Best of Peru’s Central Highlands
Festival de Apóstol Santiago: This July 25 festival features dancing and a ritualistic branding of cattle that blurs Christian and pre-Hispanic religious beliefs. It is but one of hundreds of traditional celebrations throughout the year in Huancayo and the surrounding Mantaro Valley.
Hualhuas: The authentic tapestries and rugs found in the Ayacucho market are produced here.
Cochas Grande: Here artisans practicing gourd carving—which dates to pre-Inca times—are glad to invite visitors into their homes.
Ayacucho City Tour: The streets of this hidden jewel include Renaissance and baroque churches and the friendliest and most interesting market in Peru, where bubbling pots of corn stews, dozens of chichas, and huge rocks of black salt are on display alongside a staggering array of countryside produce.
Huari: Exploring the countryside around Ayacucho leads to the ruins of Huari, the empire that made the Incas possible. Just 15 kilometers up the road, you’ll find Quinua, a charming adobe village known for its red-clay ceramics.
Barrio Santa Ana: The winding streets of this charming Ayacucho neighborhood are lined with stone carvers and rug weavers and graced with Iglesia Santa Ana de los Indios, a simple baroque church with an embossed silver altar.
© Ross Wehner and Renée del Gaudio from Moon Peru, 3rd Edition