Trip Duration   1 day (approx 11 hours)
Trip Type   Sightseeing tour
Grading   Discovery
Places Visited   Querococha Lake,
                         Chavin de Huantar
                         archaelogical site, Chavin
                         National Museum

Highest Point   Kawish Tunel 4516m
Distance   109km from Huaraz
The fascinating Chavin de Huantar pre-Inca temple complex was built between 1200 and 400 BC and is the most important site left behind by the Chavin culture, one of the oldest major cultures in Peru.
The site – which is at an altitude of 3150m above sea level some 109km south east of Huaraz in the Conchucos Valley - was discovered by Peruvian archaeologist Julio C. Tello in 1919 and declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1985.
The heyday of the Chavin was between 1500 BC and 300 BC, although its influence continued to be felt long after the civilisation declined. The highly advanced culture peacefully united highland societies from Cajamarca to Ayacucho and coastal societies from Lambayeque to Ica through a powerful religious ideology known as the Chavin Cult, based on the worship of nature spirits and an all-powerful feline creator god.
Although a landslide covered much of the site following an earthquake in 1945, enough remains to make it one of the most significant ancient temple sites in the Andes, of equal in importance, if not grandeur, to the sites around Cusco.
The major ceremonial centre is a stupendous achievement of ancient construction, with large temple-like structures above ground (notable for their sophisticated masonry), and mysterious labyrinthine underground passageways.
The main structure of the site is the massive, pyramid-shaped Castillo, whose walls were once embellished with tenons (keystones of large projecting blocks carved to resemble human heads with feline and bird-like characteristics). Only one remains in its original place today, although others can be seen at the local museum. Underneath the Castillo are a series of tunnels creating a maze of alleys, ducts and chambers that constitute an exceptional feat of engineering. In the heart of the complex is an exquisitely carved, 4.5-metre prism known as the Lanzon. This enigmatic, white granite monolith is the highlight of the site.

We leave Huaraz at 8 am and travel to the town of Chavin, located 109km away in the province of Huari. On the way we stop for about 20 minutes at the beautiful Lake Querococha (3980m), which is set at the foot of Mount Yanamarey and Pucaraju. It is not uncommon to see llamas and alpacas grazing around the lake. From here, the road climbs steeply to the Kawish Tunnel (4516m), which cuts through the solid rock of a mountain to emerge in the Conchucos Valley, where the magnificent archaeological site of Chavin de Huantar is located. We stop for around 10 minutes to admire the view of the valley. We descend to the small town of Chavin, which we reach before noon. We visit the ruins, the guided tour lasts around two hours. After the visit, we eat lunch in a restaurant in town. Later, we visit the excellent Chavin National Museum, which houses numerous intricately carved tenons, as well as the magnificent Tello Obelisk. At around 4 pm we make our way back to Huaraz. We arrive back in town at around 7 pm.