Huaraz, Andean adventure town in north Peru

22 May, 2020 | Reccy Guide

Huaraz is the hub for your Andean adventure trips in Peru, as the gateway to two of the world’s most breathtaking ranges, the Cordillera Blanca and Cordillera Huayhuash and many other shorter day hikes. As a low-key adventure town, it is a mountain lovers’ paradise and a blend of modern and native Andean culture.

Unlike Machu Picchu and its gateway Cusco which have become very popular, Huaraz has remained relatively untouched and raw, thus keeping the two magnificent mountain ranges that can be accessed from here: Cordillera Blanca and Cordillera Huayhuash for the real adventure lovers.

Huaraz, town centerHuaraz, town center

During the season (April to September) it is a lively place with trekkers and backpackers preparing for their next adventure or just returning from a gruelling few days in the mountains. In fact, July is the ideal time to visit this area; the weather is very pleasant with very little chance of rain. During this time, which coincides with Peru’s event celebration dates,  almost every night there is entertainment including live music, food and more organised by the town. October to March, especially during January and February weather is wet with higher chances of rain. 

It is the base of many agencies, outfitters and gear rental companies who plan, organize and supply equipment for expeditions, treks and adventure sport activities. 

Huaraz has an elevation of 3050m / 10,000ft which makes it an ideal base to acclimatise before heading out to the surrounding mountains.

A major earthquake in 1970 destroyed the city and it got rebuilt subsequently. Today it has a population of ~120,000. 

Landscape of HuarazLandscape of Huaraz

While Huaraz is not a picture perfect Alpine town in the mould of Chamonix or Interlaken, it has its own charm with many good cafes and restaurants and a history linked to its Quechaun heritage which makes its unique amongst many mountain gateways you would have visited in other parts of the world.

How to reach?

If you are traveling to Huaraz from anywhere outside of Peru, you will have to transit through Lima. Lima has direct connections with quite a few cities in the USA and Canada through Delta, United, American, LATAM, Air Canada and with Europe through KLM, Air France, British Airways, Iberia and LATAM. From other Latin American countries, LATAM and Avianca offer good connections. An Airport Express bus  (typical fare USD ~8 one way) connects Lima city centre with Jorge Chávez Airport in regular intervals, from 06:00 to 22:00 hours. Taxis cost USD ~15 one way. 

Huaraz is well connected with Lima by bus. The distance is ~400km and the journey takes around 8 hours and is reasonably priced ($11 – 29 one way) and services are generally quite reliable. Main Operators are Movil Tours, Cruz del Sur, Lenea and Oltursa. Note that in Peru each bus company often has its own separate terminal. In Lima, the main bus terminals are in Javier Prado, La Victoria, Terminal Plaza Norte, Aramburu and Paseo de la República.

Flights from Lima to Huaraz are operated by LC Peru, with daily one flight on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. The airstrip in Huaraz is ~23km north of Huaraz, you can take a combi (USD ~1) or a taxi (USD ~10 – 16) to Huaraz town. Flights are temporarily suspended due to financial difficulties being faced by the airline.

Walk the paths while absorbing NatureWalk the paths while absorbing Nature

Where to stay?

Huaraz has ample options for lodging at a reasonable price. Depending on your requirement and budget, you may choose your accommodation in Huaraz from a range of hotels, guest houses and hostels.

Multi-day Adventure trips out of Huarazwith approximate duration

  • Cordillera Huayhuash trek (10 days)
  • Alpamayo climbing (8 days)
  • Huascaran climbing (7 days)
  • Pisco climbing (4 days)
  • Cordillera Blanca trek (10 days)
  • Santa Cruz trek (4 days)
  • Alpamayo base camp circuit (10 days)
  • Santa Cruz – Llanganuco trek – Pisco climb (7 days)

Shorter duration trips out of Huarazwith approximate duration

  • Lake 69 day hike (1 day)
  • Querococha Lagoon and Chavin de Huantar day trip (1 day)
  • Chavin de Huantar (pre-Inca ruins) day trip (1 day)
  • Lake Llanganuco day trip (1 day)
  • Llaca Glacier Lake day hike (1 day)
  • Huaraz to Cordillera Blanca Mountain Biking (1 day)
  • Huaraz to Llanganuco Mountain Biking (1 day)
  • Pastoruri Glacier day trip (1 day)
  • Huilcaccoha Lake day hike (1 day)
  • Cordillera Blanca Circuit trip (3 days) 
  • Lake Paron day trek (1 day)
  • Mateo Mountain climbing (1 day)
  • Chacas day trip (1 day)
  • Huascaran National Park (3 to 4 days)
  • Inca’s Citadel of Hunucoviejo – Wanucomarka – La Union day trip (1 day)
  • Cordillera Blanca horse riding tour (1 day)
  • HatunMachay Rock forest – full day Climbing or Visiting (1 day)

Attractions in and around Huaraz

  1. The Wari ruin of Wilcahuaín
  2. Monumento Nacional Wilcahuaín is a small Wari ruin that dates back to 600 to 900 AD. It is an undamaged pre-Columbian building
  3. Chavin de Huantar, the centre of a cultural and artistic revolution in Peru that took place between 600 and 300 BC
  4. The town of Chacas, at 3359m and a population of ~2,000 is an ancient town that is known for having remained unchanged for centuries with its Andean-Andalusian architecture
  5. The Museo Regional de Ancash, a small but interesting museum which houses the largest collection of ancient stone sculptures in South America, especially  the cultures that have inhabited the Cordillera Blanca region.
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