All about Huancaya
The Nor Yauyos-Cochas Landscape Reserve
The town of Huancaya is in the center of an area declared as a Nor Yauyos-Cochas Landscape Reserve. This reserve covers an area of 221,268 hectares where it is possible to observe countless natural areas of great scenic beauty.
Throughout this reserve the Cañete river continues its journey, whose waters sparkle over waterfalls of great beauty. At the top rises the imposing Pariacaca snow-capped mountain, located 5,750 meters above sea level.
One of the most famous natural attractions of the place are the Cabracancha waterfalls, a descent of water over rocks that together form a formidable landscape. One of the favorite places to appreciate this landscape is the Huancaya suspension bridge.
Another of the most famous tourist attractions of the place is the Huallhua lagoon, whose turquoise and blue waters. On this lagoon there are numerous stories about mermaids that fascinate visitors. An excellent option is to do adventure sports there or simply boat rides.
From the Carhuayno viewpoint you have one of the best views of the entire landscape reserve. In addition, throughout the town of Huancaya there are spaces to camp.
Just 1 hour by car from Huancaya is the town of Vilca also famous for its beautiful waterfalls and for the 'forest of love', a place that is reached after a quiet hiking route. This forest stands out for its lagoons and its idyllic vegetation.
Throughout the reserve there are more lagoons, waterfalls and wonderful landscapes. Do not forget to visit the Papacocha, Cajahore, Huancacruz lagoons as well as the Chin Chan and Pucacha waterfalls.
Although there are not many tourist lodgings in the place, it is worth breathing the pure air of the mountains of Peru. Go ahead and try the crispy fried trout or the tasty pachamanca. Huancaya is mostly visited by people from Lima but it is also an alternative for tourists from anywhere in the world.
Huancaya is located 232 kilometers by road from the city of Lima. It belongs to the province of Yauyos in the department of Lima. Geographically it is at the foot of the Cañete and Yauyos rivers, over 3,554 meters above sea level.
How to get there from Lima?
To get to Huancaya on your own you must follow these steps:
- From anywhere in the city of Lima, you can take a bus from the bus terminal south of Lima or in the district of La Victoria. The trip takes 7 hours (on average) and costs approximately 50 Peruvian soles.
- The route that follows is: Lima - Cañete - Lunahuaná - Huancaya. Therefore, one option is to travel to Cañete and, once there, take public transport to Huancaya (cost of the trip approximately 40 Peruvian soles).
- Anyway, an excellent idea is to visit the tourist town of Lunahuaná during the trip to Huancaya.
The town of Huancaya
The town of Huancaya is the starting point to tour the Nor Yauyos-Cochas Landscape Reserve. This town is considered the tourist capital of the Yauyos province.
Just one hour by land transportation from Huancaya is the town of Vilca, another of the main starting points to explore the reserve. In both towns there are lagoons, rivers and forests full of beautiful landscapes.
The hotel offer is not great in these towns. For this there are open fields ideal for camping. Many people choose this way to spend the night. Of course, a lot of shelter is required to sleep comfortably. The temperature at night can drop below 0ºC.
The restaurants do not offer high quality services either. However, it is worth enjoying the delicious local cuisine, whether in a restaurant or at a stand on the street.
Flora and fauna
The flora and fauna that can be seen on the trip to Huancaya is made up of Andean species that live above 3,500 meters above sea level.
The most representative tree, plant and flower species are eucalyptus (you can visit the famous eucalyptus forest), pajonal, quinual, quishuar, colle, molle, puya de raimondi as well as the flowers of kantu, considered the flowers of the Incas.
The most representative bird species are: the huaco, the huallata, the yanavico, the duck, the white heron, the harrier, the peregrine falcon as well as the famous Andean condor.
The most famous mammal species of the place are: the vizcacha, the Andean fox, the Andean cat, the puma, the taruca, the llama, the alpaca and the vicuña.
What else to see?
The hanging bridge - Rustic construction located on the waters of the Cabracancha waterfalls. It is ideal for adventure lovers as it combines adrenaline with spectacular landscapes. The tour of the bridge is free for everyone.
The forest of love - As its name suggests, it is a forest surrounded by unique landscapes such as the Papacocha lagoon. About this place there are several stories of lovers who meet in its shadow. It is near the town of Vilca.
The Eucalyptus Forest - A short distance from the town of Huancaya is this forest famous for being full of eucalyptus, lush, tall trees. It is an ideal natural place to walk as a couple or as a family.
The Cantagallo viewpoint - This viewpoint is at the top of the town of Vilca. From there you have a pleasant view of the town (its square shaped like a trout) as well as the group of mountains that surrounds it, including the snow-capped Pariacaca.
How much does the visit cost?
One of the easiest options is to hire a tour to Huancaya. There are services of 2 days or more that include the famous tour of its lagoons (Circuit of the 9 lagoons). The cost of a 2-day tour, which departs from Lima, is approximately 300 Peruvian soles.
If you travel on your own, you must take into account the following budget:
- The bus trip from Lima to Huancaya costs 50 Peruvian soles (approximately).
- The entrance to the Nor Yauyos-Cochas Landscape Reserve costs 3 Peruvian soles.
- Free camping area in certain areas. In other areas it costs 10 Peruvian soles.
- The boat ride costs 10 Peruvian soles.
- The lodgings have a cost that goes from 30 to 60 Peruvian soles.
Huancaya has a mountainous climate. That is, cold temperate with seasons of intense rain and dry seasons. From November to March it is the rainy season. From April to October is the dry season. Temperatures vary from a maximum of 23ºC. (during the day) and a minimum of 0ºC. (at night).
If you like natural landscapes, do not miss the opportunity to know other attractions of Lima such as the hills of Lachay, which offers exuberant vegetation where there are diverse species of flora and fauna.
In Huancaya it is possible to practice different adventure sports such as kayaking in the lagoons and rivers. The cost of this sport is 50 Peruvian soles. You can also take a boat ride through the lagoons. The cost of this activity is only 10 Peruvian soles per person.
In Huancaya is the so-called highest cave in the world. This is called Qaqa Mach'ay and is located in Laraos, at 4,930 meters above sea level. It also has the deepest cavern. It is Pumacocha, which has a depth of 630 meters.
Some archaeological sites stand out in the reserve, such as Huamanmarca, located in the district of Carania. It should be noted that the Incas built a part of their Inca roads (qhapac ñan) through this Andean geography.
During your visit to Huancaya, do not forget to collect the garbage and not damage the rich landscapes, flora and fauna of the place. It is one of the most incredible landscapes in Lima and Peru. It is the tourist's obligation to keep it for the future.