Discover Conchucos

By Milagros Vera Colens
El Comercio

Discover Conchucos, PeruBetween the Cordillera Blanca and the Marañón River canyon is Conchucos Valley: an area that houses dreamlike landscapes, towns full of tradition, rich culture and ideal destinations for adventure sports.

Along this route there are several tourism ventures that are prepared to welcome you. One of them is the association Hijos de Acopalca, composed of 400 families that provide a proposal for rural community tourism which combines nature with archaeological and historical content.

Gold of the Andes
The journey begins at Chavin, located two hours from the city of Huaraz. There, you will find the archaeological monument of the same name which was declared Patrimony of Humanity.

Lanzón monolítico, Chavín cultureThis was an exclusive place for ceremonies and rituals to predict the future, carried out by the warrior priests of the Chavin culture.

The most notable feature of the place is its stone architecture (which used an anti-seismic technique) and its most famous elements such as the Lanzón monolítico, which was the main divinity, and the Cabezas clavas or guardians, says the official tour guide, Liz Durand.

Starting in 2010, this circuit will be lit in order to offer its visitors a mystical experience and show the other face of Chavin. Although the dates are not yet set, Gestur Áncash said that the plan is to illuminate the monument at Easter, holidays and long weekends.

Meanwhile, you can visit it Tuesdays through Sundays from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. and the best thing to complete the visit will be attending the Chavin National Museum, which showcases more than 30 cabezas clavas and other original pieces from this culture.

You can spend the night in this district since it has a wide range of accommodations and delicious cuisine based on trout and pork skin.

Fun and Natural
Dozens of artisans, textile and wood carvers start their work while visiting groups are preparing to leave for the Acopalca community in the district of Huari.

After an hour on a paved road and 20 minutes on a trail, we arrive at the Hydroelectric Power Plant María Jiray. After that, you can visit the waterfall that bears the same name and has a drop of 300 meters.

The hike to the waterfall takes about 20 minutes. During the walk, you will find the famous bromeliads and other varieties of plants as well as some birds.

The next stop is Lake Purhuay, considered Natural Heritage of Humanity and located within the limits of the Huascaran Biosphere Reserve, where a group of musicians and dancers will welcome you.

It is fascinating to travel five miles by boat at a cost of between 5 and 10 soles per person, or by kayak for a price of around 20 soles, depending on the time of rental.

Opposite the pier is a ceremonial center of the Incan times called Llama Corral, which can be toured in just 10 minutes. This place, which has not yet been recovered by the INC, has access through the lagoon and another through a trail.

For lunch, one of the best options offered by its inhabitants is fried trout. The local people have also implemented a camping area, toilets and have local guides who will accompany you on your journey.

Sleeping a few meters away from the lagoon is a natural and relaxing experience; for this, you must have special equipment for cold regions (with temperatures below 5 ° C). The next day you can visit the San Juan fish farm that produces 20 tons of trout per month, or purchase looms (made of wool and natural dyes) that the community produces.

Translated from Spanish by Diana Schwalb