I love mountains and the Andes are the second-highest mountains in the world, so I was expecting greatness. But my expectations were far exceeded by the real thing. Like the Himalaya and the Alps, the Andes are young fold mountains, so very sharp, jagged and beautiful. We drove for a week through the high passes between Calejon de Huaylas and Callejon de Conchucos with innumerable gravel switchbacks, hiked in Huascarán National Park, and saw many pre-Incan ruins. Between Yanama and Chavin de Huántar we drove a six-hour stretch on a gravel mountain road and saw only one other car, which of course was when I pulled over for a quick bathroom break by the edge of the road.
The Cordillera Blanca mountain range in the Peruvian Andes stretches 200 kilometers, and contains the highest mountains in Peru, including Huascarán at 22,205 feet. This puts it among the very highest peaks in both the Western Hemisphere and the Southern Hemisphere.
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