Flights in the Santa valley


grafik_chavin The valley of the Río Santa is famous for its old indigenous Recuay cultures as well as the snow capped giants of the adjacent Cordillera Blanca. To the east and the west of this famous mountain range two branches of the old Inka road lead upwards the valley of the Santa and the Mosna river. Both were connected by a road over a pass at Chavin.

Although in contrast to previous years, flights are rather rare in the Santa valley today, there have been many peruvian pilots and many pilots from Europe, like Manuel Ponte, Eugen Stibritz, Franz Schilter, Peter Rummel that left their traces here.
Best local address I know: Beto Sotelo in Huaraz


My favourite village in the Santa valley was Caraz. Pretty, small, very friendly people, la Suiza peruana and still much Indio tradition. From here there are many easy reachable launching areas. Three of them:


1) Cerro pan de Azucar (strictly speaking its higher neighbour) 3040 m near Yungay at the foot of the Cordillera Blanca. By bus to the gas station San Antonio, from there 1 1/2 hours by foot, there is also a drive way at its rear side. The launching area is not maintained anymore, i.e. is covered with thorny plants, which you may have to clean up before. Early thermals of southeast start about nine o'clock and can be used for the launch in direction of Yungay. The main thermals appear usually after ten from the northwest, a mixture of the valley wind and the suction of the snow giants of the Cordillera Blanca. Landing on one of the fields close of the road near Yungay at 2400 m.

2) Yanairca or Yanaicu, a foothill of the Cordillera Negra near the village Pueblo Libre/Caraz. Regular bus from Caraz to Pueblo Libre, from there 2 hours by foot (sometimes buses go higher up the Cordillera to a pass). Ascent very thorny, but above there are many cultivated fields, unused ones make pleasant launching spots at 3250 m. The first rocky elevation has a big cross at its top.

3) Chakaypunta or Huinchus, a pass with a hill suitable for launching near a field of Puya Raimondi - plants at the ridge of the Cordillera Negra near Caraz. Twice a day a bus leaves Caraz for Pamparomas stopping at the pass, from there a couple of meters by foot to a hill of 4400 m. Launching before eleven a.m., after noon the seawind and the thermal suction of the Cordillera Blanca blow over the ridge from the west, downward to the valley. Often I preferred to stay up at the summit overnight to watch the clouds and the wheather and contemplate the beautiful evening panorama of the Cordillera Blanca.


Launching time at all three places usually between ten and twelve o'clock. Cross flights to Huaraz (30 km) have been done, I tried to, but always either lost the thermals or couldn't cope with them at some point. After eleven strong valley wind sets in, which reaches regularly 30 km/h and more. Therefore you need sufficient free space at the landing area, in order to avoid turbulences by obstacles at ground level.



Evening panorama of the Cordillera Blanca at the sleeping place at Chakaypunta in the summit ridge of the Cordillera Negra at 4400 m.

The most prominent peaks of the Cordillera Blanca show their faces: A little bit left from the center, the pyramid of the Nevado Sta. Cruz (6259 m, hiding the smaller peak of the famous Alpamayo), a little to the right of the center, the steep peaks of the Nevado Huyandoy (6350 m) and further to the right the big double block of the gigantic Huascaran (6770 m).
Night temperature end of september -6 degrees.



Beautiful but stingy affairs in my outdoor bedroom at the launching place, 4400m.



Launch at Chakaypunta in the morning, still time to wait for the thermals.

Some steps below to the right you see one of the many Puya Raimondi, named after the geographer Antonio Raimondi, a bromeliad flower of five to twelve meters height, therewith the largest bloom of the world, blossoming only once at the end of its 80 year-long life.


The Santa valley.


View the valley upward. Exactly in the center of the picture somewhat foggy in the background, a small, extremely regular cone: the pan de Azucar. To its left, 200 meters higher the hill for the launch. At the right, the large foothill of the Cordillera Negra, the Yanairca, another launching possibility.


Flight over Caraz, landing in the stadion.


Ending of another flight: Pueblo Libre international air port. You never walk alone.



Launch at Yanairca.

Summit panorama during the flight. To the left the Huandoy (6350 m), to the right between the lines, the Huascaran (6770 m). Thermals are strong and demanding.


Cross-flight direction Huaraz, if you don't succeed (I never did), lot's of landing spots available...



grafik_chavin From the diary;
"After a flight I return to my home, with a Quetchua booklet under my arm and find a dying old woman on my door step in the inner court of the hostel. Why of all places just there? What is she doing there? What to do? Hop over her, slam my door, jump into bed and chew my chocolate? Around her five poor looking Quetchua speaking campesinos. My awkward questions, whether I can help, remain unanswered. They hardly seem to understand spanish. My Quetchua stammering doesn't seem to help either. Everyone looks in silence onto the dying grandma, wrapped in covers. Waiting for death. "the most patient people in the world" (Enrique Lopez Albujar). Finally a sixth one arrives, more talkative, speaks Spanish. He got some informations from the hospital. They know her already. An operation is not possible any more, a large tumor in the abdomen, but she can stay there for her last days. Together we carry her to a taxi, I pay the ride to the hospital. Then I remain alone with my ugly thoughts "problem solved, got off cheap".

Even in poverty one can live well in this country, but never ever become ill, no, you must not become ill as a poor person ...

And my own role in all this? Admire the fancyful indigeneous dresses and sneak away, as soon as real problems arise?

A little later I meet a Peruvian friend in the restaurant. His daughter appears with a math book under her arm, and late into the night we grind exes and whys. Even by my occasional anger she cannot be driven out of her merry mood and laughter and she learns very fast a lot of math ... thus thoughts lighten up again..."


The journey continued with the Crossing of the Cordillera Blanca, flying to the temple of Chavin.


----------------------------------------------- With a paraglider above the Inca roads -----------------------------------------------