The Huayllay National Sanctuary is a forest of stones, with impressive cliffs and bizarre figures formed by erosion caused by wind, water and glaciers. The rock forest is a major tourist attraction for both hiking and sightseeing as well as an international destination for rock climbers.
Huayllay National Sanctuary
The Huayllay National Sanctuary is a Protected Natural Area located on the Bombón Plateau in Peru's central Andes (Pasco region). It is noted for its large scenic rock formations in the rock forest of Huayllay as well as for its native plants and animals.
The sanctuary is located in the district of Huayllay, in the province and department of Pasco at an altitude between 4,000 and 4,600 m (13,123 and 15,091 ft) asl. Its surface area is 6,815 ha (16,840 acres).
Huayllay National Sanctuary is a forest of stones, with impressive cliffs and bizarre figures formed by erosion caused by wind, water and glaciers. The rock forest is a major tourist attraction in Peru for both hiking and sightseeing. It is also an international destination for rock climbers.
The rock formations date to the beginning of the Cenozoic age. They were initially formed when volcanic activity deposited layers of hardened volcanic ash, or ignimbrite on the landscape, forming a plateau atop layers of sandstone, limestone, and conglomerate. Ignimbrite is a porous rock, so it is particularly vulnerable to erosion.
Approximately 20,000 years ago, during the most recent ice age, the cycle of freezing, thawing, and re-freezing of snow on the plateau caused meltwater to filter into the cracks in the rock and enlarge them. Eventually, this resulted in large portions of the rock crumbling away, leaving the deeply eroded formations that now comprise the Bosque de Rocas.
Huayllay National Sanctuary is located within the Central Andean wet puna ecoregion. The main biotic component consists of grasses or stiff ichu, shrubs and resinous trees called yaretas and quinuales. Camelids and cervids abound. Birds, fish and frogs can be found in the rivers, lagoons and wetlands (bofedales).
There are also numerous water resources:
- Anticona, Pana, Japurin, Bombonmarca, Putajayoc, Ricrau, Colorado rivers
- Japurin, Cocha, Huaychacocha, Huamangayan and León Pata lagoons
- numerous wetland (bofedales) and thermal waters, such as Calera, that reach more that 60°C and are located at more than 4,000 m (13,123 ft) asl
The climate is characteristic of the puna region, with an average annual temperature of 6 °C (42.8 °F. There are large variations in the temperature between day and night. There are also two distinct climatic periods of the year:
- rainy months extend from September to March, characterized by frequent rainfall in the form of downpours, hail and snow with mostly cloudy days and a temperature fluctuation between -3.7 to 12.1 °C (25.3 to 53.8 °F).
- dry months occur from April to August, during which it almost does not rain but during which the frosts usually appear at night, fluctuating the temperature between -8 °C to 13.8 °C (17.6 to 56.8 °F).
Ichthyological fauna present in rivers and lagoons are represented by fish known as chalhua (Orestia sp.), catfish (Pygidium sp.) and trout as an exotic species. The amphibians are represented by several species of toads while the reptiles are only represented by a species of lizard of the genus Liolaemus.
Mammals are represented by the wild guinea pig (Cavia tschudii), deer or taruca (Odocoileus virginianus), vizcacha (Lagidium peruanum), skunks or anas (Conepatus chinga), Andean fox (Pseudalopex culpaeus), llama (Lama glama), alpaca (Lama pacus), guanaco (Lama guanicoe), vicuna (Vicugna vicugna), bobcat (Oncifelis colocolo) and several species of mice ("ucush").
Birds are the largest group of species present in the Sanctuary, among which are the lique-lique or liklish (Vanellus resplendens), andean gull or gueula (Larus serranus), whistle or andean carpenter (Colaptes rupicola), the mountain partridge (Tinamotis pentlandi), the yanavico (Plegadis ridgwayi), the small plumbate (Phrygilus plebejus), the cordilleran churrete (Cinclodes fuscus), the gray dormilona (Muscisaxicola alpina), the puna duck (Anas puna) and the huallata or huachua (Chloephaga melanoptera) among other species.
The National Sanctuary of Huayllay was submitted by the Peruvian Ministry of Culture for consideration on the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List.