Chosica (860 m), 40 km from Lima, is the real starting place for the mountains. It is warm and friendly and a great place to escape Lima’s grey cloud. Beyond the town looms a precipitous range of hills almost overhanging the streets. There are some basic hostales in town and, outside, weekend resorts (see http://www.chosica.com). Around 40 km beyond Chosica, up the picturesque Santa Eulalia valley, is the village of San Pedro de Casta (3180 m), which has some interesting sights nearby. Above the village, at 3900-4100 m, is Marcahuasi (2½-3½ hrs’ hike from San Pedro, depending on route, US$3.30 (US$1 for students)) a table mountain (meseta) covering about 3 km by 3 km. There are three lakes here, a 40-m high, so-called Monumento a la Humanidad and other mysterious lines, gigantic figures, sculptures, astrological signs and megaliths, which the late Daniel Ruzo describes in various publications, eg La Cultura Masma, Extrait de l’Ethnographie, Paris, 1956. Others speculate that the formations are the result of wind erosion and there are plenty of sites about its significance on the internet. The trail starts behind the village of San Pedro and bends to the left. About halfway you have to choose between the longer trail (the easier of the two) and the shorter tail, which is better for views of the valley below. Local guides can be hired, advisable in misty weather. Mules for carrying bags cost US$4.30 to hire from the tourist office; a horse costs US$5. Tourist information I T01-297 2344, communal phone, is available at the municipality on the plaza. Tours can be arranged with travel agencies in Lima.
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