Though overshadowed by the snowy summits of the Cordillera Blanca, the brown mountains of the Cordillera Negra on the other side of the valley offer some great day hiking and biking. Routes often begin up in high-altitude grasslands and follow trails that have been used for centuries, passing Andean villages, old bridges, creeks, and fields along the way.
There is a range of difficulty for bikers, from broad traverses to dodgy, downslope single-track, and the views of the glaciers and snowy peaks are like something out of a fairy tale. Caraz has the best accessibility to the Cordillera Negra, and Felipe Diaz (9 de Diciembre 257, tel. 043/39-4456, informes [at] elabuelohostal [dot] com, www.elabuelohostal.com),in Carhuaz or Pony Expeditions (Jr. Sucre 1266, tel. 043/39-1642, ponyexp [at] terra [dot] com [dot] pe, www.ponyexpeditions.com) in Caraz can give good, up-to-date suggestions.
Getting to the Cordillera Negra
Private transport can always be hired to ascend these roads and, because most trails lead downhill, it is almost impossible to get lost. You might consider arranging your transport through an agency.
© Ross Wehner and Renée del Gaudio from Moon Peru, 3rd Edition