Junin, Peru

The Yanamarca Valley
Photo by: Alane Brown

Few tourists make it out to Junin, the department directly east of Lima, and fewer still make it to the Yanamarca Valley, which is a shame considering its natural beauty, archaeological sites, and proud culture and history. It now also boasts one of the only geocaching tours in all of South America. Only a 7 hour bus ride from Lima (trust us, that’s a short ride in Peru), the Yanamarca Valley is a great spot to spend a couple of days hiking, learning, and relaxing. Check out the blog of a Peace Corps volunteer and Keteka ambassador currently developing ecotourism in the valley.



For everything about geocaching, check out our geocaching page: https://www.keteka.com/geocaching/

Alane introduces us to one of Peru’s first Geocache destinations:

If you are interested in geocaching the valley, we recommend sending an inquiry to adam@keteka.com.

Two Peace Corps volunteers are working with community members to set up one of Peru’s first ever Geocache tours, right in the Yanamarca Valley. (For those who don’t know, geocaching is finding points of interest using a GPS, like treasure-hunting). This is a project-in-progress, and we’re proud to be the first website to feature their advancement. Check out all their caches on our Geocaching Page, or on Geocaching.com.

The Tunan Marca Remains

Yanamarca Valley, Junin, Peru, Cochon

Tunan Marca Remains

These pre-Incan ruins from the Xauxa (pronounced ‘show-sha’) civilization sit on top of a mountain overlooking the Yanamarca valley. Remains of round stone buildings cover several acres and are some of the only remnants of the Xauxa, an agrarian culture that farmed the valley floors and lived on the mountaintops and slept in a kneeling position. No joke. They also buried their dead in the kneeling position. The remains are a three hour hike from the town of Concho – if you are in the plaza, facing the church, follow the back right road up the mountain behind the town.

If you don’t want to hike up, you can call Oberdan Alvarez, cell 954-607-742, and he will drive you up to within a 15 minute walk of the remains.

Yanamarca Museum

Junin, Peru, Yanamarca Valley

Yanamarca Museum

This interpretive center includes paleontology, archaeology, and history from the valley. Exhibits include fossils (what are now massive Andean mountains used to be ocean), indigenous Xauxa artifacts, and pictures from various festivals and viewpoints around the valley. Open Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 9am – 1pm. Entry price: S/.1

Wetland Humedal Chocón

This wetland is surrounded by the ring lake of Laguna Tragadero, which is drained by a mysterious geological sinkhole that has been worshiped and revered for thousands of years (tragadero means “sinkhole”) and is home to 2 endangered bird species, 4 rare species, and 11 additional species of water birds that can be

Laguna Tragadero, Junin, Yanamarca Valley, Peru

Humedal Cochon Wetland
Photo by: Alane Brown

observed year-round. Flamingos can also be observed October through February during their mating and nesting season. A few stay all year round, so you may see them March through September if you’re lucky.

Around the wetland are hillsides containing many medicinal plants, ancient pre-Incan terraces, and limestones containing fossils. In the four small villages around the wetland are adobe houses with red tile roofs where the locals live fairly traditional lives.

Shutuy Malca Remains

The Incas considered Shutuy Malca a satellite community that would not bother them if they sacked the Xauxa center of Tunan Marca. As such, in Shutuy Malca you’ll find some of the best preserved circular Xauxa buildings that exist. Near the remains, you can also see part of the old

Junin, Peru, Yanamarca Valley, Xauxa

Sacas Ruins
Photo by: Alane Brown

Inca road as it winds its way to Ecuador (anyone feel like walking to Ecuador?), as well as ancient llama corrals and amazing views of the Yanamarca Valley.

To get to the remains, you can take a colectivo (shared taxi) from Jauja. If you don’t want to mess around with time, call Oberdan Alvarez, cell 954-607-742.

Lodging Options

Recreo Huerto

Basic accommodations in a local resident’s house, surrounding a nice patio restaurant (described below). Expect a bed in a private room, but a shared bathroom. To get there from the plaza, take 2 de Mayo street, go north 3 blocks, turn left and it’s right there.

Price: S/.10 per room (btw the owner, Edgar, stressed that he didn’t care if you put more than two people in a room, though more than two will definitely be snug).

Phone: 964-810-785 (Movistar); RPM #955-900-563

Maria Nieves Hotel in Jauja 

Yanamarca Valley, Peru, Junin

A room in Recreo Huarto

If you want better than basic accommodations, you will have to grab a car back to Jauja and stay in the Maria Nieves Hotel. There are solid rooms with warm water, a nice sitting room with antiquey furniture, and a nice owner, who can make you breakfast if you request it.

Price: S/.35

Phone: 971-976-725

There are also many hostels in Jauja, if you want something cheaper in Jauja and don’t mind searching around a little.

Dining Options

Recreo Huerto in Acolla

Yanamarca Valley, Junin, Peru

Recreo Huarto

A cute patio restaurant with funky decor. Every available space on the wall is occupied by a plant, taxedermied animals, artisan jars, or caged birds. Food is typical Peruvian menu, with a heavier than normal emphasis on potatoes (which are ubiquitous in the Yanamarca Valley and consumed with every meal).

Prices: S/. 4 for a regular meal; Specialty plates, such as fish or rabbit cost S/.8.

Restaurant Shaday in Acolla

Another patio restaurant with slightly more variety of lunches, including chaufa (Chinese-style Peruvian food). Located one block north of the plaza on a street named Primero de Mayo.

Prices: S/.2.50-10

Plaza Restaurants in Marco

There are two restaurants in the plaza in Marco, both of which serve typical menu lunches.

Micuy Wasy (next to Elkinet internet)

Inexpensive family food, they specialize in breakfast and lunch, but are open into the evening. Phone: 961-561-962 

Price: S/.4.50 

Valle Hermoso

Breakfast and lunch only. The owner, Otilia Farfan-Ramon likes interacting with tourists and will set up special meals if you call in advance. Phone: 942-604-283

Price: S/.5.00; special dishes up to S/.15 

Community Contacts

Junin, Peru, Yanamarca Valley

Photo by: Alane Brown

Abel Simeon Solis “Chasqui” – Museum docent, guide

Chasqui is one of the most energetic, excited people we have ever met and is bursting with Yanamarca Valley pride. A great contact for visiting archaeological sites and attending traditional Andean ceremonies. He also has an art studio that is definitely worth visiting. To get there from the plaza, take Dos de Mayo street for one block and it’s on the corner of Bolivar street.

Price: S/.80 per day to act as guide. It is well worth it.


You can arrange transport from Jauja to Yanamarca with Percy – just shoot him an email with the subject line “Geotour”: percego@hotmail.com

Henoch Loayza Espejo – Historian and guide

Email: lacasadelcaminante@hotmail.com; Phone: 954-448-352

How to Get There

From Lima: Take a cab to the Yerbateros bus station; the fare will obviously depend on your starting point, but you are not likely to be lodging near this station, so the ride will probably cost S/.10-15. You want buses going to Huancayo; they will be marked and there will be plenty of men yelling destinations at you, one of which will be Huancayo. Tell the bus helper that you are getting off at Jauja (pronounced ‘how-ha’). You don’t need to speak Spanish to do this, just say Jauja about four times.

(CAUTION: This bus station is in a dangerous area! The station itself is safe, but do not wander outside its walls while waiting for your bus to leave.)

Trip Time: 7 hours

Price: This will vary, depending on which company you take and which seat you choose. Expect to pay S/.15-20 for seats upstairs (not as comfortable) and S/.30-40 for seats downstairs (very comfortable).

From Jauja: Once you’re in Jauja bus station, look for cars lined up against the wall and ask for Acolla (pronounced ‘acoya’). Someone will direct you into a car, which you will share with other residents (expect 4 to sit in the back seat and don’t be surprised if they put people in the trunk). Tell the driver Acolla Plaza and he will bring you either there or within two blocks.

Trip time: 20 minutes

Price: S/.1.50 or S/.2 at night


Yanamarca Valley

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Yanamarca Valley -11.738040, -75.547943 Few tourists make it out to Junin, the department directly east of Lima, and fewer still make it to the Yanamarca Valley, which is a shame considering its natural beauty, archaeological sites, and proud culture and history. Only a 7 hour bus ride from Lima (trust us, that’s a short ride in Peru), the Yanamarca Valley is a great spot to spend a couple of days hiking, learning, and relaxing. Check out Yanamarca Valley Here.

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