Off the Beaten Path – Santa Province

Living in the industrial town of Chimbote, as a poetic soul, you surely feel the need to get out and explore. And in the Santa Province, which is unknown to tourists, but popular among archaeologists from all over the world, there is a lot to see.

This is a place of wonder. Seriously. There is the largest number of petroglyphs in the region of Ancash to be found here, whose antiquity is about 3,000 years.

In case you don´t know, petroglyphs are prehistoric times rock carvings made by pecking directly on the rock surface. When the desert varnish (or patina) on the surface of the rock was chipped off, the lighter rock underneath was exposed, creating the petroglyph.

The figures in Palamenco, engraved in more than 300 rocks, represent snakes, the El Niño Phenomenon, Eagles, Parrots, Lizards, the missing Spectacled Bear, the Flora and Fauna of the time, as well as celestial bodies (the Sun, the Moon, the Constellations), Men, Women and Children (possibly of other, even extra-terrestrial civilizations), Divinities etc.

A place with stunning, overwhelmingly calming energy, is indeed quite incredible, placed in the middle of a semi desert, with cacti plants growing out from beneath the stones with precious carvings. It is so well hidden in a valley, surrounded by hills, that without a help of a local, you might never find it, as there is no reception in the area. We were lucky enough to have encountered some local farmers in the fields nearby, who were guarding the harvest of red hot chilli peppers that was drying in the sun, creating thus a spectacular sight itself.

The place is huge and under no surveillance which sadly, in the past, led to several incidents with so-called archaeologists, who would come and take away several stones, supposedly for inspection, that were then never returned… The local community – or even the family who used to own the land before it was nationalized – had, sadly, no word in this…

The Walled Palace of 7 Huacas – Siete Huacas
This archaeological monument, also known as The Walls of Piedra de Moro, Cochibamba or Kushipampa, is located to the northwest, in the Chavín region. The monument was erected on top of a wide and high terrace of an elongated shape. Nowadays, it is a ruin, but a ruin of good energy and lovely views into the surrounding valleys of green, where there are palm trees, bamboo, sugarcane and more. To the north, you can also see the archaeological zone of Huancarpon; to the west, the hamlets of San Juan, Motocachi and the bed of the Nepeña river; to the south, the countryside that surrounds the city of Moro and the extensive pampas (treeless plains) of Virahuanca; and to the east, several irrigation canals.

In the territory, you find various cacti plants, including the delicious pitahaya and sapodilla.

A Peruvian archologies, Lorenzo Samaniego Román, claims that the age of the place can be greater than 2,500 years and is corresponding to the Recuay Culture.

Photo by: Paul Alejandro Meza, Instagram: @freelancetv

The complex, which originally served as a palace, includes a voluminous tombstone engraved with the figure of a warrior, whose characteristic is linked to the lithic art of the Temple-Sechin Palace.

Except for the burial grounds, irrigation channels and various other architectonic parts of the sights, the archaeologists also found large clay pots buried that must have served as liquid tanks or food containers, ceramic fragments, stone tools, bone remains of both humans and animals, marine mollusc shells, land snails, etc. 

Sadly, for this place, as it is non-guarded, many have used it as a “party sight” with good vibes. You find traces of garbage, plastic bottles, broken glass.

On one hand it is good that Peru offers all these sights free of charge and without vigilant guards who would be watching every step of yours (so you can e.g. touch the stones, just like in Palamenco), on the other hand it is a little sad the these places are unprotected and unpreserved, which leaves them open to vandalism.

By the way, the site is located adjacently to the small town of Moro, where you find some of the best Peruvian alfajores.

Countryside, Nature, Pacha Mama
In my article HERE you could read that “the locals here generally don’t go to the countryside to spend time within the arms of Pacha Mama (Mother Nature), unless they’re farmers for whom it’s a part of their job or unless they actually live in the jungle/mountains.”

This is true especially about Chimbotanos. Not many of them would feel a need to connect with the nature, rather would spend time chatting with neighbours in the street. “La calle” (the street) is simply their microcosm that brings them happiness.

For me, the concrete jungle of the town with its busy traffic, industrial energy, uncleanliness, is nothing I could truly love. Whenever possible, my journeys lead out to the quiet, peace, balance and beauty of the natural sceneries… Just five kilometres outside the town there are beautiful swimmable waters of the Pacific. A bit more hiking done, and you make your way to the Caleta Colorada pristine beach with golden sand, or the wild waters in the cave of La Poza.

At about the same distance you can observe the flamingos as well as a variety of other birds in the wetlands.

After a half an hour car-ride you arrive to the district of Nepeña, with its dams, rivers and agricultural fields, the village of San Jacinto or Cerro Blanco (named after a white hill which you can easily hike up in several minutes). I don’t know why but I like this part of the province very much and always like to walk out of the car into the unknown of the countryside in this area.

The same is true for the Samanco district with its many beaches and many coves and creeks which are the habitat of many bird species as well as fish and other marine life.

Recently, I also made my way to the edges of the Reserva Nacional de Calipuy. But I have to wait a little more to make it all the way to its centre, where there is a sanctuary where you can encounter the queen-of –the-Andes plant and the cute guanacos.

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