Huancavelica, Peru

Given that it can be a challenge to get to Huancavelica, travelers justifiably expect to find something worthwhile. What they will find is a small, cozy town nestled among craggy peaks, more reminiscent of Switzerland than the Andes. Its location means that the town can experience some bone-chilling winds, and the weather can be unpredictable in the wet season. Huancavelica is 147km south of Huancayo and is the capital of its own department. It’s a relaxed kind of town that grows on you and, like other towns in the country, activity centers on its main square, where there are reasonable hotels and a few quality eating options.

This historic city was a strategic Inca center, and shortly after the conquest the Spanish discovered its mineral wealth. By 1564 the Spaniards were sending indigenous Peruvian slaves to Huancavelica to work in the mercury and silver mines. The present town was founded in 1571 under the name of Villa Rica de Oropesa and retains a very pleasant colonial atmosphere and many interesting churches. Not many travelers make it here, but it is worth the effort – particularly during the sunny days of the dry season between May and October.

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