PARIWANA BLOG

The Junin Stretch

From Huanuco the road heads up into the high Andes. This is where the immense Junin Lake sits. It is the second biggest alpine lake in the country after Lago de Titicaca. There are several towns along the stretch of highway that skirts the lake. Some are mining towns and offer little to the common backpacker (although a jaunt in a local haunt might be an interesting reprise from the normal gringo trail features). Other towns function with the seasons, supporting themselves on the maca crops in the high plateau plains.

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There are no trees at this great altitude, but around the lake grows thick brush that is almost impenetrable. You won’t want to swim here, the mining residues that leak into the water havecaused a bit of havoc for the fish community.

Read more: Visiting the beautiful Lake Titicaca and the majestic Cusco city

However, the draw of the area is the incredible sight line into the distance. Towering white peaks stick out from the mountain ranges around. You might catch sight of a grazing vicuna, the altiplano Alpaca, or the high altitude mining cars of a passing train. Perhaps you’ll continue on quickly enough to your destination of Pucallpa or Tarma or Lima, but even passing here for the daylight views is worth it.

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The towns along the highway boast restaurants that cater to a hungry traveler, as this is the main route for many Peruvian truckers. You might appreciate a good plate of pachamanca, which is pork cooked in an open fire pit served with steamed potatoes.

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There are two main sights in particular if you have the time to debark from the bus and hang out for a spell. One of those sites requires a slight detour to the other side of the Lake. There, you’ll find immense forests of rock. That’s right; high monoliths of rock that appear like a forest from afar. They make for a bizarre and interesting excursion.

Read more: Tarma in the mountain ranges of the Andes

The other main sight along the pampas route (pampas meaning high plateau) is the battlefield. During Peru’s struggle for independence, the loyalist cavalry and patriot’s cavalry engaged in a skirmish that was considered the battle that set the stage for the Battle of Ayacucho, which saw the biggest battle in the struggle.

Overall, the Junin stretch might not be a major destination, but it is one worth the expense.