My name is Gilles Havik. I am a student in Biology in Netherland. I was in in the Reserva Paisajistica Nor Yauyos Cochas. I interviewed many people in Huancaya, Vitis and in Tanta. An ideal opportunity to learn a little from the Andean culture. The bus to Huancaya, my residence village leaves before sunrise, but the trip alone is worth every single minute of being awake before your natural wake up hour. The van crosses heigths of more than 4 km, where the puna grows in tiny steps. The mountain lakes are a joy to the eye, and so are the enormous multicoloured rocks that seem to be sliced by giants´ hands. After about three hours of driving, the van enters a valley that gives a first taste of the atmosphere you find further up. From the moment you go right in Tinco Alis, the rio Cañete introduces Huancaya and Vitis' ambience.
Left and right, colossal rocks look down upon the tiny villages. Huancaya, capital of the reserve, is well adorned, and built from natural stones. Some of the walls stem from more than a century ago. The waterfalls of the rio Cañete carry a peaceful feeling from the back of the village. And trout. You can eat trout all around the village, but if you are very lucky, you'll find Noe prepare it on his barbecue right of the church, on the cozy main square. On the opposite corner of that square you find Juanita's shop. She sells fresh cheese and delicious milk. Visit her by night. For a place to sleep, I'd recommend Marleny, or her neighbours Sulma and Antonino. You can find their places at the end of the first on the left after entering the calle Lima. Just ask around.
Most people in Huancaya are nice and hospitable. They are curious who you are and what you do. Drinking with them is fun, up till the point where you need to go home or go watch the stars. I'll say no more. When you leave the village in Northward direction, you will find a remnant of the Spanish inquisitors. It is a pleasant place to hang around, but following that road further up will lead you in about an hours walk to the lagoon of the sirens. A hue sapphire blue you have seldom seen in your life, and are unlikely to find again. Hikers will alleviate their hearts following any of the paths that lead upwards. There are lakes all around and the views are as breathtaking as the climb itself. Both Huancaya and Vitis are excellent starting points.
Vitis is marked by the enthousiastic kids running round on the streets. Stay there a day, and they'll know your name. A day more, and they know everything else. If you're not carefull, they pull you all over the main square. Heredia's place is the only hostal of the village. It is nice, and she cooks well too.
Tanta is a place you don't reach just like that. Going with the public transport means you travel in a truck with an average of 30 people and 20 sheep. For 7 hours. But once again, the landscape is fantastic. It is a ride through the Puna, sometimes with a view on the angelically white peaks, with the sky slicers of the Pariacaca as their all time master. The villagers fear Pariacaca, one of the Incas sacred Apus, who can be seen from Tanta. Most of them are not overly educated, yet generally warm hearted. They are weavers, parading with their artisanal on cold days. Brown polos reach down to their knees, giving an impressive allure, particularly to the tall. Isolated as it is, tanta seems to be one of the least disturbed traditions of the reserve. Yet a short climb reveals that the village counts two arenas and six footbal fields. One of them located on an island in the middle of Cañetes rage. A hiking trip to the foot of Pariacaca is highly recommendable, but don't forget your offering to the lake of murucocha. Legend has it that neither boat nor swimming man ever reached it to the island in it's middle. The majestic rocks around, some part of the Inca trail, radiate a magnetism you just have to respect. They survived the fist of the elements from year to year.
The reserve of Nor Yauyos offers a world of experiences to adventurers as well as to people who are up for some extreme chilling: an experience you won't forget.