Huaraz is the capital of the Peruvian region of Ancash, which is located in the northwestern zone of Peru at 3052 meters (10 013 feet) above sea level. Huaraz is a small city in the Peruvian northern Andes; specifically in the “Cordillera Blanca” (White Mountain Range). Its population is around 100 000 inhabitants and is to 408 Kilometers (253 miles) from Lima.
The first inhabitants of this zone were the Chavin people, an ancient civilization that inhabited the region since the 200 BC; later the region was controlled by several cultures, amongst them the Huari and the Great Inca Empire.
Huaraz city was founded in 1574 by Alonso de Santoyo, one of the members of the Spanish expedition that invaded Peru. During all colonial period and great part of the Republican period, Huaraz almost did not suffer changes.
But, in 1970 a great earthquake destroyed almost the entire city, killing 30 000 people. Only the main square survived this terrible natural disaster. Then the city was reconstructed; therefore, there are not many colonial houses in this ancient city.
One of the main tourist attractions of the region is the great number of Snow Mountains that exist in the zone. Amongst these mountains are the famous “Huascarán”, which is the highest mountain of Peru with 6768 meters (22 204 feet) above sea level and the Alpamayo, which is considered the most beautiful snow-capped mountain of the world.
These mountains are very popular amongst the mountaineering enthusiasts. Huaraz is also a popular destination to practice ski. There are several tourist complex that offer ski slopes.
Besides, the entire region is a paradise for the trekkers and hikers; because there are 35 snow-capped peaks over 6000 meters height (19685 feet). Most of these attractions are in the Huascarán National Park, a Biosphere reservation which was declared World Heritage by UNESCO.
Another great attraction of Huaraz is the archeological complex of Chavin de Huantar, one of the most important pre-Inca archeological centers of South America. Chavin de Huantar is located to 4 hours by car from Huaraz.
This place is a great example of the mastery that reached the ancient Peruvians in the architecture with stone; therefore the regional Museum of Archeology of Huaraz saves the greatest collection of lithic items of South America.
The city offers a great mixture of modern and native culture. There are several banks, markets and restaurants. Besides, the nightlife is also quite active. Most night clubs and bars of the city open almost the entire night; there are also many Internet Cafes. On the other hand, the city offers also many shops, where it can find a great variety of handicrafts (textiles, pottery and jewelry).
There are two well defined seasons: the dry season (from April to September) and the wet season (from October to May); nevertheless, most rainfalls occur between January and March. Perhaps, the best time to visit Huaraz is July, when the sky is free from clouds and the temperature in the mornings is quite pleasant.
Huaraz is connected to the rest of the country through the Pan-American highway that connect to Huaraz with Lima at south (the trip by car lasts 8 hours) and the port of Chimbote (which was during 1950s the first fishing port of the world) and the city of Trujillo at north. Huaraz is a great destination for the lovers of the nature and the history.