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home Capitanes Chacas 2011

Virgen de Asuncion Church, Chacas

Chacas is a characterful town of about 5500 to 6000 inhabitants in the Department of Ancash, Peru. Architecturally, the most outstanding features are the impressive Virgen de Asuncion Church, and the modern stone built hospital.

Italian Padre Hugo de Censi, 84 (2008), has been the Catholic Priest for Chacas and its outlying communities since 1975. He is incredibly dedicated to the District of Chacas, raising substantial funds through his nephews in Italy, and can be thanked for the modern hospital. Thanks to his dedication, the hospital enjoys much modern equipment, making it the most modern for some distance.

To my knowledge, there are only two routes to Chacas, both from Huaraz. The shorter route takes about 4 hours, with Olympic Point being at 4890 metres above sea level. This route is not available all year, being closed for several months when the snow line reaches down to the level of the road. The unpaved routes are both hazardous, this shorter route being especially hazardous just before the road is closed.

Depending on your driver, the journey is likely to be something of a trial. Many westerners, and younger Peruvian children are likely to get travel sick. Eat little before the journey, and drink only mineral water. All but the hardiest should take travel sickness pills. I hope I'm wrong when you travel- having one of the more considerate drivers makes all the difference.

The Road to Chacas
Chacas Church Cooperative Pizza

The two main reasons for visiting Chacas are the annual Fiesta, and the serene, relaxing and beautiful scenery. Whilst the journey has improved little over the 15 years since I first visited, the level of comfort and sophistication has improved quite a bit. The best hotel (Pilar) is good, the others are generally basic but acceptable. Prices are fairly high to high (Pilar) for Peru, but still very cheap by Western standards. Food varies between edible and poor. Hygiene is generally poor. I assume Pilar provides food for its guests, I have eaten as a guest at Fiesta time, but not stayed. Their food was well cooked and hygienically prepared. The workers cooperative associated with the Church was running a Pizza restaurant when I was there for Fiesta 2007, the food being clean, tasty and hygienic. I hope they also cook at other times. 8 - 9 Sol (£1-50, $3, €1-80) got Christopher his Pizza and Coke.

To summarize, you won't be visiting Chacas is you expect luxury travel, food and accommodation (though reasonable accommodation is available, possibly food as well) or classy shopping. What you will get is character, unspoiled beauty, lovely people and experiencing a different world. Its only a few hours from "civilization," so easy for softies like me - you don't have to live in a wooden (in this case adobe) hut unless you want to. Mobile phones work, the main town has fresh water, electricity and sanitation (some outlying settlements don't yet, though mobile phones are arriving only slightly behind electricity). By the way, despite the rural location, I still wouldn't trust the water. There's plenty of shops, all selling the same fairly basic commodities, including watches and electronics (little range, though). There is Playstation hire for the kids, though no newspapers for the adults.

Early Evening, Chacas
More Chacas info and Pictures

(C) Peter Smith, 2008