Central Highlands Attractions
The Central Highlands, encompassing the central Peruvian Andes, is traditionally a little visited area. For many years the region was dominated by local terrorist groups. Over the past number of years, with government involvement, these groups have been pushed underground and the infrastructure has been improved to a level that more travelers are now visiting the area. Despite this it is still one of the least developed areas of the country and traveling here brings unique experiences.Among the highlights in the Central Highlands are the small colonial towns, a chance to see the traditional way of life in the Andes, and the incredible mountain scenery. Some areas are also known for their artisans, and ancient ruins are scattered throughout the mountains.
Santa Rosa de Ocopa, Concepcion, Peru
Just outside the town of Concepción is the Santa Rosa de Ocopa Convent (Convento de Santa Rosa de Ocopa). This famous Franciscan convent was used as a base by missionaries heading into the Amazon. The Convent was built in the early part of the 18th century and some parts have not changed much since that time.The library at Santa Rosa de Ocopa, part of the original structure, contains more than 20,000 books and documents. There is also a small museum with a collection of items brought back from the Amazon by the missionaries. The church was built in 1905 and contains catacombs which house the remains of priests.
Temple of Kotosh, Huanuco, Peru
Huánuco is most famous for the nearby archeological site, the Temple of Kotosh, also known as the Temple of Crossed Hands. This is one of the oldest sites in the Peruvian Andes, dating to 2000 - 1500 BC. There are actually several Kotosh Temples, with the most famous being the Temple of Crossed Hands. The temple contains carvings of crossed hands, supposedly representing the Southern Cross constellation. The original sculpture of the hands is actually in the Archeological Museum in Lima, but there is a replica at the site.The Temple of Kotosh was found in 1935 and excavated in the 1960s. Some 10 tons of pottery were found here.
La Oroya, Peru
La Oroya is more of a convenient stopping point than an actual tourist destination. There is little of interest to travelers in this town but most major roads in this highland area pass through La Oroya. Consequently, visitors are likely to spend at least some time here, whether they like it or not.The town prides itself on its industry, a smelter and a refinery. There are some hotels in town if you find yourself spending a night, although it really doesn't warrant a night's stop. La Oroya is located at an elevation of 3731m / 12,050ft, making for cold nights.
San Pedro de Cajas, Peru
The town of San Pedro de Cajas is a sheep farming area known for its fine tapestries. The tapestries are unique for their pastoral scenes, which sometimes include the use of tufts of wool in the picture.Women work in the fields with the sheep while the men do the weaving. This division of labor is part of an old tradition in the region, where men were responsible for weaving the finer clothes and women wove pieces of lesser quality.There are several workshops in San Pedro de Cajas, many of which can be visited, although communication is generally in Spanish only.