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Ancash is a region in northern Perumarker. It is bordered by the La Libertad regionmarker on the north, the Huánuco and Pasco regions on the east, the Lima region on the south, and the Pacific Oceanmarker on the west. Its capital is the city of Huarazmarker, and its largest city and port is Chimbotemarker. The name of the region originates from the Quechua word anqash, which means blue.


Ancash is a land of contrasts. It has two, great longitudinal valleys, that combine the mountain characteristics of the Callejón de Huaylas (Alley of Huaylas) and the ones of the sylvan Alto Marañón. Miles of sandy beaches abut the blue waters of the Pacific.The territory of the coast, high plateaus and Andean punas of the Ancash Region are flat, while the rest of the territory, in the Andes, is very rough. In the west, slopes with strong declivity form narrow canyons with abrupt and deserted sides.

The rough territory of the region is crossed by two mountain ranges: on thewestern side, it's the Cordillera Negra (the Black Mountain Range), which has peaks without glaciers, and on the eastern side, it's the Cordillera Blancamarker (the White Mountain Range), which has many peaks covered with snow and ice, like the Huascaránmarker and the Alpamayomarker. Between these two mountain ranges, the Santa River flows through the so-called Callejón de Huaylas. This alley narrows to form the Cañón del Patomarker (Duck Canyon). Also along the Pacific slopes, the Santa River has shaped a wide valley in the punas which narrows into the Cordillera Negra where the Cañón del Pato canyon was formed.

The snow-covered peak of Huascarán, highest summit of Peru and second of the Americas, reaches a height of 6,768 m (22,205 ft, 4.2 miles) and contrasts with the 6,263 m (20,548 ft) deep trough of Chimbote found in the ocean west of Ancash. Remnants of glaciers created many lagoons, such as Llanganuco and Paron.

Following the Pan-American highway north from Limamarker, the territory of the region of Ancash begins just beyond the Fortress of Paramonga, between wide fields of sugarcane, and across the Fortaleza River, 206 kilometres (128 mi) from Lima.

Along the coast of Ancash, from the Fortaleza River to the Santa River, the Pacific exerts great influence. The Peruvian current and the El Niño current exert considerable and sometimes tragic effect on local lives and regional economies.

Normally, the Peruvian current, also known as the Humboldt Current, brings cold water and lots of fish. With the development of the shoals of anchoveta, the Ancash ports and creeks became commercial fishing centers. During the 1950s, the bay of Chimbote was the top fishing port of the world.

However, when warmer waters from the north, such as the current of El Niño, bring catastrophic rains to the coast and sea, the shoals of anchoveta disappear, the fishing fleets plants are paralyzed, and flooding rivers cause serious damage to the lands and cities. The cycles of these two sea currents that affect Peru are hard to predict.

Further north along the Pan-American highway, numerous islands and islets dot the sea near the coast. Most are home only to guano seabirds. From south to north, the most important islands include:

The coastal region of Peru includes many peninsulas, creeks, warm bays and sand beaches, full of color. Because of the lack of roads and difficult terrain, many of these are inaccessible by land. The most important beaches include:

Much of this coast is a monotonous stretch of huge sand deserts, a common denominator in all Peruvian coastal regions because of the influence of the Humboldt Current.

Along the rivers, there are green valleys, cultivated mainly with sugarcane, rice and cotton.

From south to north, the main rivers of the Ancash coast are the following:

Of these rivers, the only one with water year-round is the Santa River; its sources are the Cordillera Blanca's glaciers and lagoons. The other rivers, as with most rivers of the Peruvian coast, are intermittent, depending on the highland rains or the advance of El Niño.

Pativilca-Caraz-Huallanca Route

The historical village of Pativilcamarker (department of Lima), where Simón Bolívar planned his Peruvian liberty expedition, is 202 kilometres (126 mi) north of Lima on the Pan-American Highway. At this point begins the highway that leads to the Callejón de Huaylas. This road is completely paved, although it often has to be repaired because of the extreme damage caused by the huaycos (avalanches) and the rains. The same problem affects most Peruvian roads, especially the ones in the mountains and rainforest.

This highway is 287 kilometres (178 mi) long, with an extremely comfortable course, especially in the steep climbing stretches through the Cordillera Negra (Black Range) up to the summit of Conocochamarker, 4,100 metres (13,451 ft) above sea level. From there, the road begins to go down toward the Callejón de Huaylas.

The trip Lima-Huaraz of 408 kilometres (254 mi) can be made in six hours by car. Modern buses take eight hours in the same stretch.

East of Pativilca, for about 20 kilometres (12 mi) the highway passes between wide fields planted with sugarcane in extensive fields, parallel to the Fortaleza river bed.

At Huaricanga town, the road enters the department of Ancash. At this point, the highway begins a slow ascent of the first spurs of the Cordillera Negra. This stretch continues for about 50 kilometres (31 mi). The climb gets suddenly steeper beyond the towns of Chasquitambo and Chaucayán, with many bends and serpentines.

The White Mountain Range

This mountain range is composed by gigantic summits covered with snow, which are among the most beautiful of the world. The White mountain range is considered the highest tropical mountain range in the world. It borders the Callejón de Huaylas to the east. It has a length of 180 km.

It has 35 peaks that are higher than 6000 m and many other smaller ones, a real symphony of summits with different grades of difficulty in climbing.

This mountain range was called White, not only for its eternal snow but also for the chemical constitution of its quartz and feldspar rocks. It has the highest summit in Perumarker and the second one in America after Aconcaguamarker: Huascaránmarker, whose south peak reaches 6768 msnm. Huascaránmarker's north peak reaches 6655 m.

Alpamayomarker, which height has been estimated in 6120 m, has been considered as <<THE most="" beautiful="" snow="" mountain="" of="" the="" world="">>.</<THE> <<THE most="" beautiful="" snow="" mountain="" of="" the="" world="">This statement was achieved by the distinguished Peruvianmarker mountaineer César Morales Arnao, who sent the photo of Alpamayomarker to the world contest of scenic beauty made in 1966 in Münichmarker (Germanymarker).</<THE>

North Huandoymarker reaches 6395 m, Huantsán reaches 6410 m, Chopicalqui reaches 6354 m, North Copa reaches 6173 m, Artesonrajumarker reaches 6025 m, South Santa Cruz reaches 6259 m and Hualcán reaches 6126 m.

The beauty of the Cordillera Blancamarker is largely determined by the Cordillera Negra, because this mountain range soften the winds that come from the Pacific oceanmarker. The Cordillera Negra, acting as a shield, avoids the thaw of the big glaciers from the Cordillera Blancamarker.

The Cordillera Negra has rocky peaks with very little winter snowfall, reaching a maximum height of 5500 m. Its name comes from the comparison with the white snowy peaks of the Cordillera Blancamarker.

Huascarán National Park

The Huascarán National Parkmarker is one of the most outstanding conservation parks in Perumarker, due to its landscapes that are full of peaks, lakes, canyons, torrents and waterfalls. Inside its borders, it can be observed the whole Cordillera Blancamarker and seven peaks of more than 6000 m height. They constitute one of the main international focuses for climbers and mountaineers. It was stated as a National Park on July 1, 1975 with a surface of 340,000 ha and a length of 158 km. This National Park includes parts of the following provinces: Recuay, Huaraz, Carhuaz, Yungay, Huaylas, Pomabamba, Mariscal Luzuriaga, Huari, Corongomarker, Sihuas and Bolognesi. This park has also been stated as a Biosphere reservation and as a World Heritage Site by the UNESCOmarker.

The park territory is very uneven. It has snowy summits, which altitudes vary between 5000 and 6768 msnm. It also has gullies, that are deeply encased because of the fluvioglacial erosion, and a great number of lagoons. Inside the borders of the park, there are 663 glaciers that are distributed throughout 180 km, from the Tuco peak in the south up to Champará in the north.

Regarding its climate, there are two very well defined seasons:

  • The dry season, from April to September, becoming worse between the months of June and August; and
  • The wet season, from October to May, which highest rainfall is between January and March.

Its flora is countless and beautiful, including important groups of Puya Raimondi. In its fauna, there are brown brockets, tarucas, spectacled bears, vicuñas, pumas, foxes, vizcachas, weasels, andean mountain cats, opossums, hog-nosed skunks, etc.

There is also a great number of birds, predominating ducks, american coots and hummingbirds.

Extreme Sports in the Callejón de Huaylas and the Huascarán National Park

Mountain climbers in Ancash

  • Mountaineering: The glaciers of the Cordillera Blancamarker constitute one of the most important world scenarios for ice climbing. Mountaineering can be practiced the whole year but it is better to do it during the months of May and September.

  • Canoeing: The Santa river has the technical characteristics and different difficulty grades for practicing river sports as canoeing, kayak and others. For example, there are some rapids between Antamarker and Carazmarker that are good for those who are just beginning to practice this sport. The lagoons of Llanganuco and Querococha also offer some special characteristic for a boat ride.

  • Cycling: The cyclists that ride on the highways and roads enjoy the practice of this sport by traveling inside and outside the Huascarán National Parkmarker. This sport can be practiced at any time of the year.

  • Rock climbing: The granite belt that goes round the glaciers of the Cordillera Blancamarker (White Mountain range) constitutes the suitable place for practicing this sport. There are walls from 100 m to 1000 m of height that have many kinds of technical difficulties to get through. There is an odd scenario for this sport called Rocódromo de Monterrey.
Plaza de Armas of Huaraz

The Black Mountain Range

The route Casmamarker-Huarazmarker is not a very highly travelled road. The highway begins with a paved path that arrives up to Yaután. Then it quickly begins to ascend through an unpaved path by the sides of the Cordillera Negra (Black mountain range), following the course of the Casma River. This route becomes more steep once it arrives to Pariacoto. Along the road, there are not important towns at all, except for Pira that offers some traveler's services.

This route, extremely steep and narrow, goes between big abysses and gullies. It can be seen small rural districts with chacras (smallholdings) that have been sown with potatoes, wheat, barley and other food products. It can also be seen livestock and a lot of human activity.

The gullies of the Cordillera Negra -that goes, simultaneously, with the Cordillera Blancamarker throughout 150 km- are gloomy and dark. Most of them are dry or their flow is scarce. From north to south, there are some hills like Rumicruz (5020 m), Rocarre (5187 m), Cerro Rico (5015 m), and Chonta (4810 m).

The Cordillera Blancamarker's beauty is largely determined by the Cordillera Negra, because this mountain range soften the winds that come from the Pacific oceanmarker. The Cordillera Negra, acts like a shield and avoids the thaw of the big glaciers that are located in the Cordillera Blancamarker.

The Cordillera Negra has rocky peaks with very little winter snow, reaching a maximum height of 5500 m. Its name comes from the comparison with the white snowy peaks of the Cordillera Blancamarker.

The Santa River and the Cañon del Pato (The Duck Canyon)

From Chimbotemarker to Huallanca, there are approximately 140 km. This unpaved and very little travelled highway is a provisional line over the embankment of the old railroad. This railway and several tunnels were destroyed by the catastrophe of 1970.

The highway, outside Chimbotemarker, goes through the wide flat and fertile embankments of the Santa valley and it continuous its course up to Huallanca.

From Chuquicara, the highway becomes narrower. The Chuquicara river is a big Santa's tributary for its right bank. Its water are black because they containe abundant coal sediments proceeding from the heights of Pallasca.

From Huallanca, it is possible to travel through the Cañon del Patomarker. This canyon is one the many canyons that are along the 370 km of the Santa river. The Santa river has its source in the Conococha lagoonmarker. This river is the most important river in the coast, because its annual water mass is 6100 millions of m3. As centuries went by, it has formed a narrow pass of 2000 m of altitude in the Cordillera Negra.

In this place, the waters turn into whirlpools and rapids before going out from a narrow gorge of 500 m that is called Cañon del Patomarker (Duck Cannyon). This water fall constitutes the source of hydroelectric energy in the Power station of the Cañón del Patomarker, in Huallanca.

From Huallanca, it is possible to enter to the Callejon de Huaylas by the highway that takes to Carazmarker. It is also a way to enter to the callejon de Conchucos (Conchucos alley).

The Callejón de Conchucos

The Callejon de Conchucos is a beautiful succession of valleys located to the east of the Cordillera Blancamarker. It is connected by a highway that goes from Catac to Huallanca.

There are seven provinces of the Ancash Region that cover the Callejon de Conchucos. They are Huari, Antonio Raimondi, Mariscal Luzuriaga, Pomabamba, Sihuas, Corongomarker and Pallasca. This Callejón is located to the east of the Cordillera Blancamarker, that is to say, to the other side of the Callejon of Huaylas, before the Marañon rivermarker.

The topography of the soil presents high summits, deep valleys and inhospitable punas, making it a rough zone, such as most of the highland in Perumarker.

The northern provinces of Pallasca and Corongomarker have their own direct access towards Chimbotemarker and the Callejon of Huaylas. The other provinces have a longitudinal highway of double entry, one from Huari and the other one from Huallanca and Sihuas, joining Pomabamba, Luzuriaga and Raimondi.


Between the years 400 and 600 BC, the first Peruvian civilization, known as Chavín, originated and flourished in this zone. The importance of this culture lies not only in its antiquity but in the history and culture it shares with other cultures along the Andean and Amazonian territories. As archaeologist Julio C. Tello put it, "Chavín was the mother of all the cultures that later bloomed in the old Perumarker." The name Chavín comes from the Quechua word Chaupin, which translates as center or headquarters. Tello believed that people came from the Amazonas, scaled the Andes, and developed the Chavín culture.

During the Inca age, the population of the Santa valley was assimilated into the Inca empire by Pachacuti.

The first Spaniardsmarker came to Huaylas attracted by the fame of the silver veins of the region. In time, the Spanish destroyed the Inca cities. It was during this time that Jeronimo de Alvarado founded the city of Huaraz. Though in the Colonial Age this city held little importance and its artistic and cultural life did not have much relevance, it became the headquarters for Simón Bolívar during his campaign to liberate Peru.

The 1970 Ancash earthquake devastated the region, killing more than 50,000 people and damaging 186,000 houses in one of the deadliest natural disasters in Peru.

Today, most of the Ancash population is concentrated in the Callejón de Huaylas.


Ancash's economy the third largest in Peru is largely made up of gold, copper and zinc mining. Its coast is rich in fishing resources and it is Peru's most productive fishing region (Peru is the world's largest exporter of Fish Meal). Crops cultivated in Ancash include potatoes, wheat and barley.


Lake Conococha
Lake Palcacocha
Ancash's geographical center, the Callejón de Huaylas, is an area of intense interest to tourists. This is due to its large variety of natural attractions, its sport and recreational facilities, and the nearby archaeological remains of the ancient cultures that once flourished there. The Cordillera Blanca, the highest peak in the Peruvian Andes, offers an interesting attraction for tourists visiting Peru. Visitors also come to see the natural beauty of the area's glaciers and valleys and to enjoy the many lagoons and thermal fountains.

Ancash is sometimes referred to as the "Switzerlandmarker of Peru." There is the four mile high Huascarán, home to the Huascarán National Parkmarker. There is also the Alpamayo peak, considered one of the most beautiful in the world.

Among archaeological sites of interest, Ancash has many vestiges of old cultures, including the Guitarrero Cave (10,000 BC), the pre-Columbian ruins of Chavín de Huántarmarker. Hunsakay, Willkawain, Sechín, and Pañamarca are also well-known.


There are a few tours in the Ancash Region that will let us know the main turistic and historical places inside this Region. Among the principal ones are:


There are five main highways that cross the region:
  • The North Pan-American highway, that crosses the coast of Ancash longitudinally.
  • Three east-west highways that connect the coast with the region of the highlands, most importantly the Callejón de Huaylas:
    • Pativilca - Huallanca
    • Casma - Huaraz
    • Chimbote - Huallanca.
  • One highway that crosses the Callejón de Conchucos (Conchucos Alley) longitudinally, to the east of the Cordillera Blanca.

In addition, the region has a network of local roads.

Political division

Ancash political division.

The region is divided into 20 provinces (provincias, singular: provincia), which comprise 166 districts (distritos, singular: distrito). Its capital is Huaraz.

The provinces and their capitals are:

Aija Aijamarker 5
Antonio Raymondi Llamellínmarker 6
Asunción Chacas 2
Bolognesi Chiquiánmarker 15
Carhuaz Carhuazmarker 11
Carlos F. Fitzcarrald San Luis 3
Casma Casmamarker 4
Corongomarker Corongomarker 7
Huaraz Huarazmarker 12
Huari Huarimarker 16
Huarmey Huarmeymarker 5
Huaylas Caraz 10
Mariscal Luzuriaga Piscobamba 8
Ocrosmarker Orcosmarker 10
Pallasca Cabana 11
Pomabamba Pomabambamarker 4
Recuay Recuaymarker 10
Santa Chimbote 9
Sihuas Sihuas 10
Yungay Yungaymarker 8

Additional facts

Weather Warm and semitropical
Temperature Annual average 16.2 °C (61.2 °F)
Road network 4,429 kilometres (2,752 mi)
Illiteracy rate 21%
Child mortality rate 43 per thousand
 Huaraz to Lima, 408 kilometres (254 mi)
Huaraz to Trujillo, 335 kilometres (208 mi)
Huaraz to Cajamarca, 636 kilometres (395 mi)


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