Central Highlands

The best known of the myriad archaeological ruins near Tarma, this was the capital of the Taruma culture and later a major Inca administrative center. The fairly extensive remains include storehouses, palaces and an impressive, still-used aqueduct system. Unlike other Peruvian places with the suffix 'tambo,' this really was a genuine tambo (Inca way-station camp). Tarmatambo is 6km south of Tarma.

Ask at the tourist office about guides to take you there and to other sites: going solo, these ruins are difficult to find. Independent travelers can take a Jauja-bound bus to Tarmatambo village on the main road below the ruins.

From Tarmatambo, a rarely used Camino del Inca (Inca road) forges over the hills down to Jauja: there's basic accommodations in Tarmatambo but it's then a strenuous (but beautiful) all-day hike to Jauja (40km).

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Central Highlands attractions

1. Cathedral

3.78 MILES

The town’s cathedral is modern (1965), and it contains the remains of Tarma’s most famous son, Peruvian president Manuel Odría (1897–1974). He organized…

2. Astronomical Observatory


A small astronomical observatory above Hospedaje Central takes advantage of Tarma's high-elevation location, where the clear nights of June, July and…

3. Yanamarca

8.37 MILES

A dramatic hilltop testament to both the power of the pre-Inca peoples and the extent to which their cultures are barely known about. The buildings here,…

4. El Señor de Muruhuay

9.19 MILES

This white shrine visible on a hill 1.5km from Acobamba is one of Peru’s top pilgrimage sites, built around a rock etching of Christ crucified. A small…

5. Camino del Inca

12.21 MILES

A well-preserved Inca road runs from Jauja to Tarma. The most spectacular section is from Tingopaccha (30 minutes from Jauja by taxi) to Inkapatakuna (30…

6. Gruta de Huagapo

15.61 MILES

This huge limestone cave ranks among Peru’s largest subterranean systems. A proper descent into the Gruta de Huagapo requires caving equipment and…

7. San Pedro de Cajas

19.52 MILES

Peaceful San Pedro, some 40km into the hills from Tarma, is the production center for the country’s finest tapices (tapestries). Most of the village is…

8. Laguna de Paca

21.22 MILES

This small lakeside resort offers restaurants, rowboats and fishing. A boat ride around the lake will cost S5 to S10 per passenger (depending on how many…