Some of the highest mountains in South America are part of the Cordillera Blanca most are more than 6000 m high and loom majestically over steep green valleys that are dotted with little settlements inhabited by the descendants of pre Columbian people and the Incas.
The mountains are draw for climbers, trekkers and hikers all over the world.
We left the coast and drove up to Caraz by way of the Canon the Pato, a one way paved road with lots of little tunnels. From Caraz, quiet little farming town that specializes in growing berries and carnations, a small dirt road winds its way up to a beautiful lake surrounded by all those famous mountains. Laguna Paron (4200 m ) is as picturesque as it can get and we decided to spend the night by the lake. The high altitude does not bother our sleep anymore and waking up to the aquamarine lake surrounded by snow-covered peaks is an unforgettable experience. We hiked to the end of the lake, an easy hike with great vistas.
Laguna 69 is another nice hike in the area, we camped in a field with cows near the trail head. The hike is very popular, so Günter got up early the next day and hiked up by himself. I stayed near the camper and watched the water fowl and viscachas (rabbit like animal with long tail, related to the chinchilla)near laguna Llanganuco. The drive over to the eastern side of the range was beautiful and long. Small dirt roads led through little towns, up passes, down canyons, it seemed like it took us forever to get to the ruins of Chavin de Huantar. In one particular town we saw several harps on the porch, it must have been a musical town, however, we did not see or hear anybody playing and the people were quite shy.
The ruins are not much to look at when you get there, but the interesting part is underground which was just fine since it had begun to rain. As we wandered through the underground rooms and hallways we finally found “Lanzon de Chavin”, the mystical obelisk 4,5 m high. It made us stop and think for a while. The ruins were a ceremonial center from a major cultural period around 1200 BC to 500 BC, long before the Incas. Chavin also has a nice museum and Querco thermal baths which we visited on a Monday, after the cleaning. We had a large tub that could hold a family and soaked in the sulphury water, it was great.
One of our tires was giving us a lot of troubles, it had been patched four times and still kept leaking air. We drove to Huaraz, the hiker/climber/trecker/mountain biker hub, to get the tire fixed yet again. We did not like that town and left as soon as we could, we read in our guide about a plant that grows only in a few places in the area. The grow in the valley that leads up to Nevado Pastoruri, the plant, Puya Raimondii is in the pineapple plant family and can grow to 7 m high, it matures late in life, can reach to proud age of 100 years and blooms only once. Its high stalk bursts with thousands of white flowers that buzz with humming birds, other birds and insects. We hiked up to the glacier and then spent the night in the midst of these majestic plants, something you can only do if you travel the way we do.
Lima was our next destination, we decided now to just get a set of new tires and were hoping that in a big city like Lima we can find the size we need.
CHAVIN DE HUANTAR RUINS: