and Linea) provide overnight service to Trujillo. The trip takes about 10 hours. The busses may not be equipped with air-conditioning, so it may be a hot ride. It´s a rocky, fast-paced trip through the mountains.

Yungay Express (7AM), Turismo Huaraz & Huandoy (9AM) pass through Caraz 2 hours later & the spectacular Cañon del Pato to Chimbote terminal terrestre, where you can change for Trujillo.

  • Caraz. Minibuses leave frequently and the trip takes about one hour.
  • Chavín de Huántar]. Buses leave 3-4 times a day. Three hour ride is spectacular and now smooth.

English language newspaper, The Huaraz Telegraph

Since the beginning of April 2012, Huaraz also has a free English language newspaper called The Huaraz Telegraph, read by students of the language schools and tourists. The Huaraz Telegraph is considered as an objective and up to date sourse for tourists and frequenly reports about volunteering, agencies in Huaraz and other local topics. <ref> http://thehuaraztelegraph.com </ref>



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