The Huayhuash trek had been on my bucket list for quite some time. In fact, once I completed the Santa Cruz trek in 2019, I had a great desire to return to Huaraz, in northern Peru, to learn about the Cordillera Huayhuash.
This cordillera is a true paradise for nature lovers. Although it is only thirty kilometers long, the Cordillera Huayhuash boasts as many as six peaks that exceed 6,000 meters (20,000 feet): this is complemented by a remarkable variety of flora and fauna.
The Huayhuash trek is doable on a solo basis. I, however, preferred to go on this trek with the
tour operator Eco Ice
, which I had already used for the Santa Cruz Trek.
The first day of the Huayhuash trek starts very early. Eco Ice’s van, in fact, picked me up at my hostel in Huaraz at four in the morning. After about two hours on the road, we stopped in Chiquian to have breakfast. Afterwards, we took the van back to Cuartelhuain, the starting point of the Huayhuash trek.
Our group, consisting of six people plus guide, cook and the muleteer, started walking at 10:30 am. We did not have to wait long to find the first climb of the day: in fact, the goal of the day was to reach the 4,700-meter Cacananpunta Pass.
From the summit an easy descent led us into a beautiful valley with green meadows. There is a cross dedicated to a Polish explorer who died here in 1998 while searching for the source of the Maranon. We easily arrived at Mitucocha camp (elevation 4,260 meters) around 3 p.m. An additional three-kilometer hike (round trip) took us to the very beautiful Mitucocha Lagoon.
The second day gave us the first detour of the Huayhuash trek. In fact, to reach Carhuacocha camp we took the so-called ‘ruta alpina,’ passing through the Punta Carhuac pass, at an elevation of 4,700 meters. The climb is not very strenuous, and the rewards are spectacular: in fact, from the summit there is a perfect view of Yerupaja and Siula Grande. In addition, it is possible to admire the Mitucocha Lagoon from above.
Continuing to walk without losing altitude, one encounters the Alcaycocha Lagoon, preamble to a second detour that leads to a wonderful view of three glacial lakes-Siula, Quesilococha and Cangracocha.
The only downside to this detour is the descent to the lake and the eponymous Camp Carhuacocha: it is very steep and trekking poles are very useful.
Camp Carhuacocha is truly spectacular: its location next to the lake of the same name is wonderful! We reached Carhuacocha after 11 kilometers and 600 meters of elevation gain.
The third day of the Huayhuash trek began immediately with a bang. In fact, after not even five minutes we stopped to admire the peaks of the Huayhuash cordillera reflected in Carhuacocha Lake-a wonderful sight!
The day was devoted to taking a closer look at the three lakes seen yesterday. In particular, the first view of Lake Siula is truly impressive: the ten-minute detour is absolutely not to be missed!
Next, a climb begins, steep in places, leading to the most famous viewpoint of the Cordillera Huayhuash. From this mirador, in fact, it is possible to admire the three glacial lakes all together-I admit that I was speechless before such beauty!
Also on the third day we reached a pass: the Siula, at an elevation of 4,800 meters. From the Siula Pass we made a detour, about an hour long, that allowed us to reach an additional viewpoint, from where the Cordillera Raura can also be seen. A long descent finally brought us to Huayhuash camp. There is also a lady selling beers here: a ‘Cusquena’ was appreciated after the
16 kilometers and 900 meters of elevation gain
On the fourth day we took a detour that allowed us to take a closer look at Nevado Trapecio. In fact, the classic ten-day Huayhuash tour passes through Viconga and its hot springs. The detour we took allowed us to shorten the tour by at least a day and, more importantly, to take in spectacular viewpoints.
The day’s goal was to reach Punta Trapecio, at an elevation of 5,000 meters. The climb was only steep in places: the pass is definitely worth it! Once we reached the pass, we made an additional detour (about half an hour) that allowed us to take a closer look at the stunning glaciers of the Cordillera. The descent from Trapecio Pass allowed us to appreciate up close some spectacular lagoons with ethereal colors.
The finish of the fourth stage, after 13 kilometers and 800 meters of elevation gain
, was at Huanacpatay Camp, also called Cuyoc or Elephant camp because the rock formations resemble the shape of an elephant.
The fifth day began with the usual detour. In fact, the first goal of the day was to reach Paso Santa Lucia, or Jurau, at an elevation of 5,050 meters. This climb is quite steep, especially in its last section. The views, however, were once again magnificent: from the summit it is indeed possible to appreciate Yerupaja and Serapo in all their beauty.
The descent of Paso Santa Lucia is also spectacular: in fact, the Juraucocha Lagoon shone in all its beauty before us.
Once down from the pass we walked along the Huanacpatay valley (a waterfall stands out for its beauty) before reaching the small town of Huayllapa. Here we had the opportunity to sleep in a hostal, and in addition we found a hot shower and wifi: all for five dollars. At Huayllapa we also encountered the second well-deserved beer of the trek.
From Huayllapa we climbed the Tapush Pass. The elevation was quite worrisome: from 3,500 meters at Huayllapa we had to reach 4,700 meters at Tapush Pass. The 1,200 meters of elevation gain, however, was not complicated at all: the climb is never excessively steep.
The landscape on the sixth day is not among the most beautiful on the Huayhuash trek. Highlights of the day are the views of Diablo Mudo and Lake Susucocha. Camp Gaspa Pampa, at an elevation of 4,550 meters, was the coldest of the eight days-I admit to suffering through the night!
The sixth day was 12 kilometers long with 1,200 meters of elevation gain.
, the height of the Huayhuash trek.
On the seventh day we returned to the great beauty of the Huayhuash trek. The ascent to Paso Yaucha (easy, up to an elevation of 4,850 meters) allowed us to see Yerupaja and other peaks of the Huayhuash cordillera again.
Once we reached the pass we left the wide path used by the mules. The detour, which was flat and about 20 minutes long, took us to the beautiful viewpoint overlooking Lake Jahauacocha.
The descent that took us from the pass to the lake and the camp of the same name was truly wonderful!
The seventh stage, ten kilometers and 500 meters of elevation gain, was one of the shortest:
we had lunch by the lake.
To complete the Huayhuash trek we asked the guide to pass through Rondoy. In this way, in fact, we had the chance to get up close and personal with another gem of the Cordillera Huayhuash: the beautiful peak of Nevado Rondoy.
The last climb of the Huayhuash trek took us up to Sambuya Peak, at an elevation of 4,700 meters and reached after about two and a half hours of walking from Camp Jahauchocha.
The views from Punta Sambuya are impressive: in addition to Nevado Rondoy we were able to see Jerupaya and the beautiful Solteracocha Lake.
after eleven kilometers and 700 meters of elevation gain
, we finished the trek, in the locality of Rondoy. At 3:30 p.m. we arrived in Huaraz: the Huayhuash trek was successfully completed!