Light on overnight visitors, serene little Yungay has relatively few tourist services but is a well-organized and neat little town. It is the access point for the popular Lagunas Llanganuco and Laguna 69, via a dirt road that continues over the Cordillera to Yanama and beyond. Surrounded on all sides by lush hills wafting brisk mountain air, it’s difficult to believe the heart-wrenching history of this little junction in the road.
The original village of Yungay is now a rubble-strewn zone about 2km south of the new town and marks the site of the single worst natural disaster in the Andes. The earthquake of May 31, 1970, loosened 15 million cubic meters of granite and ice from the west wall of Huascarán Norte. The resulting aluvión (debris avalanche) dropped over three vertical kilometers on its way to Yungay, 15km away. The town and almost all its 25,000 inhabitants were buried beneath 8m to 12m of soil.