Chavín de Huántar is a fortress temple built around 800 B.C. that offers a unique opportunity to tread through an extensive labyrinth of tunnels and culverts left by the Chavín culture, which spread its religion based on a feline deity throughout much of northern Peru. In 1985, UNESCO designated the ruin a World Heritage Trust site.
Callejón de Huaylas valley, below the Cordillera Blanca mountain range, is filled with picturesque villages and towns north of Huaraz that are excellent starting points for a variety of treks, mounting biking and ice climbing.
Carhuaz, located at 8,745 feet above sea level (2650m.a.s.l.), is the gateway into the beautiful Ulta valley, leading into the Cordillera Blanca. Other popular treks from Carhuaz include routes to the hot springs four miles (7km) east, near the village of Hualcán.
Yungay, at 7,380 feet above sea level (2237m.a.s.l.), was rebuilt after an earthquake on May 31, 1970, which unleashed a massive avalanche of ice and rock from Huascarán’s west wall that completely buried the town, killing most of its 20,000 inhabitants. A day walk brings you to Mirador de Atma, which offers spectacular vistas of Huascarán and Huandoy peaks and the Santa valley. It is also from Yungay that you reach.
Llanganuco Lake, one of the most popular destinations in the Cordillera Blanca – and the trail head for the area’s most famous trek, the Llanganuco to Santa Cruz circuit, which usually takes three to five days.
Caraz, at 7,490 feet above sea level (2270m.a.s.l.), is one of the few towns in the area spared complete devastation from the 1970 earthquake and retains its original Spanish colonial layout and architecture. It offers a particularly good base for treks to the north side of Alpamayo, known to many as “the most beautiful mountain in the world.”
Pastoruri Valley offers visitors a place to see lakes, glaciers and the amazing Puya Raimondi plant, the world’s largest bromeliad, which can grow up to 40 feet (12m) over an incredible 100-year lifespan.