This small town of 25,000 (altitude: 3000 meters) seems little more than a peaceful stop between Cuzco and Ayacucho, but many visit and fall in love with Andahuaylas. The country charm and the beautiful scenery that surrounds the place are enchanting. The town itself has just a few hotels and the restaurants basic. Plaza de Armas is simple and has a pleasant cathedral that is usually open and a small museum. You won’t see any other tourists and facilities are few and far between, but if you want to experience a real Andean town that has managed to keep its composure, this is the place.
Getting To Andahuaylas
- By Air LC Peru has flights to Lima several times a week (1 hour) and sometimes to Ayacucho. The airport is 20 minutes south of town and can be reached by taxi.
- By Bus Expresso Los Chankas – Grau 232, 722-441. To Ayacucho in the evening. (10 hours, $7) Transportes San Jeronimo – Andahuaylas 116, 721-400. Cusco (10 hours) and Abancay (5 hours). Expresso Molina – Just over the bridge on Los Sauces. Has buses to Abancay, Ayacucho, and Cuzco. Recommended.
Attractions in Andahuaylas
The Municipal Museum on the plaza. Just one small room of pottery, skulls, and a few mummies. Information in Spanish and English. Free. Hours are sporadic.
Where to Stay in Andahuaylas
- El Encanto de Oro – Casafranca 424, 723-066. Bright, clean, rooms have private baths with hot water, cable, and telephones.
- Sol de Oro Hotel – Trelles 164, 721-152, fax 721-305, email@example.com. Rooms are homey with private hot water baths, TVs, and phones. Continental breakfast is included.
- Imperio Chanka – Clean and a new building east of the center. Private hot water baths and cable TV. Room service. Suites also available. $ There are several small, basic hospedajes on Ramos, all of similar rates and quality.
Where to Eat in Andahuaylas
- Panificadora – Castilla 599. On a corner of the plaza. This clean, contemporary bakery has breads, cakes, pastries, coffee, and teas. D’onofrio – Plaza next to the municipal. Snacks and ice cream. Sparkling clean.
- El Roble – Trelles 264. For local dishes, caldos, etc.
- Chifa El Dragon – Intersection of Ramos and Trelles. It says a lot about the food in Andahuaylas when a Chinese restaurant is the best in town. Also has some criollo dishes. Cheap menus with Wan Tan soup.
- The Mercado Municipal is at Casafranca and Trelles. Lots of produce, cheeses, and a small craft selection.
Day trips from Andahuaylas
Puchaca, 17 km from Andahuaylas, is a smaller, Andean version of Lake Tahoe. Mountains rise strait out of the cool blue water. Vicunas graze on the grassy sides. There are just a few small restaurants and you can rent small boats and fishing gear. Collectivo taxis run regularly between the lake and the market at Andahuaylas and leave when full. Historical Interest: The legend of Puchaca goes as this: The area around the lake was once a celestial paradise, inhabited by spiritual and compassionate people. However, people from other places discovered the lake and they began to settle there and brought with them corruption, injustice, and ego. One day there was a great celebration. An old ragged man came requesting food and shelter, but every house denied it to him. A modest single woman named “Mama Petecc,” let him in and gave him anything he wanted. Thankful the man advised the woman that a great catastrophe would soon occur in the town and that she should leave with her daughter and not look back. The woman took his advice and left, but when she began to hear thunder in the sky, she turned around and was turned into stone. Her statue still stands there to this day. About twenty minutes from the town of Pacucha, sits the stone ruins of Sondor, a remnant of the Chanka culture that long defended the region from the Incas. The site offers scenic views of the surrounding countryside. From the lake you can hike there in about one hour (ask at the lake for directions), or you can take a taxi to the site from Andahuaylas ($10-15 roundtrip, negotiate).
Writer and photographer Nicholas Gill is the editor/publisher of New World Review. He lives in Lima, Peru and Brooklyn, New York. His work has appeared in publications such as the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, CondeNast Traveler, National Geographic Traveler, Afar, and Penthouse. Visit his personal website (nicholas-gill.com) for more information.