Huancayo is the capital of the department of Junin in Southern Sierra region of Peru.
The population is about 500,000, altitude 3300 m. Huancayo lies on the lower end of the broad Mantaro Valley. The surrounding mountains reach up to ca. 3,600 m. En route from Lima, the road ascends as high as ca. 4818 m.
In Peru, there is not only Cuzco, Arequipa and Puno to visit, but also charming, smaller towns such as the ones encountered in the region of Junin. These towns represent another aspect of the Peruvian culture and its traditions, giving tourists another angle from which to experience this diverse country. In Huancayo and its surroundings, there are many activities on offer and many not so touristy cultural sites to visit. When Pizzaro settled the first capital of Peru in Jauja, his first impression of the region was that it looked like Switzerland. The everlasting valley of Mantaro is very green in the wetter parts of the year, but dries out quite a bit at other times. Its agriculture is flourishing and is full of wandering cows, pigs, donkeys and lambs.
The region is full of pre-Inca ruins, from the Wanka civilization. You should go and visit Tunanmarca, a wanka ruin that has more than 3000 houses! or go trekking on the Huaytapallana glacier for a day.
It is a pleasant and relatively safe place for visitors to practice their Spanish, meet down-to-earth Peruvians, and try delicious local food at reasonable prices. Ruins, museums, trekking and fishing are on the menu.
Lima. Cruz del Sur  and Oltursa  are good ones, but you pay premium price (S/.40 -60) compared to others (S/.10-20). Cruz del Sur, ETUCSA, and some other companies have their own terminal close to downtown area (Jr. Ayacucho or Jr. Ferrocarril). However, now many Lima-bound bus companies (including Oltursa) use new "Terminal Terrestre Huancayo" located in Parque Industrial, north-east part of the city. It is about 20-40 minutes taxi/colectivo ride (Look for a colectivo/micro signed "Terminal" but make sure to ask driver for "Terminal hasta Lima.") From Lima, take a taxi to "Terminal Yerbadero" (or called "Terminal Molina") for frequent departure and competitive price to Huancayo. The trip takes about 8 hours in dry season, depending on traffic. Keep in mind this route go through altitude of 4,800m above sea level, so be prepared to get sick if you are not used to.
Huancavelica. TICLLAS. Av. Ferrocarril 1566-1590, tel. 064-601519 offers the most frequent departure (almost hourly, S/.15).
Ayacucho. MOLINA. Jr. Angaraes 334, tel. 064-224501 runs twice-daily buses to Ayacucho (morning and evening, 12hrs) where you can connect to Cusco (additioinal 24hrs). The road is mostly unpaved and can be a rough ride.
Huanuco/Pucallpa. Turismo Central.  Jr. Ayacucho 274, tel. 064-223128 runs luxurious overnight buses to Huancayo (8hrs) and Pucallpa (16 hrs, departs 1pm).
The Ferrocarril Central Andino the train line joining Lima to Huancayo, is the second highest railway in the world and the highest in South America. The journey on board the Train of the Andes through the heart of Peru is simply breathtaking. It is an 11-hour experience where the train reaches an altitude of 4781 m. (15,681 ft.), goes through 69 tunnels and 58 bridges and makes 6 zigzags. In 1999, the company was privatized, in 2005, Ferrocarril Central Andino renovated their passenger wagons. Unfortunately for time-limited travellers, it only runs twice a month.
Ferrocarril Central Andino
El Ferrocarril Huancayo-Huancavelica is one of the oldest train in South America which is still providing regular passenger service. Also called “El Tren Macho”, extends 128 Km between city of Huancayo and Huancavelica, through the sierra central del Perú. The rain leaves Huancayo on Mon-Wed-Fri and back from Huancavelica on Tue-Thu-Sat. Departure time is 6:30 am both ways. The first (ordinary) class ticket costs S/.9 but foreigners are automatically directed to the "Buffet" class for S/.13, which is still cheaper than bus. Buffet class is like a dining car and typical Peruvian foods (Chicken or Beef S/.5, tea/coffee S/.1) are offered. The ride is about 5-6 hours through the deep canyon and may require extra time to clear the fallen rocks. The station is near the crossing of Av. Ferrocarril and Av. Junin. Probably, you will see the old station building first. Beware, it's out of order. The main entrance of the new station is from Av. Leonicio Prado, but you can get in along the rail branched off from Av. Ferrocarril.
LC Busre  and Star Peru  offer two flights per day to and from Huancayo, flying from "Jorge Chavez" airport in Lima to the "Francisco Carle" airport in Jauja (1 hour from Huancayo). To be safe, LC Busre will take you to their main agency in Huancayo.
During the day, there are always colectivos to and from Jauja. Colectivos/Auto/Shared Taxi to and from Lima are also available for under $15. In Lima, have a taxi driver take you to the Yerbadero. In Huancayo, ask your taxi driver to take you to colectivos to Lima. These will be found a bit out of the city center on Real Street. Lonely Planet also talks about a company called Comite 12 that has a station right around the Municipalidad.
Taxis - transport in the city is around 3 soles (~US$1.10). Trips to more distant parts of the city can range up to 6 soles.
Nicolás Carhuaz Chipana, Nicolás Taxi, in the city of Huancayo, is a very friendly, patient, knowledgeable and helpful taxi driver (however, he doesn't speak much English) who will take you on self-designed excursions to the Mantaro Valley, and isn't afraid to drive off the beaten path! Telephone: +51-(0)964736038. E-mail: [email protected]
Buses - buses and colectivos within the city generally cost less than 1 sol. Routes generally follow the main streets, but can be variable, so ask around for specifics.
- Cerrito de la Libertad Take a taxi or walk to this view point over the whole city, which also boasts a small zoo and several restaurants.
- Torre-Torre Sandstone needles, the impressive effect of erosion, are less than a kilometer past El Cerrito de la Libertad. A taxi can get you close, but the last bit has to be done on foot. Torre Torre offeres better views of the city and valley than El Cerrito.
- Visit the market area behind the railway station to Lima.
- La Inmaculada A church where you can often find local musicians that wait to be hired for some wedding or whatever, some of whom play on real cow horns. Generally only open for mass and special ceremonies.
- Parque de la Identidad Huanca (Wanka) A famous park in the city that is widely loved for its strange and artistic design that is popular with children. It is a celebration of the Huanca culture and includes statue of local heros, many labeled plants, and a gift shop with local crafts.
- Museo Salesiano - Located on the second floor of the Colegio Salesiano (school), the museum costs 5 soles. It has an extensive collection of Peruvian animals and artifacts, but next to no labeling or information on them.
- Cross on the hill - visible from the city, it is possible to walk up to the cross on the hill in about 2 hours for a view of the city and valley. Just follow Prolongacion Trujillo through eucaliptus-ringed fields, heading left when you can't go straight.
- Huarivilca, or Warivilca. A temple ruin from the Wari era. Take a colectivo or a taxi to the village Huari. You will find the museum (service in the morning and in the afternoon) in the plaza. You can get there explanations in English. After the museum, the guide will show you the ruins, too.
- Traditional Crafts Classes - Gourd carving, weaving, wood carving, cooking, dance, musical instruments, etc. offered by Incas del Peru (incasdelperu.org) They also have Spanish classes. 15 hour minimum; homestays available
- Volunteer - Several organizations exist including Mosoq Ayllu (volunteering-in-peru.com) and Incas del Peru. Both offer homestays and require a 1 week minimum commitment.
- Day trip through craft villages - offered by multiple tourist agencies in the valley for different prices, but in the end all the agencies send their clients to the same bus. The tour is well guided in Spanish and goes to San Jeronimo, Ingenio, and several other villages.
- Huaytapallana Glacier - A full day excursion requiring a guide, the glacier is well worth the trouble. The tourist kiosk in Huanmamarca Plaza (under the giant golden hat)offers a trip for s/45 per person (about $20 US) that passes spectacular turquois lakes and lets you climb up onto the glacier to play in the snow. Incas del Peru (Av. Giraldez) offers overnight trips as well. The glacier is at about 5000 meters above sea level, so aclimatization is highly recommended prior to climbing as the trek is steep and rigorous in places.
- Laguna de Paca (Lake) - A decent-sized lake surrounded by hills, Laguna de Paca offers boat rides and restaurants in a peaceful setting. Take a bus to Jauja, and transfer to a colectivo (shared taxi) heading to Laguna de Paca. The boats and restaurants are a bit before the village of Paca, and it is an easy walk between them. Warning: the road does not go all the way around the lake.
- Laguna de Nahuinpuquio/Arwuaturo Ruins - The Huanca (Wanka) ruins are on top of a hill, and the small lake is below (5-10 min. walk). There is often a guide at the ruins willing to explain the history for a small tip. At the lake are restaurants and boats for rent. Take a bus to Chupaca, then a colectivo (shared taxi) to the lake (drivers are generally willing to drop you at the ruins too if you ask). If no taxis are available to take you back, it is a 2km walk down to the village of Ahuac where there are many more taxis than at the lake.
- Virgen de Concepcion - Above the town of Concepcion is a giant white virgin statue (25.4m). For 2 soles you can climb inside her and pop out of her head for 360 views of the Mantaro Valley.
- Horseback riding - offered at Divertilandia and other locations in the valley.
- Go to Ingenio and try the delicious trout menus. You can also catch your own fish and visit the local fish farm where they raise the trouts.
- Feria dominical - The very interesting "Feria de Huancavelica" Sunday market on Huancavelica Street. There is a large section with local artisans working in a wide variety of media, as well as all manner of foodstuffs, from guinea pigs to tropical fruits, raw and prepared. Also all sorts of more "conventional" goods.
- Silver jewelry in San Jeronimo
- Weavings in Hualhuas
- Carved gourds in Cochas Chicas/Cochas Grandes
(crafts are also available at the Feria Dominical (Sundays on Av. Huancavelica) or Casa Artesanal (in front of the central plaza) or Mercado Artesanal (behind Plaza Huanmamarca).)
It is a pity that this region is unknown to tourists, everything is great and especially its local food. By not visiting the region of Junin, people miss a lot of Peru's culture and tradition. If you are a culinary addict, you have to jump on the Ferrocarril Central (it would give you a good first glance of the good local food)and run to a restaurant in Conception or Jauja!
Everyone who visits the region of Junin has to go and eat a trout in the village of Ingenio, home to farms where these fish are raised. Every restaurant has its own recipes and ways of preparing this local product. You have to try the cebiche de trucha or trucha a la huancaina!
For the bravest (some would say cold-hearted if one saw the live animals cowering in the Sunday market) the most noteworthy dish that could end your starvation is the picante de cuy or cuy chactado (guinea pig). It is found in every restaurant and every tourist simply has to try it before they leave the region, it is an experience!
Another typical local dish would be the papa a la Huancaina (potatoes in a delicious and a touch spicy yellow sauce) with a plate of Pachamanca (a way of cooking the food over heated stones, similar to roasting, served with different meats and vegetables); they are delicious.
For vegetarians, there are seven restaurants in the 7th and 8th blocks of Jr. Arequipa around Jr. Ica. On Jr. Piura there is even a Chifa vegetariana. Most of which have very cheap 'menus' (from 3.50 to 5 soles, which includes a soup, a main, usually a drink - most often tea - and sometimes even a small desert). Particularly good is "El Pobre", which also has a breakfast menu and very friendly owners. It is also popular with locals: always a good sign. "La Cabaña" has VERY slow and disorganized service and overly loud Peruvian folkloric music.
"Govinda's" is another good choice providing good choice in curries and uses local and organic produce where possible. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Jr. Cuzco 289.
Club & discoteques
- La Noche, Jr. San Antonio 241 - Huancayo
- Taj Mahal, Av Huancavelica - Huancayo
- El Tayta, Av Huancavelica #859 - Huancayo
- Hotel Kiya, A relatively upscale hotel in Huancayo, in the center of the main city, double room for 66 soles (Average rate US$20). English is spoken. Contact: [email protected], Telephone: +5164 214955
- La Casa de la Abuela, Pasaje de San Jose 162, dorms for 20 soles per person or double room for 25 soles per person. Recently moved to a rather outlying location that is VERY difficult for many cab drivers to find. Be sure to get the map that the hotel gives out and to tell the cabdriver the place is located near UPLA. On the plus side, this hotel is clean, quiet and inexpensive, the breakfast is pretty decent, and they'll pick you up from the hotel for free. On the minus side, besides the remote location, the hotel is run in a rather chaotic hippie way, with no staff to be found before 8AM or 9AM, the showers are lukewarm at best, and the rooms are very poorly thought out with respect to storage space. This hotel has the same ownership as "La Cabaña" and pushes that restaurant/bar pretty hard; but the restaurant is even more disorganized than the hotel! Telephone: +51-64-22 33 03, +51-64-23 43 83. E-mail: [email protected]
- Hostal Las Lomas, Av. Giráldez 327, tel-fax: +51 (0)64 23 75 87. Close to the train station and the Plaza de Armas. Good value for money. Winston and Helena, the couple of super-friendly owners, will inform you with pleasure about the places to visit in the area, explaining all the practical details.
- Hospedaje Baldeon, Amazonas 543 (Off from Av. Giraloez), ☎ 064-231634. This hospedaje is bare minimum. Not much in the room other than a bed and desk (no plug-in). Hot shower is available outside but you need to ask to turn it on. Family run apparently hasn't changed for decades including the price list dated 1994. Still maintained well and the old lady is very pleasant and helpful. No compromise in security, and even a registered guest won't allowed to enter after 10pm. S/.10 per bed.
- Hostal El Rey, Jr. Mantaro 368 (corner with Huamanmarca), ☎ 964-886947. Good value and location, one block from the city square in the market area. Rooms are clean and most have private bathroom and cable TV, but hot water is scarce and need to ask to turn it on. No wifi. It is better to reserve during weekends. Single room with private bathroom from S/.15.
- La Posada de Santa Maria, Jr. Ica 684, ☎ 064-231515, . Decent family-run hotel. Good common-area with couch, cats and birds. WiFi available. S/.25 for single room with shared bath. S/.40 with private bath. You can also book from booking.com with premium.
- There are several hotels on the city square with rates well under 100 soles per night, and a couple block off the city square, there are many hostals/alojamientos starting 10 soles per night. Except during festivals, there's probably no need for reservations.
- Central Jungle - Take a bus 4 hours to La Merced to experience the central jungle (makes a good weekend trip, but can be done in a day if you're short on time). Buses leave from the multi-company terminal on Av. Ferrocarril.
- Huancavelica - Take a spectacular train journey to the capital of the department of Huancavelica surrounded by about 4000 m high mountains that give a fantastic panorama and many colonial buildings dominate the view.
- Jauja - The oldest capital of Peru. Many colonial buildings around the plaza. Also the starting point to Tunamarca. Catch a frequent bus along Av. Ferrocarril (there are two routes, Izquierda and Derecha. Izquierda (left) is a bit faster. Or, catch an auto/colectivo leaving from Jr. Mantaro, two block east of the municipal plaza.