Altitude: 3,028 m (9,934 ft) Population 120,000 Phone Code: 43
This little town is a trekking and climbing mecca, drawing a milieu of international outdoor enthusiasts every year. With its jumble of concrete buildings and muddy rivers, the town itself is a bit rough around the edges, but peek behind its ragged faĂ§ade and youâ€™re bound to discover a number of charming hotels, restaurants and coffee houses.The main focus of the area is the CallejĂłn de Huaylas, the section of the RĂo Santa valley separating the Cordillera Negra to the west from the Cordillera Blanca to the east. A paved road cuts through the length of the valley, linking villages and providing access to all three of the areaâ€™s famed cordilleras: Cordillera Blanca, Cordillera Negra, and Cordillera Huayhuash. With a bit of gusto and common sense itâ€™s entirely possible to show up without equipment and immediately head off on a trek or climb, though it's wise to wait a couple of days before hiking in order to get used to the altitude. While you acclimatize (and even the most Herculean of individuals should) you can explore the streets or duck into one of the townâ€™s museums.