North of La Oroya and the Huallaga Valley

A paved road runs 130 km north from La Oroya to Cerro de Pasco. It runs up the Mantaro Valley through narrow canyons to the wet and mournful Junín pampa; at over 4250 m, it's one of the world's largest high-altitude plains. Blue peaks line the pampa in a distant wall. This windswept sheet of yellow grass is bitterly cold and the only signs of life are the young herders with their sheep and llamas. The road passes the eastern shores of the Lago de Junín, which is famous for its birdlife. From Junín to Cerro de Pasco the landscape is dominated by the cultivation of maca, through the Sierra Verde project; since it was declared that this tuber has strong nutritional value demand has soared. Maca juice, cake, bread, liquor, etc, is sold from roadside stalls all around the lake. It is even claimed to have aphrodisiac properties.

The Central Highway from Cerro de Pasco continues northeast another 528 km to Pucallpa, the limit of navigation for large Amazon river boats. The western part of this road (Cerro de Pasco-Huánuco) is a good paved highway and the descent along the Río Huallaga is dramatic. The road drops 2436 m in the 100 km from Cerro de Pasco to Huánuco; most of it is in the first 32 km. From the bleak vistas of the high ranges the road plunges below the tree line into another world of tropical beauty.

Ins and outs

There are good roads all the way down to Huánuco, with bus services from the capital. There is also a road connection from the Callejón de Huaylas to
Huánuco, so if you wish to stay in the sierra, you do not have to backtrack to the coast. For information, contact the
department of tourism
, in Junín.
Dircetur Pasco
, in Cerro de Pasco, or
Dircetur
 in Huánuco. A useful website is www.webhuanuco.com.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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