Jauja, Peru’s first capital is 45 minutes, or 40 kilometers, northwest of Huancayo  on the highway from Lima . It is an alternative base for exploring the valley but has few services. Few travelers come to this bustling, friendly town of old adobe homes and colonial churches.
The main church, Iglesia de Jauja, was the first church Francisco Pizarro ordered to be built. Inside are a few finely carved wooden altars.
Built in the 1920s, La Iglesia del Cristo Pobre is based on the chapel of France’s Notre Dame. This church was the first building constructed of cement in the Mantaro Valley .
Lodging options include the excellent Hostal Manco Cápac (Manco Cápac 575, tel. 064/36-1620, www.hostal-mancocapac.com , US$15 s US$30 d), run by Bruno Bonierbale, and Cabezon’s Hostal (Ayacucho 1027, tel. 064/36-2206, US$5 s), with shared bathrooms.
From Jauja there are US$0.50 motocars to Laguna Paca, the shores of which have been unfortunately marred by a line of cheap restaurants. A quick boat ride to the Isla de Amor, a tiny island in the middle of the lake, offers good views of Xauxa ruins on a nearby ridge and the mountains to the west.
A good walk leads up from the lake to these and other Inca ruins in the area and passes through the villages of Acolla, Marco, and Tragadero. This is a good walk for those who want to spend the day walking through country and tracking down rarely visited ruins. The walk ends at a smaller, upper lake near a road where combis return to Jauja.
A shorter hike is possible to Tunanmarca, the old city near Jauja. The trail starts in the town of Concho and takes about 2.5 hours. Maps of these walks are available from Lucho Hurtado (Giráldez 652, tel. 064/22-3303, incas_peru [at] hotmail [dot] com, www.incasdelperu.org , 9 a.m.–1 p.m. and 4–7 p.m. Mon.–Sat.). Cars to Jauja (US$0.90), and many other places, leave from Calixto Street in Huancayo .