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in and out of huaraz


Huaraz is not a pretty town – most of it was destroyed in the 70s by a massive earthquake and the city which rose phoenix-like from the ruins is a rude mass of raw concrete block and cheap brick constructions, a forest of exposed steel reinforcing sprouting from flat cement rooftops with a view to quick expansion when the money and need appear. But above this sprawling graceless mess the mountains rise in effortless splendor and within an hour you can be there. Add to this a bustling market and a range of interesting people coming and going it turns out to be a place to linger for some time, in between various forays into the Cordillera.

The Cordillera Blanca rising above Huaraz.



While in Huaraz, I sample a few dishes outside my usual budget of 4 or 5 soles (around $2) a meal.

Cuy (guinea pig) is South America's signature dish. The beasts are on the small, bony and lean side. My final verdict is that they are tasty enough but hard work to eat and not up to fulfilling a hungry cyclists gargantuan appetite. It is possible that they are better suited to their role of tiny furry friends while still squeaking.

A meal more appropriate to the task of feeding cyclists is pacha manka - a traditional dish featuring a range of meats slow baked to mouth watering tenderness in hot coals and earth along with various root vegetables.

The various offerings arrive neatly wrapped lending the experience a lucky dip feel. You can expect to find chicken, pork, beef, sweet potatoes, tamales and other tasty treats in the parcels..

On the street women sell syrupy drinks that attract bees... vast numbers:...

... not to be approached lightly by diabetics, apiphobes or those suffering from bee-allergies.


Within an hour of the centre of Huaraz, a series of ‘quebradas’ that open out their finger-like tendrils deep into the Cordillera offer endless opportunities for exploration from day trips to two or three day hikes.

It's a simple business to set off on an easy three day walk up...

... the quebrada...

... into the luminous territory of glaciers...

... to the rocky summit, before dropping down into the adjacent quebrada for a return to Huaraz.

One of the joys of hanging out in Huaraz is meeting a few like-minded people. Harriet and Neil (aka Pikes on Bikes) have set themselves up in an apartment in Huaraz for six months to definitively explore all of the trekking options in the area and so they provide not only good company but also a wealth of information.

Harriet, Neil and I set off on a day trip to visit Laguna Lejiacocha which sits just below Copa's summit. The walk starts in a village that boasts the usual population of mama pigs...

...and baby pigs.

This curious little one left a big blog of piggish mush on my camera lens which unfortunately I did not notice for some time so my photos for the next day or two feature an unfortunate and ugly mystery smear.

Hysterically barking dogs are also a big part of Peruvian village life...

... but once we rise above that things are a little more tranquil. Hillary leads the way...

... followed by Neil.

The wild flowers are passing out of season but there is still...

... plenty to admire.

An intricate glacier decorates the mountain...

... above the green waters of the lake where we sit and refuel on trail snacks before turning around and descending again.


Venturing into the Cordillera Negra offers a birds-eye view of Huaraz and a more distant perspective on Blanca’s peaks. Neil and I set off for an short ride in the hills on a day when Harriet is unfortunately incapacitated by unwelcome stomach guests.

The road winds up out of Huaraz...

... to provide a birds-eye view of the city with the cloud-topped peaks of the Cordillera Blanca rising up behind.

We turn off the pavement onto a dirt road that inevitably leads...

... to a mine. Mining is Peru's big current money spinner but the environmental cost is heavy and heavily contested. These buildings are long abandoned.

{ 2 } Comments

  1. Harriet | September 29, 2013 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

    Great post Amelia!

  2. anna | September 29, 2013 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

    Ummmm… who’s Amelia?

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