Peruvian Andes Huaraz

The 2007 Leading the Way Expedition to the Peruvian Highlands will head to the Huascaran National Park region of Peru. Along the way, students will visit the city of Huaraz and the arachaelogical sites of Chavin de Huantar and Huanuco Pampa. Below is some information about many of the sites of the expedition.

Cordillera Huayhuash

In 2002, the Cordillera Huayhuash was declared a Reserved Zone by the Peruvian Ministry of Agriculture. This designation was due in part to pressure from conservation interests concerned about a recent increase in mining activities in the area which have been linked to contaminated water supplies. Local communities have responded by voicing concerns about raising the protected status of the area as they fear that they may lose grazing rights on what has traditionally been their communal land.


Huaraz is the capital city of the Department (or state) of Ancash. With a population of more than 100,000 and located at about 10,000 feet above sea level, Huaraz is a popular destination among visitors to Peru. It is located in the Callej�n de Huaylas, a valley which is bordered on the west by the Cordillera Negra and on the east by the Cordillera Blanca, the highest mountain range in the world�s tropical zone.

Huanuco Pampa

The ruins of Huanuco Pampa, an important administrative center of the Incas offer an example of traditional Inca construction. Over 3,000 constructions remain in this archaeological site which was originally founded by the Inca ruler Tupac Yupauqui. One of the most interesting buildings is known as Inca Huasi, presumably the residence of the ruling Inca at Huanuco Pampa.

Chavin de Huantar

Chavin de Huantar is an archaeological site located 250 kilometers (155 miles) north of Lima, Peru. The site lies at an elevation of 3177 meters (10,423 feet), beyond the Andean mountain range known as the Cordillera Blanca in Ancash Region. The city’s location at the headwaters of R�o Mara�on, between the coast and the jungle, made it an ideal location for the dissemination and collection of both ideas and material goods. Chav�n de Huantar was initially built by the Chav�n, a pre-Moche culture, around 900 BC. The site consists of two main structures, the Old Temple and New Temple. The Old Temple was an inward-facing U-shaped structure with a central court. The court contained obelisks and stone monuments with low relief carvings depicting jaguars, caymans, hawks, and various anthropomorphic forms. The interior of the temple contained a maze of passageways, chambers and water conduits.

The New Temple, constructed between 500 and 200 BC, also contained many relief sculptures and was a more block-like form. A massive stair led up to an elevated landing with a sunken rectangular court. Hidden passageways and platforms allowed priests to miraculously appear above their audiences.

The population in the surrounding areas grew from about 500 in its initial phase to nearly 3,000 between 400 and 200 BC. Several droughts occurred at the time of the occupation of Chavin de Huantar, leading to the increased travel of pilgrims and traders. These natural events, along with the strategic location of the temple site, led to the wide dissemination of the Chav�n artistic style and religious beliefs throughout the area that is now known as Peru.

An alternative dating scheme for Chav�n has been recently proposed by a team of researchers from Stanford University, which dates the chronology of construction at Chavin a number of centuries earlier, and in particular argues that monumental construction at Chavin ceased well prior to 500 BC.

Some of the Chav�n reliefs from this archaeological site are on display in the Museo de la Nacion in Lima. Chav�n de Huantar is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. However, the site has suffered structural damage from landslides, erosion, and neglect, and its system of underground galleries are in danger of collapse due to water seepage within the platform mounds. The Global Heritage Fund (GHF) has stated that if properly conserved, Chav�n could become “the next Macchu Picchu of Peru”, and generate sustainable tourism revenue on a similar scale indefinitely. As a result, the GHF has teamed with Peru’s Instituto de Cultura and Stanford University in a program of conservation.

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