A Guide To Chavin de Huantar

Chavin de Huantar is the largest ruin from the Chavin culture in Peru, and became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985. It lies on the outskirts of the village of Chavin, at 3,140m (10,302 feet). It is a 2.5 hour, 106 km (66 mile) drive from Huaraz - or a three-day hike - across the Cordillera Blanca.

The Chavin is a mid-Andean culture which emerged around 1200 B.C., lasted a thousand years, and was known for its highly-stylized stonework depicting feline deities such as jaguars and pumas, and less important serpents, condors, and human figures. The Chavin artistry influenced much of central Peru, from the highlands to the coast, in what archaeologists term the Early Horizon

The main features of the site are a large, three-tiered temple, fronted by a huge courtyard. A landslide in 1945 buried the courtyard and lower temple. Excavation has revealed elaborate and advanced drainage systems in the courtyard, and superbly-engineered passages and ventilation ducts inside the temple, named the Castillo (castle).

Lanzon de Chavin.JPG

At one time, puma head-shaped keystones on the temple walls gazed out into the surroundings; now, only one remains on its walls. The rest are stacked up inside the temple, in the on-site museum, or museums elsewhere. 

The most remarkable feature is the Lanzón de Chavín, a slender, 4.5 m (15 foot) high, intricately-carved stele (upright stone slab, often serving as a gravestone) standing in the midst of tortuous, underground passageways within the Castillo. (Two other stelae from Chavin are now in Lima’s Museo de la Nación.) 

What our clients say about Chavin de Huantar:

We enjoyed ... Chavin de Huantar for the remarkable way the ceremonial area had been built above a network of tunnels and water channels to create sound effects to awe the worshippers.
— Sheila & Mike Frazer - London, UK

How to visit Chavin de Huantar: 

A day trip from Huaraz, or the hike from Olleros can be organised. Also, a stop at Chavin is included on the Qhapaq Ñan 7D hike, on the way to the trek starting point