Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Volcano Alley

There is a string of volcanoes in southern Peru that runs from the department of Moquegua in the south, up through Arequipa, and ending in the southern provinces of Ayacucho.   Part of that stretch, a bit to the north of the city of Arequipa,  is known as Valley of the Volcanoes.

The road to the Colca Valley from Arequipa does not pass through or near the Valley of the Volcanoes, but at a stretch along the Arequipa-Colca highway, across the plateau of Patapampa, one can not only glimpse the southern extremity of the valley, but on a clear day one can take in about 20 snowcapped, mostly volcanic, peaks.

On the left are the volcanic summits of Mt Ampato -where the naturally-mummified body of an Inca girl, subsequently nicknamed "Juanita"-  was found, and Mt. Sabancaya.  On the right is Hualca Hualca.

In the photos above, you may notice piles of stones.  Those are apachetas, offerings left by travellers at the high passes as a gesture to the wamanis or apus of the mountains.   There are a lot of them at this spot because, not only is it the high point of the road - 4,910 meters (16,108 ft) above sea level- but it is also a stopping point for viewing the vista of volcanoes, known as the Mirador de los Volcanes.

Liz the Explorer, at the Mirador de los Volcanes.  Behind her in the distance is Mt. Chachani.

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