Thursday, October 14, 2010

Willcahuin archeological site hike

Jan on hike to Wilcahuin
Our second full day in Huaraz started with brilliant sunshine and a lovely breakfast at the top floor of the Albergue Churup again. That means we have a stunning 180 degree view of the mountains. Yesterday, we learned that that amazing morning sun is followed by increasing clouds and some rain mid-afternoon (early rainy season). Exploring in town we did not worry much about that.

But today, we were eager to apply our learning and brought our rain gear just in case. We planned a hike to Willcahuin (or Wilcawain) about 6 km from town. We got a hand-drawn map from our hosts, some brief instructions and off we went.

The hike took an unpaved road and led through many small villages along the way. Most people here are living in small spaces and off the land; a way of life that might be described as traditional. Certainly their dress was traditional. To me it looked like a hard way to live: from tilling a field with a single plow and cows to spinning wool by hand to doing laundry on rocks; it is a manual lifestyle that is slow and demanding.

Along the way, it was clear that hikers were not an unusual sight. Everyone greeted us and we them. Since arriving here we have quickly adapted to the polite and friendly ways of Peruvians where greetings are just part of being human. It's also a habit that seems to survive better in rural areas rather than cities anywhere.

It took us only 2 hours from El Pinar to get there. Pinar is a gated community that belongs to a mining company where they house their staff (foreign, usually) at the outskirts of Huaraz. And the rain held off until our return to Huaraz mid-afternoon. My altimeter (what a perfect gift for my 40th bday last year) pegged it at about 3,400 m, making it perfect for a first hike up.

La casa de nietos on the right,
the information centre on the left
Willcahuin is an archeological site dating to the Wari culture of about 600 to 800 AD, i.e. pre-incan. The site itself has some well preserved buildings, especially this large 3 story stone building called La casa de nietos. There's also an exhibit where we learned more about the period and saw some artifacts.

The good news is that the hiking felt easy, I only got sunburned where I mis-applied the sunscreen (the sun is powerful at this altitude) and we enjoyed the ride in the Collectivo on the way down from the front seat. Let's just say, we got to see every nook and cranny in this unpaved road as we seemingly flew downhill it.  All in all a fine day. And, importantly, I haven't had a headache since yesterday morning. (Jan never had one at all!)


  1. Hi Jan and Inga
    I am glad to read you have arrived safely and that you are already acclimitized and embrassing fully the local life and scenery. I don't see a VERY important detail: how is the food ?? ;o)
    Nice pictures Inga.
    Thinking of you. Nathalie

  2. Hi guys! thrilled to see you enjoying the weather and the hiking. Hope the hospitality is warm and inviting and that you're taking advantage of all those spanish lessons!

    post often!


  3. Hi Nathalie: The food has been good. International - there are lots of hikers and climbers fromall over the world in this area, making for plenty of choices. I am told I should try guinea pig some time.
    Ciao, Inga

  4. Hi Tara: So happy to know some Spanish now, too. Jan is speaking well as she has every other trip, but this time I am keeping up :)

  5. Inga.... seriously don't eat the guinea pig... they are far too cute for human consumption.... ;)