Huaraz, Peru: (day 2) Chavín de Huántar

Our second full day in Huaraz, after enjoying a simple Peruvian breakfast and coffee, we set out on a 3-hour drive to see the ancient ruins of Chavín de Huántar.  It was such a gorgeous drive!

Driving through the valley

Driving through the valley

We passed a trucha (trout) farm as we crossed on of the bridges.

Trucha farm

Trucha farm

After about 2 hours of driving, we drove through a tunnel and emerged on a very bumpy, washed out mountain road.

Waterfall along the road

Waterfall along the road

Road between the mountains

Road between the mountains

At that point the GPS said we had 23 minutes to reach the site…1 hour+ later and with very full bladders we finally arrived at our destination.  So much of the road had been washed out by rains and mudslides that it was very slow going. Thankfully the kids slept through most of it.  Cliff with his sandwich in hand.

Sleeping on the road

Sleeping on the road

After a good lunch, we walked up to the site.

Crossing the bridge to get to the site

Crossing the bridge to get to the site

The site sits at over 10,000 feet above sea level and is one of the oldest ruins in South America, being constructed as early as 1200 BC.

"Una foto, Cliff, una foto!"

“Una foto, Cliff, una foto!”

"Cheese!"

“Cheese!”

Ready to explore!

Ready to explore!

The ruins were surrounded by beautiful grassy plains with a river running nearby.

Getting a head start

Getting a head start

Starting the trail

Starting the trail

The kids had a great time watching the llamas.

Watching the llamas

Watching the llamas

Happy campers

Happy campers

They also really enjoyed running along the paths and generally exercising in any way possible (after 2 days in the car they needed it!).

Hesitant to leave the llamas

Hesitant to leave the llamas

Channel for the waterway

Channel for the waterway

First glimpse of the ruins

First glimpse of the ruins

When we got to the main ruins I couldn’t believe how big they were!  I was completely unprepared for the enormity of this place.

At the ruins

At the ruins

Olivia and Cliff meanwhile were very interested in the rocks and flowers.

Found a pretty flower!

Found a pretty flower!

 Cliff even came up with a new game and had a fun time balancing rocks on his head.

The balancing rock game

The balancing rock game

Going "night-night"

Going “night-night”

He is such a ham!  It kept him entertained for the majority of the excursion.

Happy with his rock

Happy with his rock

It was really amazing to walk through structures that were over 3000 years old!

The gateway to the temple

The gateway to the temple

Outside the temple

Outside the temple

 After we toured the outside of the ruins, we got to walk through the labyrinth and see the Chavín peoples god, a 3 TON shaft carving made out of granite.

Entrance to the labyrinth

Entrance to the labyrinth

Inside the labyrinth

Inside the labyrinth – The Lazón Stela in the background

 It was too dark to get any good pictures, but this is a small replica that we passed later in the city’s center (complete with trash pile).

Replica of the Lanzón Stela at Chavín

Replica of the Lanzón Stela at Chavín

Airway hole for the labyrinth

Airway hole for the labyrinth

For the last part of the tour, we saw the last remaining cabeza clava (meaning spike head) on site.

Cabeza clava

Cabeza clava

Happy girl

Happy girl

The structures used to be surrounded by these carved heads, all at a different level of morphism (from man to jaguar). Now most of them are found in the museum nearby. It was a really interesting tour and the kids enjoyed it maybe even more than we did.  That’s always a plus for us when we’re traveling!  Cliff really loved the llamas and had a fun time filming them with John’s GoPro.

Filming the llamas

Filming the llamas

 On the way back to the car we even saw a horse, which completely topped the experience for both of them.

Crossing the bridge

Crossing the bridge

We stopped in the museum before heading back.

At the museum

At the museum

The museum was funded by the Japanese

The museum was funded by the Japanese

 It was a quick stop but it was neat to see all the cabezas clavas on display.  The drive back was a little faster, since we knew where we were going and John knew what to expect from the roads. We saw some beautiful sights, too!

Lake on the drive home

Lake on the drive home

Lake at sunset

Lake at sunset

Overlooking the valley

Overlooking the valley – snow capped mountains

 It was a great outing!  We were really enjoying our time in the Cordillera Blancas!

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