Trekking & Mountaineering
Whether you’re arranging a mountain expedition or going for a day hike, Huaraz is the place to start – it is the epicenter for planning and organizing local Andean adventures. Numerous outfits can prearrange entire trips so that all you need to do is show up at the right place at the right time. Many visitors go camping, hiking and climbing in the mountains without any local help and you can too if you have the experience. Just remember, though, that carrying a backpack full of gear over a 4800m pass requires much more effort than hiking at low altitudes.
Rock climbing is one of the Cordillera Blanca’s biggest pastimes and its popularity is growing. Huaraz is an ideal place to plan excursions, rent gear and set off from on day trips. There are good climbs for beginners at Chancos, while the Los Olivos area has the most varied routes and is located conveniently close to Huaraz. Avid climbers will find some gnarly bolted sport climbs at Recuay and Hatun Machay, located 30km and 70km south of Huaraz respectively. For some big-wall action that will keep you chalked up for days, head to the famous Torre de Parón, known locally as the Sphinx. Most trekking tour agencies offer climbing trips, for both beginners and advanced climbers, as part of their repertoire. Many also rent gear. No serious climber should leave base camp without a copy of Huaraz: The Climbing Guide (2014) by David Lazo and Marie Timmermans, with detailed descriptions of over 1000 climbing routes backed up with photos and color-coded maps.
Agencies specializing in community and sustainable tourism may also be able to help you arrange different kinds of volunteer activities in the region. It's best to arrange volunteering activities in advance although agencies sometimes take short-term applicants. For the latest on volunteering, check out the community notice boards at popular gringo cafes and hangouts around Huaraz.
The Mountain Institute, which promotes environmental awareness in the Cordilleras, may have some volunteering opportunities depending on your expertise.