We had heard from numerous travelers that we had to go to the small town of Huaraz to do the Santa Cruz trek and check out its beer scene. Located about 8 hours north of Lima, Huaraz is a hiking mecca with its beautiful snowcapped mountains (some of the highest in Peru and the world’s highest tropical mountain range) in Huascarán National Park. We arrived in Huaraz on Monday after another overnight bus, this time to a hostel with awesome wifi! We actually specifically searched reviews to find a place with a reliable internet connection since so many of the places we’ve stayed at have had crappy wifi, and we really needed to catch up on our emails, blog posts, and syncing our pictures to the cloud.
Since we arrived at dark, we didn’t see the amazing views of mountains surrounding the city until we went out for lunch that afternoon. The scenery is so pretty! I seriously don’t know why more expats don’t move there. Plus they have good beer! We had lunch at Trivio specifically to check out the beers from Sierra Andina. We first tried the Shaman IPA, and oh my god - we were in heaven! A real IPA in South America! We also tried their Pachacútec Imperial Ale, which was also delicious. Of the several beers we tried over the course of the next few days, those were definitely our favorite two. We also checked out some beers at Trece Buhos (“13 Owls”), a bar the locals we met in Trujillo told us to go to. We tried two beers made with coca (interesting flavor), plus their black and red beers.
We also had some interesting food while in Huaraz. We had dinner one night from a street vendor who was always surrounded by locals - must be good, right? We ordered one of each option, which turned out to be cow heart and chicken parts. Maybe they were intestines? Throat cartilage? We didn’t really understand what the cook said in Spanish. Cow heart wasn’t that weird - a lot like regular beef but with a slightly funky texture. The chicken dish was another story; we don’t know what it was, and it honestly wasn’t very good. We ended up at another food vendor to get a piece of pizza and Inca Kola (an insanely popular Peruvian soda) to wash that down. We also tried yellow passion fruit for the first time. We’ve had passion fruit flavored food back at home, but honestly had no idea what one looked like until we saw a local eating one and had to try it. I’ve been telling people the texture feels like eating baby aliens (it’s both slimey and crunchy) and tastes amazing. At the market we were able to get a kilo of passion fruit for only 3 soles (less than $1)!
In addition to our culinary adventures, we also spent time preparing for the Santa Cruz trek, a 4 day/3 night 50 km (31 miles) hike through the stunning Huascarán National Park. Despite often being labeled as one of the best hikes in the world, it’s nowhere near as popular as the Inca Trail and doesn’t need to be booked months in advance. Plus, it’s off season (rainy season) for hiking, so we were able to shop around to find the best price. We settled on one that would leave on Thursday morning, so we spent our time until then relaxing and doing an acclimatization hike to Lake Wilcacocha. Located in the Cordillera Negra mountain range, the hike up to the lake is only about two hours and provides amazing panoramic views of the Cordillera Blanca mountains. The locals were very helpful when we lost our way and some even chatted with us for a while! The friendly people in Peru are one of the many reasons we love this country so much.