Huayhuash Trek Cordillera Huayhuash Peru
Having backpacked around numerous parts of South America, the Huayhuash trek always stands out as being the most memorable. From its towering peaks, ascending more than 6600 meters, to the open sky almost touching the turquoise lagunas, the Huayhaush trek resembles heaven on earth.
In fact, this 8-12 day hike circumnavigates the Cordillera Huayhuash mountain range (130 km or 81 miles). Therefore, you can witness a panoramic view of this rocky terrain. Once here, you’ll be able to walk amongst these colossal peaks, and visit some of the most iconic vistas in Peru.
As a precursor for this journey, the best time to visit is during the dry season, which spans from May-September. Although the Huayhuash trek is not an impossible feat during October-November, the climate is variable and you’re more likely to suffer from torrential weather conditions.
Enjoy the rugged experience hiking at Extreme Altitudes-
Around the globe, there are very few places allowing you to trek at extreme elevations. Luckily, Peru is a silver lining for enthusiastic adventurers. Here opportunities arise where laborious hikes can be taken alongside peaks that thrust a 6000 m. into the sky.
But despite the sheer beauty of the hike, it is far from easy. In addition to extreme altitudes, the trek is physically demanding, requiring persistence and endurance. Therefore, you should have prior experience hiking and/or backpacking at high altitudes before attempting the Huayhaush trek.
Having conquered multiple hikes and backpacking trips, I assumed that tackling the Huayhuash trek would stir little difficulty. However, my naivety was my undoing. Like I warned before, it is vital to allow yourself ample time to acclimatize during your journey. That being said, it would be beneficial to book local day hikes beforehand, like Laguna 69, Laguna Paron or Pastouri Glacier in order to prepare your body for more extreme hikes.
Now for logistics: the lowest point of the Huayhuash trek is just around 3400 meters. However, most hikers scale on average 4200-4300 meters. Additionally, a few mountain passes skirt 5000 meters (just under 16,500 ft). Again, be forewarned, it is not the distance that will leave you breathless, but the altitude. Most importantly (having learned the hard way), I encourage fellow backpackers to be wary of their physical limitations.
Your chance to explore Peru off the beaten track
Most tourists 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. Therefore, if you like to venture away from the touristy path, this trek is definitely for you. Depending on personal preference, the Huayhuash trek can be arranged for 8, 10, or 12 days.
Subsequently, 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. The city itself you encounter will be full of authenticity, still untarnished from commercial tourism.
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 while driving into town. Likewise, you can either begin this tour in Llamac (10-12 day), or outside the small town of Pocpa, depending on preference. (8 day)
Backpack some of the most beautiful mountains in the world
Words alone can not adequately describe a journey around the Cordilleras. The magnitude of these behemoth giants, Yerupajá (6617 M), Siula grande (6344 M), or Jirishanca (6126 M) is sublime to the highest degree. No matter how many pictures or videos I watched, none did the Cordilleras justice. Although there are several vistas, Laguna Carhuacocha, Tres Laguna’s, San Antonio pass, and Paso Yaucha are the most stunning to date.
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 500 m. is in itself a welcomed relief. In the same way, 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. In the center, the Laguna Jurua sits beneath, shining from its opaque waters. This view alone is what inspired me to tackle the Huayhuash. To say the least, it was for from disappointing.
Embark on the adventure of a lifetime-
The Huayhuash trek stands to be one of the most amazing treks on the planet. When taking photos, they end up resembling vibrant paintings. Even while you’re there standing amidst the snow-capped peaks, 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