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The Cordillera Blanca (White Range) is the most extensive tropical ice-covered mountain range in the world and has the major ice concentration in Perú. It is part of the Cordillera Occidental and trends in a northwesterly direction for about 200 km between lat 8°08' and 9°58'S. and long 77°00' and 77°52'W. (figs. 2-5). It marks the continental divide; Río Santa on the west drains into the Pacific Ocean, whereas Río Marañón on the east drains into the Atlantic Ocean.
The Cordillera Blanca has five of the most spectacular peaks above 6,000 m in the Peruvian Andes. The highest peak (Nevado Huascarán) rises to an elevation of 6,768 m asl. A total of 722 individual glaciers are recognized in the Cordillera Blanca, and these cover an area of 723.4 km2. Most of these glaciers are on the western side of the ranges, where 530 glaciers cover an area of 507.5 km2. On the eastern side are 192 glaciers that cover an area of 215.9 km2; the lowest glacier terminus is at 4,200 m asl. Most of the glaciers, 91 percent of the total, are classified as mountain glaciers; they are generally short and have extremely steep slopes. The rest are classified as valley glaciers, except for one ice cap. Four are similar to rock glaciers.
The Cordillera Blanca, is part of the Huascaran National Park, which is unique in the world. In no other place is it possible to walk so peacefully among peaks that tower more than 6,000m above sea level and you don't need to be a mountain climber. The climate is excellent and you can almost always see the mountain range in all its majesty. For nature lovers, the park is truly a dream come true.
Huascaran Park, declared a natural
heritage of mankind and a biosphere reserve by UNESCO, includes the entire
Cordillera Blanca (White Range), the highest of the Peruvian Andes. Crowned
by snow-capped Huascaran at 6,768m, and other snowcapped peaks like Alpamayo,
the wold's most beautiful mountain, the park is a paradise of narrow gorges,
Andean flora and fauna, pre-Colombian ruins and crystalline lakes at the
foot of impressive glaciers. Huascaran Park is ideal for ecotourism, with
a focus on the surrounding nature.
If you would rather not hike, you
can visit some areas of the park by road, such as the Lakes of Llanganuco
and the snowy peak of Pastoruri. The towns in the Santa river valley, known
as the Callejon de Huaylas (the Huaylas alley), are also ideal for enjoying
Andean sunshine and the beauty of the Cordillera Blanca, with all the comforts
of the city. The Chavin de Huantar ruins are also worth a visit.