All about the hills of Lachay
Lachay, the oasis of mists
The hills of Lachay offer one of the favorite escape routes for the citizens of Lima. The hills are known as an 'oasis of mist' because the sea clouds reach there, flooding everything with mist and exuberant vegetation.
Lachay is actually a desert. However, as a result of the cloudy humidity, there is an immense number of plants, flowers, trees and, consequently, animals, birds and insects.
Due to all this wealth of flora and fauna, in 1977 the Lachay National Reserve was created, an area of 5,070 hectares protected by the Peruvian State.
This desert oasis is filled with vegetation during the months of May to October. On those days, many tourists (mainly from the city of Lima) come there to appreciate its beautiful landscapes and its endless greenery.
The authorities have established specific areas such as 'The Fox Circuit', the 'Partridge Circuit', the 'Tara Circuit'; where you can see these species of flora and fauna. In addition, the place has a beautiful viewpoint and a camping area. Likewise, the hills have puquiales (spring water source) product of the humidity condensed by the plants.
Lachay also has an interpretation center that investigates the flora and fauna of the place. Visits are allowed as long as people protect and preserve the natural beauty of the site.
In short, it is one of the escape routes preferred by the people of Lima along with Marcahuasi, the stone forest.
Where is it located?
The hills of Lachay are located in the so-called 'Norte Chico' of Lima, 97 kilometers by road.
It belongs to the district of Huacho, province of Huaura, at kilometer 105 of the Panamericana Norte.
How to get there?
To visit the hills of Lachay you can hire a tour that includes transportation service. Another option is to go on your own with a private transport.
To get to the hills of Lachay with public transport you must follow the following route:
- From any part of the city you must get (by taxi or public transport) to the land terminal of Square Norte.
- At the land terminal of Square Norte you must board a bus that will take you to kilometer 105 of the Panamericana Norte, the stop where the Lachay hills are. The trip takes approximately 2 hours (cost of the trip of 15 Peruvian soles on average).
- Once at the whereabouts, you must take a 7-kilometer walk (1 hour 30 minutes on average) towards the hills. If you come by private transport, the journey will take only 20 minutes.
- Finally you will arrive at the hills of Lachay where you will have to pay the entrance.
What to see in the Lachay hills?
The hills of Lachay show a natural environment full of vegetation where rock formations and a variety of flora and fauna also stand out.
In Lachay you can take incredible walks where there are species such as fox, partridge and more.
The fox circuit - 20 minute walk in a landscape along stone slopes surrounded by vegetation. There it is common to see the coastal fox that usually consumes carrion, meat of small animals as well as fruits and vegetables. There it is also possible to see rock formations product of erosion.
The partridge circuit - 2-hour walk surrounded by landscapes of abundant vegetation where it is common to appreciate the partridge, a non-migratory bird that likes to walk along the roads feeding on seeds. During the route other species of birds are also appreciated. The highest section of this route is on the 'Alto Capilla' hill where there are the famous 'mist catchers' nets.
The tara circuit - 1 hour walk where, among several species of trees and shrubs, the tara stands out, a tree valued for being a source of forage for animals as well as ornamental silver. In Lachay they provide shade for visitors (it can reach up to 5 meters high). In this circuit there are a group of cave paintings as well as the famous puquiales.
The viewpoint circuit - 20-minute walk that leads to a viewpoint from where you have a spectacular view of the entire natural environment of Lachay. It is at this point that most visitors decide to camp.
During the foggy season in Lachay, species with a high capacity to capture moisture from the fog and the environment stand out. These are: the tara (Caesalpinia espinosa), the myth (Carica candicans), the huarango (Acacia macracantha), the toothpick (Capparis Prisca), eucalyptus (Hymenocallis amancaes), amancay (Alstroemeria aurea) and more.
What stands out the most in Lachay are its birds. In the place, 66 species have been identified so far, including: the great harrier (Geranoaetus melanoleucus), the kestrel (Falco sparverius), the cacti basket (Asthenes cactorum), the thick-billed pampero (Geositta crassirostris) and, the most famous of the place, the mountain partridge (Nothoprocta pentlandii).
Among the mammalian species, the most prominent is the coastal fox. There are also bats, long-eared mice, the grass cat and about 15 species of river fish.
The season of the year where you should go
The hills of Lachay have a desert coastal geography with mountain formations. However, during the months of May to October, the place fills with vegetation thanks to the copious fogs from the Pacific Ocean. Those months are the time of year when most tourists visit the hills.
How to camp in Lachay?
Although it is possible to make the tour of the Lachay hills in just one day, most visitors prefer to camp.
The entrance ticket offers the possibility of spending up to 3 days in the hills of Lachay. It should be noted that the site has all the basic services such as: camping area, toilet services, barbecue area, cafeteria, public telephone service and even vehicle parking.
To camp you must make a single payment of 20 Peruvian soles (for adults) and 6 Peruvian soles (for children).
The ticket price is as follows:
- Foreign adults: 30 Peruvian soles.
- Peruvian adults: 15 Peruvian soles.
- Minors (from 5 to 16 years old): 5 Peruvian soles.
Visiting hours are from Monday to Sunday from 8 in the morning to 5 in the afternoon.
The geography of Lachay has a seasonal climate with a wet season full of vegetation as well as an arid dry season.
The wet season runs from May to October. Temperatures in those months can reach an average temperature of 14ºC. In this season the humidity can reach 100%. The dry season runs from November to April. In those months the temperature can reach 22ºC.
Few tourists visit the Lachay hills in the dry season (from November to April). If you come in those months you will appreciate dry forests under radiant heat and sparse vegetation.
In Lachay there are archaeological evidences of the presence of various cultures of ancient Peru: Chavín, Tiahuanaco, Mochica, Chimú, Chancay and even the Incas. During the colonial period, the hills lost much of their vegetation as a result of cattle grazing. In the centuries that followed, deforestation wreaked more havoc.
It should be noted that just 76 kilometers from Lachay is the sacred city of Caral , one of the most important archaeological sites in Peru.
In 1977 the Lachay hills were declared a protected natural area by the Peruvian State, the first in the country.
During your visit to the Lachay hills, do not forget to bring trekking shoes, comfortable clothing (preferably sports), a camera, camping equipment, sleeping bag, snacks, rehydrating drinks, cash, documents and personal items.
In the hills of Lachay it is strictly forbidden to damage the wildlife of plants, trees, birds and animals. Along the route there are garbage cans where you must leave the waste. It is forbidden to throw garbage in the place.