By Erin Hancock
Huancayo is a city east of Lima in the eastern foothills of the Andes. High elevation, low tourism and lots of real-Peru living to be discovered. We made Peru home base for the better part of a year. Although Huancayo is a little-known city to tourists, 300 000 Peruvians make it their home. The city is fairly spread out and although a lot of activity happens around the main plaza downtown or the Plaza Real (the shopping center), every street has some stores and restaurants and an occasional market.
It takes about 7 hours by car or bus to cross the mountains from Lima on the coast to arrive in Huancayo. Cruz del Sur provides a great experience. Slow and careful driving, meal included, personal video screens and reclining seats makes a long ride into a doable situation.
The views throughout the mountain ride are definitely worth the gaze.
There is a Tuesday market a block from our apartment in the El Tambo area of the city where one can get all of your wares and supplies. There is also an extensive Sunday market stretching across more than a dozen blocks on Huancavelica Street that offers everything from wool products to leather boots and herbs from the mountains.
Like any place, friends make a place feel like home. We were able to connect with locals and foreign volunteers too. And we found or made our entertainment.
Discos and dancing.
Even themed parties….like St. Patrick’s Day (a first for many).
Ask a local and get a cab about a half-hour outside of the city for an afternoon of paintball.
You may not find yourself breaking bread with your friends (although bread is available….carbs are easily accessible), but Peru is known for good eats. Anticucho is a popular post-disco food (cow heart BBQ’d on skewers). Ceviche (marinated fish) is a popular dish across the country. You may remember cuy, another Peruvian favorite (guinea pig), from my Easter post.
And take in a meal at a local restaurant for very little money. Like Chanciduende (pork sandwich shop) near the main plaza.
Huancayo has been a liveable city and a great place to call home for a year. And to spice things up, we were able to explore beyond Huancayo too.
More details and photos of nearby destinations:
And further away in Peru, and worth the trip: