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The small yet magnificent Huayhuash Range is richly glaciated, steep and dramatic, and is home to Peru’s second highest peak, Yerupaja (6634m).
This Huayhuash circuit trek around the range is one of the world’s most spectacular mountain circuits, and the true walking enthusiast is rewarded with unequalled views of its turquoise glacial lakes, jagged snow-capped peaks and stunning hanging glaciers that extend thousands of meters from the peaks.
- Circuit the Huayhuash Range
- Cross the continental divide
- Explore Joe Simpson’s base camp (‘Touching the Void’)
- 14 nights full-service camping, 5 nights’ hotels and 1 night local inn, all with en suite facilities
- 14 days point-to-point walking with full porterage
- 2 daywalks for acclimatisation
- Altitude maximum 5030m, average 4200m
Start in Lima
We drive to Huaraz to start our Huayhuash circuit, the main town of the Cordillera Blanca region; the drive is quite long and tiring (420km in about 9 hours), but increasingly scenic as we enter the mountains; the journey includes the crossing of the 4100m Conococha Pass and we should arrive in the early evening. Huaraz, at 3028m, is dominated by Peru’s highest peak, Huascaran (6768m).
As a start on this Huayhuash circuit we have a full day of hiking today. We head south from Huaraz to the town of Huamarin (3250m) and continue along a winding road with breathtaking mountain views. We start our acclimatization hike towards Lake Huilcacocha (3725m), where we can observe a wide variety of wild ducks and enjoy a spectacular panorama of the snow-capped peaks of Huandoy, Huascaran, Chopicalqui, Hualcan and many others. After a short break we descend 100 meters then start climbing a broad trail past a small lake to a viewpoint with excellent views of the Cordillera Blanca, the Santa River and the city of Huaraz. Our descent takes us towards the villages of Purucuta (3650m) and Quetscapu (3436m), and we meet the road, where our bus will take us back to Huaraz.
After breakfast we continue on this Huayhuash circuit, and head north through Yungay, a town rebuilt after a devastating earthquake in 1970, to the Llanganuco Gorge, a glacial valley with incredible views of Huandoy, Huascarán and Chopicalqui. We have lunch near one of the two lakes and if time and weather permits a hike in a side valley called Quebrada Demanda, with great views of Mt Chacraraju. We return to Huaraz in the evening.
This morning we drive to Chiquian, where we visit an alpaca textile factory before continuing on via the towns of Llamac, Pocpa and Pallca to Cuartelwain, where we camp for the night, making this Huayhuash circuit very interesting.
We start the day with the Cacanampunta Pass (4690m), at the northern end of the range. It is the Continental Divide, after which the waters now flow to the Amazon and the Atlantic. This is a favorite spot for the Andean condor, and we may well spot the huge birds soaring over our heads, and this is sure to put a sparkle in this Huayhuash circuit trip. From here a rough descent through a multicolored landscape leads us to a beautiful flat and grassy campsite at Janca (4250m) not far from Lake Mitacocha, below Ninashanca, Rondoy, Jirishanca and El Toro. This is a short walking day to aid our acclimatization, but for those still feeling energetic we can take the short walk to the lake in the afternoon.
Today on this Huayhuash circuit, the pass, Carhuac (4600m) is longer but not too steep, with splendid views of Yerupaja, at 6634m the highest mountain in the Huayhuash. Descending, we finally arrive at the rim of the hanging valley, from which we look down on a lake of deep turquoise. Our campsite below Lake Carhuacocha (4100m) faces an incredible vista of peaks and hanging glaciers: a view that proves you do not need 8000m peaks to have the most inspiring mountain scenery.
Today we take a rest from the Huayhuash circuit, with a rest day to explore this stunning area around Carhuacocha with its hanging glaciers and turquoise lakes. A walk around the lake will give you a taste of the vast array of birds found in this area. We are surrounded by the splendor of Yerupaja, Siula, Jirishanca and Carnicero.
Today on this Huayhuash circuit, we have a stiff climb over the Punta Carnicero (4615m) past the twin Atocshaico lakes. There’s a stupendous panorama of the eastern side of the range on our right, dominated by Carnicero, the ‘Butcher’, Siula (6653m) and Jurau. We camp close to the tiny settlement (one single house!) of Huayhuash.
Continuing on our Huayhuash circuit to our next pass, the Portachuelo (4750m), we see the rounded ice domes of the Cordillera Raura to the southeast. Crossing the continental divide again we pass Laguna Viconga and ascend to camp at 4450m beneath Puscanturpa and Cuyoc. There is an optional but highly recommended short walk to local hot springs in the late afternoon.
Our next pass on this Huayhuash circuit, is the Cuyoc, the highest and most spectacular of the trek, at around 5030m (according to most maps). From the top, though it can be windy and cold, there are exceptional views on all sides. We descend steeply to the wide-open pampa of Guanacpatay valley, and camp by a river at 4350m.
Descend and then turn up the Sarapococha Valley to reach lakes Jurau and Sarapococha. We camp at 4350 in Calinca valley, not far from Joe Simpson’s base camp at about 4400m, before his climb of Siula Grande. Splendid views on this Huayhuash circuit today of Sarapo, Carnicero and Trapecio.
Another rest day on this Huayhuash circuit to explore this dramatic area of glaciers and lakes. We are surrounded by the splendor of Yerupaja, Siula, Sarapo, Rasac, Trapecio and Carnicero.
Continuing on our Huayhuash circuit, we retrace our steps down the Sarapococha valley and drop to warmer climes of the cultivated valley of the remote village of Huayllapa, with beautiful views of the waterfalls. In the afternoon we climb steeply again to spend the night at 4350m at Huantiac, a high grazing meadow under the shadow of Diablo Mudo, the ‘Dumb Devil’. This is probably the hardest day, with a tough afternoon, and often hot weather.
Today on our Huah Huash circuit, we cross the sixth pass, the Tapush, a short climb to 4750m, we descend to a wide valley past Susucocha Lake to camp in the valley of Ancocancha near a forest of Quenoal trees at 4450m.
On to the steep and scree-covered Yaucha pass, at 4800m. A short optional extra climb to the summit here reveals a viewpoint from which, on a clear day, there are magnificent views of the highest peaks of the Huayhuash circuit and long-distance panoramas to the peaks of the Cordillera Blanca. Here is another good spot for sighting condors. A long descent brings us eventually to Laguna Jahuacocha, widely held to be the scenic gem of the whole range.
Jahuacocha lies at 4100m beneath the glacier-covered west faces of Jerupaja, Jirishanca, Rasac, Rondoy and el Toro. By day and by moonlight it is an indescribably beautiful place, which will really highlight your trip on this Huayhuash circuit; there is abundant bird life (Puna ibis, Andean geese and more) around its shore, and many fine walks around and above it. The lake and rivers hold plenty of trout and we hope to catch enough for dinner. We spend a rest day here, although this extra day is partly to allow for delays en route.
We ascend steeply to the final pass of this Huayhuash circuit, Sambunya (4750m), with stunning views back towards Lake Solteracocha. We descend to camp in Matacancha, enjoying our last views of the range (4100m).
Our 2nd last day on this Huayhuash circuit, we return by road to Huaraz. This is a full day’s drive (approx 7 hours plus stops) through some stunning scenery north of the Huayhuash range and to the south of the Cordillera Blanca. We arrive in Huaraz mid-afternoon for a hot shower and evening meal.
We return by road to Lima, arriving in the early evening.
Finish in Lima
Additional Trip Notes:
Start and Finish: Various Dates from June – Sept
Start point: Lima
Finish point: Lima
For this Huayhuash circuit, the groups are made up of adults. The group is usually between 4 and 16 in size, with an average of 12 like-minded clients booking individually, in a couple or as friends together.
For this Huah Huash circuit, you have a good level of fitness and are looking for a physically challenging holiday. Previous experience is essential for activity based trips.
Camp Site (14nts)
Local Inn (1nt)
Camping is full-service and both the hotel and inn have en suite facilities.
Single rooms and tents can be booked throughout for an optional single supplement.
Breakfast – All
Lunch – 14
Dinner – 14
Breakfast: hotel breakfasts are normally buffet-style; on trek they are more substantial and include a cooked dish.
Lunch: while trekking, lunches consist of a substantial picnic, with hot drinks where possible.
Dinner or Evening meal: dinners on trek are always cooked, and usually consist of soup or starter, a main course and dessert.
Snacks: Generous snacks are served during the day, including fruit, nuts and energy bars. It is generally not necessary to take additional snacks with you on the trek.
Water: drinking water (boiled and filtered) is provided throughout the trek so you can refill your bottles in the mornings and at lunchtime.
Vaccinations and Visa:
Visas are not required by UK citizens, Western European nationals, Americans, Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders, South Africans and most other nationalities. If you are in any doubt please contact the nearest Peruvian Embassy.
There are no mandatory vaccination requirements. Recommended vaccinations are: Polio, Tetanus, Typhoid, Hepatitis A. If you are travelling to the rainforest (including Tambopata Reserve and Manu National Park), although the risk is not great, we advise you to take anti-malarial precautions and strongly recommend that you obtain a Yellow Fever vaccination. You should also be aware that Dengue Fever is present in the Amazon region – this is a non-preventable disease caused by daytime biting mosquitoes.
Occasionally, it may not be possible to follow the itinerary as planned. This may be for a variety of reasons – climatic, political, physical or other. In these circumstances we will make the best alternative arrangements possible that maintains the integrity of the original itinerary.
This Huayhuash circuit trek is one of the world’s classic high-altitude routes, involving a stunning circuit of 180km around a remote and truly spectacular mountain range.
Weather & seasonality:
Peru’s diverse geography results in a very varied climate. The coastal desert including Lima, is generally dry but cloudy through most of the year. The exception is January to March when the skies are clear and the temperatures rise.
Dates & Rates
Dates for 2015/16
Fri 26 Jun 2015 – Thu 16 Jul 2015
Fri 24 Jul 2015 – Thu 13 Aug 2015
Fri 4 Sep 2015 – Thu 24 Sep 2015
Fri 24 Jun 2016 – Thu 14 Jul 2016
Fri 22 Jul 2016 – Thu 11 Aug 2016
Fri 2 Sep 2016 – Thu 22 Sep 2016
Price from £1,729 (GBP) excluding flights. Flight inclusive options available.
- All breakfasts, 14 lunches, 14 dinners
- All accommodation (see below)
- All transport and listed activities
- Tour leader throughout
What’s not included?
- Travel insurance
- Single accommodation (available on request)
- Sleeping bag hire (available on request)
- Visas or vaccinations
“If you’re looking for a company with experience you can’t beat these guys. This operator started life in February 1974 when two friends got together to provide an overland truck to travel to the Minaret of Jam, deep in the heart of the Hindu Kush, the most inaccessible of the world’s great monuments.
For the company, and people who work for them “it’s all about adventure” which is what they were founded on and what they are still about today. Their trips take place all around the world where they help travelers to delve into local traditions, cultures, cuisine, lifestyles – anything that contributes to a country’ unique identity.
We love that their groups and guides travel courteously and respectfully, in smaller groups to minimise the impact, to ensure that every holiday is a beneficial experience for everyone involved.”
Trek the Huayhuash Circuit
- Trip Code: AWA149
- Dates: Various June – Sept
- Price: From £1,729
- Depart: Lima, Peru
- Arrive: Lima, Peru
- Length: 21 Days
“5 Stars! Great Trip with very impressive scenery, tough walking and an exceptionally good trek crew.”