The week before Christmas, we loaded up our car and left for the mountains of Huaraz. John drove our SUV so it was really nice to not have to worry about getting taxis, buses, motos, and tour groups. Our empleada came along, since her family lives in Huaraz. It worked out great that she would help us out with the kids for a few days and then go on to see her family for Christmas. The drive was long – about 7 hours including the traffic out of Lima (which always takes an hour or two). Over half the drive was along the coast which was very deserty, but once we turned off the highway towards the mountains the drive became really beautiful. We passed a lot of corn fields, growing the local choclo corn (huge white corn), as well as a lot of watermelon (sandia) farms growing in the valleys along the river. Every building along the road in the valley had hundreds of watermelons stacked up for sale. It was absolutely breathtaking to see the snowy-capped Cordillera Blancas as the sun set on our drive through the mountains.
We got to Huaraz just after dusk, which made it a bit difficult to find our hotel. We finally located the comfortable and quiet Morales Guesthouse. We were the only guests staying, since it was the off-season.
The first full day we had in Huaraz, we decided to take it easy and adjust to the altitude by exploring the city and nearby museum.
The city sits right at 10,000 feet above sea level, so it was quite an adjustment from our sea-level apartment in Lima. The church near the city’s center was beautiful.
The museum was small, but still had some neat artifacts. Unfortunately we weren’t able to take pictures there. We really enjoyed the garden outside the museum.
The kids had a fun time playing in the water fountain and loved throwing their empty water bottles into it and watching them float.
We got to explore the main Plaza de Armas and find a few alpaca gifts for family, too. After that it was lunch time. We found a wonderful restaurant not far from the Plaza, called Cafe Andino – they had wonderful meals and a panoramic view of the city and mountains.
For the trip back to the hotel we decided to grab a moto taxi. We all 5 crammed in the back. It was much quicker than walking with tired kids. We had left our stroller back home for this trip, which was probably a good decision since most of the surfaces we walked were either rocky or cobblestone streets. It was a good first day! We took it easy at the hotel and got some rest in preparation for our long outing to Chavín de Huantár the next day.