even the modern constructions have been done in the traditional style, maintaining architectural harmony with the adobe mud-brick homes and sweeping wooden balconies.
On the outskirts of the town, surrounded by splashing waterfalls and turquoise lakes, visitors can camp out and enjoy the breath-taking landscapes. Tourists can take a dip in the crystal-clear waters and go fishing in an ideal environment. Nearby lie the towns of Vitis and Vilca. Vitis lies just 15 minutes from Huancaya (6 km beforehand, on the road up from Cañete). This small town lies on top of a small mountain saddle and is surrounded by gullies and steep hillsides. Nearby lies Lake Piquecocha, a taste of things to come in the rest of the valley.
From Huancaya, the road to Vilca (28 km) crosses through the gorges of Paccha, Huinsa and Potente, heading to the largest and most striking lakes in the area: Huarimanca, Cuchupasca and Huallhua. These lakes, which unfold one after another, are linked up by thundering waterfalls which make them unique in their beauty. A peculiar phenomenon in the area is that the waterfalls do not splash, but rather, the water pours gently into the lakes. It is believed that this is due to the fact the stones on the riverbed are permeable, allowing the water to seep through, thereby masking the true force of the flow of the Cañete River. The turquoise waters are as beautiful as they are treacherous for this very same reason: in some parts, this creates underwater currents which can drown unwary swimmers. Visitors are advised to swim in shallow areas and preferably in places recommended by the local population.
Just 3 km from Vilca lies Lake Paparrucha, around which the Cañete River flows through a dense eucalyptus forest, a common tree species in the area. With a little luck, on a clear day, visitors will be able to catch a glimpse of Mount Pariacaca.
But there are greater surprises in store. The lake is also home to vast quantities of trout. Ever since the lake was stocked with fish from the central Andean Mantaro Valley in 1938, trout have multiplied at a staggering rate, despite the fact that a few years ago the fish almost disappeared from the lake due to overfishing. The locals worked together to prevent the fish from disappearing from the area's rivers and lakes. Today, fishing is controlled in the area to ensure there is fish for local consumption and restaurants.
Huancaya and its surroundings form part of the Nor-Yauyos-Cochas Reserve, which features a wide diversity of flora and fauna, such as the vizcacha rodent, puma and fox, as well as birds and reptile species which are native to the area. The region also features archaeological sites and ideal routes for trekking, mountain climbing and biking. The rivers also provide some excellent whitewater rafting, while the whole family can go on horseback rides and taste the dairy products for which the area is famous.
- Every time you head out onto the water, whether in your own boat or a hired one, notify the local harbor captain. This can prove to be of great help in case of accidents.
- Also check tide tables and wave conditions.
- Although no particular permits are needed for sports fishing, the Fisheries Ministry prohibits fishing for trout and silversides in the highlands during the Andean summer, from April to October.
- Heed fishing bans and throw back into the sea small specimens or those with roe.
- Fishermen on bluffs or on open beaches need to take care with crumbling cliffs and quicksand.
- Never go fishing alone.
On the coast:
- Visitors should bring plenty of water and sunscreen.
In the highlands:
- Sunscreen is recommended, plus warm clothing. High altitude sickness known locally as soroche can set in at over 2,500 masl. Take precautions by resting the first day, drink plenty of liquids and avoid heavy food and alcohol.
In the jungle:
- Never travel without insect repellent, a raincoat and sunscreen. Long-sleeved shirts and long pants are recommended to ward off insect bites. A yellow fever vaccination is obligatory. There are also vaccinations for malaria, tetanus and Hepatitis A and B, as well as local treatment for leishmaniasis (uta) and malaria.