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CALLEJON DE HUAYLAS

On the way to Mount Huascarán

The Callejón or corridor stretches for 108 miles and 35 of its peaks are over 19,000 feet a.s.l. making it the highest, most extensive tropical cordillera in the world, as well as, why not, the most beautiful. It's enough to see incomparable Mt. Alpamayo a real master work of nature, to think maybe this is so.

Another gem in the Cordillera Blanca is Mt. Huascarán. Its summit at 21,996 feet a.s.l. touches an intensely blue sky and seems to tickle the clouds that look like goblets of snow or bunches of whitest cotton.

Because of its incomparable beauty, the zone was declared a National Park in 1975. A decade later, UNESCO awarded it the rank of Natural Patrimony of Humanity.

An authentic sanctuary of nature, the Huascarán To Related image to the Multimedia GalleryNational park extends for 1,312 square miles, with an average width of 12 miles. As well as imposing mountains, the area holds 200 exquisite lakes and a wide variety of flora.

The road to Huascarán is fascinating. The traveler will find a string of villages and other picturesque spots that will imprint themselves indelibly on his memory.

Leaving Huaraz by the road that leads to Lake Llanganuco, 4 miles on are the hot springs of Monterrey with waters reaching up to 100 degrees Fahrenheit that can give relief from certain rheumatic complaints.

Next town on the route is Carhuaz. Because of the yellow broom flowers that cover its neighboring hills, the ancient Peruvians called it Cca Huash or "Yellow". The Plaza de Armas,To Related image to the Multimedia Gallery with its bronze fountain, rose garden and tall palms swaying in the wind, is the heart of the town with its mild climate and air of tranquillity where the tourist can savor a 'raspadilla' (fruit-flavored shaved ice) made with natural ice brought from the foothills of the Cordillera Blanca.

Two palm trees and the cemetery were all that stoically withstood the fury of the landslide that buried Yungay in 1970. The town was wiped off the map in a matter of seconds; lives lost, dreams shattered. Nothing could be done in the face of the avalanche triggered by a huge chunk of Huascaran that broke off in the 'quake. The Cordillera was dissolving.

The wounds took years to heal. In Yungay the memory of the tragedy is still latentTo Related image to the Multimedia Gallery. On the vanished Plaza de Armas a cemetery has been built, watched over by an image of Christ the Redeemer who with a gesture full of kindness and peace seems to watchfully control the fury of the cordillera.

Leaving Yungay by the road that leads to Caraz, the traveler reaches the lakes of Llanganuco: the Chinancocha (Female Lake) whose waters are a dazzling turquoise; the Orconcocha (Male Lake) and Huahuacocha (Baby Lake) that lies between the two others.

Leaving the lakes behind, Caraz comes into view surrounded by the snowy peaks of Huandoy, Santa Cruz, Alpamayo, Aguja Nevada and others, reflected in the huge mirror of Lake Parón. The people of Caraz are expert weavers. They posses skills handed down through the centuries and their nimble fingers create handsome wool rugs and ponchos.

But Caraz is a town of sweetness as weaving is not the only activity of the local folk, they also know how to prepare desserts of fruits and "manjarblanco" (creamy beaten milk and sugar), which they call "cuarteado", whose delicious taste makes them famous throughout the region.


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Entering the Callejon
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