If you happen to visit Peru and want to see something more than Machu Picchu make sure not to miss Huaraz, the capital of the Ancash Region and one of the most important cities of the Peruvian Andes. Settled high up at 3091m in the north - central Peru between the amazing Cordillera Blanca (the highest mountain range in the world outside of Himalayas) on the east and it's less appealing sister Cordillera Negra on the west, it is a starting point for many trekking trails and roads. Though most people come here for trekking and various winter sports, it's amazing vistas are well worth a couple of days of your time even if such activities don't appeal to you. The only thing you must keep in mind is to give yourself some time to acclimatize to such high altitude, don't exert yourself too much for the first couple of days and drink plenty of fresh coca tea or chew some coca leaves that you can find on every corner. It's really the best cure for altitude sickness there is and it will give you plenty of energy.
When you first see Huaraz one word definitely sticks out and that is abundance. This place is unbelievably rich in just about everything; markets are full of colorful fruit and veggies of almost any kind you can imagine, there are endless supplies of various herbs freshly picked every day by the local women; besides the local restaurants which are on every street corner, local women are bringing home made food in big crates and you can help yourself to a delicious soup, tallarines, potatoes, cabbage, corn or different kinds of meat for under a dollar. The best part is you can enjoy your meal on a bench or a sidewalk and watch the colorful parade of traditionally dressed women pass you by.
One of the things we enjoyed the most are numerous rolling carts on the streets which offer all kinds of herbal teas, preparations and concoctions that go by the name of emolliente and which supposedly heal or prevent just about any illness or they can simply keep you warm and cozy. On the east side of Mercado Central after 6:30pm we found the best jugo de maca in Peru - juice made of maca root that grows high in the mountains of Peru and is considered to be superfood due to it's numerous healing properties. The taste is kind of hard to describe, maybe it's closest to a warm caramel pudding, but it's definitely one of the tastiest things we ever tried.
Nikon d5100, 35mm f/1.8 and Vegas Pro 11.
Video and some photos can be seen at http://wizemark.com/blog/2013/01/25/huaraz-peru-colorful-valley-amongst-giants-video-photos/