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Chavin De Huantar May 29, 2007

Posted by Jason in culture, Peru, South America, Travel.

 Chavin carved head

Having organised a trip to the mountains in a few days time, the mountains at last! We had a couple of days to kill, so what better than to see another marvel of an archaeological site of the Chavin Culture, Chavin De Huantar.

Nestled on the other side of the Cordillera Blanca, we took an organised tour for 25 soles (the same cost as catching the local bus there and back).

As usual the transport was somewhat taxing.  Told to arrive at the bus station for 8.45am we were still in Huaraz at 10.30am picking people up and generally in tru South American style dicking around!

Finally we were off! Over a spectacular pass towards the Cordillera Blanca.  Hillsides cultivated to the highest tops by the locals and thatched hillside settlements.  The scenery here is overwhelmingly beautiful with tropical hillsides giving way to craggy mountain tops and glaciated summits.

A beautiful Lagun

Our first stop was a beautiful Laguna which is pretty awe enspiring with mountains rising up beyond the lake.

Then we continued up the winding pass, the bus swerving at regular intervals to avoid the holes in the road or where the road had fallen away.  Indeed the rockfalls here must be a regular occurance, with several sections of the road blocked by large land slides and rocks!

Eventually reaching the top of the pass you see a steep wall in front of you and realise that we have to go through a tunnel to surmount the obstacle! A relief to all!

Out of the other side we are faced with a giant sized statue of Jesus overlooking the pass, quite spectacular.

We then continue the winding road, as tarmac gives way to a dirt road narrowing and becoming more pot holed by the minute.  We pass trucks parked at the side of the road, where people have dug tunnels into the cliff road side to mine. Large slides have been built where debris from the mining can be poured down to finally land in the trucks on the road.  The mining operation looks precarious at best, and the erosion being caused to the cliff at the side of the road is most worrying. But no one bats an eyelid.

We continue and after a brief stop for something to eat we finally reach Chavin De Huantar.

Chavin De Huantar    Chavin main gate    Cheryl in the underground chambers!

The Chavin culture rained supreme in this area of Peru from about 1000 BC to 200BC. Being Pre-Inca the building achievements they made, being over 2000 years before the Incas is remarkable.

We abandoned the “guided” tour as our spanish frankly was not upto the job, and explored the site by ourselves.

The original site was much larger than you see today, but is still impressive.

A large courtyard over looked by a building complex facing east to face the rising sun.  Some of the stones that have been cut and carved are enormous.  The carvings show a strong resemblance of the Tiwanaku culture,  found in Eastern Bolivia.

It is believed that the Chavin culture was the pre-cursar to the expansive Wari and Tiwanaku cultures and then of course to the Incas.

A staircase to the chambers underground

There are underground chambers here that are fascinating to explore. The chambers are large and include a labyrinth of tunnels you can explore, some lit by electric lights (not installed by the Chavins!!) and some not, a head torch is useful!

While we were exploring the chambers the lights went out, and emergency lighting came on, or rather one light in the entire chamber! It made exploring the tunnels a bit more exciting!

The odd scary moment where you have to duck under roofs only held up by precarious wooden poles! There is obviously much of this site that has not been excavated yet.

Which is the Chavin head!?

Finally, there are the famous Chavin heads, only one of which has remained in situ, but there are many carved heads in the adjacent small museum of artifacts.

All in all the site is fascinating, one of many amazing pre-Inca cultures on show in Peru and Bolivia.

Another flat tyre!!

After a couple of hours exploring the site we headed back over the pass to Huaraz.  Of course we had the usual flat tyre situation! That is 5 journeys on the trot in Peru that we have had where a wheel has had to be changed, its becoming a habit on our journeys!

We arrived back to Huaraz after dark at about 8pm, having listened to the incessant none stop traditional Peruvian music( it does your head in after a while!)

A thoroughly enjoyable day and another cultural delight to savour, so many in the high Andean countries.  

Now back to the mountains!     



1. Robart Jhon - November 10, 2011

keep up to date what is happening in servicing..in

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