About 8 km south of Tarma on the road to Huancayo, at Tarmatambo, is the start of a good section of Inca road that runs 3 km to Huasqui on the Tarma–La Oroya road. There are also ruins and caves and a spectacular view of terrace farming and of Tarma itself. It’s 20 minutes by car from Tarma. Some 30 km from Tarma on the Huancayo road is El Santuario Rupestre Pintish Machay, near Huairicolca. Here is the largest site of cave paintings in Peru, some 600 pictures dating back 4000 to 10,000 years.
To the north, some 8 km from Tarma, the small hillside town of Acobamba has some attractive old buildings. There are festivities during May . Some 2 km up beyond the town is the futuristic Santuario de Muruhuay, with a venerated picture painted on the rock behind the altar. Its design was inspired by Le Corbusier’s work. It also has fine tapices made in San Pedro de Cajas, which depict the Crucifixion.
The Grutas de Huagapo, also known as ‘La gruta que llora’ (the cave that weeps), is 4 km from the town of Palcamayo, which is 15 km northwest of Acobamba. The caves can be entered for about 100 m, at which point it is up to 30 m high and 20 m wide. Guides with torches and ropes can be hired near the entrance to reach 300 m. Beyond that wet suits and simple caving gear are needed. Even without a guide you can penetrate the cave for some way with a torch. The cave is the deepest in South America and investigations, which have penetrated up to 2800 m, suggest that the system extends over 30 km underground. There is a small but impressive gorge, Cañón de Ushtu, 10 minutes’ walk down river from the cave.
Northwest beyond Palcamayo, the road climbs steeply for 14 km to San Pedro de Cajas, a large village famed for its coloured sheep-wool weavings. The principal shops are on the central plaza and the road to Palcamayo. (This road joins up with the main road from La Oroya to Cerro de Pasco below Junín.) The town holds the Festival de La Pukcha (Hilado) on 28-30 June. There is accommodation and a couple of restaurants.
Three kilometres beyond San Pedro on the road to La Oroya is a vicuña reserve and cooperative, which is the best place to see vicuña at close range. The animals are accustomed to people and roam near the road. Every August they are sheared and the money from the sale of the fleece goes to the reserve....
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