|We (us and Helen) had been told that the journey to Huaraz was amazing if going through the Canon del Pato. This meant that we had to get the bus to Chimbote at 06.30 and then change to get the Yungay Express bus at 08.30. Chimbote was described in our book as `the smelliest city in Peru` and the only best thing about the place is the road out !!! We agreed with this !
The journey through to Huaraz was stunning. We passed through canyons with multi coloured rock formations. The journey was well worth it even though it was a bumpy ride. We passed through 45 tunnels and although the Canon del Pato was incredible the rest of the canyons were every bit as good. At Caraz we changed buses and with the blue skies we could see the snow capped high mountains all around.
We encountered a broken down bus and we had to dig the road out to be able to pass. As we were passing we knocked into the other bus and as we were driving away the other bus driver was through rocks at our bus. The bus drivers had a bit of a fight before we got back on our way !!
Huaraz (at 3091m) was half destroyed in the earthquake of May 1970. What the reconstructed city lacks in colonial charm it makes up by it`s spectacular setting between the mountains of the Cordilleras Blanca and Negra. The peaks of Huamashraju, Churup, Rima Rima and Vallunaraju loom so close as to seem almost a part of the architecture while, in the distance, the giants Huascaran and Huandoy can be seen. These are all snow capped mountains and look simply beautiful landscaped against the blue sky which seems to be the norm for Huaraz. Huascaran is the highest mountain in Peru at 6768m
We had a look around town to familiarise ourselves and played cards in the evening in the lounge of our hostal, which had two lounges as well as a balcony from which the stunning mountains could be seen. Our room also had great views of the mountains(although the balcony had not yet been built so the door led out to nothing !!). In the evening there were fires burning throughout the city and surrounding mountains. This was to celebrate San Juan and San Pedro. On this eve fires are lit to burn the chaff from the harvest. The following day the entire valley was thick with smoke.
We took an organised tour to Chavin de Huantar. The mini bus left our hostal at 9am but took almost an hour before it left Huaraz (picking up other people, buying food drink.... and sunglasses !!!). On the road to Chavin we stopped to take pictures of Huascaran and at a beautiful lake (Querococha) at 4000m. We then carried on up to 4500m through a tunnel that had been roughly cut and only had one lane. A car tried to come the other way but had to reverse all the way back as we were the bigger vehicle !!
After 5hrs we reached Chavin and the rest of the tour group decided to have lunch. We decided to go to the ruins (ourselves, Helen and another English couple).
Chavin de Huantar is a fortress temple built around 800 BC. It is the only large structure remaining of the Chavin culture. It is a UNESCO world heritage site. Investigations are still going on which suggests an extensive tunnel system beyond the boundaries of the current site which have yet to be excavated.
We had a look around the site where there were carved stones and a large plaza. It was also pòssible to go into the temple in several places which consisted of going down into small tunnels with lots of rooms. In one of these there was the famous Lanzon dagger shaped stone monolith with intricate carvings. Also outside there was a stone head. The whole place had been built to withstand earthquakes and was a stronghold for women and children to hide in when the men were out fighting. They had even built in little windows for the women to observe the fighting outside !!!!
We then had a long journey back to Huaraz and only got back at 8.30pm. We were exhausted after having sat on the bus for nine hours, but still had the energy to go out for a great thai meal !
The next day we had a look around town, watched football (Brazil vs Germany) in the pub and had dinner with Stephan and Leentje before taking a night bus to Lima.