- Explore Huaraz, the adventure town in the Peruvian highlands
- Visit Huanuco Pampa ruins, once an important town of the Inca empire
- Camp at Laguna Carhuacocha to view peaks that soar higher than 20,000 ft
- View the Laguna Siula Lakes, which appear in various shades of blue and green
- Enjoy splendid views of Yerupaja Grande, the second highest peak in Peru
- Test your lungs and physical fitness on this demanding, high altitude trek
The Huayhuash eight-day trek is an expedition specially designed for those trekkers who do not have sufficient time to complete the Huayhuash Circuit (12-15 days) but still want to get to the heart of the Cordillera Huayhuash and undertake some serious hiking.
In addition to the awesome natural scenery, you will experience Peruvian mountain life and see local farmhouses and farm animals (cattle, sheep, horses and sometimes alpacas & llamas).
Although we grade the trek as moderate, you do have to cross four passes above 14,763 ft / 4500 m. This requires a reasonable level of fitness and adequate acclimatization. You do have the option of taking a horse for part of the journey but you would need to descend from the passes on foot. The hire of a horse requires an additional cost.
The hiking hours mentioned in this article are estimated times including rest breaks and lunch stop. Distances mentioned are also estimated. Prior to the start of the trek, you'll stay in Huaraz (elevation: 10,137 ft / 3090 m) for two full days to do short hikes for acclimatization purposes. The trek is approximately 40 miles (65 km) in total - distances mentioned here are estimates.
|Day 1||Visit the Inca ruins of Huanuco Viejo||Huanuco Pampa|
|Day 2||Hike to Laguna Carhuacocha, views of Yerupaja Grande||Laguna Carhuacocha|
|Day 3||View of the multi-colored Laguna Siula Lakes||Laguna Carhuacocha|
|Day 4||Enjoy views of the Yerupaja and Siula Grande peaks||Laguna Mitucocha|
|Day 5||Cross the Continental Divide (15,419 ft)||Rondo Valley|
|Day 6||See the stunning, milky-blue glacial lake, Solteracocha||Laguna Jahuacocha|
|Day 7||Trout fishing or a hike to Yaucha pass||Laguna Jahuacocha|
|Day 8||Finish the trek at Llamac||Huaraz|
Day 1: Drive Huaraz/Huanuco Pampa & visit the remote Huanuco Viejo ruins
Following a couple of days in Huaraz for acclimatization, the journey begins with a bus ride of five to six hours (143 miles / 230 km) from Huaraz to Huanuco Pampa (12,275 ft / 3736 m).
Along the way, you'll have your first distant views of the breathtaking Cordillera Huayhuash. You'll stop briefly to take in the amazing views and marvel at the vastness of the surrounding countryside. You'll then set up camp at Huanuco Pampa, near the Inca ruins of Huanuco Viejo.
Huanuco Viejo was an important Inca settlement, probably a tambo (major stopover point and storage site) built on the main Cuzco-Quito route. The site covers several hundred hectares and substantial ruins remain, including the main temple Usnu, accommodation for the Inca elite, women’s quarters and a garrison, as well as private quarters and baths for visitors.
You'll see intricate stonework, as good as any found in Cusco, with solid walls of precisely interlocking stones that have withstood centuries of earthquakes.
Day 2: Hike to Laguna Carhuacocha and camp on the lakeshore
Today you'll drive for three to four hours (65 miles / 105 km) between two high altitude villages, from Huanuco Viejo via Baños to Queropalca at (12,467 ft / 3800 m). In Queropalca you'll meet your donkey drivers, load packs on the donkeys and start the trek with a relaxing uphill hike on a gentle gradient to Laguna Carhuacocha (13,779 ft / 4200 m). From the camp, you'll have astonishing views across the lake to the Yerupaja Grande (21,768 ft / 6635 m), Yerupaja Chico (20,082 ft / 6121m), Jirishanca (20,098 ft / 6125 m) and Siula Grande (20,814 ft /6344 m).
Distance: 7 miles / 11 km hiking
Duration: 4 hours
Day 3: Side trip to Laguna Siula Lakes and return to Carhuacocha Camp (or rest day)
Tonight you'll overnight again at Carhuacocha in order to enjoy the mountain surroundings. You'll take a day hike up a side valley past the base of Yerupaja and Siula Grande. Here you'll find three glacial lakes, each one a different shade of blue or green. Avalanches coming off the glaciers into the lakes are sometimes seen here.
Note: For the fit and adventurous, it is possible to continue by hiking a circuit past the Siula Glacier to a pass at (15,748 ft / 4800 m), and then return along an unmarked trail through a high hidden valley where we often see wild vicuña grazing, before descending back to Laguna Carhuacocha (a total of eight hours hiking for the day). Alternatively, you may prefer a quiet afternoon trout fishing or rest at the spectacular campsite.
Day 4: Punta Carhuac to Laguna Mitucocha
A steady ascent on a good path takes us to Punta Carhuac Pass (15,255 ft / 4650 m), with good opportunities en route for spotting the elusive viscacha, a rodent endemic to the high Andes. From here, weather permitting, you'll enjoy excellent views of the Yerupaja and Siula Grande peaks.
Next, you'll descend on grass to the Janca Plateau then head southeast to reach tonight’s camp at another large, trout-filled lake — Laguna Mitucocha (13,943 ft / 4250 m). After lunch, you have the option of walking around the lake. From camp, you'll have superb views of the sheer face of Jirishanca (19,993 ft / 6094 m) and Jirishanka Chico. Groups are not permitted to camp next to the lake, due to a request by local people in order to protect the grass for their animals. The campsite is now a 15-minute hike downriver from the lake in a flat area.
Distance: 7.5 miles / 12 km hiking
Duration: 4-5 hours
Day 5: Hike via the Cacanan Punta Pass and Quartelhuain to the Rondoy Valley
In the morning, you'll continue anti-clockwise across puna grasslands (paramo) and cross the pass — indeed the Continental Divide — at Cacanan Punta (15,419 ft / 4700 m). You'll then descend to the Quebrada Cuncush, a broad valley flanked by vast expanses of forest, and pass a collection of small farms known as Quartelhuain, the site of tonight’s camp (14,271 ft / 4350 m) at Rondo Valley.
Distance: 7.5 miles / 12 km hiking
Duration: 6-7 hours.
Day 6: To Laguna Jahuacocha via the Rondoy Pass
Following a long traversing ascent to the Rondoy Pass (15,583 ft / 4750 m) you'll enjoy yet more awesome views of the nearby peaks, the highest being Yerupaja (21,768 ft / 6654 m), Rondoy and others, dominating the panorama. The descent from the pass takes you first past a stunning, milky-blue glacial lake, Solteracocha, and then along the shore of the beautiful Laguna Jahuacocha to a picturesque camp at the head of the lake (13,615 ft / 4150 m).
Distance: 8.6 miles / 14 km hiking
Time: 7 hours
Day 7: Free day at Laguna Jahuacocha for rest & relaxation or a side trip
The awesome setting, together with options for side-trips, means staying an extra day at Laguna Jahuacocha. you can take a day hike up to the Yaucha Pass (15,902 ft / 4847m) to take a look at the western side of the Cordillera Huayhuash range or head up the Quebrada Rasac valley to the Rasaccocha glacial lake. Alternatively, you could enjoy a rest day and go fishing for trout! Why not visit the farmhouse just behind our camp and buy a beer to go with your trout?
Day 8: Walk from Laguna Jahuacocha to Llamac, drive to Huaraz
After an early start and gentle descent for an hour, we start our gradual climb to the final pass, Pampa Llamac (14,107 ft / 4300 m), from where we have our final views of much of the Huayhuash range. Then it's a long descent back to the Llamac valley and the village of Llamac.
Distance: 8.6 miles / 14 km hiking
Duration: 5.5-6 hours
In Llamac, the bus will be waiting to take you back to Huaraz and your hotel for that long-awaited hot shower. You'll arrive in Huaraz at about 6 pm.