The Huascarán National Park.
The snow-capped Mount Huascarán is considered as Peru´s highest mountain. It is situated 22 kilometers from Huaraz and reaches the altitude of 6,768 meters above sea level (m.a.s.l.). This national park, declared as Humanity´s Natural Patrimony, by the UNESCO, in 1985, covers an area of 340,000 hectares and is characterized by its famous lagoons with their intense colors, called Parón, Llanganuco, Llaca, Queroqocha and others still, in the ecosystems of which there is an important flora and fauna, the whole forming landscapes of great beauty.
It possesses Peru´s highest snow-covered mountains, such as the Huascarán (6,768 m.a.s.l.). The Huascarán´s Northern summit was crowned for the first time, in 1932, by an Austrian and German expedition (Kinzl, Bernard, Borchers, Hein, Hoerlin and Schnaider), and its Southern summit, the highest, was crowned on August 4, 1953, by the brothers Apolonio, Pedro and Guido Yanac, as well as by Fortunato and Felipe Mautino and Macario Ángeles, of the White Cordillera Andinist Club.
In 1970, huge blocks of ice came loose from the Huascarán´s slopes, causing the complete destruction of whole villages, in the Callejón de Huaylas, as in the tragedies of Yungay and Ranrahirca.
The White Cordillera
It has a length of 180 kilometers, between Conococha Lagoon (To the South) and the Huallanca area (To the North). Its glacier area is of 720 km², with 27 snow-capped mountains that rise over 6,000 meters in altitude, such as the Huascarán (6,768 meters) and almost one hundred that rise above 5,000 meters, like the Pyramid of the Alpamayo (5,947 meters), the world´s most beautiful snow-covered mountain, followed by the K2, in the Himalayas and Fitz Roy, in Argentina, according to the Scenic Beauty World Contest, organized in Munich, in 1996.
Apart from the Huascarán, there are other very high and beautiful snow-capped mountains, such as: Huandoy Centro (6,395 m.), Chopilcalqui (6,354 m.), Siulá Grande (6,344 m.), Santa Cruz (6,259 m.), Sarapo (6,127 m.), Hualcán (6,122 m.), Chacraraju (6,112 m.), Jirishanca (6,094 m.), Pucahirca (6,046 m.), Alpamayo (5,957 m.) and Pastoruri (5,240 m.). Likewise, there are 600 beautiful lagoons originated by glaciers, like those of Llanganuco (At the foot of the Huascarán), Parón, Churup and Jatuncocha.
The Black Cordillera.
The Black Cordillera is a rocky mountain range, situated west of the White Cordillera, and between both of them, runs the Callejón de Huaylas (Corridor of Huaylas), geologically formed by volcanic rocks and slopes for agricultural use. Its main altitudes are: Rocarre (5,187 m.), Coñocranra (5,181 m.), Cancahua (5,102 m.), Rumicruz (5,020 m.), Cerro Rico (5,014 m.) and Huancapeti (4,968 m.). In contrast with the White Cordillera, summits lower than 5,000 m. in altitude, lack glaciers.
The place called “Cueva del Guitarrero” (Guitar Player´s Cave) is located in the Black Cordillera, where North American anthropologist Thomas Lynch discovered, in 1969, very ancient cultural remains, dating between 10950 and 10230 b.C. (Sample GX 1859), for which that place is considered as one of the great testimonies of the origin of agriculture in America. Likewise, this mountain range shelters great mineral resources, such as gold, which are presently being exploited.
The Huayhuash Mountain Range.
This mountain range situated south of the White Cordillera, has an extension of 30 kilometers in length, and possesses very beautiful snow-capped mountains, like Mounts Yerupajá, Jirishanca, Siulá, Carnicero and Trapecio. That cordillera has Himalayan features and six peaks that rise above 6,000 meters, in addition of dozens of lakes, such as Carhuacocha, Jahuacocha and Mitucocha. Its main access is by the city of Chiquián, located 2 hours from the city of Huaraz. It is an ideal area to do adventure tourism, and mainly hikes and andinism.
El Cañón del Pato The Duck´s Canyon.
It has been formed by erosion generated by the Santa River´s tumultuous waters. Its walls rise above 2,000 meters in altitude and are almost 1,000 meters deep, It is an impressive geographical accident, in which the Black Cordillera´s granit walls are separated by less than 5 meters. That geographical conformation has allowed great engineering works, like the Cañon del Pato´s Hydroelectric Plant; one of the country´s most important electrical power generating sources. The Cañon del Pato (Duck´s Canyon) delimits the Callejón de Huaylas, to the North. From there, the Santa River takes a North-east – South-west course, all the way to its mouth and into the Pacific Ocean.
The Parón Lagoon.
Parón´s Lagoon is the most important soft water deposit in the Callejón de Huaylas. It is located 100 km. North of Huaraz and 32 km. from Caraz, at an altitude of 4,185 m.a.s.l., with a maximum depth 76 meters and water volume of 55 million cubic meters. It is the White Cordillera´s largest water resource reserve, and from it, one can contemplate the snow-capped mounts Garcilaso´s Pyramid, North Huandoy, Pisco, Chacraraju and Paria.
The Duke Energy – Egenor company had a concession over this lagoon, since 1994, and assumed its ownership, activating a dangerous water usage mechanism, exclusively oriented to increasing the profitability of the Cañón del Pato´s Hydroelectric Power Generation Plant, which notably affected the basin´s water flow, as well as agricultural activities.
Today, Parón returned to an autonomous administration, integrated by the National Water Authority, Huaylas´ Provincial Municipality and Ancash´s Regional Government. Therefore, Parón, with its recent Peruvian conquest, has become the symbol of struggle for the conservation of glacier masses and water resources directed towards lagoons, in the White Cordillera.
The Llanganuco Lagoon.
82 km. North of Huaraz, and 28 km. from Yungay, lies Llanganuco´s Lagoon (3,860 m.a.s.l.), composed of two lagoons: Chinancocha (Female lagoon) and Orcococha (Male lagoon). It is characterized by its waters´ turquoise green coloration and for the queuña forests that surround their shores. It also presents a beautiful landscape, from which one can observe the snow-covered Chopicalqui, Huascarán, Huandoy, Pisco, Chacraraju and Yanapaccha mountains.
The Llaca Lagoon.
It is located 27 km. from Huaraz. On the way, one can appreciate the Archaeological Complex of Wilcahuaín which belonged to the Huari culture. From the lagoon, there is an impressive view of the Occhapalca and Ranrapalca snow-capped mountains.
The Querococha Lagoon.
It is located at 3,840 m.a.s.l., and 57 km. South-east of Huaraz, on the road that leads to Chavín. It offers trout fishing activities, at certain times of the year, and in addition, it gives an excellent panoramic view of the Pukaraju and Yanamarey snow-covered mountains.
The Pachacoto-Carpa Lagoon.
It is located 57 km. South of Huaraz, at the deviation towards the Pachacoto-Carpa Gorge. In that place, are coexisting the “rolls” of the famous Phuya de Raymondi, Pumapampa´s gaseous water springs, Pumashimi´s water “eye” or spring, ancient paintings on rocks and an excellent view of the Muroraju, Huarapasca and Tuco snow-covered mountains. Only 3.5 km. from the road deviation, stands the snow-capped Mount Pastoruri, propitious for skiing and easy climbing andinism.
The Archaeological Complex of Chavín de Huantar.
Chavín de Huantar is located 109 kilometers from Huaraz, in the Province of Huari, in the White Cordillera´s foothills, at 3,180 m.a.s.l. Its antiquity dates back from 1500 to 500 b.C. and it was declared Humanity´s Cultural Patrimony by the UNESCO, in 1985.
The archaeological complex is composed of different buildings, pyramids, squares, doorways and stairways. The pyramidal constructions hide a network of inner passages and chambers which, in some cases, seem to be superposed. The material used for their construction, is stone which was also used to sculpt portraits of mythical figures, in high and bas relief, coated walls and sculpted stones (“Nailed” heads).
The Chavín Maze is a sculpted monolithic stone, with mythical figures, called Lanzón, of about 5 meters high. Another representative carved work, is the Doorway (The Castle), with its symbolism represented by dark colors (Outer world) and light ones (Inner world), and facing it, there is the Rectangular Square which was used for religious celebrations and the Circular Square or Old Temple which had carved mythical beings around its perimeter.
Monterrey´s Thermal Baths.
They are located 9 km. from Huaraz, in a place famous for its landscapes and thermo-medicinal waters, ideal for the treatment of rheumatisms.
The Thermal Baths of Chancos.
They are located 28 kilometers from Huaraz, near the locality of Marcará. These are baths and springs with transparent waters known for their medicinal properties.
It is located 106 kilometers from Huaraz, at an altitude of 5,240 m.a.s.l. That mountain is part of the mountain climbing circuits of Huaraz. It is ideal for nieve de embarque, skiing and sportive escalade. All along that area, one can observe the most spectacular snow-capped mountains, among which, the Huascarán (6,768 m.a.s.l.), Peru´s highest peak. In addition of its thermal springs and spectacular lagoons, like that of Llanganuco, the area is ideal to practice adventure sports, such as rafting, andinism, mountain biking or hiking.