Huaraz Trekking and Hiking – A Complete Guide

Nestled in the impressive Cordillera Blanca range of the Andes, Huaraz is increasingly becoming a world-class destination for high altitude adventures as Huaraz trekking is some of the best in the world.  The hiking in Huaraz has led to it being called the trekking capital of Peru, which is hard to dispute.  It also offers a more budget-friendly and quieter alternative to crowded Cusco.

By far the biggest draw of Huaraz is trekking in the endlessly picturesque Cordillera Blanca and Negra ranges.  Popular hikes such as the Santa Cruz trek, Laguna 69, and the Huayhuash trek get all the attention, but there are a number of great things to do in Huaraz and more hikes than those three to explore!


hiking and trekking in huaraz peru

About Huaraz, Peru

Razed by an earthquake in the 70s, as much as 95% of the city was destroyed.  Unfortunately, there’s also garbage in many places, stray dog gangs that battle for turf in the parks, and it is impossibly noisy because of the local denizen’s addiction to their car horns.  Overall, the town itself is largely without the charms you will find in its more famous counterparts of Cusco or Arequipa.

Nevertheless, it does have some cute gardens, a small artisan’s market where you can load up on sweaters, thick socks, toques and gloves or mittens for your hike, as well as plenty of tasty restaurants, and a town square where you can pose for pictures with alpacas in shades.

Alpaca with sunglasses in Huaraz
One cool customer, I betcha he’s done all the hikes in Huaraz

So rather than being a destination in and of itself, Huaraz serves as a launch point for a variety of treks to suit any ability level. You will need to acclimatize before doing any of hiking so we recommend spending a couple of days walking around town before heading out to explore any of the trekking Huaraz has to offer.  Huaraz’ elevation is 3,052m, which may be quite a change depending on where you’re coming from. We came from mostly close to sea-level elevations in Ecuador so the first couple days in Huaraz I felt winded just walking around town and we took it easy before tackling even the lower Huaraz hiking trails.

The two mountain ranges close to Huaraz are the Cordillera Blanca and the Cordillera Negra.  Many of the popular hikes and treks are actually closer to the town of Carhuaz so you can expect to spend a fair amount of time in minibuses getting to the trailhead.

Interestingly, the mountain Siula Grande from the Cordillera Blanca range is featured in the film about defying death in the mountains, “Touching the Void“.  Alpamayo, another mountain that you can climb from Huaraz is thought by some to be the “most beautiful mountain in the world.” And just two more facts,  Huascaran National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site as it is the world’s highest tropical mountain range.  Huascaran itself is the tallest mountain in Peru at 6,768m and is a very challenging technical climb that can take up to a week to the summit!

With vast and scenic expanses, opportunities for alpine activities to suit every level and interest, hikes that are popular, and hikes where you will find solitude in nature, Huaraz is the perfect place to find some mountain Zen in Peru.

The Cordillera Blanca and the foothills above Huaraz are fantastic for hiking
The Cordillera Blanca and the foothills above Huaraz are fantastic for hiking

When to Visit Huaraz

The trekking season in Huaraz is generally believed to be the best from May to October, with June and July considered to be “Andean summer” meaning the days are warm and dry, but the nights are cold. These are also the busiest months.

November through March are the wettest and quietest months. We were in Huaraz in late June to mid-July and it only rained once, but you sure felt the cold once the sun went down. Definitely dress in layers and stock up on wool goods in the artisan’s market!

Knitted goods at the Huaraz Artisan Market
Knitted goods at the Huaraz Artisan Market

The Best Hiking and Trekking Trails in Huaraz

We did the Alkipo-Ishinca 3 day trek,  Laguna Wilcacocha (acclimation), Laguna 69 day hike (acclimation), and the Mateo Peak 2 day trek but we’ll fill you in about all of the most popular options because there are SOO many great Huaraz treks and we don’t want you to be overwhelmed with information like we were.

Regardless of which agency you book with be sure to bargain for prices and definitely ask for a discount if you are taking more than one tour from the same agency.  The prices given below are what we were quoted during our July 2018 trip and may differ depending on when you travel and who you talk to.  We also have (a lot) more to say on picking the right agency later in this post.

Amazing Stars while Camping outside Huaraz
The stars can be amazing during multi-day treks!

Laguna 69

This beautiful but tough Huaraz day hike can be booked by pretty much any agency in Huaraz and the experience will be more or less the same. It’s probably one of the most famous Huaraz hikes and the trail is about 15km with 600m total elevation gain. Most of the elevation gain comes at the end of the hike which is a gruelling climb to over 4,600m.

It is an excellent hike for acclimatizing to do other even more challenging treks in the region. It is beautiful, but it will be chock-filled with people, including the kind (Chileans maybe?) that insist on blasting their music from a speaker on the trail. Still, it was well worth it for the amazing views, and we paid just 30 sol(or $10usd) each. From here, you will see similar views to those along the Santa Cruz trek as it’s in the same range.

Zentravellers at Laguna 69
Zentravellers at Laguna 69

If you’re looking for a more unique experience, some agencies can arrange a 3-day trek to the summit of Pisco mountain with a visit to Laguna 69 tacked on at the end which might be a good way to dodge the crowds at the lake.

Laguna Paron

Another great day hike from Huaraz, and an ideal acclimation hike since you make some nice stops along the way and it climbs to 4,185m. It is far easier than Laguna 69 and only requires about 40-60mins of hiking. Tours should be around 50 sol and it will take about 2 hours of driving to reach it from Huaraz.

Pastoruri Glacier

From Pastoururi Glacier you can get extremely close to a beautiful, but unfortunately rapidly receding glacier at 5,000m without working too hard as you’re dropped off at a parking lot with only a 30-40 minute hike to the glacier.  It takes about 2.5 hours to drive to the trailhead from Huaraz and tours cost about 30-60 sol.

On the way to the glacier, you will likely stop to see the Puya Ramondi plants, which only grow in high elevations in Peru and Bolivia. The giant plants are interesting not only for their size but because they only bloom once in their life.  When they do they can have about 20,000 flowers that attract dozens of hummingbirds!

Laguna Willcacacocha

There is no need to hire a guide for this hike! You can take a taxi to the top of the hill for about 35 sol (about 10 USD) and then walk down, or if you’re feeling adventurous, seek out Collectivo E or 10 towards the town of Chiwampa.  Ask to stop at the Santa Cruz bridge and hike up and down yourself. (They will likely understand if you indicate your destination is Laguna Willcacocha as well)

Collectivos can be caught at Av. Antonio Raymondi which we of course, only noticed in Maps.me the day after I tried to hail the wrong collectivo and was told by an uncharacteristically unhelpful Peruvian that he didn’t understand a word I was saying. Suffice to say, hailing a taxi for about 35 sol is easier, but taking collectivos is part of the fun. At the very least, it is easy to hail one back to Huaraz as anyone passing by will be going there. Expect to pay about 2 sol each way.

Laguna Willcacacocha
Laguna Willcacacocha

At the top, you will reach heights of 3,725m and see the Cordillera Negra range as well as the start of Cordillera Blanca. There is a small lagoon at the top where you can see Ruddy Ducks, Puna Ibises, and Gallinules. You can also camp at the top for a gentle acclimation if you so desire. Once you’ve returned to the bottom you can flag down any collectivo heading back to Huaraz.

If you’re looking to do the hike with a guide expect to pay about 25 to 50 sol.  We saw a guided group at the top and give mad props to the guide who was picking up garbage left behind by unscrupulous hikers and campers.

Laguna Churup

This hike can be done as a tough DIY, a guided hike, or as an overnight. It requires 500m of elevation gain and a steep scramble over rocks that scares some people to reach the lake but will be far less crowded than the other options.

At 4,450m it is another great acclimation hike before venturing onto more challenging treks. You can take a collectivo to the trailhead in Pitec if hiking the DIY way, or go with an organized tour. It should only take about 1 hour to reach Pitech from Huaraz if going with a tour, but expect a longer travel time if travelling by collectivo.

Churup Lake can also be combined with the 3-day Quilcayhuanca Cojup trek if you’d like to spend some time camping in the backcountry.

Santa Cruz Trek

This insanely popular hike is perhaps Huaraz’ signature trek for casual backpackers. While hardcore mountaineers delight in climbing the “most beautiful mountain in the world” Alpamayo, or the highest mountain in Peru, Huascaran, backpackers and trekkers have to “settle” for circling around these peaks via passes rising to well over 4500m.

The Santa Cruz trek allows vistas of Alpamayo (although not the “most beautiful” side of the mountain as that is the climber’s face) as well as Huascaran. It can be a crowded hike but from all accounts a very rewarding one.  If you’re visiting Huaraz for trekking this hike should definitely be on your radar.

You can do the hike unguided or as part of a tour, and if you do the latter we recommend shopping around to find the best price.  It’s a good idea to ask to see the equipment that you will be required to use during the hike as we heard horror stories of people getting fleas from equipment or having to sleep 3-4 people in a “2 person” tent.  If they say you can’t see it because it’s being returned the same day then you know it’s probably not going to be washed between uses.

Expect to pay about $115-$150 for a budget operator, or $240 for a more reputable company.  We met some fellow travellers that were very happy with the pricier option from Eco-Ice.

Alkipo-Ishinca Trek

This trek is an excellent alternative to Santa Cruz for those looking for a scenic trek, but wanting to escape the crowds.

 

Hiking towards the Alkipo glacier on the Alkipo Inshinca Trek
Hiking towards the Alkipo glacier on the Alkipo Inshinca Trek

We did this trek with Climber Land which had deceptively good ratings online.  We have no complaints about the trek, the cook, or the equipment that was provided to us by Climber Land, but our guide was, unfortunately, one of the worst guides we have ever hired in all of our travels. This guy somehow made the guide that spent his whole time flirting with the trainee in the Rwenzoris look good.

That being said, we do recommend this hike, just do it with another tour operator in Huaraz. You will see staggeringly beautiful scenery, including the endlessly stunning Laguna Alkipo, you’ll climb to 5,000m on Alkipo pass, camp without crowds on the first night, and get up close and personal with some high-flying picturesque peaks in the Cordillera Blanca.

On the second night, you will camp at Ishinca base camp at 4,390m and be surrounded by views of the incredibly vast glaciers of Toccaraju. You can also have a shower for a fee and grab a drink in the Refugio if you so desire.

We paid about 650 sol per person for a “guided” trek, including food, mules, and decent quality equipment.  We highly recommend the hike, especially if you are looking to get away from the crowds of Santa Cruz but make sure you ask your agency lots of questions.

 

The views on Akilpo Ishinca Huaraz Peru
The views on Akilpo Ishinca made up for our terrible guide!

Mateo Peak

Our Cordillera Blanca guided hiking experience took a dramatic turn for the better when we booked a 2 day climb up Mateo Peak with Peruvian Classic Adventures. After Alkipo-Ishinca, I came down with a bad cold so although we really wanted to do Pisco peak and were sufficiently acclimated, I didn’t think I could handle the 12-hour, 1,500m one-day elevation gain.

Instead, we figured we would do some of the day hikes mentioned above, such as Paron and Pastorui, but we remained open to be persuaded to do something else. With this in mind, we stopped in to talk with Dario at Peruvian Classic Adventures and asked him to persuade us to do something other than a couple more crowded day tours.

He proposed his agency’s “signature trek” which is a 3-day jaunt through picturesque passes to a very easy, beginner mountaineering peak, Mount Mateo at 5,165m for $300usd per person. He also gave us the option of joining an existing trek and doing a 2 day to the peak for only $150 per person. We opted for the 2-day tour and it worked out great for us. As an aside, joining an existing tour is a good way to shave a little off the price of the tour.

The first day was a very gentle (compared to Laguna 69 and Alkipo-Ishinca) trek through rolling terrain in the Cordillera Negra.  There we crossed through Quechwa farmland and were greeted by some friendly farmers in their traditional clothing. It only took about 4 hours to reach our camping spot and was easy enough for me to do as I got over my cold. Our guide Angri did indeed speak English and was passionate, informative, courteous, and professional. He was everything we wanted in a guide. He explained local flora, pointed out features of the landscape, and helped us understand the Quechwa farmland we were walking through. It gets better.

Once we reached our camp, he helped us set up our tent and took some trout from the nearby farm and cooked them up fresh for us. He even gave me an impromptu Spanish lesson when I misused a pronoun, so we hadn’t even made it to the glacier yet and I had already learned a lot from him. Our 4 season tent kept us super warm and Dario kindly provided us with good-quality, thick mattresses to sleep on since he wanted me to be extra warm as I fought my cold. He also provided all ropes, harnesses, ice axe, crampons, snow pants, glacier glasses, and thick gloves for the glacier portion.

Sunrise on Matteo Peak
The sun rising over Mateo peak as we put on our crampons

On our second day, we woke up early and drove to 4,750m where we began our hike up to Mateo Peak. Again, Angri was an incredible guide, stopping to help us navigate tricky scramble sections on the rock and pointing out features of the landscape. One thing that stuck with me for slightly macabre reasons, was when I asked which lake I was looking at out in the distance he said it was unofficially called “new lake”. As in climate change recently created this lake by causing glaciers to melt. Sad.

As we reached the spot where we needed to put on our crampons, harness, serious gloves, snow pants, etc. he explained everything to us in detail and checked-in multiple times to be sure we felt comfortable and ready to start crossing the glacier. The trip up to the peak went slowly and steadily, with Angri demonstrating leadership the whole time. We were thrilled to make it to the peak and try out glacier travel for the first time and we couldn’t have asked for a better guide.

Zentravellers on the summit of Mt Matteo
Zentravellers on the summit of Mt Mateo at 5,165m

On the way back into town from the glacier, we stopped in Carhuaz for ice cream (not included) and lunch with beer (included!) and made a toast to yet another amazing experience in a foreboding range.

Pisco Peak

We desperately wanted to do this trek but the Alkipo-Ishinca hike destroyed my immunities and I came down with a nasty cold. Pisco Peak is touted as a good beginner mountaineering climb and it’s staggering 5,752m summit features a panoramic view of the surrounding snow-capped peaks of Chacraraju, Huandoy, Chopicalqui and Huascaran — all of which reach heights of over 6,000m.

It is a tough 3-4 day hike where on day 1 you drive to 3 hours to Cebollapampa at 3,990m and climb to the base camp at 4650m. On Day 2 you can climb 12 hours to Pisco summit and back to base camp, or climb 3 hours to Moraine camp at 4,950m.  On Day 3 you’ll either walk 1.5 hours to the road from base camp or climb 10 hours to the summit from the moraine camp. Day 4 only applies if you camped at Moraine, but you will walk approximately 1.5 hours to the road to drive 3 hours back to Huaraz.

As it involves glacier travel, most companies don’t take groups larger than 3 people and it requires a licensed mountain guide. That said, you could get the same quality guide as we had for Alkipo-Ishinca so do check reviews thoroughly and ask lots of questions before deciding on an operator. (Have we said that already?) Based on our experience on Mateo we would certainly trust and recommend Peruvian Classic Adventures for this adventure.

The Huayhuash Trek

Saving possibly the best for last, the Huayhuash Trek is an 8-day trek that achieves elevations up to 5,490m.  Each pass that you ascend offers incredible views of the Cordillera Blanca, alpine lakes, and glaciers.  It’s considered to be one of the best alpine treks in the world.

You can do this hike solo, or with a guide.  Friends we met while hiking the Colca Canyon near Arequipa had done it solo but said it would have only cost a fraction more to do it guided because of all the permits that they had to purchase.

They raved about the views to the point that we were jealous, even with the hikes that we had done in Huaraz.  You can read a basic overview of the route on Peru Hop’s website.

Tips for Travelling in Huaraz

Tipping?

Yes, you should tip your guide, cook, and porter if you have one depending on the quality of the service you received. We tipped our guide for Mateo Mountain and somewhat unsurprisingly, did not tip our guide for Alkipo-Ishinca.  (You can read my rant about his guiding services below) We did, however, tip the cook. It’s not often you eat that well at such high elevations!

Getting There – Bus or Flight

At about 2 months into our 14 month trip around the world, we ended our wonderful time in Ecuador in the beautiful city of Cuenca which serves as an entry point to Northern Peru. There is not much (aside from long bus rides) between the south of Ecuador to the North of Peru, but that all changes once you reach the action-packed town of Huaraz. The city is miles from nowhere which is part of what makes it so special.

We reached it via a very long bus journey from Ecuador, going from Cuenca to Chiclayo on a gruelling 13-hour overnight bus with Azuay transport, then a bus from Chiclayo to Trujillo with Linea Transport, and finally onto Huaraz the next day with Cruz del Sur.

A less punishing route would be to fly into Lima and it’s an 8-hour bus ride from there using Cruz Del Sur or Movil Tours. The terminale norte bus terminal is close to the airport.

There are light aircraft flights to Huaraz from the Lima airport with the LC Peru airline. They only allow 15kg of luggage allowance and depart once per day.

Renting Camping Equipment

You can easily rent camping equipment in Huaraz but do make sure you check it all out first.  As with most things in Huaraz, there is a cheap version available and a good version available.

If you have back problems as I do, the coin-thin “mattresses” that most companies provide for treks may cause you problems, so I strongly recommend picking up a Therm-A-Rest Neo-Air mattress. It is super lightweight, barely takes up any room in my pack, and makes sleeping in a tent on the ground downright comfortable. I have used it multiple times hiking at home and during our 14 month trip around the world.

Also, if you feel the cold easily and are skeeved out by using a well-travelled sleeping bag, you might want to bring a sleeping bag liner as well. I use this one and it works great. The silk ones are more expensive but definitely worth it as they are lightweight, pack up easily, and deliver a good warmth to weight ratio.

 

Amazing views in Huaraz Peru
Once in Huaraz views like this await!

Choosing A Tour Agency – The Wild West

Huaraz seems to be the wild west of Peruvian tourism. We have had wonderful guides for hikes based out of Cusco and Arequipa, but we only had one great one in Huaraz. Our guide for Laguna 69 simply pointed out the trail and our “guide” for Alkipo-Ishinca was without hyperbole, the worst guide we have ever had for a guided trip anywhere in the world. Professionalism is a problem in Huaraz which is unfortunate since the area is so beautiful and worthy of being on any mountain lover’s bucket list.

In addition to there being vast discrepancies in the quality of guide services, prices offered by operators for the same hikes vary greatly, as does the degree of difficulty that individual agencies will rate hikes. This article in the Huaraz Telegraph sums up the problems that can be encountered in Huaraz quite well.

You should also be aware that many agencies selling the most popular treks, such as Santa Cruz, Laguna 69, Pastoruri Glacier, and Laguna Paron simply farm them out to a few main operators, mainly Genesa and Galaxia.

So sometimes when you book with a well-reviewed company you are just paying for them to sell you a tour operated by one of those other not as well-reviewed companies for a cut. This is neither shocking, nor a unique practice but the difference in Huaraz is that some of the budget companies don’t have the same professionalism that can be expected elsewhere. Unless you go up dramatically in the price range you’ll likely be getting the same service.

We don’t want to dissuade anyone from going but do be prepared to put more research into which operator you go with than you might on say the Salkantay Trek in Cusco and be prepared to ask lots of questions before you hand over your money. Also, make sure you leave thorough reviews, both good and bad, so companies can be held accountable when they use questionable practices, but also so that other travellers can be sure which companies are the best.

If you’re booking the popular hikes (such as Laguna 69, Laguna Paron, Pastoruri Glacier, and the Santa Cruz trek), you will most likely be doing it with a low-cost operator with a bus-full of other tourists and a guide that does little more than point to the general direction that you must travel now and then.

A low-cost agency where we got some straight talk and good quotes for prices was Andino Trek (thanks Frank!). We didn’t end up booking with him because it wasn’t open when we had made our decisions but we appreciated his candor nonetheless.

 

Our Cautionary Tale

We booked our Alkipo-Ishinca trek with Climber Land but despite the agency having reasonably good reviews online, our experience with the guide that the agency provided was terrible. As Frank from Andino Trek explained to us, the agencies don’t often know who the guide is ahead of time and who you get depends on who is available that day.

We surmise that some of the people selling you the tours have more scruples than others. The less the scruples, the more likely they are to tell you whatever they think is necessary to make the sale. The guy working the desk at Climber Land (if my memory serves me well his name was Ivan) obviously over-promised and under delivered when he said we would be getting an “English-speaking” guide.

To be clear, we’re not just talking about someone who isn’t strong in English, that is something we would not complain about since we both know how hard it can be to speak another language; we mean he barely knew any words and didn’t understand us when we spoke to him V..E..R..Y S..L..O..W..L..Y.  Secondly, Ivan told us it was “non-technical” and straightforward trekking, which ended up not being entirely true and both of these things would prove dangerous as described below.

While on this “guided” hike, we never travelled together as a group and our “guide” would start walking as soon as we caught up thereby foregoing the common knowledge mountain courtesy of the “F*** you stop.” I have asthma for jeebus’ sake, I simply can’t run up mountains at over 4,500m. In fact, this was my very first time climbing to over 4,300m and I was unsure how my asthmatic lungs would handle the elevation.

Early into the hike I told him plainly and clearly in Spanish that “you are walking too fast” to which he just grinned goofily in response.  Simply put, the pace he was setting for our group was dangerous for me and he didn’t give one rip. We wanted a guide with us on the trek to be able to help us if I ran into trouble at high elevations, but this guy was useless.

I’m not exaggerating when I say he was useless, he got us lost 2 separate times. At the height of the pass over 5,000m, he took a wrong turn which meant that we had to do some moderate downclimbing during our descent. This may seem like nothing, but chew on this: a friend of mine died in the Rockies downclimbing on a slope that was too technical for his abilities.

Now fortunately for us, we have some experience scrambling so we were able to get ourselves down safely, but if you have never encountered this terrain and were relying on your guide to help you, this guy wouldn’t have been able to in English. I saw him explaining how to scramble to the Spanish-speaking guy, telling him to test his hand and footholds before putting his weight on them for example, but he didn’t even bother to try to do the same for us.

This was moderate scrambling and while I don’t think that a fall in this area would have been deadly, it could have resulted in broken bones which would be an ordeal and half in such a remote area.

Scrambling on the Akilpo Ishinca Trek
Scrambling on the Akilpo Ishinca Trek

Then we continued our off-the-path descent by being “guided” down a super-steep, boulder and knee-high grass-filled gully that just didn’t seem right to me. There were times where the 3 of us paying guests ended up on top of cliff bands with no clear route down and our “guide” was nowhere to be found. I mean we couldn’t see him at all. How does one guide when they’re not around to guide? What is the meaning of guide?

We had to guide ourselves down his wrong turn and it was exhausting. He told us our descent would take about 1.5 hours, but it took 4. This terrain was no joke either and I broke my finger falling in similar terrain in the Rockies. Given the terrain, we were likely walking over animal nests, possibly chinchillas or ground-nesting birds which meant his wrong turn made us betray our principles of trekking and leaving no trace.

Once down, I heard the cook giving him a hard time for us being so late (my Spanish comprehension is better than my speaking skills). The cook had over 50 years of experience in the park and proceeded to tell the guide that he was stupid and took a wrong turn at the top of the pass.

So our guide that we paid, had without a doubt, lead us astray and he was lucky no one got hurt. We would have been able to a much more enjoyable descent if we had gone the right way and it would have actually been the non-technical trekking we were promised.

During those rare moments we got to actually speak with our guide that we paid, he explained that he also leads trips up to Pisco Peak. Now Pisco is no trek by any stretch of the imagination, it’s a proper mountaineering summit and is meant to be guided by a certified mountaineering guide.

It’s considered a great beginner mountaineering mountain but it does involve navigating a small crevasse, so imagine if you’ve never walked on a glacier before and your guide can’t speak with you in your language and insists on travelling 500m to 1km ahead of you at all times. Not a good scene. Since this is what you get when you pay for an “English-speaking guide” from Climber Land, we don’t recommend using them for any of your trekking needs in Huaraz. Given this experience, we’re honestly surprised by all the good reviews.

So in light of this be sure to read every single review, ask loads of questions, and leave feedback after your trek so fellow travellers can book tours with confidence!  The mountain ranges of Huaraz provide for some amazing hiking and trekking but the terrain and altitude are not to be taken lightly.

Where to Eat and Drink in Huaraz

When you’re not doing one of the many Huaraz day treks or multi-day hikes it’s good to know what to do in Huaraz.

Trivio

We went here way too many times, but Trivio has delicious local Sierra Andina craft beer on tap, cooks up wicked-good burgers (both veggie and carnivore) and french fries, as well as local foods, and provides free filtered water. You can even bring your water bottle in for a refill to cut down on plastic waste. The amount of plastic bottles strewn in the streets and rivers around Huaraz is pretty staggering.

Casa de Abuela

This cute place features delicious pizza and well-priced wine. You can take away both the pizza and the wine too.

Main Square Shaved Ice

During the hot, Andean summer days,  a shaved ice from one of the vendors near the main square is the perfect treat to cool off. Just don’t eat it in the shade. There are many flavours to choose from and they gave me a funny look for only picking one, so make sure you mix and match. A cup costs about 3 sol.

Main Square Popcorn

Also in the main square are popcorn vendors selling generous portions of popcorn for 1 sol (like $0.30, so treat yo-self). They have both salty (saltado) and sweet (dulce) flavoured popcorn and you can order a mix (mixto) if you like.

Gran Muralla for Chifa

For those who may not know, “Chifa” is Peru’s take on Chinese food. Many of the dishes are ones you know and love with some local ingredients subbed in. We enjoyed our first Chifa experience and just like ordering Chinese at home, we had enough leftovers to eat again.

Mercado Central de Huaraz

Head to the central market for fresh vegetables and staples to cook on your own. Also, go because markets are always fun to visit and provide a glimpse into the local culture. There is also a Trujillo supermarket in town on Av. Mariscal Toribio de Luzuriaga if that is more your style.

Where to Stay

Base Camp is popular with the backpacker circuit and is right in the centre of town, but we loved staying at Humberto’s Guest House. A nice family runs the place and it is actually a few rooms added to their house. Our room was a good size, there was usually hot water, and it was very comfortable for sleeping.

The family would even cook breakfast for us at 4:30 am to accommodate our early departures for hikes. They also take requests for dinners which are a bargain at only 10 sol. Humberto himself is a guide and can provide you with information on hikes, professional guiding services, and equipment.

We even crossed paths with him on our way back from Alkipo-Ishinca where he was guiding a group of repeat customers to a 6-day summit circuit. He can also set up a Santa Cruz trek for you using his good quality equipment for $150.

Mountain sunset from huaraz rooftop
The view from Humberto’s roof was pretty fantastic as well!

A double room is a bargain at about $15 and staying with Humberto was a fun experience as it felt like we were part of the family for the week. 5-year-old Adriana had us in stitches with her silly energy, and she even introduced us to the neighbour’s puppies (perritos)!

Mountain Zen in Peru

In sum, the trekking that can be done from Huaraz is some of the most exhilarating in the world.  While some care needs to be used when booking treks, the scenery will be sure to take your breath away both in terms of elevation and sheer beauty. We had some challenges and certainly ranted about them a little here (ok, ok, a lot!) but when we think back on it, Huaraz was a major highlight of our time in Peru.  If you haven’t done so already, be sure to add trekking in Huaraz to your bucket list and revel in the mountain Zen that is to be found there!

Our experience trekking in the Cordillera Blanca left us craving more high altitude adventures in this stunning mountain range and we’re already planning our next trip to the region. Pisco peak calls! Indeed, an ideal second itinerary could be Laguna Paron and Pastoruri as acclimation hikes, followed by perhaps doing Santa Cruz self-guided, and then Pisco mountain.

If we had all the time in the world, we’d love to do some of the longer treks in the region such as the 7-12 day Huayhuash circuit or 8-day Alpamayo circuit.  The region’s superlative beauty and adrenaline-pumping expeditions inspire strong desires for repeat visits and there are adventures for all appetites.  No matter your level of hiking experience you can find something that suits you here.

Looking for Mountain zen in Peru?  Continue south to Cusco and hike to Machu Picchu or further south to Arequipa for some Volcano and canyon hiking!

Mountain Zen - Huaraz Trekking in Peru
Mountain Zen – Huaraz Trekking

hiking in huaraz - a complete guide

Share this:

3 Replies to “Huaraz Trekking and Hiking – A Complete Guide”

  1. This is why I’ve wanted to visit South America for so long – it looks just wonderful. Some great tips here that we’ll hopefully use one day, never thought of renting camping gear before (and now I don’t know why!) Stunning photos too by the way, absolutely cannot wait to see it all for myself <3

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.