Palcamayo sits 3,500 meters above seal level in the Andes of Peru. Primarily a farming community, this valley town produces many vegetables and herbs, including: spinach, carrots, potatoes, turnips, peas, and more. Walk the winding mountain roads with donkeys, bulls, cows, sheep, horses, and their farmers up to the many caves, ruins, and vistas of […]
Palcamayo sits 3,500 meters above seal level in the Andes of Peru. Primarily a farming community, this valley town produces many vegetables and herbs, including: spinach, carrots, potatoes, turnips, peas, and more. Walk the winding mountain roads with donkeys, bulls, cows, sheep, horses, and their farmers up to the many caves, ruins, and vistas of Palcamayo and the surrounding towns.
All of the following activities are clearly marked on signs in Palcamayo, but if for some reason you don’t see your destination marked, go to the local municipal building (el municipio) and get a map (mapa). If even that fails, you can always ask a local and they’ll be happy to point you the right way.
The Cave – La Gruta de Huagapo
Palcamayo proudly claims “The Biggest Cave in South America” in their jurisdiction. This is a perfect place to relax, play volleyball, camp, or hike the cave and surrounding area. Bring a headlamp and be ready to get waist deep cold in water as you explore the cave.
If you’re an experienced swimmer/diver, you can swim in the cave’s pool. It’s depths have never been fully explored, though French, Canadian, and German expeditions have been launched over the years.
Huagapo is otherwise known as La Gruta que Llora – the Cave that Cries. Legend has it that a band of Taruma warriors faced an army of Inca warriors at the mouth of the cave, perishing defending their land and families. Read the full legend here.
Lago Mamancocha / Los Hongos de Palcupunan
Lago Mamancocha sits at the bottom of a canyon, three hours hiking from Palcamayo. On the way, just past Huagapo, you’ll pass Los Hongos de Palcupunan (the Palcupunan mushrooms) rock formations.
La Laguna de Cocón
The Cocón lagoon is a two hour hike from Palcamayo, in the town of Cocón.
Palcamayo produces mantas, blankets, wool, but rarely sells them commercially. If you really want artisan products, try San Pedro de Cajas – a community about a half hour taxi ride up the mountain, which is known for its wool tapestries and knitted goods (such as hats, scarves, gloves, and wool socks). Stores line the main plaza.
La Hostal Municipal de Palcamayo has 7 rooms – simple, doble, y triple. The cost is 20 soles/person but less for triples and dobles. They come with bathrooms and hot water.
There are many small restaurants around the main plaza that serve typical Peruvian food – soup, a main dish, and a drink for 2-5 soles.
From Lima: Take a bus to Tarma, which can cost anywhere from 25-50 Soles, depending on the time of year and the quality of bus chosen. The ride is 5-7 hours. For Tarma buses, go to Urbateros, Terrestre La Molina. From Tarma there is a colectivo ride of 3.50 to get to Palcamayo. From San Pedro de Cajas the price is 3 soles.
From Junín: Your best bet from Junín is to get a taxi to Tarma (about 10 Soles) and then get a colectivo to Palcamayo. Taxis operate between 6 am and 6 pm.
The Municipality of Palcamayo has personnel who can help direct anyone traveling in the right direction. The building is very easy to find on the main plaza and the people inside are very nice and would be willing to help any traveler.