Out Of Huaraz Peru To Chavin de Huantar

by Captain Bill

About our day trip out of Huaraz Peru to Chavin de Huantar with Teo Tours.

The main temple at Chavin de Huantar on a long day trip from Huaraz Peru

The main temple at Chavin de Huantar on a long day trip from Huaraz Peru

We met Teo of Teo Tours at 8:30am for a long day trip to Chavin de Huantar, the center to one of the most advanced, civilized pre-Incan cultures. The road was rough, climbing through starkly beautiful Andean terrain.

A typical scene on the way from Huaraz to Chavin

A typical scene on the way from Huaraz to Chavin

Closer to Chavin was a terraced agricultural area, where all the work is still done by oxen or by hand.

Agricultural terraces near Chavin

Agricultural terraces near Chavin

Research at the archeological site confirms Chavin developed agricultural techniques ahead of their time by domesticating Llamas for meat, fiber, and as pack animals, guinea pigs, or cuy, for meat, and they cultivated potatoes, corn, and quinoa using advanced irrigation systems.

Columns of the main entrance to the main Chavin temple

Columns of the black and white portal to the main Chavin temple

One of my interests is the prehistoric cultures of the world. The ancient civilizations of Peru are some of the most interesting. We know the most about the Inca civilization because they were the dominant culture in Peru when the Spanish conquistadors and priests came and conquered the region. The reason we know the most about the Incas is the Spanish kept written records. Of course the history was written from the view point of the conquerors, like all history.

The architects of Chavin channeled water into the temple under pressure to make a sounds like a jaguar roar, or an explosion, for effect.

The architects of Chavin channeled water into the temple under hydrological pressure to make sounds like a jaguar roar, or an explosion, for dramatic effect.

We don’t know as much about the most advanced civilization of the pre-Incan era, Chavin, which left no written records except some poorly understood hieroglyphics.

Stefan, the guide we hired to show us around Chavin de Huantar, taught us that Chavin was the artistic, educational, and spiritual center of a huge region. It was originally built around 900 BC, between two rivers that are the headwaters of the Marañón River which flows through the upper Amazon Basin until it’s confluence with the Ucayali River where they become the Amazon River. The location dissected major trade routes over the Andes, making it an ideal place to collect and spread new ideas, as well as material goods. Chavin was partially a spiritual center and partially an educational center where an advanced knowledge of astronomy, architecture, ceramics, sculpture, hydraulics, and acoustics all came together to create an influence without having to resort to military warfare to consolidate power.  Artifacts were discovered that were brought here from the Pacific, the Amazon, all over the Andes, and Ecuador. Funny, we thought it was hard to get to Chavin by car, imagine walking there on a “pilgrimage”  from Ecuador.

This original symbol of the Chavin god is still on display in the temple

This original carved stone symbol, the Lanzon, is still on display in the temple

The Lanzon, a carved stone symbol representing the principle god of the Chavin, is the only major religious artifact still in it’s original location within a temple in South America.

There is a museum in the village of Chavin that has beautifully preserved artifacts recovered from the Chavin de Huantar archeological site. The ceramic pottery is exquisite, the carvings artistic, the story compelling.

The jaguar was the most important symbol and it was believed the priests, through the use of hallucinogenic drugs, such as mescalin from the San Pedro Cactus, could change into a jaguar. Other important symbols were the crested harpy eagle, the serpent, the caiman, and the giant jungle snail shell, indicating an origin in the Peruvian Amazon for many of the religious beliefs. The conch shell is also prominently featured from the Pacific coast of Peru.

The Chavin civilization began to disintegrate around 300 BC. I wonder what happened?

One of over 200 stone faces that once decorated all around the main temple

One of over 200 feline-human stone sculptures, known as tenon heads, that once decorated all around the main temple

This was our most interesting day trip out of Huaraz so far. Marmelita said she felt some unexplainable tingle of electricity several times as we toured the site. We had a long hard day, but it was well worth the $60 we paid Teo to take us there.

If you are in Huaraz and plan a day trip or two, I recommend Teo Pineda Poma of Teo Tours. Cel.# 943916208 or 943080595. We liked him.

About our day trip out of Huaraz Peru to Chavin de Huantar with Teo Tours.

Bill Grimes is president of Dawn on the Amazon Tours and Cruises and is studying tourism while enjoying Huaraz.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Diego November 15, 2010 at 4:09 pm

Very very interesting trip. I’m studying this culture (specially Chavin) at University and I was looking for some pictures of the place.
Thanks!

Diego, from Argentina

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