Parque Nacional Huascarán y Cañón del Pato. 24 al 26 de Marzo, 2011.
Barranca a Huaraz: 4.5 hs
Huaraz a Caraz: 1.5 hs
Caraz a Huanchaco: 7 hs (incluyendo cambio de neumático – including changing tires)
Llegamos primero a Huaraz, la ciudad más importante de la región aunque no muy linda. Nos quedamos sólo a dormir, y como el hotel no era muy lindo, decidimos ir a comer algo rico al restaurante del Hotel Andino. La comida era buena, pero nos estafaron con los precios, un delirio. A la mañana siguiente nos fuimos hacia el Parque Nacional Huascarán, donde se encuentra la cordillera tropical más alta del mundo: la Cordillera Blanca (con picos de 6000 a 6500 m). Pasamos por los pueblitos de Carhuaz y Yungay. Y en el parque nacional visitamos las lagunas de Llanganuco (Chinancocha y Orconcocha). Como estaba lloviendo un poco, decidimos en vez de acampar llegar al siguiente pueblito Caraz y dormir ahí. Menos mal que no acampamos, porque llovió toda la noche, y además porque en las cabañas donde nos quedamos (Chamanna) nos atendieron súper bien. Son de una alemana, que a pesar de haber estado 18 años en Perú habla muy poco español pero nos preparó un desayuno riquísimo. Al día siguiente visitamos otra parte del parque nacional, la laguna Parón. La laguna era muy linda, pero la ruta para llegar era muuuuy larga y en muy mal estado. Cenamos en las cabañas al lado de un fueguino y al día siguiente partimos hacia el Cañón del Pato. La ruta del cañón era espectacular, pasamos por más de 36 túneles. El cañón no es muy profundo pero sí súper angosto, las paredes de ambos lados están muy cerca. Al rato de terminar el cañón, pinchamos nuevamente una goma. Eso nos demoró un buen rato, pero finalmente E logró cambiarla y seguimos hasta Huanchaco, un pueblo en la playa a pocos minutos de Trujillo. Por suerte llegamos de día, nos instalamos en un lindo hotel y fuimos a ver el atardecer en la playa.
We headed for the mountains once more to visit the Huascarán National Park, the ruins of Chavín de Huantar and to drive through the “Callejón de Huaylas” (the road between Huaraz and Caraz) and then back down to sea level through the Cañon del Pato. The route is a steep climb from Barranca to 4000 m and then back down to about 3200 m in Huaraz. The road was in great shape, courtesy of the mining industry in the area, although we had to stop a few times and wait for maintenance crews to finish their work. At a roadside stop on the way up to Huaraz E stopped to get bananas and came back with a bag full of exotic fruits (ok there were also apples and peaches in the bag). The tastiest one was chirimoya and pacay a close second. Huaraz is a big town but not very attractive so we stayed one night and continued on our way to Caraz. The ruins of Chavín de Huantar are closest to Huaráz but still a three hour drive each way so we decided to skip them. Unfortunately the few days we were in the mountains it was mostly cloudy and raining so we didn’t get a good view of the Cordillera Blanca (glaciers and white peaks with over 6000 m). We went off the main road in search of a hotel we wanted to go to and found a couple of quiet mountain villages, Matacoto and Santo Toribio. In Matacoto a local farmer (that also ran a small snack shop) explained that he grew organic avocados fertilized with manure and that the most heavily chemically fertilized crop was corn. All the avocado is shipped to Lima and sold at big supermarkets. This same farmer gave us directions to the hotel (Almawasi) but when we got there no one was at home. The hotel is surrounded by avocado, lemon and many other trees and plants we didn’t recognize and had several vegetable gardens. We continued up to nearby Santo Toribio and stopped for a snack hoping there would be someone at the hotel by the time we came back but we had no luck. That afternoon we decided to visit the Llanganuco part of the Huascarán National Park. The dirt/rock road leading to the park was long (~1.5 hs each way) and in bad shape. The lakes had an almost purple color even without the sun shining. We were about to stay camping but with rain and at US$50 we decided to find a place in Caraz. After a little searching we found Chamanna, the place we had written down in our list. Ute, the owner, was surprised to see us because after having the road leading to her hotel closed for repairs for an entire year she did not receive many guests. Her hotel was really nice with clean rooms, a spectacular garden filled with all kinds of flowers, and the best breakfast we had in all of Perú (it included freshly-cut mangoes, pancakes, tamales, humita, scrambled eggs, ham, cheese, cucumber, bread and I’m probably forgetting something). There was also Wolfie with whom T played a lot. The following day we visited the section of the Huascarán National Park leading to the Laguna Parón. This time the drive was longer and the road in worse condition than the Llanganuco section. By the time we got to the lake we were all tired of being in the car. It was a nice lake but probably not worth the drive.
After out second night and breakfast at Chamanna we headed towards Huanchaco a small beach town near Trujillo. The drive is through the Cañón del Pato (~Duck Canyon) and follows the path of the Rio Santa. The road was a lot of fun: we went through over 40 tunnels, narrow road sections and enjoyed dramatic mountain and river views. That drive was worth the whole time in the mountains. It was too bad that about an hour before arriving to Huanchacho we blew a tire (that needs to be replaced). We arrived in Huanchacho in time to watch the sun set over the Pacific Ocean and later relaxed at the beach and played games with the kids.