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HUANCABAMBA AND THE HUARINJAS

Huancabamba is an urban rural settlement, the capital of the province by the same name in the Piura Region, at 1,929 meters above sea level, on the banks of the river by the same name, in a valley located in Sierra de Huamani in the Andean Cordillera of the north of Peru, among whose peaks are found the famous sacred lakes or "Huarinjas Lagoons".

Located at the eastern tip of the region, 214 Km southwest of the city of Piura, the province of Huancabamba covers a surface area of 4,254 km2, and has a population of 127,545 spread among the Cordillera Valleys and slopes, up to 3,000 meters above sea level, always in villages or settlements near farmland.

The best time to visit this place is from April through November, when there is little rain, the climate is pleasant and the roads are in driving condition. However climate varies somewhat throughout the province, the Huancabamba Valley being temperate and slightly humid, whereas the higher areas are very wet and cold, and near the coast the weather is very slightly humid and pleasantly warm.

The Huacapampa (large sacred "dolmen" plain or valley) culture developed throughout the Huancabamba river valley, as shown by ruins and archaeological artifacts found all over the territory, the main ruins being: the Jaguar Temple of Mitupampa, the pre-Inca cemetery of Maraypampa and the citadel of Huarmichina at the Jaen frontier that was recently discovered by the Italian archaeologist Mario Polia, confirming the theory of J.C Tello about the Amazonian origin of this culture.

Around 1480 the Inca Tupac Yupanqui conquered the province, outlawing the Jaguar cult and imposing Inca culture and methodology, to the point of turning it into one of the main provinces of Inca domain; later, in mid-October 1532 the first Spanish conquistadors made an initial contact with the main Andean cities of Caxas and Huancabamba, through the advance of Hernando de Soto, who was following the Inca Trail linking Quito to Cuzco.

Once the territory had been conquered by the Spaniards, the Huancabamba indians were split up into encomiendas and parcelas, originating the native communities that still remain culturally united, such as Quispampa, Huarmaca and Forasteros.

Inca Huancabamba was dismantled to use its stonework to build the new colonial city; its plaza de armas used period stonework to decorate the surrounding streets, and the plaza itself was embellished with flower gardens and plants brought from afar. It has a fountain designed by the Huancabamba artist Jibaja Che, and is the social meeting point for the population.

The "Matriz" Church and the "Palacio Municipal" are both colonial-type buildings erected in the 19th century and still in service. The main museum has exhibits on: ancient stonework, metallurgy, ceramics and mortuary remains from the Huancabamba culture and other surrounding cultures. It also has a reference library on Huancabamba.

The most important destinations here are:

The Huaringas:
The Huaringas are 14 ponds and lakes of different shapes and sizes. Being considered highly potent in therapeutic magic, they are regularly frequented by witch-doctors and faith-healers from every part of the country, who perform their cures in this area, as well as many local and foreign faith-healing believers. They are used to carry out the traditional rites of the local faith-medicine. Of the 14, the most visited are "Shimbe" and "Negra Lagoon". To access this area one must leave at dawn by local bus from Huancabamba. After a two-hour trip one gets to the village of Salala, and from this point get to the first lake by mule or on foot. Tradition demands that you come accompanied by your witch-doctor or shaman, whom you may find locally or bring with you from another town. They are north of Huancabamba at 3,500 meters above sea level. As well as these lakes, there is another less-famous group of seven lakes, called "Las Palanganas" (The Washbasins) that are remarkable for the beauty of their setting. The climate here and water temperature are both on the cold side. In the surrounding vegetation there are ichu, chilhua, totora reed and different bushes.

Archaeology:
The places of most archaeological interest in the province are: "the Jaguar Temple", located in Mitupampa, district of Sondorillo, one hour from Huancabamba by car, and at 2,800 meters above sea level; "El paredon" (The Wall), located in Huancacarpa Alto at 3,400 meters above sea level, two hours by car from Huancabamba; "Andeneria de Pasapampa", a site containing a museum that exhibits stone plates found there, and located two and a half hours away by car; "Caxas and Inca Baths", located in the village of Chulucanitas Bajo, in the Inca Ravine, three hours away on a paved road; "Huarmichina Citadel", recently discovered and being studied at the moment, very close to the frontier with Jaen, on Mt Huarmichina; and finally, "Paraton Ruins" in the district of Huarmaca, Mt Paraton.

Other attractive places are: "El Sitan": a waterfall some 20 m high, in the Curlata Ravine, district of Sondor, accessed by driving along a paved road for fifty minutes from Huancabamba, plus a 15 minute walk; "Infiernillos Valley": two hours from Huancabamba along a paved road in the district of Sondor, a place showing a variety of weird and fantastic shapes forming hollows and outcrops due to wind and rain erosion.

Its folklore is well represented by the "Danza de los Diablos" (Devils' Dance), taking place from July 16 to 18, during the feast of the "Virgen del Carmen"; it also produces unique spirits such as Rompope, a mixture of sugar cane alcohol with cinnamon, sugar, and bitter lemon, as well as Diamantina, a similar drink that includes milk.


 
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