Two types of relief stand out in the Andean Ancash region. These have been formed by the effects of the Santa River abrasion as it runs between these mountain ranges. Callejon de Huaylas extends out forming a narrow, picturesque inter-Andean valley. The Cordillera Negra rises on the left or western side reaching over 5,000 m. (16,400 ft.). It is snow-free due to trade winds from the Pacific that prevent glacial formations. On the eastern side, the landscape is the complete opposite: there are almost a hundred snowcapped mountains, 27 of them over 6,000 m. (19,680 ft.) high. They rise majestically to form the highest tropical mountain range on Earth, Cordillera Blanca. It is important to point out Huascaran at 6,768 m. (22,200 ft.), the highest in Peru, is also considered the Highest Tropical Mountain in the World. Its fascinating flora and fauna, over 296 beautiful multicolored lakes, hundreds of rivers with crystalline waters and countless waterfalls, make this one of the most visited mountain circuits in the world.
There are numerous charming rural communities rising at the Santa River banks, each with its own lifestyle and a rich historic past preceding the Chavin Culture (approximately 1,200 B.C.). These ancient peoples exerted a marked influence on other regions and later cultures. The Recuay and Huaylas cultures developed during the first millenium of this era. They have left interesting ceramic samples and stone sculptures. The Incas conquered the region around the mid-15th Century and made it part of their vast empire. This 180 km-long region became known as Callejon de Huaylas. The distance between Cordillera Blanca and Cordillera Negra decreases gradually until they appear to join at a location called Nudo de Mollepata or Pelagatos, in a province named Corongo. Along the Callejon de Huaylas we find Andean towns such as Recuay, Huaraz, Carhuaz, Yungay and Caraz, picturesque villages rich in culture, tradition and customs.