Chavin de Huantar: A lesson in loathing (group tours)…

Days: 288 (9 April 2015)

Total distance travelled: 55,362.1 kilometres (34,386.4 miles)

Even though we do use them on occasion, usually when it is A. Cheaper for us to do so or B. Somewhere that is otherwise inaccessible without considerable expense, we are generally nor fans of organised or guided tours.

Hell, we even find it hard to be part of free city walking tours (I use the term ‘free’ with some degree of reservation, as there is an expectation of a healthy tip), as they are usually ridiculously slow (we find it difficult to amble at the pace at which they progress)!

Welcome to our second day in Huaraz and our second guided tour in two days, possibly one of the most painfully frustrating days we had yet experienced in our two hundred and eighty eight days since leaving home.

On this particular morning, our destination was the distant ruins of Chavin de Huantar, a UNESCO World Heritage site several hours from Huaraz.

We sat waiting at a local tour office for our 9am collection, which eventually did arrive, perhaps only fifteen minutes late, not so bad, although we were mighty eager to get on the road as it promised to be a ten hour day as it was.

That is when the ‘fun’ began, as our bus then proceeded to make its way incredibly slowly around the town, collecting people here or there (from various hotels) with no apparent system and definitely no apparent urgency!

Finally, just after 10am, we slowly slunk out of Huaraz… before making an unscheduled stop at a small town where we were suddenly advised we had half an hour to kill by checking out a dull looking main plaza and visit the bano if necessary…

Seriously! A toilet break already?

Turns out there was an ulterior motive at work here, as suddenly two more people were squeezed aboard the bus when we were all done.

Somehow, despite leaving over an hour late already, two people had missed the bus!

We had dinner plans that night with our Canadian friends Cyd and Dave, yet we were already an hour and a half behind schedule before the day had truly began! I was beginning to doubt we’d be able to meet our commitments and we possessed no way of getting in touch with them!

Eventually, or should that be finally, we were back on the road, headed towards our destination.

That’s when our tour guide decided to open up his lungs a little and by a little, I mean the guy somehow managed to talk for over the next hour!

We’re fans of the short, succinct, tidbit style of tourism, as it’s simply too long to try and hold people’s attention when you decide to drone on for that long.

It seemed the perfect time for a nap, so that’s what I promptly did, waking when at least the scenery had improved, if not our schedule (yes, we’d made up no time).

The stunning mountain scenery I find so absorbing

The stunning mountain scenery I find so absorbing

At this time we changed roles, as Sarah took time out for a nap whilst I sat staring out the windows, absorbed by the stunning mountain scenery.

Soon we passed through a long, apparently new (at least in the last decade or so) tunnel, an addition to the region that must now shave hours or possibly days off our present journey, emerging into a fresh valley guarded by a lone sentinel…

Emerging from the dark into the (dull) light…

Emerging from the dark into the (dull) light…

After a very lengthy journey we stopped, but not because we’d finally reached the ruins of Chavin de Huantar, but rather we’d arrived at their designated lunch stop, not surprisingly an overpriced Restaurant Turistico.

This is another of our pet hates with tour groups.

You’re delivered to overpriced restaurants (in this case, about four times the standard cost) and expected to spend up. We usually wander out the door as soon as humanly possible and find any local establishment that may be around.

Alas, where we were however, there was no other option, so we settled for ordering a couple of black teas and some cakes.

It seemed pretty much par for the course (at least on this particular day), that the tea we were served was in fact Cinnamon and Clove which we neither wanted, and the two cakes, Alfajores (we normally love them), were absolutely horrible…

Thankfully, it wasn’t much farther from here to our ultimate goal, the only problem being it had taken us until well into the afternoon to finally reach the town of Chavin.

We stopped first at the museum, which sadly was a little spartan, with large sections closed… at least entry was free.

A little further and we finally arrived at the entrance to Chavin de Huantar.

It was by now 3:40 in the afternoon.

The ruins close at 4pm…

By this time, when the guide started to lead the group off, we decided that with a mere twenty minutes before close, we’d prefer to pick up the pace and go our own way in exploring the ruins.

At last we made it to the ruins of Chavin de Huantar

At last we made it to the ruins of Chavin de Huantar

First impressions of this place were a little disappointing, as it felt a little neglected, despite being a UNESCO World Heritage site for thirty years.

Not neglected in a cool, just discovered in the jungle sense, but rather like it could us a bit of attention with a weed trimmer…

Still, we got to work with our hurried explorations, the following being a few of our discoveries.


The Serpent Steps

Ancient carving on the Portal of the Falcons (left) & getting beneath the ruins (right)

Ancient carving on the Portal of the Falcons (left) & getting beneath the ruins (right)

Small details abound in an at first unremarkable looking complex

Small details abound in an at first unremarkable looking complex

Just as we’d wrapped up our independent tour, it began to rain so we hustled back to the main entrance where the guard let us out and our bus awaited.

Only the bus was there, but nobody else from our group was…

So we sat down to wait.

Even the local farmers were by now done for the day!

Til the cows (or in this case mules) come home…

Til the cows (or in this case mules) come home…

A full forty minutes after the scheduled close, they slowly trickled out, our guide acting as though his tardiness in first getting us there so late, and then in leading the group through the ruins, was no problem at all.

We finally arrived back in Huaraz close to 9pm.

We’d missed our dinner date by about an hour…



* Our overnight bus from Trujillo to get to Huaraz in the 1st place, was $45.00 Soles per person

* Our day long crawl to Chavin de Huantar cost $30.00 Soles per person.

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4 Responses to Chavin de Huantar: A lesson in loathing (group tours)…

  1. David Black says:

    Excuses, excuses!

  2. Cyd says:

    Too bad too. It was the best pizza in all of South America! The wine wasn’t bad either.

  3. Pingback: Lima, you may have heard of it… | theworldwithchrisandsarah

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