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Chavín de Huántar - Ruin - Peru

Located about three to four hours east of Huaraz, the massive temple fortress of Chavín de Huántar is one of the last remaining large scale reminders of the Chavín culture, which stretched across the northern highlands of Peru from Cajamarca and Chiclayo in the north to Ayacucho and Ica in the south, from 900-200 BC.

As one of the first pan-Andean cultures, the Chavín established a rich set of traditions that would infuse succeeding cultures such as the Tiahuancaco, Wari, and even the Inca. The fortress itself was built around 800 BC and was declared a World Heritage Trust Site by UNESCO in December 1985.

The main attractions include intricate stone carvings of symbolic figures and a network of tunnels that snake their way beneath the fortress floor. Three of these passages converge underground at the famous Lanzón stone monolith, which dates to 800 BC. The northern part of the pillar points upward towards a gallery where priests may have once performed rituals.

Some areas are closed to the public in order to preserve the site, but public areas are illuminated by electric lights. A small museum at the entrance houses interesting carvings and Chavín pottery.

Several agencies in Huaraz offer a day trip to the site, leaving around 9 a.m and returning to Huaraz between 7-8 p.m. at night: note it's a three to four-hour bumpy road trip each way. A day tour costs between $15-20 (not including the entrance fee of approximately $5). If you decide to go independently, you may want to pay around $10 to hire one of the guides at the entrance; you will also have to pay the $5 entrance fee. Colectivos leave Huaraz between 5-9 a.m., returning from Chavín in the afternoon. Camping nearby is also possible, with permission from the guards; there are also simple hostels and restaurants in the nearby town of Chavín.

For active travelers there is a great trek that winds its way across the southern end of Cordillera Blanca from Olleros to Chavín. Relatively free of tourist traffic, the trail follows an ancient trade route that ascends the Yanashallash Pass at 4,700 meters (15,420 ft).



Here are other activities in and around Central Peruvian Andes that may be of interest: Monumento Nacional Wilcahuaín and Tumshukaiko.

10 Jul 2012

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