You might not have heard about Huancaya and the Nor Yauyos Cochas Reserve. This spectacular destination is hidden in the Lima region’s highlands, 6 hours by car from Lima, Peru’s capital city. If you want to have an authentic experience in the Andes of Peru, the Nor Yauyos Cochas Reserve is the perfect destination for you!
What is Nor Yauyos Cochas National, and why is it so important?
Nor Yauyos Cochas is one of the more than 70 natural protected areas in Peru. The national park was created in 2001 to conserve the upper basin of the Cañete River, which is home to many wild species, breathtaking landscapes, and local communities.
The conservation of this area is essential because the Cañete river provides hundreds of farming families with clean and abundant water. It also creates many unique ecosystems where birds, frogs, mammals, and other animal species coexist. Moreover, some areas inside the reserve, such as the wetlands, capture carbon dioxide from the environment.
Finally, but not less important, the area is an excellent place to practice activities like hiking, mountain biking, and community-based tourism. Moreover, tourism in this area generates fair employment opportunities for the local communities that obtain an extra income through the sale of food, guided tours, and other activities.
Ecologists have identified 10 different ecosystems, enable more than 330 plant species to live inside the national park. This biological variety is due to the altitude difference found in the park: from 8,200 to 18,700 feet.
With more than 100 bird species, 20 mammal species, and several reptiles, amphibians, and fish, this biodiverse area is a place worth protecting.
What is really the soul of the Nor Yauyos Cochas Reserve is its local communities. The people living inside the reserve are mainly dedicated to agriculture and livestock raising. Currently, some locals also work in tourism-related activities. They offer lodging (homestays are very popular in some communities), food (although the trout is not a native fish, it is one of the main dishes in the area), and guided tours.
Some of the communities you should visit while in Nor Yauyos Cochas are:
- Huancaya: this is the most known community inside the reserve. People from Lima and other parts of Peru and the world visit Huancaya with the illusion of managing the impressive waterfalls and turquoise lagoons. It is definitely a must!
- Laraos: Laraos community is the best place for tourists to learn more about agriculture in the Andes. Its pre-Hispanic terraces are incredible. The fact that the people from Laraos still use them to farm is even more impressive.
- Vilca: this community is perfect for hikers and anglers. There are several short hiking routes where tourists can enjoy amazing views of crystal clear water lagoons. Vilca’s highlight is for sure, the “Love forest,” a small forest of queñuales, a native tree.
One of the most important sections of the Qhapaq Ñan, or Inca Trail, runs through the mountains within the Nor Yauyos Cochas Reserve. Today, this trail is still used by muleteers and merchants who travel between communities in the area. Escalerayoc is one of the best-preserved parts of the track. More than 2,000 steps allow locals and tourists to descend more than 1,000 feet in height.
An interesting fact!
Did you know that Diego Zimmermann, Peruvian Soul’s CEO, has written a Nor Yauyos Cochas reserve tour guide? If you are thinking of visiting the area, write to us, and we will help you organize an unforgettable trip!