The bustling city of Huancayo is the natural hub of the mountainous and remote region south of Tarma. Nearby Jauja Valley is significantly more beautiful, less polluted and friendlier. Further afield, Ayacucho is a must for anyone interested in colonial architecture, particularly fine churches; while Huancavelica offers a slightly darker history lesson – the area has suffered from extreme exploitation both in colonial times, with the mines, as well as in the 1980s and 90s when terrorism was at a peak. The area is still occasionally visited by remnants of the Shining Path terrorist group (see Sendero Luminoso), but there have been no related problems for tourists in recent years. The trip out here by train (some 130km south of Huancayo), one of the world’s highest railway journeys, passes through some stark yet stunning landscapes.

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