22 May, 2020 | Reccy Guide
You likely heard of Huaraz as the starting point of strenuous multi-day hikes and humbling climbs of 6000m+ mountains. Setting off for that long in the wilderness is not your thing, so you may have crossed off the Cordillera Blanca from your Peruvian itinerary… We are here to change your mind, but most importantly to show you why dismissing the Huascaran National Park, nested in the Cordillera Blanca, would be a mistake.
Sure thing, there are an endless number of trails in the Park that will take you through landscapes of snow-capped mountains and crystal lakes for days at a time. But there are also a lot of daily tours leaving from Huaraz during which you will be able to admire the beauty of the region and come back to the comfort of the city’s restaurants and your hotel bed at night. So, what are your options?
The day tour to Laguna Llanganuco is a great way to witness the wonders of the Huascaran National Park, while not being too much at risk for altitude sickness as the lake is located at 3850m above sea level. This much lower than many points of interest in the region, such as the Laguna 69, and will allow you to enjoy a beautiful walk without losing your breath. This is more a sightseeing trip than a hiking expedition, and you will be able to admire the turquoise waters from viewpoints on the shore or from the water itself, as you can hire a boat for around S5. Tours are organized from Huaraz, but you can also reach the Laguna by colectivo or taxi from Yungay (which you can easily reach by bus from Huaraz).
Chavin de Huantar
If you are a history buff and want to explore the ruins of ancient civilizations, or if you need a break from nature walk for a day, the archeological wonder of Chavin de Huantar is a good option. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Pre-Inca ruins of the Chavin civilization will take you back in time. You will be able to walk through immense temples and plaza spaces as well as visit an informative museum, and it is recommended that you get a guide to learn more about the fascinating history of the place. While you could reach the site on your own, it is recommended that you book a tour while in Huaraz as this will cost you around S80-S90 and include transportation and guide.
Perched at 4200m above sea level, the Laguna Paron is used by many hikers as an acclimatization hike. If you want to get active for a bit, this is a great option as going up to the viewpoint will only take you around 45 minutes. From there, you will be able to admire the longest Laguna of the Cordillera Blanca, spreading for around 3km and nested in the middle of snow-capped mountains – including the Artesonraju, most famously known as the Paramount Pictures logo. Despite being as beautiful, it is much less crowded than Laguna 69 so it’s a win-win situation for you! You also will not have to pay the fee to the Huascaran National Park and instead only contribute S5 to the local community. You can join a tour to Laguna Paron for around S60 – S80 or get there by public transportation from Huaraz or Caraz. This option is cheaper but also more uncertain as the schedule of the colectivos are not predictable, so check with locals for more information. Taxi is, of course, always an option; and should cost you around S150 roundtrip (including 2h of waiting at the Laguna).
If you have always dreamt of seeing a glacier up-close, go check out our article on visiting the Pastoruri Glacier on a day tour from Huaraz.
As you can see, the Huascaran National Park offers options for all. It would be a shame to miss out on the incredible scenery that these day tours offer, so book your bus from Lima to Huaraz and start exploring the region of the Cordillera Blanca, one day at a time.