Under Huaraz’s facade of sprawling cement-and-rebar buildings, muddy rivers, and haphazard produce markets, there is a thriving tourist town full of quaint hostels, coffeehouses, and delicious French restaurants.
At 3,028 meters (9,934 feet), Huaraz is the heart of the adventure sports scene in the Cordillera Blanca—and all of Peru. It has the best range of guides, agencies, and equipment shops. With a bit of common sense, hustle, and moolah, it is possible to arrive in Huaraz with no equipment and, within a few days, leave for a trek, climb, or bike trip. But beware of hustlers, con artists, and phony guides; their services also abound.
People in Huaraz are friendly, gregarious, and especially festive. The Plaza de Armas is often blocked off by a stream of children’s parades, marinera contests, and military formations. In the evenings, people stroll up and down Luzuriaga, the town’s eyesore of a main drag, passing a variety of restaurants, gear shops, and travel agencies. To the north, the market stretches along the Río Quilcay.
There are several sights in and around Huaraz that you can take in as easy days trips. Often Huaraz agencies include Chavín de Huántar and Lagunas Llanganuco in this day-trip category, but we recommend giving these sights at least a day and overnight.
Some final words of advice for Huaraz travelers: Keep an eye on your backpack, don’t leave the bus station with an unknown guide, be careful where you eat, and take at least two days to acclimatize before heading up into the mountains.
Getting to Huaraz
LC Busre (tel. 01/619-1313, www.lcbusre.net) has daily flights (US$130, one-way) to the area’s airport, which is 32 kilometers north of Huaraz in Anta.
If you want to get off the beaten track and take in some great scenery on your way to Huaraz, check out one of the adventure routes.
Huaraz is a comfortable 7–8-hour bus ride from Lima. The highway runs up to Lago Conococha at 4,000 meters before dropping into the Callejón de Huaylas and Huaraz. Buses going back and forth to Lima often start and end in Caraz, passing Huaraz en route. In recent years, bus companies have begun to pay particular attention to safety, and it is common for all passengers to be videotaped before departure. These extra measures have made night travel safer.
The best option for Lima–Huaraz travel is Movil Tours (Simón Bolívar 452, tel. 043/42-2555, www.moviltours.com.pe, 7 a.m.–11 p.m.), which has a range of buses to Lima 14 with a late-night, 180-degree reclinable seat service, just like in a first-class flight. Movil also goes to Chimbote and Trujillo.
A similar service, but not as comfortable, is provided by Cruz del Sur (Simón Bolívar 491, tel. 043/42-8726, www.cruzdelsur.com.pe, 5 a.m.–10 p.m. daily). The company has buses only to Lima.
The cheaper option is ZBus (Simón Bolívar 440, tel. 043/42-8327), which has two daily bus departures.
© Ross Wehner and Renée del Gaudio from Moon Peru, 3rd Edition