The wide Mantaro Valley stretches northwest of Huancayo, embracing not only the Río Mantaro but also a vast area of highlands lakes and plains. Trails run along the jagged mountainsides to archaeological sites and crafts villages. By road, you'll reach Cochas Chicas and Cochas Grandes, gourd-carving centers 11 km (7 miles) north of Huancayo, with some of the most talented mate burilado artists in the country. The road west leads 10 km (6 miles) to Hualhaus, a weaving
village where you can watch blankets and sweaters being crafted from alpaca and lamb's wool dyed with local plants. About 5 km (3 miles) north is San Jerónimo de Tunan, where the Wednesday market specializes in gold and silver filigree. Cross the Río Mantaro and head 10 km (6 miles) west to Aco, a village of potters and ceramics artists. Group tours from Huancayo cover the valley, but the roads are good enough that you can drive on your own—although you won't have a guide or a translator. Minibuses from the Avenida Giraldez also reach these villages.