Tariy ’09: The Twins of Casma

There is always an air of anticipation before going a long road trip. You hope that everything will go as planned, but as a seasoned traveler you know in your gut that nothing will, and that it’s better this way. It’s traveling into the unknown that makes road trips so attractive, and although I had traveled this route before I knew that it would not be the same. A couple new locations beckoned me and one or two stood out in my mind as I had never traveled there before. This years Tariy is pure business I told myself, but deep inside, and perhaps secretly, I was telling myself if I don’t come back different I shouldn’t come back at all.

And so with the chaos and heat of the Pan-American highway on my left and the Paramonga bus station on my right, I boarded the bus that would take me to my first destination; Barranca. For 10 soles (s/.), equivalent to about $3.25 I had bought my ticket from Lima to Barranca, Fiore being the location where the bus terminal is located along the Pan-American Highway North or Norte. The route taken is along the western coast of Peru, through stretches of scorching desert and small fishing villages and towns. The first impressive part of this route is passing is through Pasamayo. This half hour stretch of road curves along massive cliffs, and though it is relatively safe to drive through during the day, there have been accidents on foggy nights where buses have plunged thousands of feet below into the unforgiving sea.

peru-pasamayo-norte

From Pasamayo onward you pass the towns of Ancon, Chancay and Huacho, a short distance from Huacho is Huaura then a 50 minute stretch to Barranca. Barranca is a bustling town and I had made it one of my point of interest to find guides and agencies that would be of help in offering tours of the nearby Caral pyramids in Supe. If you have read Tariy 2008 Caral was one of the sites I first visited on that trek. If you haven’t I’ll explain that Caral is one of the most neglected yet amazing archaeological sites in Peru, The complex is made up of six stone based pyramids surrounding smaller complexes that until the recent discoveries at Sechin was considered the earliest civilization in the Americas. I recommend that if you plan to visit the ruins you stay at Hotel Chavin (Jr. Galvez 222), they are great hotel that Karikuy will be using in it’s upcoming Caral tours.

After walking around the city for what seemed like hours searching for agencies, it came to my surprise that no agencies were to be found in Barranca. There are local guides who you must contact in advance to take you and show you to the site, otherwise it’s a DIY experience, just like me and my cousin had done a year earlier. Fortunately I am now in contact with these guides and like I mentioned will be adding the Caral program to our tour lineup. This realization and the effort put into locating guides had given me a hunger unlike any other, and so with my cousin Karina, who was accompanying me to Casma, I decided to stop and observe the traditional and mandatory lunchtime.

peru-barranca

We rode out of Barranca with full stomachs and the midday sun behind us. It was now 3pm and we had caught a Paramonga bus for 10 s/.  from Barranca to Casma where I would spend the night. Leaving Barranca there are only two points of interest until reaching Casma. The first and relatively close ruins of Paramonga is an adobe temple about 4km beyond the turnoff for the road to Huaraz. It was built by the Chimu culture and if you decide to make the climb up you will be rewarded by great views of the surrounding valley. The other point of interest is an hour into the journey and about at the halfway point of the bus ride. Here you pass the town of Huarmey which can be a true miracle in the middle of the desert if your in need of a bottle of water or some gas for your vehicle, I purchased a bottle of water and some candy. From Huarmey forward there is nothing but desert until reaching Casma.

peru-desert-coast

At around 5:30 pm we reached Casma, and although I was tired from the days trip I decided to accompany my enthusiastic nephews and nieces up to the “Mirador” or lookout. We set off for the lookout as the the sun began to make its way down to touch the mountains surrounding the valley. The walk up the mountain was easy as there are stairs snaking their way up to the lookout spot, the lookout being  recently built due to to people climbing the mountain. Once we reached the top there was truly a magnificent view to greet us; I was able to snap some photos and take some videos.

peru-casma-sechin

peru-casma-sunset

I had thought I had reached the top and the conclusion to an adventurous day of traveling when my nieces once again whisked me off to climb and even higher peak where two lone rocks marked the highest point of the mountain. Being one to never back down I hurried after them, although I must admit it was tough to chase after 10 year olds in their prime ha ha. At the time the rocks in the distance looked pretty close, what I realized soon after is that they were a good 20 minutes away. After running up and down the hills that make up the mountain I finally reached the rocks and took a breather.

peru-casma-twin-rocks

Night fell upon us as we scrambled our way down the mountain and back into the streets of Casma. I am blessed to have a large family, a lot of which live in all different parts of Peru. That night I could count on a warm bed and the hospitality of my family in Casma, something that should never be taken for granted while on the road. After dinner and catching up with family members I retired to the room that had been prepared for me. Normally I wouldn’t have gone to bed so early, but on the road something that I have grown quite familiar with is a fatigue that just overcomes you. It didn’t take much for me to succumb that night, tomorrow a new day, and more work on my plate as I continued my travels.

Daily Expenditure – 31 s/. = $10

10 – Bus (Paramonga) Lima to Barranca
1.50 – Bottled Water
1 – Taxi – Barranca bus to Plaza de Armas
7.50 – Lunch
1 – Candy
10 – Bus (Paramonga) Barranca to Casma
Free lodging and Dinner – Thanks to Family

Note: If you plan to overnight in Casma I recommend:

Hostal Monte Carlo
(Av. Nepeña Mz. N2 lt. 16)
Tel. 043411421
hostalmontecarlo@hotmail.com
Simple Room: 35 s/.
Double: 40 s/.

Julio C. Tello

Founder of Karikuy, an organization in Peru that brings travelers to visit and explore the country. Julio also runs the Karikuy Volunteer program and is the editor of this blog. Julio likes to write about his adventures in Peru as well as Peruvian folklore, mysteries and secluded locations.

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