Pastoruri Glacier

Cordillera Blanca

Still hanging on by the skin of its teeth high up in the Cordillera Blanca, the rapidly retreating Pastoruri glacier is one of the few remaining glaciers in tropical South America. Despite its lofty vantage (5050m), it is the only icy monolith in the Peruvian Cordillera accessible by road. Due to its remoteness and the lack of public transportation serving it, the glacier is usually tackled as part of an organized day trip from Huaraz.

The tour involves a 40-minute hike from the car park to the shores of the small lake into which the ice disgorges – a challenging walk considering the altitude (horses can be hired).

The Pastoruri, like many Andean glaciers, has lost nearly a third of its size in the last 30 years. Within the next decade, it’s likely it will disappear altogether. Not surprisingly, the visitor numbers have receded with the ice. Back in the 1990s, it was one of Huaraz’ main tourist attractions. People came to walk, climb and ski on the immense ice field. These days, walking on the glacier is prohibited and the ice flow is promoted more as a poster-child for climate change than for its grand physical presence. Day tours have padded out their Pastoruri itinerary to include other sights on the way out and back.

The glacier is located 70km southeast of Huaraz and reached by turning east off PE-3N several kilometers south of Catac.

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