Huayhuash Trek Cordillera Huayhuash Peru
Having backpacked numerous parts of South America, and other parts of the world, the Huayhuash trek stands out as being the most memorable. From towering peaks, soaring more then 6600 meters above, to its mesmerizing Laguna’s contrasting the sky with their teal waters.
This 8-12 day hike circumnavigates the Cordillera Huayhuash mountain range (130 km or 81 miles). It provides the unique perspective to witness the grandeur of these mountains from every side. Walk amongst these colossal peaks, and visit some of the most iconic vistas in Peru.
The best time to visit is during the dry season, May-September. Although the Huayhuash trek is possible during October and November, the weather is variable and you’re likely to get wet.
Enjoy the rugged experience hiking at Extreme Altitudes-
There are few places around the globe that allow you to trek at such extreme elevations. Hiking under peaks that seem to split the horizon, thrusting their way over 6000 M into the sky above, is definitely something for the bucket list. This does not imply however that it’s easy. In addition to being at extreme altitude, the trek is challenging, demanding, and requires adequate physical conditioning. You should have prior experience hiking and/or backpacking at altitude before attempting the Huayhaush trek.
Having done a multitude of treks, hikes, and backpacking trips, I figured I was equipped to tackle the Huayhuash trek. My naivety was my undoing. I can’t begin to stress how important it is to allow yourself ample time to acclimatize. In addition to relaxing in Huaraz for a few days (sitting at just over 3000 meters or 10,000 ft), book a local day hike to Laguna 69, Laguna Paron, or Pastoruri Glacier to help with acclimatization.
The lowest point of the Huayhuash trek is just around 3400 meters, however most averages 4200-4300 meters. Additionally, a few passes skirt 5000 meters (just under 16,500 ft). IT IS NOT THE DISTANCE THAT WILL LEAVE YOU BREATHLESS. Having learned the hard way, all I can do is encourage fellow backpackers to not repeat the same mistakes.
Your chance to explore Peru off the beaten track
Most people visiting Peru stick to the, “gringo” track, heading to destinations like Machu Picchu, Cusco, Arequipa etc. Although inherently beautiful, they pale in comparison to that of the Peruvian Andes. If you like to adventure off the touristy path, this is definitely the trek for you. The Huayhuash trek can be arranged for 8, 10, and 12 day treks depending on your preference.
Your adventure begins in the bustling city of Huaraz (in North central Peru), which serves as a basecamp to the surrounding Cordilleras. Here, you will find yourself surrounded by the majestic peaks of the Cordillera Blanca and surrounding landscape. The city itself you will encounter to be full of authenticity, still untarnished like other touristy destinations of Peru.
The hiking of the Huayhuash trek begins in the town of Llamac (8 day trek), a few hours southeast of Huaraz. You will catch your first glimpse of the impressive Cordilleras, driving into town. Provided your preference, you can either begin in Llamac (10-12 day), or outside the small town of Pocpa (8 day).
Backpack some of the most beautiful mountains in the world
Words alone can not adequately describe a journey around the Cordilleras. You won’t understand the magnitude of these behemoth giants, Yerupajá (6617 M), Siula grande (6344 M), or Jirishanca (6126 M) until you are standing amongst them. No matter how many pictures or videos I watched, none did the Cordilleras justice. It wasn’t until I was there, that I recognized the true beauty. Although there are several vistas, Laguna Carhuacocha, Tres Laguna’s, San Antonio pass, and Paso Yaucha stand to be the most stunning.
Touch the void at San Antonio Pass
Despite there being several vistas on the Huayhuash trek, San Antonio pass is something otherworldly. Cresting the pass after ascending 500M is a welcomed relief into itself. However the view you encounter is a mind blowing panoramic of the Southwest side of the Cordilleras. Yerupaja occupies the expanse in the background with Siula Grande, Carnicero, and Jurau in the foreground. Laguna Jurua sits beneath, in the center, with its opaque blue waters. This view alone is what inspired me to tackle the Huayhuash. To say the least, it did not disappoint.
Embark on the adventure of a lifetime-
The Huayhuash trek stands to be one of the most amazing treks on the planet. The photos are like vibrant paintings. Even while you’re there standing amidst, you will find yourself shaking your head in wonder.
Now its time to make your way to the Peruvian Andes. Begin your trek around this stunning mountain range with some of our expert guides. Enjoy full course meals, unparalleled scenery, and memories that will last a lifetime.
Packing list: (avoid cotton)
- Wool socks (2 for trekking, 1 for sleeping)
- Undersocks (wearing two pairs of socks one thin one thick will help prevent blisters) (2 pairs)
- Breathable T-shirts (2 pairs)
- Long-sleeve water wick shirts (2 pairs)
- Hiking pants (1-2 pairs)
- Waterproof rain pants
- Thermals (2 pairs)
- Down or Synthetic jacket
- Rain jacket
- Day pack
- Water bottle
- Trekking poles
- Waterproof Boots
- Beanie + Hat
- Tooth brush, Toothpaste, Chapstick, Sunscreen
- Towel (microfiber)
- Snacks (the only place to restock is Huyallapa over halfway through)
Written by/ Photos by: Trevor Mitchell Reid