Peru, Ancash, Tortugas beach

Ancash is a region in northern Peru. It is bordered by the La Libertad region on the north, the Huánuco and Pasco regions on the east, the Lima region on the south, and the Pacific Ocean on the west. Its capital is the city of Huaraz, and its largest city and port is Chimbote. The name of the region originates from the Quechua word anqash, which means blue.

The departmento of Ancash unfurls along an immense desert coastline, where pyramids and ancient fortresses are scattered within easy reach of several small resorts linked by vast, empty Pacific beaches. Behind, range the barren heights of the Cordillera Negra, and beyond that the spectacular backdrop of the snowcapped Cordillera Blanca; between the two the Callejón de Huaylas , a 200-kilometre-long valley some 3000m above sea level, offers some of the best hiking and mountaineering in South America.

Nestling in the valley, the departmento's capital, Huaraz - seven hours or so by car from Lima - makes an ideal base for exploring some of the best mountain scenery in the Andes. Over the last twenty years or so, this region has become a major focus for mountaineers, and Huaraz, the vital centre of this inland region, is the place to stock up, hire guides and mules, and relax after a breathtaking expedition. The city is close to scores of exhilarating mountain trails, as well as the ancient Andean treasure, Chavín de Huantar , an impressive stone temple complex which was the heart of a puma-worshipping religious movement 2500 years ago.

The 1970 Ancash earthquake devastated the region, killing more than 50,000 people and damaging 186,000 houses in one of the deadliest natural disasters in Peru. Today, most of the Ancash population is concentrated in the Callejón de Huaylas.


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