Chavin's Ancient Trading Grounds
Not far from Huaraz, there is an ancient set of stones dominating the bend in a river. Chavin de Huantar sits in a deep valley, surrounded by soaring cliffs and hills. The road to get there curves over the Cordillera Blanca mountain range, passing through the Parque Nacional de Huascaran, beside glacial lakes and wavy prairie grasses.
Backpackers who make their way into this part of the Ancash province will likely be spending their nights in Huaraz. 12 sols will bring you from your hostel to
Chavin. The bus should last around 2 hours, but depending on the weather and your driver, it could take several hours more.
Read more: Huaraz and Lake Churup
When you get to the town of Chavin, you’ll love it. The town itself is quaint and the people are friendly. There are plenty of accommodation options, but you’ll probably prefer staying in Huaraz where the bars and clubs are.
Chavin de Huantar is located just outside of town on the same side of the small river. They say it was built between 1200 and 800 BC, making it one of the oldest substantial ruins on the continent. Indeed, the Chavin civilization is one of the oldest civilizations in South America.
This site served as a major trading hub between the jungle, the mountains and the coast. The town boasts a newer museum, opened in 2008. The Museo Nacional Chavin holds many of the artifacts found in and around the ruins. Some represent the ancient Chavin, while others clearly arrived from afar.
The museum also houses pututos shell trumpets and the Tello Obelisk, which many agree to be the best representation of art from the Chavin era. Backpackers will particularly enjoy the underground tunnels at the site itself. These tunnels have stood for hundreds of years as testament to an advanced understanding of engineering.
Read more: Trekking in Ancash
Walking around the place is simply great. Statues and carvings of animals like the condor, snakes and even tripping out humans are everywhere. There are tons of puma carvings as well, representing the culture’s ancient god.
Chavin might be far from Cuzco and the main sights of Peru, but it’s well worth the trip out from Lima.