When I first arrived in Huancayo in 2008, I took a tour with a stellar tourist agency in the area: Adrenalina Tours. This past month, I was able to meet the director of that very agency, Katty Mosquera. In the video below, she chats with me about why tourism in Huancayo is so important and what you’ll see on the traditional tour of the Mantaro Valley:
Peru’s main attraction is the pre-Columbian Inca site, Machu Picchu, but there is so much more to experience in this country. Huancayo, where I live in the Central Andes, is rarely mentioned in tourism advertising, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth stopping by!
These are the top four reasons you should include Huancayo on your next trip to Peru and South America:
- What I appreciate most about Huancayo is the mix of old and new. The very first mall in the area opened its doors in 2009 and the main marketplace is right beside it. The city has a population of over 300,000 residents yet is surrounded by farmland. Every Sunday, you can catch the flag-raising ceremony at the main plaza and then head down to the 10-block fair in the middle of the city to meet rural vendors who come in from all the surrounding towns.
- There’s always something to celebrate in Huancayo. In fact, it’s famous for holding more fiestas than days of the year! And the people are so friendly and welcoming that you’ll find yourself invited to all of them.
- Huancayo is certainly off the beaten path, so you’ll learn more about how Peruvians in the sierra truly live without the pretense that exists in touristy areas. No one will ask you to pay for taking a picture or for asking questions, and no one will give you a more expensive English menu; yes, these things happens in Cuzco.
- Katty says that around 90% of her clients are domestic. Since there are so few foreigners and Huancaínos who can speak English, you’ll be forced to whip out your Spanish. Don’t worry! You won’t feel embarrassed because the people are warm and helpful here.
What are the hidden gems in your area of the world?