Cordillera Huayhuash: An unforgettable traverse through the heart of Peruvian Andes

10 December, 2020 | Anirban

Trekking in Cordillera Huayhuash, part of the world’s longest mountain range, the Andes, is relatively less known compared to the popular Inca Trail in southern Peru or even the neighbouring Cordillera Blanca treks, however, for most travellers and trekkers this remote and rugged Huayhuash Circuit trek is one of the most unforgettable hiking trips of their lifetime. For mountain photography enthusiasts, this is a must do.

Explore trip Itineraries, accommodation, transport, required gear, fitness plan, insurance and more

You will remember the Huayhuash Circuit trek for:

  • Camping at Janca, with Jirishanca towering behind
  • Traversing the ridgeline looking at Jirishanca Chico
  • The sunrise and sunset from the campsite at the turquoise glacial lake Laguna Carhuacocha, with reflections of the trio Yerupaja, Yerupaja Chico and Jirishanca
  • Exploring Siula valley overlooking the Siula Grande
  • Laguna Jura, a scenic glacial lake
  • The shepherd families in their campesinos 
  • Hot springs
  • The stars and constellations in clear nights
  • The huffing and puffing while traversing the high passes
  • Ofcourse, the party after the trek

Majestic view during the Huayhuash circuit trek

The trek starts and ends in Huaraz (3050m), a low-key but interesting town very popular amongst hikers, climbers and mountain lovers, situated  approximately 400km north of Lima in Peru’s northern Callejón de Huaylas valley. It is the capital of the Ancash Region and has a population of ~120,000. For some operators the package starts and ends at Lima.

Since the trek involves traversing through a high-altitude region, spending at least a day or two in Huaraz before commencing the trek is a must. Day hike to Lake 69 is a good way to acclimatise while enjoying some of the towering peaks of the Cordillera Blanca from close quarters.

Guided Huayhuash Circuit treks are offered by many global and local operators and trekking/guide agencies. The trek involves traversing through a remote area for 4 to 12 days, hence it requires meticulous planning of logistics, where these agencies can help..Some trips have fixed departures, while customised itineraries are also popular. Typically, the hikers are accompanied by a guide, a cook, and a donkey driver who joins the party at the trailhead. You should check with the operator/agency in case you prefer English speaking guides.

Campsite during the Huayhuash circuit trek

In the guided treks, the trekkers typically carry a daypack with some essential clothing, water, sunscreen, food, first aid and medications, while the rest of their belongings together with all the tents, and kitchen provisions are carried by the donkeys. 

To obtain up to date and accurate information regarding the conditions of the trails, weather, hiring guides, renting mules, a visit to the Guides House (Plaza Ginebra 28G, Huaraz) is highly recommended. Other sources of independent information are California Cafe and Cafe Andino, the cafe owners are knowledgeable and can provide independent information and advice while you enjoy your meal.

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