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Reviews Huancayo and the Mantaro Valley
 
Experience of the Week:
 
Huancayo and the Mantaro Valley


Huancayo is situated in the Central Andes, an eight hour bus ride from Lima.  The city itself is not remarkable, though it has many modern conveniences that most Peruvian towns lack - including a modern mall with a state-of-the-art movie theater.  But it's the surrounding Montaro valley that makes Huancayo worth visiting. 

There are small towns scattered throughout the valley, each one having artisans skilled in a unique craft.  The town of Hualhuas is famous for its high-quality textiles woven from alpaca, llama, or sheeps wool in colorful Andean patterns - an excellent place to tour weaving shops to learn how it is done.  San Jeronimo features a silversmith by the name of Nelly Vasquez, who creates handmade sterling jewelry of unbelievable intricacy with only hand tools and a blowtorch powered by a foot pump.  Cochas Grande is known for it's gourd-carving; an art in which entire scenes or stories are displayed in pictures carved into the gourd with astonishing detail. 

Santa Rosa de Ocopa is known for its 18th century monastery, with one of the largest libraries in South America.  Until recently the library contained a book of great value written in Quechua (the language of the Incas) in the 1400's, but it was stolen from the monastery in an armed robbery only a few years ago.  
The interior walls are covered with antique artwork displaying biblical scenes, and in the central courtyard stands a three hundred year old olive tree.

Also outside of Huancayo lies the naturally formed sandstone towers of Torre Torre (see photo above), and the whole valley is surrounded by the towering Andes Mountains, in which trekking guide Lucho Hurtado is glad to take groups of hikers for multiday excursions.

Want to explore Huancayo and the Montaro Valley? We'll help you make it happen!
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Website: www.experiential-travel.com
Also check out our Backpacking 101 e-course to learn how to travel safely on your own.


 


Hand made silver jewelry in San Jeronimo, near Huancayo

 

Catholic Monastery founded in 1723 in Santa Rosa de Ocopa, near Huancayo

 

TIP

Lucho Hurtado, who has lived in the Huancayo area all his life, is an excellent source of local information. Stay at his hostel, called La Casa de la Abuela,at 691 Giraldez street in Huancayo. Not only is it a fun place to stay if you don't mind backpacker hostels, but Lucho and his assistants are glad to give free advice on the best places in the Montaro valley to guests, including maps and directions on how tho get where you want to go. Lucho also owns a restaurant/tourism office across the street called La Cabana, which has excellent pizza.

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Address: José Galvez 400  ( Prolongación Cuzco and José Galvez) -Huancayo - Peru 
  Telephone : 51-64-393298 51-64-223303| Fax/Ans/Tel: 51-64-222395
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