In Tarma, Peru, caves, haciendas await
The Santa María hacienda (Photo: Marco Garro/Vamos!)
Published in Vamos!
Translated and adapted by PeruthisWeek.com
September 21, 2011
Take your car, head down the Carretera Central for about five hours, and you will arrive at a little corner of Peru that will surprise you not only with its scenery, but with its people and nearby attractions.
Also known as the City of Flowers, Tarma serves as a central axis in any trip through the Andes. After enjoying a trip on a scenic route, on a road filled with curves, rises and falls, you’ll arrive at Kilometer 243. Rest for a minute to give yourself time to acclimate.
It’s true that Tarma’s downtown has few tourist attractions, but take a walk around and learn a bit about its customs. Stroll the area called El Bulevar, which will take you to the Plaza de Armas, location of the cathedral.
The best thing to do is spend the night and gather your energy for the route that skirts town. For that, you will have to head towards San Pedro de Cajas, one of the best-known villages in the area. Along the route, check out the plantings of flowers, whose quantity will make you think that you’ve landed in an impressionist painting.
From there, continue to the Huagapo cavern, considered the deepest cave in South America. It is located 3,572 meters above sea level and seems never-ending. Outside, you can hire a guide to teach you about the stalagmites and stalactites that populate the cave. Don’t worry, you’ll get used to the dark and the cave’s lagoons. If your visit makes you anxious to see more caves, don’t worry; you can check out Muruhuay, where the delicious local cuisine features pachamanca and trout.
You can choose in the city’s center, at the Portales, which also has a large nightclub, or in one of the old 18th-century haciendas out in the countryside. One is called Santa María, and has belonged to the Velarde family since its construction in 1700. The old house, which still has adobe walls and a roof with artisanal tiles, is located in the area of Saccsamarca, fifteen minutes from the city.
Another option is La Florida hacienda, six kilometers from Tarma, in the direction of Acobamba. It served as the inspiration for writer Julio Ramón Ribeyro’s “Silvio en el rosedal.”
When you leave Tarma, don’t forget to stock up on some of the famous cheeses, manjar blanco and rosquitas. They will nourish you on your trip home, and as a reminder of those Tarma Andes.
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