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The Cordillera Blanca
contains Peru’s highest mountains. It is a compact range which is crossed at its highest part by two dirt roads, taking in passes of 4740m and 4890m.

It is a region of glaciers, hanging valleys, and lakes. It has also been a region of destruction rocked by periodic earthquakes. Mud, ice, and water from the lakes have poured down from the mountainsides onto the fertile and populous valley below. There are peaceful colonial villages which have escaped the damage and new concrete towns which have been built on its ruins.

The people are mostly of Inca stock, but the archaeological remains do not compare with those of the Cusco region. It is a place to visit for the scenery.

We toured the region for 3 weeks in July 2006. We provide 4 pages of route notes containing thumbnail links to 40 photographs:

  • Santa valley. We started at the desolate coast and rode up the barren but occasionally spectacular Santa valley, emerging from the Cañon del Pato into the Callejón de Huaylas.
  • Caraz. We based ourself in the pleasant town of Caraz and made several short trips into the surrounding mountains.

[Click on the rectangular boxes to see detailed maps.]

  • Huascarán circuit. We then made the spectacular circuit of Huascarán, crossing the Portachuelo de Llanganuco to the Callejón de Conchucos and returning over the Punta Olímpica.
  • Huaraz. Finally we made a couple of trips from Huaraz, including a visit to the 2500-year-old ruins at Chavín.

Also shown on the map is the route of

  • Peru 2011: a visit we made to the same area 5 years later.

A further 6 photos are included in the narrative.

There is a high-res map covering much of the trip (revised 2011) and a new map showing the route we took to L. Safuna in our subsequent visit:

  Huascarán cycling map.

  L. Safuna cycling map.

index | intro | general info | route notes | photos | narrative | ride stats | links