Overview

The Inca heartland in the east, the hiking territory of Cordillera Blanca and Cajamarca/Kuelap further north, Lake Titicaca to the south: these areas of the Peruvian Andes are relatively well trodden by visitors. But to the north and west of Cusco there is an equally beautiful and culturally rich mountainous region speckled with historic colonial towns only now beginning to attract visitors, following a period of political instability happily now resolved.

Ayacucho, 2,761m, is the jewel in the crown of the region, a Spanish colonial glorious city of at least 33 baroque churches, its cobbled streets resonating with atmosphere. South of the city, Andahuaylas, 2,926m, and Abancay, 2,377m, are worth a look. Further north is the market city Huancayo, 3,259m, reached from the coast by road or rail on one of the world’s most dramatic train journeys, and the ancient indigenous town Huancavelica, 3,676m. The fertile Mantaro gorge and valley shows off the contrasts of Andean scenery at its best while Tarma, 3,053m, one of the oldest towns in Peru and famous for its many festivals, is the principal flower growing region, the terraces around it a riot of colour.

This remote region is not short of archaeological sites, one of the most important being the Inca ruins at Huánuco Viejo, and the 4,000 year old temple of Kotosh.

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Where to go when - our guide to Ayacucho and central Andes

Ayacucho

The weather in Ayacucho and central Andes is wide and varied

Located at some 2700 metres above sea level and in a fertile valley, Ayacucho enjoys plenty of sunshine and a temperate climate for much of the year. Rainfall is modest, with most occurring between November and March. April through to October are the drier, cooler months in both the city and the central Andes. Temperatures can drop dramatically at night in the higher altitudes, particularly in July and August.

View our Ayacucho and central Andes weather guide

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Meet our team

Real Latin american experts

  • Sallly
    Sally Dodge - Travel Expert

    A former Journey Latin America tour leader, Sally spent 7 years working, travelling and living throughout Latin America before returning to the UK to help people arrange their own adventures to this wonderful destination.

  • Charlotte
    Charlotte Daubeney - Travel Expert

    Charlotte's fascination with Latin America began with a family holiday to Belize. She went on to study Spanish in school and at university before spending a year living in Santiago, Chile.

  • Maggie
    Maggie Wilson - Travel Expert

    Maggie visited Latin America on her first backpacking trip when she was 19. Since then, she has taken every opportunity to travel, and has managed to explore a lot of the region in subsequent trips.

  • Heloise
    Heloise Buxton - Travel Expert

    Heloise started her Latin American journey as an exchange student in Santiago, Chile. With extended summer holidays this was the perfect opportunity to backpack through Bolivia, Peru, Argentina and Brazil.

  • Hannah
    Hannah Waterhouse - Travel Expert

    Hannah had an early introduction to Latin America when her family moved to Ecuador and she returned to study in Buenos Aires for a year before backpacking across the continent.

  • Millie
    Millie Davies - Travel Expert

    Having caught the travel bug as a child, Millie has travelled all over Latin America before making her home in Buenos Aires for 3 years.

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