17° 13′ 0″ N, 88° 51′ 0″ W
If you’ve been watching the coordinates of our trip, you’d realize we’ve crossed the equator and officially are back in the Northern Hemisphere! Besides a short stint to the North during a night walk in the Amazon Jungle whilst in Ecuador, we haven’t been in the north half of the world since our long weekend in Singapore at 1.3000° N in January!
This means our trip is quickly winding down, but our travel isn’t! I’ve still got all of Ecuador and Belize to write about and when we get back to the states, we will continue our journeys hitting up Napa & San Francisco, California; Skagit Valley & Seattle/Redmond, Washington; Denver & Boulder, Colorado; Chicago Illinois; Indianapolis, Indiana; Holland & Traverse City, MI; Walla Walla, WA; Dallas, TX; DC; Richmond, VA; and Nashville, TN all by the end of the year!
Anyways, back to Peru and the last city we hit, Huaraz!
I would have had NO IDEA about this mountain community, but my Peruvian expert Nicole told me if we had time we had to go! So last but not least on our Peru travel Itinerary planning in South Africa I booked up overnight tickets on Cruz Del Sur from Lima to Huaraz.
While I doubt I needed to book bus tickets 3 months in advance (backpackers buy them day of with no problem), I’m super glad I did. I booked Tom and I in seats 1 and 2 at the very front of the bus both coming and going. If you’ve never taken an overnight bus, this may not sound like a big deal, but for those who have you understand why this is amazing!
Overnight buses have reclining seats and the buses come in all shapes and sizes, while overall Cruz del Sur was and still is the best overnight bus I’ve ever rode on being in the front row makes a huge difference!
- You have the most leg room as well as the ability to put your legs up on the wall, down on your backpack, or if you’re “Court” size curled up in a little ball on your seat! Even with an ambient I still wake up every 30-60min and change positions so this is crucial!
- No one reclines on you! Not only do you lose vital leg room not being the front row, but the seat ahead of you reclines down. Cruz del Sur had the most room I’ve ever seen between seats, but I could see the grimace on the person’s face behind me when I fully reclined!–I had no guilt! 🙂
We also paid the extra $5-10 a person to be in the VIP section, I have no idea what that got us as I didn’t see the top of the bus, but I can only assume that was extra room which is so awesome for an overnight trip…I don’t care what your budget is, skip that extra beer at happy hour and splurge for VIP!
Anyways back to Huaraz…
The bus left at 10:30PM and we arrived in town at 7am (yep nine-hours take an overnight bus!)
Catching a taxi for 5 soles (less than $2) we drove the 5 min to our hostel, Alpes Huaraz, who already had our room good to go so we were able to get an early check in and drop off our stuff + get a complementary breakfast!
Alpes Huaraz was an awesome hostel and I highly recommend it!
It was 60 Soles ($20) a night for a private room w/ bathroom. Breakfast was pretty good, the complimentary breakfast was coffee, orange juice, banana, and tasty pastry I couldn’t help but nibble on each day but for 2 soles more you could add an egg omelet!
The hosts were super helpful in booking tours, arranging taxis, and answering general questions as well as spoke English; but the best part of the hostel was the “sun deck” with a 365 view of the surrounding mountains–perfect for morning mucking!
We didn’t get to experience any of the amazing hikes the town has to offer due to our short trip and some stomach issues, but we would have loved to have done Lake Churup or Lago 69 or even just visit Huascaran National Park.
Unfortunately, all of these are full day ventures and we only had 1 full day in Huaraz.
Despite not getting to do any of the amazing hikes, we still had a blast and saw quite a bit.
Our first day in town, we headed up to Wilcahuain Ruins which are a 7km walk from Huaraz town center. (You can also take a taxi for 20 soles or a bus for 3 soles.)
The ruins were super cool as you are able to walk inside them, but talking with the locals outside of the ruins turned out to be the highlight of the trip!
The next day (after waking up, trying to coordinate doing a hike and realizing we would have had to already left a couple of hours ago) we decided to soak our non aching bones in the famous hot springs of Huaraz.
Being told Chancos was MUCH better than the local Monterrey we took a taxi for 60 soles the 30km north of town.
Chancos did have some pretty cool cave saunas, but the pools seemed to be drained for the day. It was a cool and very relaxing experience, although I do wonder if I was convinced to go to Chancos so the taxi driver could make more money…:/
Normally I’m not one to comment on the food in an area since we try to cook as much as possible and when we do eat out we don’t tend to hit up “fine dining,” but one of the best things about Huaraz was the food!
The California Cafe and Cafe Andino both serve awesome breakfast and coffee. (Our complementary breakfast was nice, but a second breakfast for lunch was great!)
Tom was super excited to find that they both offer a french press coffee option, where you can get a whole L of French Press for 10 Soles ($3.25)
Our favorite restaurant, however, was by far Chili Heaven!
We liked it so much we ate there once a day while we were in town!
Our final night after seeing it tempt him 2 days in a row, Tom finally accepted the Chili Heaven Vindaloo Challenge!
This challenge (unlike the motherload in South Africa) proved to be more up Tom’s alley! Rather than a volume challenge, it was a spice challenge as he had to eat his whole meal with no water, rice, yogurt, or beer.
Tom completed it easily…and then enjoyed the free beer you get upon completion! 🙂
Sierra Andina was much better than the Lucho’s, but both were fun to taste and add to my beer app UnTapped! (For those who don’t know Untapped is the awesome way to drink beer socially! Not only do you have friends like facebook, but you get badges for the beers that you drink! 🙂 )
Welp, that about wraps it up for Huaraz!
I highly recommend you checking it out if you visit Peru! While Cuzco and Machu Picchu were amazing, it was cool to see a town with a little less tourism. I wish we had longer so we could have done at least one of the amazing hikes within the area!
Would you come to Huaraz? If not, what town would you visit in Peru? Leave us a comment and tell us what you think! 🙂