Melting Away: the Pastoruri Glacier

28 May, 2020 | Reccy Guide

Huaraz is known to be the starting point of some of the most challenging treks and climbs Peru has to offer. But if you’re looking to discover the beauty of the country in a more relaxed way, should you completely dismiss the Cordillera Blanca? 

The day trip to Pastoruri Glacier answers your question: there are activities for everyone in the Cordillera Blanca, even if you are not keen on multi-day excursions or need a bit more time acclimatizing. As one of the most accessible of the few remaining glaciers in the Huascaran National Park, Pastoruri attracts many relaxed tourists and experienced hikers alike. Indeed, with climate change taking its toll, half of the glaciers of the mountain range have disappeared and Pastoruri itself is vowed to melt away in the next ten years; and the clock is ticking to admire its beauty.

How to get to Pastoruri Glacier

There is no public transportation to the glacier itself, so you will have to book either a tour or a taxi. Just like for the Laguna 69 day trip (see our article to learn more), choosing to book a tour is actually the easiest and cheapest option and can be done once you arrive in Huaraz or online prior to departing for Peru. The tour, including transportation and a guide (more or less knowledgeable depending on the company) should cost you around 30 soles, and to that you will need to add the entrance fee of 30 soles to the national park.

Pastoruri Glacier: A day trip from Huaraz

Pastoruri Glacier: a day trip from Huaraz

The Tour

The other advantage of booking a tour is that you will stop on the way at several noteworthy spots that you might otherwise miss. You will leave your hotel around 9am and start driving towards the glacier, stopping for the first viewpoint at Patococha Lake. The mountain views reflecting in the water act as a beautiful background to the very lively lake, known for its birdlife. The place has in fact taken its name from this abundance of wildlife, as ‘pato’ means ‘duck’ in Spanish.

After driving a little bit further, you will be able to stretch your legs walking around the 7 Color Lake in the Pumapampa plain. This pond is supposed to reflect seven shades of blue; but even if the weather does not allow you to admire this natural phenomenon, you will be able to wonder at the majesty of the landscape – from the mountainous background to the stretching grasslands.

In Puma Pampa as well, you can admire the vast garden of Puya Raimondii, a plant indigenous to the high Andean plateau of Peru and Bolivia. Pose for a picture next to them to later look back and reminisce the immensity of these plants that can grow as tall as 15m. As their shape suggests, they come from the same plant family as the Pineapple plant, but their fruits only bloom once in their 100 years lifespan. 

Know All About Pastoruri Glacier

Pastoruri Glacier

After this introduction to the nature of Huascaran National Park, you will finally arrive at the parking lot from where the trail to the Glacier starts. Hopefully visibility will be good, and you can start the easy hike to the glacier’s viewpoint. Depending on your fitness and acclimatization levels, the climb will take you between 25 and 40 minutes. If you are not able to hike, you also have the option to hire horses for the first part of the trail for 10 soles. The total hike is around a kilometer but will take you from 4800m to 5000m, so be prepared for the possibility of altitude sickness to kick in. Because the glacier has been melting rapidly in the last few years, tourists are not allowed to walk on it anymore; but you will be able to enjoy great views from various viewpoints around. Once you are ready, head back to the parking lot to start the drive back to Huaraz where you will arrive around 6pm.

The Huaraz to Pastoruri Glacier full day tour is a great option and suitable to almost anyone visiting. Seeing a glacier first-hand is something that you should experience at least once in your lifetime, so take the time to take in the scenery; but also take the time to grasp the effect of climate change on our surrounding environment.

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