Santa River
The Santa River is a river
A river is a natural watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, a lake, a sea, or another river. In a few cases, a river simply flows into the ground or dries up completely before reaching another body of water. Small rivers may also be called by several other names, including...

 in the South America
South America
South America is a continent situated in the Western Hemisphere, mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a relatively small portion in the Northern Hemisphere. The continent is also considered a subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean and on the north and east...

n Andes
The Andes is the world's longest continental mountain range. It is a continual range of highlands along the western coast of South America. This range is about long, about to wide , and of an average height of about .Along its length, the Andes is split into several ranges, which are separated...

A cordillera is an extensive chain of mountains or mountain ranges, that runs along a coastline . It comes from the Spanish word cordilla, which is a diminutive of cuerda, or "cord"...

 in the Ancash Region of northwest central Peru
Peru , officially the Republic of Peru , is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean....


River Course

Laguna Conococha
Laguna Conococha
Laguna Conococha is a lake in the Andes-Cordillera of South America in north-western Peru.Laguna Conococha is situated in the Ancash Region at an altitude of 4,050 m above sea level and at on the road from Callejón de Huaylas to Chiquián.The lake is seen as the headwaters of Río Santa which from...

, at an altitude of 4050 m above sea level and at 10°07′42"S 77°16′59"W, is considered the headwaters of the Rio Santa. Laguna Conococha itself is fed by small streams from the Cordillera Negra
Cordillera Negra
The Cordillera Negra is part of the Cordillera Oriental, one of three mountain ranges in the Andes Mountains of west central Peru.-Size:...

 in the west and the snowcapped Cordillera Blanca
Cordillera Blanca
The Cordillera Blanca is a mountain range in the Ancash Region of Peru. Part of the larger Andes range, it includes 33 major peaks over high in an area wide and long.-Overview:...

 in the east. The main tributary of the lake is Rio Tuco which has its source in Laguna Tuco (9°56′40"S 77°11′44"W) circa 5,000 m above sea level
Sea level
Mean sea level is a measure of the average height of the ocean's surface ; used as a standard in reckoning land elevation...

 at one of the glacier
A glacier is a large persistent body of ice that forms where the accumulation of snow exceeds its ablation over many years, often centuries. At least 0.1 km² in area and 50 m thick, but often much larger, a glacier slowly deforms and flows due to stresses induced by its weight...

 tongues of Nevado de Tuco.

The Santa River emerges from Laguna Conococha and for 200 km runs in a northerly direction between the Cordillera Negra in the west and the Cordillera Blanca in the east, forming the fertile Callejón de Huaylas
Callejón de Huaylas
The Santa Valley is a inter-andean valley in the Ancash Region in the north-central highlands of Peru. Due to its location between two mountain ranges it is known as Callejón de Huaylas —Alley of Huaylas—, whereas Huaylas refers to the name of the territorial division's name during the Viceroyalty...

. At 2,000 m above seal level the river changes its course to a westerly direction, squeezing through the narrow gorge of Cañon del Pato
Cañón del Pato
Cañón del Pato is on the Rio Santa at the north end of the Callejón de Huaylas in north-central Peru. The mostly rocky canyon walls are too steep and arid for cultivation, and in only a few places are the slopes of the imposingly rugged canyon suitable even for grazing domestic animals...

 ("Duck's Canyon") before it finally breaks through the coastal ridges.

During the dry season from June to November, the Santa River provides only a little water for irrigation, drinking water and hydroelectric power. A couple of water reservoirs have been established to control the fluctuation of the river. Upstream of the hydroelectric power plant of Huallanca, the Río Santa watershed covers an area of 4,900 km², downstream another 7,300 km².

The river's mouth, after the river runs a total length of 347 km, is at 8°58′21"S 78°38′19"W near Santa, 10 km north of the coastal town of Chimbote
Chimbote is the largest city in the Ancash Region of Peru, and the capital of both Santa Province and Chimbote District.The city is located on the coast in Chimbote Bay, south of Trujillo and north of Lima on the North Pan-American highway. It is the start of a chain of important cities like...

. In 1984, gold
Gold is a chemical element with the symbol Au and an atomic number of 79. Gold is a dense, soft, shiny, malleable and ductile metal. Pure gold has a bright yellow color and luster traditionally considered attractive, which it maintains without oxidizing in air or water. Chemically, gold is a...

 dust was discovered in the mouth of Río Santa which caused a regional gold fever
Gold Fever
Gold Fever was the name of a BBC documentary shown in August 2000, which followed Steve Redgrave and his coxless four team in the years leading up to the Sydney Olympics, where Redgrave was looking to claim his fifth consecutive gold medal...

 among the rural population.


For most of its course, the Santa River is accompanied by a paved road.

From Lago Conococha to the river mouth, towns along the river are:
  • 0 km Conococha (4,050 m elevation)
  • 62 km Recuay (3,400 m)
  • 88 km Huaraz
    Huaraz is a city in Peru. It is the capital of the Departmento de Ancash and the seat of government of the Provincia de Huaraz . The urban agglomerations population is distributed over the districts of Huaraz and Independencia. It was estimated in 2007 to exceed 120,000...

     (3,090 m)
  • 126 km Carhuaz
    Carhuaz is a city in the Ancash Region, Peru. It is located at 34 km from Huaraz, around , at 2,688 msnm. Its temperature average is from 12 to 14 degrees Celsius...

     (2,650 m)
  • 153 km Yungay, Peru
    Yungay, Peru
    -Location:Yungay is located in the Callejón de Huaylas on Río Santa at an elevation of 2,500 m, 450 km north of Lima, the country's capital. East of the small town are the mountain ridges of snow-covered Cordillera Blanca, with Huascarán, Peru's highest mountain, no more than 15 km east...

     (2,500 m)
  • 163 km Caraz
    Caraz is a town in the Caraz District in the southeastern part of Huaylas Province of the Ancash Region in Peru.-Political Creation:Recent investigations propose that it's political creation was dated on 12 February 1821, when Grl...

     (2,290 m)
  • 205 km Huallanca
    Huallanca may refer to the following:*Huallanca District, Bolognesi - a district in the Bolognesi Province of the Ancash Region in Peru*Huallanca District, Huaylas - a district in the Huaylas Province of the Ancash Region in Peru...

     (1,820 m)
  • 215 km Yuramarca (1,420 m)
  • 343 km Santa (Peru) (20 m)

Natural Hazards

The Santa Valley has always experienced severe disasters. Beginning in 1702 when a glaciological
A glacier is a large persistent body of ice that forms where the accumulation of snow exceeds its ablation over many years, often centuries. At least 0.1 km² in area and 50 m thick, but often much larger, a glacier slowly deforms and flows due to stresses induced by its weight...

 flood is first recorded, the valley has repeatedly suffered deaths and destruction. In 1941, a flood destroyed one-third of Huaraz, killing 5,000 to 7,000 people. In 1962, a massive avalanche
An avalanche is a sudden rapid flow of snow down a slope, occurring when either natural triggers or human activity causes a critical escalating transition from the slow equilibrium evolution of the snow pack. Typically occurring in mountainous terrain, an avalanche can mix air and water with the...

 of ice and rocks tumbled down from the western slopes of Huascarán
Huascarán or Nevado Huascarán is a mountain in the Peruvian province of Yungay, situated in the Cordillera Blanca range of the Western Andes. The highest southern summit of Huascarán is the highest point in Peru, and all the Earth's Tropics...

 and then roared down the river valley. The Santa River rose by eight metres and 3,000 to 4,000 people were killed in the catastrophe. Devastating landslide
A landslide or landslip is a geological phenomenon which includes a wide range of ground movement, such as rockfalls, deep failure of slopes and shallow debris flows, which can occur in offshore, coastal and onshore environments...

s ("aluviones") like these will aways threaten the region, when falling glacial
A glacier is a large persistent body of ice that forms where the accumulation of snow exceeds its ablation over many years, often centuries. At least 0.1 km² in area and 50 m thick, but often much larger, a glacier slowly deforms and flows due to stresses induced by its weight...

ice triggers sudden drainages of ice-dammed lakes in the mountainous region and liquid mud, blocks of ice and large rock boulders crash down the narrow valleys.
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