There are many tour guides in Huaraz offering day trips. Typically you will will be picked up at your hotel between 7 and 8am in the morning and dropped off at your hotel between 6 and 7pm in the evening. Some of the day trips that the guided services offer – you can do yourself. Read on!
– there are some great bike riding opportunities both in the Cordillera Negra and Blanca. There are several agencies in town that rent mountain bikes. We used Galaxia Expeditions www.galaxia-expeditions.com – a mountain bike will run about $15-$20 US dollars to rent per day.=
For riding in the Cordillera Negra – we just explored on our own from Huaraz. The brown hills of the Cordillera Negra come right down to the western side of Huaraz and its easy to jump on any dirt road and just start exploring.
Behind Huaraz in the Cordillera Blanca there are a variety of dirt roads and single track trails. In a day you can climb 4000 to 5000 feet above the town of Huaraz. That’s some killer downhill! You can go with agencies who often drop you off high up in the Andes so that you can bike down, or you can go yourself and just bike from Huaraz exploring the upper alpine slopes way above town.Typically above Huaraz you will ride dirt roads through small villages until you finally get onto the upper alpine more barren slopes above all the population. This is usually around 12,000 to 12,500 feet. Be careful for dogs as you ride through the villages. Sometimes they will try to chase and bark at you. Typically if you stop and then walk the bike slowly until you are away from the animal, you will be fine. A good reference point for where to start biking is the Way Inn Lodge.
This lodge is at about 12,500 feet and from here you can ride back to Huaraz. If your bike is small enough to fit into a trunk of a taxi, expect to pay about 25 soles from downtown Huaraz to his inn.
Carhuaz is a small town with a small “zocalo” or town square. This is a great place to people watch or just to sit down and relax. This town is known for its many ice cream shops, especially fruit flavors including Cherimoya, Lucuma, and Guanabana. Day trips with a tourist company usually stop in this town for at least 30 minutes.
there are two sets of Hot Springs located within about 45 minutes of Huaraz. The first springs called Monterrey are within about 10 km of the center of Huaraz. These are close but are not as recommended as the Chancos Hot Springs, 27km away from the center of town. The Monterrey Hot Springs tend to be more public in nature and due to their close proximity to Huaraz sometimes can be very crowded. In addition there are no steam caves at Monterrey.To get to the Chancos Hot Springs (as pictured to the left) go to the main bus/collectivo station and take a collectivo to the small town of Marcara. A collectivo is essentially a van that leaves when it becomes full and because it usually fills up with many people (standing room only), the price can be very cheap per person. In this case from Huaraz to the town of Marcara the price should be several soles. From Marcara its about 3km to the hot springs via taxi collectivo and the price should be no more than 1 sole.
Conversely, you can also take a taxi directly to the Chancos Hot Springs but it will cost you at least 30 soles – much more expensive than the collectivo option.
Once you arrive at Chancos Hot Springs you have to initially buy your ticket for one of the Steam Caves. Don’t expect fancy hot springs – they are somewhat primitive looking. There will probably be a young boy who offers to help show you around – if you use his services and are happy with his services than you can consider tipping 1 sole. There are about 10 caves, all are at different temperatures. These are some of the best steam baths we’ve ever used and they are 100% natural! Each cave is private with a small changing room. If its not too crowded its easy to stay inside one of the caves for upwards of an hour.
Should you decide to use one of their private hot water baths, you have to pay an additional few soles and you will be shown to a private room. Put the plunger on top of the drain and turn on the large faucet until the bath is full. None of their private water baths are very hot (typically topping out around 35C or 95F). They also have a few public baths but again the water is not that hot.
Ishinca & Toclaraju Climb
Visit our Climbing Page for more information
This trek is one of the most scenic short day treks in all of the Cordillera Blanca. It is truly a very unique and *special* place. If you are on a limited schedule and want to experience the most beauty packed into a single day, then this is the trek for you! It takes between 2.5 and 3 hours from Huaraz via a private taxi or car to reach the trailhead located off of the dirt road above Llangannco Lakes.
You can also get to Lago 69 by collectivo which takes you from Huaraz to the town of Yungay located at the foot of the Cordillera Blanca mountains. A collectivo is essentially a mini-van that leaves when the vehicle is full. From Yungay you take a private taxi to the trailhead at Cebollapama – a bit higher than the Llangannco Lakes – which takes about an hour on the entirely steep dirt road. Note that just before the entrance to the large canyon well above the town of Yungay you will find a Huascaran entrance station where you will need to pay the park entrance fee. One day and 30 day options are available.
If you use a collectivo, note the following. It is the cheapest way to get to Lago 69; you go to the main bus/collectivo station in Huaraz (ask for directions) and take a collectivo to the small town of Yungay (this town also mentioned above in our description of the Llangannco region. Collectivo prices are very good as you share the cost of the ride with other passengers.The trail is well defined to Lake 69. Just about the only downhill part of the trek up to Lake 69 starts where the trail meets the dirt road. It doesn’t last long, crosses a bridge over a creek and then enters a small valley. One very important note though; at the beginning of your hike be sure not to take the trail to the left to Pisco which joins the main Lake 69 trail after you cross a small bridge. Expect the hike to Lake 69 to take between 3 and 4 hours. Allow 2 hours for the return trip.If you have 2 days and can camp, we recommend camping one night about an hour before Lake 69 near the Cascada Waterfalls – as this way (weather permitting) you will be able to see sun kiss the tops of the jagged Andes when it comes up in the morning.
If you are spending 1 day only then make the most of it and spend some time at Lake 69. This is one of the most beautiful glacier colored lakes that we have seen in all the world. On a clear day you can look straight through its waters to the rocks below and the sunlight dances on the water with all types of blues, greens and aquamarines. Check out the incredible waterfall running right into the far end of the lake. This lake is located at about 4600 meters or just above 15,000 feet.
The views behind the lake are spectacular with the rugged glacier covered slopes and if in season, a long waterfall cascading down the rocks. If you thought the nearby Llangannco lakes were spectacular just wait until you see this lake! You can also climb above Lake 69 on a steep trail that quickly gets you in the high Andes. You must first cross the chanel which contains fast moving water leaving Lake 69. Typically there will be several rocks you can step on to cross over. We’ve climbed at least 400 meters up this trail which brings you into a zone that is all about the mountains.You are staring across at huge giant massive peaks and this extra elevation gain above the lake gives you a unique perspective – whereas at Lake 69 you are staring up at the mountains, if you spent an hour or two climbing up you will be staring across at the mountains and have an even greater appreciation for how large they actually are!
In addition, as you hike up this trail, for a few minutes you will have good views down onto Lake 69. Once you reach about 15,500 feet notice the green clumps of what look like moss. During parts of the year this “moss” will be completely dry and a light shade of green rather than its normal dark green color.
The trek to Laguna Churup is a fantastic hike affording one excellent views. It is located almost directly behind the city of Huaraz. You will want to go to the main bus/collectivo station in Huaraz and take one of the collectivos to a very small town call Llupac. At Llupa two roads fork and you will want to take the upper road to the right. This leads up to a small area called Pitec from which its still about 2 hours to the lake. Pitec is not a town and is where sometimes the National Park service will be located to take the park free from you which as of press time is 5 soles. This is also where the real trail (no longer a dirt road) to Lake Churup actually starts.
If you walk from the main town of Huaraz to Llupa, it will take you between 90 and 120 minutes which is why we recommend taking the collectivo to save time. A taxi to this point will cost you about 30 soles one way. The last collectivo to return to Huaraz typically leaves from Llupa around 6pm.
The road is all dirt and the initial part of your hike will take you past small villages and mud homes. Once you pass all the villages the road will become more narrow and more of a trail. Chances are you will at some point be walking with lambs, or bulls or dogs. The local Quechua ladies often move livestock between villages using the main dirt road. The following incident is very uncommon but we will mention it. At one point I was walking along the trail when a horned bull charged me and pinned me against the steep side of the trail for about 15 seconds. This bull was very large and strong and had long curved horns which fortunately went into my backpack as I had turned at the last minute. Without my pack pack to protect me, things could have gotten quite gory. Apparently this incident is not common at all and the locals couldn’t remember this ever happening to anyone. I mention it here, so you can be aware of the bulls on the trail – try to keep them in front of you rather than you walking right by them and be aware of animals sneaking up from behind you.
If you are in good shape and already acclimatized to the altitude it will take you between 3 to 3.5 hours from the small village of Llupa where the collectivo drops you off, to the Lake Churup. If you are a slow hiker and have some altitude problems allow much longer time than that.
Depending on the time of the year, once you climb higher than the villages you may be hiking through a lot of greenery – including bush lupines and other alpine flowers. When you reach the upper dirt road and a small mountain hut and the red Huascaran park sign, you are about 40% of the way to Lake Churup. This is a good resting place. From here on to the lake you will be hiking up a small narrow steep trail. The trail leads up right behind the main red park sign. Parts of this trail are extremely steep and you may need to stop often for rest breaks.
About 40 minutes before Lake Churup you will reach a long steep waterfall on the side of a steep cliff. There are two ways to hike up – to the right of the waterfall is very steep and more dangerous and involves more steep rocks and slippery slopes. To the left is also very steep but slightly less dangerous. Both routes involve some almost vertical sections – the left side has 1 or 2 ladders to help with the vertical sections. You can climb the left side without ropes, but you need to be very careful. Once you reach the top of the waterfall it is merely a 10 minute hike to Lake Churup. This lake sits 4450 meters at the base of Churup Mountain. There is actually another smaller lake (Lago Churupita) 150 meters higher that you can hike to. Lake Churup is a beautiful small glacier colored lake and if the weather is good, the rocks above its shores are a good place to sit down and enjoy the scenery and eat some lunch. Allow two hours for your return trip to the village of Llupa.
is an area high in the Andes which contains two beautiful aqua marine small lakes. From Huaraz you will drive to the small town of Yungay which is located north of Huaraz. This is at least a 90 minute drive on the main paved road. Note that Yungay was entirely destroyed in the great earthquake of 1970 and the new town is actually called “new Yungay”. From Yungay its at least a 90 minute drive all up hill to the first lake on a dirt road. Compared to some of the dirt roads in Peru this road is fairly well off and a car could travel on it. Be sure to bring water and warm clothes as it can be cold and windy at these lakes at any time of the year. There are great views of the nearby high mountains including Peru’s tallest mountain, Huascaran.
The 2nd lake is the smallest – there are no facilities there. If you continue past the second lake higher up into the mountains you will have great views of the snowcapped peaks and then also of the two lakes. When you get far enough up this road and you look back at the two lakes – they will appear very far in the distance way below you. Then if you look even further into the distance you will see the valley from which you originally drove up – from Yungay. The elevations are so extreme in the Andes and the distances are so great. Photo to left: Llangannco
The first lake that you arrive at is the largest one – there is a trail around part of the lake and makes for a good hike. There are great views of the blue water through the quecuals, a tree in which the outside dark brown bark always seems to be peeling. Expect the hike from one end of this lake to the other to take about 45 minutes to an hour. There are some short trails near this first lake. You can even go boating on this lake – boats are available. Several vendors sell a limited supply of bread, BBQ meats, snacks and other drinks. Shaded tables are provided as sometimes it is raining. In 1970 a huge earthquake hit the Huaraz area killing many thousands of people all along this valley. A somber memorial to this disaster is located just off of the main road north of Huaraz.
The main glacier on the slopes of Pastoruri mountain is located slightly above 5000 meters. Because of its extreme altitude you should be well acclimatized before you visit this glacier.
Update to visiting Pastoruri: As of mid 2009 all buses and other transportation have stopped servicing the Pastoruri trailhead and the trail and access to this glacier is now completely closed. We were so lucky to have been able to ice climb and visit this quickly receding glacier several times over the past few years. We keep the information below for nostalgic purposes only. Note that many tourist websites and or guide agencies in Huaraz still list trips to Pastoruri – if you question them, you will find out in actuality they no longer offer trips to this glacier.
Update to Ice Climbing: As of mid 2009 the Huarascaran National Park no longer allows ice climbing here which is the unfortunate result of this glacier melting at a super rapid rate. In addition you cannot even walk onto the glacier. During one year when we ice climbed and the next year when we returned to this glacier, the lake that had formed at the glaciers edge was now entirely by itself surrounded by bare rock. It was now hundreds of feet below the actual edge of the glacier. Experts as of mid 2009 say at the current melt rate, this glacier will be completely gone within 9 years.
Many of the local tour agencies in Huaraz offer day trips to this location usually leaving around 7am and returning around 6 to 7pm. It takes about 2.5 hours by car from Huaraz to the dirt parking lot where you will hike another 30 to 40 minutes to the actual glacier. You can also go in buses for cheaper (rather than a private car), and tour agencies in Huaraz are able to arrange this. If you take a bus they will most likely make several stops – on your way to the glacier you will pass by the stately looking Puya de Raimondi, a tall spiky mountain Bromeliad plant that blooms once every 80 to 100 years and then dies. There are some good photo ops here as these plants tend to grow next to each other. You may also see a rock wall next to the road that contains prehistoric art, and a small cold pond that contains gaseous water (you can fill up your water bottle to take some with you).
There are usually vendors selling food, snacks and cold drinks next to the main dirt parking lot. In addition, there are mules available for rent to carry you about 3/4 of the way to the glacier but you will have to walk the final distance on the regular stone trail. The glacier walls are quite steep, vertical in places with overhangs in other places. During busy weekends sometimes park service officials will be on hand to make sure you don’t get too close to the glacier.
There are often small ice caves within the glacier with long icicles dripping down. “Glacier” lakes are sometimes found near the glacier walls and this is reminiscent of the Arctic with all the ice flows and its frozen surface. We have climbed all the way to the top of this glacier staying well away from the actual ice. There is no trail and you have to climb up steep rocky hillsides.
The base parking lot is at 5000 meters and the upper parts of the glacier are around 5400 meters. We made it above 5300 meters according to our Altimeter. As a result of the altitude here, a visit should not be made by someone on their first or second day in Huaraz!! We have been here several times and on each trip a few people have been severely affected by the altitude to the point that they were having trouble walking and were throwing up. You need to be well acclimatized before you come here and yes, you are driven to 5000 meters but if you are not acclimatized altitude sickness does not care whether you drove or walk!
We cannot stress enough the benefits of taking ones time to acclimatize and let your body adjust to the high elevation. We tend to get altitude sickness quickly. We have used Soroche Pills before and have noticed some definite improvement. Try going to 5300 meters on day 5 – that’s not something we generally can do but with the Soroche pills we had no altitude problems other than shortness of breath. Supposedly these pills contain mostly just caffeine and aspirin. They are made in La Paz Bolivia and can be purchased at most any Pharmacy in Huaraz. Visit: www.sorojchipills.com
Note there is a park entrance fee which as of press time was 5 soles per person.
(information coming soon
Quebrada de Quilcayhuanca
is located about 1 hour by car from downtown Huaraz. It is in the mountains located directly behind Huaraz and is in the National Park. It is near Pitec the entrance to the national park and the trailhead for Lake Churup (see above for more information about hiking to that lake). If there is a National Park employee at Pitec (usually on his motorcycle), you may be asked to pay 5 soles to enter the park. Quebrada means valley in Spanish and this is a very long flat green valley. This is not one of the first recommendations guides give you for a day trip as it is not among the most popular outdoor activities. However this is great as its usually not very crowded, the valley is peaceful and the views are spectacular.
A winding river winds through part of the center of this valley with parts of the river more towards the right side. It is *not* recommended to walk straight up the valley as when you get about halfway through this valley you will note the center becomes very marshy and muddy. The best way to walk up this valley is on a semi trail that is located on the left side of the valley (as you look up the valley).
Once you reach the end of the valley, the trail on the left side starts to rise and meanders through several canyons all the while getting much closer to the main massive jagged peaks. On a clear day there are beautiful views of these mountains as you get closer. If you just want to relax and are trying to get acclimatized hiking in the valley makes for a very pleasant experience.
A trek up this valley and into the canyons that are surrounded by mountains typically takes three days and can be arranged with a variety of trekking agencies in town. You may also do this trek yourselves. If you plan on doing this trek in a day you can reach back of the valley and enter into parts of the canyons and hills that overlook the main mountains. There are lakes even further in on this trek which are typically reached when you stay overnight and have more time.