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An exhilarating trek around the peaks and passes of the Cordillera Huayhuash
The Cordillera Huayhuash is one of the most spectacular ranges in the Peruvian Andes. It was a region that attracted worldwide attention following Joe Simpson's graphic account of his ascent of Siula Grande in his book 'Touching the Void'. This full circuit trek is the best way to fully appreciate the sheer scale of these snowcapped summits including Yerupaja, the second highest mountain in Peru. Our trip includes ample time for acclimatisation in the Cordillera Blanca and Huaraz before spending 11 days crossing high passes - all in the vicinity of 5000m. Each day provides an ever changing backdrop of soaring peaks including the distinctive needle like peak of Jirishanca and the impressive summit of Yerupaja at 6640m. At night we camp in tranquil locations alongside glacial lakes or alpine meadows in this unrivalled corner of the Andes. Anyone wishing to add a trip to Machu Picchu can easily do so, please ask for more details.
- Challenging 165 kilometre circuit around the Cordillera Huayhuash in Northern Peru, considered by many to offer some of the best trekking in South America.
- Explore Huaraz and the Cordillera Blanca
- 3 hearty meals a day on trek prepared by our cooks
- Exhilarating trek amongst a wondrous collection of towering, fluted peaks over 6000 metres flanked by cascading glaciers, azure blue lakes and alpine meadows
- Experience indigenous communities and fragile ecosystems.
Day 1 Join Lima
If you are arriving on day one you will be met at the airport and transferred to the group hotel for overnight accommodation. The remainder of the day is at leisure. We plan to have a group briefing before dinner, however this will be subject to all group members arriving during the day – otherwise we will have the briefing tomorrow.
Day 2 Drive to Huaraz (2900m)
Drive from Lima to Huaraz by private transport, a full day's driving of approx 8 -9 hours.
Days 3-4 In Huaraz, Day Hikes
Huaraz is a scenic town set at the foot of the Cordillera Blanca with views directly up to the highest peak in Peru, Huascaran (6768m). There are a range of different walking excursions we can make from our base here for a couple of days, and it will be invaluable acclimatisation for our trekking program ahead. Huaraz also serves as a pick up point for our crew and all supplies and equipment for the trek. On day 3 we'll walk to the pre Inca ruins of Willcahuaín (3400m), and back to the hotel in a loop walk that will last 4 to 5 hrs approximately. We can finish the day in the Monterrey hot springs. On day 4 we'll make a day trip to Churup Lake. The trek to Churup lake (4485m), is one of the most popular one day treks in Cordillera Blanca and takes approx 4 to 5 hours. The lake is located below the mountain of the same name and its colour of turquoise blue and green is unique to the other lakes in the region.
Day 5 Drive to Matacancha (4185m), via Chiquián (6hrs)
We drive to our trek commencement point via Conococha to the south of Huaraz. From there we turn eastward and then south, and gain our first views of the range. We drive through the village of Chiquián and Lllamac (our finishing point) and arrive at our campsite at Matacancha, where our “burros” (donkeys) and “arrieros” (muleteers) will be waiting.
Day 6 Trek to Mitococha (4250m) via Cacanampunta Pass (4700m) (6/7hrs)
Trekking to our first pass, and crossing the divide to the east, we gain our first serious views of the mountains. Zigzagging steadily upwards over rocky and loose terrain above our previous night's camp, the trail then becomes steep in a final hill across to the pass. From here we descend briefly before contouring the hillside to find the mountains at the north end of the Huayhuash opening out before us; Ninashanca (5607m), Rondoy (5879m), Jirishanca (6094m) and Jirishanca Chico (5445m) are among them. Our path descends to the village of Janca and continues on for another hour, just beyond to a camp by the river with lovely mountain vistas.
Day 7 To Carhuacocha Lake (4180m) via Carhuac Pass (4650m) (6hrs)
Trekking upwards in a southerly direction on the left and then the right hand slopes, we reach Carhuac Pass after approximately 3-4 hours. The trail then drops steeply for an hour passing a couple of dwellings at Yanayana and then a small lake. Shortly after, the one kilometre long emerald green Laguna Carhuacocha comes into view. Andean geese are often sighted on the lake. Our camp is set above the lake beneath the eastern sides of Yerupaja Chico and Yerupaja, the latter the centrepiece of the massif and the second highest mountain in Peru after Huascaran (6768m). Yerupaja is the highest point of the vast Amazon basin watershed feeding into the Rio Marañón, a principal tributary of the Amazon.
Day 8 To Huayhuash, via Carnicero Pass (4600m) (8/9hrs)
Leaving the lake by it's eastern side, we trek southward past some of the grand peaks of the range including Suila Grande (6344m) and Carnicero (5960m) with their associated glaciers and small lakes that we pass by close at hand. We are viewing the eastern 'other' side of Suila by which Joe Simpson and Simon Yates climbed the mountain. The route to the pass is not strenuous, but a long one, five hours approx. As we descend to Huayhuash (a settlement of one house and little else!) the views are spectacular. The mountains of Trapecio (5644m) and Jurau (5650m) are above us, as well as Canicero.
Day 9 Trek to Puscanturpa Valley via Portachuelo Pass (4750m) (7/8hrs)
Once again, the day begins with three hours of scenic climbing with the peaks of Puscanturpa (5442m) before us. From the pass we make a long descent towards the immense Laguna Viconga, enjoying wonderful alpine views enroute. Camp is set adjacent to hot springs beyond the lake.
Day 10 To Cuyoc Valley via Cuyoc Pass (5000m) (6/7hrs)
We cross the highest pass of the trek today. From camp we head in a north west direction to the pass, switching backwards and forward over 3 hours up to a small lake and swamp and then sandy slopes to the gap between Puscanturpo Sur (5440m) and Nevado Jirishanco Chico (5248m). In clear weather we are well rewarded with a dazzling view of the mountains, and then continue on our journey into the western side of the range. It is a two hour descent by the Quebrada Puyoc and then Huanacpatay valleys to our camp.
Day 11 Trek to Cutatambo via San Antonio Pass (7/8hrs)
This morning, for approx 2 hours, we ascend to San Antonio Pass (4900m). From here we will have wonderful views of Siula Lake, Sarapo Lake, Jurau Lake. We will start to descent down the Sarapo Valley. The afternoon is spent trekking to the beautiful lakes we saw from the pass before we reach our camp at Cutatambo (4400m).
Day 12 Day trek to ascend Cerro Bella Vista (5150m)
Today we take a day trek to Cerro Bella Vista with a picnic lunch. Our day trip will offer perhaps the best hiking accessible vista in all Peru! As we approach the summit, in this beautiful valley, the entire theatre for the book "Touching the Void" is sprawled out below. After a fulfilling day in the mountains we descend back to our camp at Cutatambo for the night.
Day 13 Trek to Huancho Valley via Huaylapa (8/9hrs)
In the valley now, we take a half day to descend at a leisurely pace beside the river to the farmland at Huaylapa. We have lunch right outside the village, then start climbing up the valley for another three hours to the beautiful camp at Huatia, with great views of Diablo Mudo (5223m) and Suerococha (5350m) peaks.
Day 14 Trek to Cashpapampa via Tapush Pass (5/6hrs)
Leaving camp we trek northwards, winding our way up over a less defined trail to a plateau. After approx three hours we cross Tapush pass. From there we continue on past a small lake and several meadows to our next campsite, a couple of hours away.
Day 15 Trek to Jahuacocha via Yaucha Pass (6/7hrs)
We start the 2 hour ascent to our last pass on the trek, then an easy descent to Jahuacocha Lake, our camp for the next two days. If this circuit trek had a highlight it would be this view of the Huayhuash that truly encapsulates its beauty. There is a small community living near the lake and they can often be seen fishing for trout in the lake here in their spare time.
Day 16 Rest day at Jahuacocha. Morning hike to visit Solterococha & Pachamanca
Today we explore Solterococha Lake, above Jahuacocha and get really close views of the main glaciers of the Huayhuash range. In the afternoon we will try the famous “Pachamanca”, Peruvian style BBQ.
Day 17 Trek to Llamac (3320m) (6/7hours)
On the last day of our trek we see a contrast in climate and environments as we descend to farmland and the warm, desert environment we set out from. To reach Llamac we follow a water canal for 4 hours to our lunch stop, and then drop down steeply for over two hours to the village.
Day 18 Drive from Llamac to Lima (8hrs)
Our trek complete, we make our way by private vehicle south to the coast once again. A full day's driving of approx 8 hours.
Day 19 Trip concludes in Lima
At leisure, before being transferred to the airport for your onward flight. Arrangements conclude.
- 18 breakfasts, 17 lunches and 13 dinners
- airport transfers if arriving on Day 1 and departing on Day 19
- expert bilingual guide
- group medical kit
- comfortable and central hotels, primarily Casa Andina Classic hotels
- all internal transportation
- gear pack including sleeping bag, fibre filled jacket and sleeping mat
- group camping equipment
- porters on trek to carry personal gear
- 19 day trip
- 12 day trek
- 5 nights hotel
- 13 nights camping
Trip Main Activities
- Day Walking
Group Size Min
Group Size Max
Specialist gear required include walking boots and day pack (a comprehensive gear list is provided in the pre-departure information provided on booking).
What You Carry
In your daypack you will need to carry extra warm clothing (depending on the altitude, location and weather), a rainjacket, water bottle, film and camera gear, valuables and personal items such as sunscreen, lip-eze etc. Porters and mules carry all group gear and your trek pack.