When we arrived in La Union, east of Cordillera Blanca, it was already getting dark. The town itself did not look very cosy, and we were debating our options. There is normally a hotel or a hostel in all towns, but as parking can be a hassle we like to find a place where we can camp. The reason we wanted to stop in La Union was the ruins of Huanaco Viejo, an old Inca administrative center for the area. After checking our GPS we actually found coordinates for the site in the POI list. Other than “close to La Union”, we had no idea where these ruins were supposed to be, so we hesitated driving towards these coordinates as it was getting dark. But as the town didn’t look too promising we went for it. The road out of town climbed up some steep, narrow dirt roads, and at the top we entered an area that looked like pampas. After a while we saw a sign to the ruins, and we felt we were on the right way. The problem was that there were no roads going to where the GPS told us that the site should be. And it was now pitch black.
We tried a road where the tracks disappeared driving out on the pampas. Some weak tracks eventually lead us to something that looked a little bit like a parking area, but it was hard to tell as we couldn’t see anything around us. We drove back and tried a couple of alternatives, but we didn’t see anything that looked like Inca ruins. We decided to go back to the first parking area and camp there for the night. And this turned out to be a good decision. We woke up to a stunning view!
And this was actually the parking area for the archeological site of Huanaco Viejo.
In the morning a couple of workers showed up, and these guys were the only people in the ruins this morning. We had it all to ourselves!
From the maps we had, it looked like it should be possible to drive on dirt roads over the mountains and hit a bigger road further south.
Heavy traffic in the high Andes...
It was a beautiful drive, and as many times before, the maps were quite unreliable. Some locals helped us to find the right road, and we were back on a main road late in the afternoon. Again we were racing the clock to find a good place for the night. We ended up in Huariaca where a guy running a local guesthouse let us camp for free. He even let us use his internet.
Town of Tarma
The next morning we kept heading south, and ended up at a German run hacienda in Tarma called Hacienda La Florida. A fantastic place where we wouldn’t mind staying longer! And a tip for the next travellers coming through, they take on volunteers to help on the farm…
From La Florida we had a LONG day’s drive to the old colonial town of Ayacucho. The road was mostly dirt and quite slow, but all in all very scenic. Arrived in town way too late and struggled finding a place where we wanted to camp. Being really tired and exhausted from the 12 hour drive, we splurged and checked in to a nice hotel with safe parking. Of course we would find a cheaper place the next day to safe money…. Rrrright – not!
Trip planning with pancakes...
We had a great time in Ayacucho, and this was also the place where we found out about our next little adventure: A jungle road from the north to Santa Teresa, where we could park within walking distance from Machu Picchu! More soon…