Elevation: 3050m / Population: 120,000 / Telephone Code: 043
The Valley of Callejon de Huaylas is one of the best places in South America to enjoy superb mountain scenery and plenty of outdoor activities such as trekking, mountain climbing, mountain biking, skiing and rafting. It's also a great place for the less adventurous who enjoy going for day walks and exploring the villages and their lively markets.
The 40 km wide valley runs north-south for nearly 200 km between the snow-capped mountains of the Cordillera Blanca (White Mountains) to the east and the Cordillera Negra (Black Mountains) to the west.
The main destination for visitors to the Callejon de Huaylas is the city of Huaraz, about 8 hours by bus from Lima. The setting of the city, at the foot of the Cordillera Blanca, is spectacular. You can see over 20 snow-capped peaks over 5000 meters, of which the most notable is Huascaran (6,768m), the highest mountain in Peru.
The first thing that strikes you on arrival in Huaraz is that it cannot exactly be called a pretty place, with most of the buildings built from concrete. This is because the town was completely rebuilt following a catastrophic earthquake in 1970 which flattened all but one street of buildings and killed half of the city's population.
However, Huaraz can provide all the facilities and infrastructure required by tourism. There are numerous hotels and hostals of varying kinds. Some are very basic, while some of the more expensive ones offer a luxurious mountain retreat.
Just about everything you need is on or near the main street, Calle Luzuriaga, including restaurants, tour operators and agencies, banks and the post office.
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