When travelling around Andahuaylas, it’s impossible not to feel like you ventured into a different world. While the actual city is normal, the natural wonders situated a few hours away look outrageously foreign. Thanks to a number of active volcanoes and the power of erosion, Andahuaylas is surrounded by Mother Nature’s madness. The city is located in the valley of the Chumbao river, which sits at a 2,926 meter (9,600 ft.) elevation. Over 63,000 people call this place their home, which is impressive given how remote the city is.

While the city’s climate and attitude is tame, Andahuaylas’ history is exhausting. This area has hosted more civilizations than many of its own citizens can imagine. Starting with the Huacccharunas in 12,000 BC, Andahuaylas became home to the first advanced hunter gatherer tribes. When the agricultural revolution took the Andes by storm in 6,000 BC, the area was occupied by the Antarunas. This was the first tribe to plant potatoes and corn in the area, but they were far from the last.

At around 2,000 BC, the Chavin culture took over the surrounding area. This was followed by occupations by the Paracas and Nazca civilizations. From there the Tiawanaco culture gained control of the land until the Wari culture wrestled control of it in 300 AD. When the Chanka culture was created, they immediately took possession of Andahuaylas. This warrior tribe managed to fend off multiple invasions until they were eventually conquered by the Incan emperor Pachacútec in the 15th century.

After the Incas wrestled control of Andahuaylas during the Tahuantinsuyo period, a new invader came to town. In 1533, the infamous Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro arrived on the scene. Allegedly he founded Andahuaylas by installing a wooden cross, which was followed by the construction of the San Pedro cathedral. After the Peruvian War of Independence, Andahuaylas was incorporated into the Department of Cusco by the government of Simón Bolivar. This outrageously long list of occupying cultures is contrasted by an equally extensive amount of natural wonders. Discover which places around Andahuaylas need to be seen by examining our list!

Top Natural Wonders Surrounding Andahuaylas

Attraction #1: La Casa de los Pitufos – This bizarre series of rock formations lie outside the town of Pampachiri. Translating to “cold field”, this dry area is bombarded with ice cold winds. Pampachiri sits at an intimidating 3,362 meter (11,030 ft.) elevation on the border of the Apurimac and Ayacucho regions. It’s a three-hour drive from Andahuaylas, so plan an extra day for transportation. While this area is filled with an interesting combination of pumas, condors and ruins from the Incas, Chankas & Wari civilizations, these aren’t the main attractions.

La Casa de los Pitufos (Smurf Houses) are peculiar rock formations that look like mushroom shaped houses. While their tourist name stems from the houses that the fictional Smurf characters live in, the local name refers to another mythical creature. Many locals prefer to call these rocks “aldea de los duendes andinos”. This is due to the fact that many myths state that dwarves live in them. To make things even more confusing, the literal name for these formations is Ayamach’ay. This translates to “la Cueva de los muertos” which adds an extra touch of death to these otherwise harmless rocks.

Even though the amount of myths surrounding these formations is endless, the creation of La Casa de los Pitufos is easier to pinpoint. These bizarre mushroom shaped rocks are a product of thousands of years of wind and erosion. While the original lava formations were created by neighboring volcanoes, from then on their inhabitants are left to your imagination. No matter what you believe its an amazing place to visit, so grab a camera and bring a stick to hit dwarves with!

Attraction #2: Bosque de Piedras – This immense rock forest is La Casa de Pitufos on steroids. Covering an immense 60 hectares, the Bosque de Piedras is a never-ending series of breathtaking lava formations. It sits about an hour outside Pampachiri, but it’s well worth the trip. Thanks to multiple eruptions from neighboring volcanoes Qarwarasu and Sotaya, the area is littered with lava spires.

Years of erosion molded these formations into delightfully bizarre cone shapes. Some reach an impressive 8 meters in height, and hundreds of lava cones are scattered throughout this enchanting rock forest. This overwhelming presentation of lava that was molded by nature creates a truly spectacular view. After soaking in its peculiar energy, the long trip through Andahuaylas immediately becomes worth it.

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