We were up early to enjoy a hearty breakfast before heading out to catch the tour bus from Huaraz to Chavin. I was excited about going as I had heard so much about this archaeological treasure belonging to the Chavin Culture that spanned the centuries from 1200BC to 200BC. What I wasn’t expecting were the amazing sights on the way there. I had thought that the vistas on the ride to Huaraz could not be beat but I was wrong. The sites on the way to Chavin are breath taking.
After breakfast we headed into the center of Huaraz to catch the tour we had signed up for. The cost of the tour was S/.45 Soles but did not include lunch or entrance to the archaeological site (S/.11 Soles). Entrance to the archaeological museum in Chavin was included. It was a holiday weekend and the tour bus was full which made it a little cramped for me. Buses in Peru are not made to accommodate tall people well. We headed up into the mountains again and at first, we traveled along the same road that had brought me into Huaraz. It was nice since the sun had set that evening and I couldn’t see the beautiful landscapes that driving by the Rio Santo afforded. The morning sun provided views of the farms populating the banks of the river and sides of the mountains in this area. Peru is an amazingly fertile country and I think almost any crop would grow well here.
Unfortunately on this trip the bus had two flat tires which delayed our trip about 1½ hours. Still, for me, all events on a trip like this provide fodder for an interesting story. While in the small village getting the tires replaced, I was able to wander about for a bit and get a feel for life here. Like any small out of the way place, the pace is a lot slower. After an hour had passed, two passengers decided they had waited long enough and left the tour which provided me with better seating near a window so I could take plenty of photos of the remarkable panoramas on the way there.
Our first stop was at Lake Querococha high in the Andes. The majestic mountains rose up around it creating the most astonishing vista. There was a herd of sheep feeding on the shores and a woman in native dress with a Momma and baby Alpaca for touristic type photos. It was just too hard for me to resist as well as most of the people on the tour. A boat was docked at a small pier which made me wonder if the lake was well stocked with lake trout. It was the kind of place where anyone that I know would love to have a small summer cabin. We were only allotted twenty minutes at the lake since we were behind on the tour.
Boarding the bus again we headed up the mountains even higher. The switchbacks are too numerous to count but do provide people on both sides of the bus with striking views of the lake as the bus heads up away from it. Cresting the mountain and heading down we passed through a tunnel which supposedly has magical properties and will grant wishes made while passing through it. Mine has yet to come true but I am holding out hope that it will eventually. As you exit the tunnel, have your cameras ready, there is a huge statue of Christ built atop one of the peaks. It is a startling and totally unexpected visual delight. One can’t help but wonder how this thing was built here. A stop might have been included if we had not been delayed by the flat tires.
As the bus started down the backside of the mountains and headed into Chavin our eyes were once again bombarded with inconceivable views of the regal Andes. Huge slabs of granite pushed high into the sky by the action of the tectonic plates in this area. You could actually see the layers of stone created by millennia of pressure. As water worked its way down the sides of the mountain, it created fertile valleys and areas where crops could be grown or where livestock could feed on the plentiful grasses. The switchbacks seemed to be never ending as I peered down the side of the mountain from the window of the bus.
Finally, I could see the Mosna River and the small town of Chavin at the bottom. It was another perfect postcard moment and I could not help but wonder how the people had arrived here before roads were built. I was also grateful that we had those two flat tires in the small village and not on the curving road that led down to Chavin. Arriving we headed into the heart of the small town to a restaurant for lunch and a little time to stretch our legs before continuing the tour. The buildings in Chavin are colorful, the streets well maintained with minimal traffic except for the tour buses. As in all Latin American towns there is a central plaza with a church and shops for buying souvenirs.
The trip to Chavin is most assuredly a trip worth taking in all by itself. The lakes, rivers, mountains, farms and small villages you encounter are the real Peru. Take the time to enjoy it.