HUAYHUASH TREK IN 8 DAYS

by MorganeChrlr
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ONE OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL HIKES IN PERU

Are you looking to do one of the most beautiful hike in Peru? This article is for you ! Discover the Huayhuash trek in 8 days. Although the Ausangate trek is also a beautiful hike in Peru, I found this one to be just as magnificent! Incredible views of the Cordillera Huayhuash. Just for its snow-capped peaks and its different colored lakes, it’s definitely worth it! Pretty sure you’ll have good memories after this one!

To do the Huayhuash trek, it’s possible to do it with or without an agency. As this hike in Peru is known to be difficult, if you aren’t used to treks several days and in high altitude, I advise you to go with an agency, or at least with an experienced person. Personally, having suffered from altitude sickness in Peru and Bolivia, I preferred to go with an agency. So I did it in collaboration with Huayhuash Adventures.

WHAT EQUIPMENT TO TAKE FOR THE HUAYHUASH TREK?

If you go with Huayhuash Adventures you can have an extra bag that the mules will carry throughout the trek.

Here’s a suggested equipment list for the Huayhuash trek:

  • Underwear for 8 days
  • Hiking pants
  • Warm leggings to wear under hiking pants
  • T-shirts for 8 days (if you have merino wool t-shirts, you don’t have to take 8 t-shirts)
  • A t-shirt for the evening and night
  • A warm sweater for fresh evenings and mornings
  • A fleece sweater, because it gets really cold at night
  • A warm jacket for the beginning and end of the day
  • A waterproof jacket for rain and wind
  • A pair of hiking shoes
  • A pair of shoes for the evening and night
  • A backpack to put your daily things inside. The mornings are cool, but it warms up quickly in the sun. So plan for a bag that is big enough to put your different layers.
  • A small bag that you can leave for the mules.
  • Solar cream
  • Cap
  • Sunglasses
  • A pair of gloves
  • A hat
  • A choker
  • Hiking poles
  • A sleeping bag for cold temperatures (the agency can rent you one). Besides, if you have all the camping equipment, you can negotiate the price with them.
  • Your toiletries
  • Cleaning wipes
  • A filter bottle
  • Your emergency first aid kit / medication
  • A roll of toilet paper (or even two depending on you)
  • Cash
  • Your passport
  • Cables to charge your devices
  • A portable battery

With all this material, you’ve the basic equipment you need to do the Huayhuash trek in 8 days. Obviously to be adjusted according to your needs and desires. But don’t overload your bags with unnecessary things, the extra bag is limited to a reasonable weight.

DETAILED PROGRAM OF THE HUAYHUASH TREK IN 8 DAYS

DAY 1: 8 km - 495 m elevation gain - 400 m ascending elevation

From Huaraz to Camping Janca via the Cacananpunta summit

Let’s go for 8 days of trekking! The car picks me up around 4am in front of my accommodation in Huaraz. I meet the other people of the group in the mini-van. We are a group of 5 people in total. We all continue the nap until the first stop in the village of Chiquián. This is where we get to know each other better while having breakfast (not included in the tour, around 15 PEN*). This is also where you can make your final purchases if you didn’t have time to do everything the day before.

We leave by car on small mountain roads to arrive at the start around 10 a.m. Here the guide gives us our ticket to always have during the trek, because they check this ticket on the last day. After packing our bags and taking the things we want with us, we set off for the first day of the Huayhuash trek. Departure is from the old Matacancha campsite located at an altitude of 4,230 m, which no one uses today due to traffic. The start begins with the biggest difference in altitude of the day for around 1h30 before reaching the Cacananpunta summit at 4,700 m. We have very beautiful views of the valley during this hike which prepares us for the Huayhuash trek. The view at the top is magnificent! A green valley with an orange, brown lagoon, it’s super beautiful! I had never seen a lagoon with such color before! We enjoy the view while eating our lunch prepared by our guide.

Then, we descend slowly to our first camp. The start of the descent is quite steep, but the rest is almost flat. Something that surprised me during the Huayhuash trek was that unlike the Salkantay trek or Ausangate, there were few alpacas in the wild, but mostly cows. We came across a few during our hike. At one point, we finally see the first snow-capped peaks of the Cordillera Huyahuash! That’s wonderful! It’s so impressive to see these snow-capped peaks mixed with glaciers that hold onto the mountain rocks. We arrive at the Janca campsite located in front of this immense mountain! One of my favorite views of the day! The campsite is super cute, with a small river running through the middle, the extraordinary view of the mountain, especially during the sunset! We arrive there around 3 p.m., the campsite is already set up by the person who manages the mules. The guide offers us a snack while we rest from this first day. Some of the group go for a small walk to a lake nearby. But when they came back, they seemed to say that it wasn’t necessarily worth it. Honestly, the view from the campsite is so incredible that I personally stayed there just looking at the view. So excited to see the rest of this Huayhuash trek! After a good dinner prepared by the guide, we go to bed for our first fresh night at 4,320 m altitude. If you would like to view the day’s hike, click here.

DAY 2: 13 km - 600 m of elevation gain and ascending elevation

From Janca campsite to Carhuacocha campsite via Carhuac summit

Wake up early at 6 a.m. to put organize all our things and then have breakfast. We do it this way every morning so that the guides can pack everything together and the mules leave a little after us. We leave around 7:15 a.m., with fairly fresh temperatures. The view of the mountains is super beautiful! We start with a climb for 2.5 hours to the viewpoint at 4,900 m at the Carhuac summit. The climb isn’t going very well for me because I have altitude sickness. Fortunately, this time it was not a headache like in Bolivia, but rather a feeling of vomiting. The guide gave very good advice so that I could finish this hike which seemed endless to me. Once up there, the effort is rewarded by the magnificent view we have of the Cordillera Huayhuash, Yerupajá and Jirishanca mountains. After a few minutes, we continue our way to eat our snack at the edge of Laguna Alcaycocha. Some brave people bathe in it. The water is really cold haha.

We continue our way until the guide asks us if we prefer to go straight down to the campsite or go to another viewpoint that extends the path. We all decide to go to the viewpoint. And no regrets, because it’s one of the beautiful views of the Huayhuash trek. A panoramic view of the Cordillera Huayhuash with several lagoons of different colors at the edge of the mountains, and glaciers. That’s wonderful! I don’t have the words to describe the beauty of this place. This hike in Peru promises to be legendary! The guide checks whether we go straight down from here or take a detour. After a few minutes of discussion, we decide to turn around to go down a less slippery path. We pass quietly next to the cows all the way before arriving at another view which gives a beautiful view of the mountains and the Laguna Carhuacocha. We continue our way to the campsite located next to this lagoon, the Carhuacocha campsite.

We eat at around 2:15 p.m. under the sun. It wasn’t a big day, but enough for us to feel it in our body and our energy. The afternoon is quite free. At the end of the day, we go a little further to the edge of the lake to face the mountains, and have the mirror reflection of the lake with the mountains! The colors on the peaks are really beautiful. We still have a beautiful sunset. After a hot dinner, we sleep at an altitude of 4,180 m. To view the second day’s hike, click here.

DAY 3: 15 km - 780 m elevation gain - 450 m ascending elevation

From Carhuacocha campsite to Huayhuash campsite via Mirador Tres Lagunas

Like the second day, the guides wake us up around 6 a.m. so that we can organize our things and have breakfast. We leave as quickly as possible to avoid all the groups around 7 a.m. Unfortunately some groups had also left before us so we are surrounded by many people during the day. We are following the Laguna Carhuacocha which offers us a very beautiful mirror effect this morning. We continue the path that goes in the valley surrounded by peaks around us. I really felt small at that moment while walking along the Cordillera Huayhuash. Along the way we hear and see many parts of glacier falls from the snow-capped peaks and their glaciers. It’s very impressive to see and hear! It remains as impressive as the falling pieces of the Perito Moreno glacier. After an hour and 45 minutes of walking, we leave our bags to go see a viewpoint which is a 5-minute walk. We discover a super beautiful view of the green lake Gangrajanca! We can see the peaks right in front of us with their glaciers and waterfalls. The color of the water really impressed me, I had never seen that before, not even on the Ausangate trek.

Then the hardest part of the day awaits us. We continue walking on a path that has an important elevation gain. The path is narrow and there are lots of people. The view makes me forget the effort. This is one of my top 3 favorite views of the Huayhuash trek, Mirador de los tres lagunas. The view of the three lagoons of different colors following one another, at the foot of the Cordillera Huayhuash, is truly incredible! The photos clearly show the beauty of the place! I thought we had done the big hike of the day, but surprise… We aren’t yet at the summit that we have to cross! There’s still some climbing to reach the Siula summit, located at around 4,800 m above sea level. The view of the cordillera’s also very beautiful up there. But the whole climb was still quite physical, especially the last meters before the summit. We take a lunch break at this place before leaving quietly.

After about forty minutes, we descend slowly towards the next campsite for 2 hours. We pass next to a colorful summit which reminds me of the mountain of 7 colors. During the descent, look behind you and to your right, there are great views of the mountains and their snow-capped peaks. The hike on this third day isn’t easy, but all along it has magnificent views! This is one of the most beautiful days of the Huayhuash trek.

We arrive in front of someone that sell some drinks, a bit in the middle of nowhere, but useful if you want to grab something, then we arrive at the Huayhuash campsite. The view from this campsite’s less impressive than the previous days, but it’s a large plain surrounded by a small river where some people swim. We rest a little after this beautiful day. A few hours later, we share dinner in the tent dedicated for this purpose, and go to bed for a night that’s much cooler than the others because the campsite’s located at an altitude of 4,350 m. If you would like to view today’s hike, click here.

DAY 4: 12.5 km - 850 m elevation gain - 500 m ascending elevation

From the Huayhuash campsite to the Elefante campsite via the Trapecio pass

As usual, wake up at 6 a.m. We are starting to feel tired, especially because the night was very cold. But here we go for the fourth day of the Huayhuash trek, motivated because the guide told us that it would also be a beautiful day. We leave at around 7 a.m. on a fairly simple section. Until the serious things begin, a huge elevation gain. The legs are heavier, this climb seems endless. Especially since he takes us through a difficult path to get a better view. The path’s slippery, without poles, this adds difficulty to the climb in high altitude. We hike next to the Trapecio summit which is quite impressive to see it so close. The effort is more intense than the other days because we reach the highest peak of the entire trek, 5,130 m above sea level. Around 10:30 a.m., we finally arrive at the Trapecio pass, the view is one of my top 3 of the Huayhuash trek! As we go up, we don’t necessarily see the view of the mountains, but suddenly, a completely clear view of the snow-capped peaks and glaciers opens up to us. This is the first time I’ve been able to see crevasses in glaciers outside of Patagonia so clearly. It’s really beautiful ! A breathtaking view ! This is where I realize that it’s one of the most beautiful hikes in Peru. I think this is the only time we have had the summits so close to us. We didn’t stay very long because of the wind, but I really could have stayed there for hours admiring the mountains and glaciers. We could even see crevasses in the glacier near the viewpoint.

We go back down for 3 hours to our next camp, with an improvised lunch break by our guide who had planned something just in case. Going down we have views of several lakes of different colors close to each other, surrounded by cliffs. A completely different landscape compared to what we had earlier in the morning. The camp’s also close to a pretty little river. We stay for the rest of the afternoon at the Elefante campsite, located at around 4,300 m above sea level. If you still have energy, it’s possible to go to the San Antonio viewpoint. The view is very beautiful, but it’s similar to what you’ll have the next day so don’t worry, if you don’t have the strength, you won’t miss much. We go for a fresh night after a good dinner prepared by our guide. Click here to view the 4th day hike.

DAY 5: 20 km - 620 m elevation gain - 1,500 m ascending elevation

From the Elefante campsite to the Huayllapa village via the Santa Rosa pass

As usual, we wake up at around 6 a.m. to prepare our things before going to breakfast at 6:30 a.m. We leave at 7 a.m. to a beautiful viewpoint. The elevation gain is less difficult than the other days, but I wonder if we’re starting to get used to it or if it’s less complicated haha. We arrive at the Santa Rosa summit around 9 a.m. which offers us an incredible view of the Cordillera Huayhuash and the lakes. It’s a very beautiful view from up there! The clear blue of these lakes really reminds me of what I saw in the Canadian Rockies. After several minutes observing this magnificent landscape, we descend to the other side of the summit. This part of the Huayhuash trek is extremely slippery with many stones, be very careful. Honestly, I’m glad someone lent me a stick, because otherwise I would have fallen many times. The group waits a little further down, at another super beautiful viewpoint where we can see a green lake flowing into another blue lake. The landscape of this hike in Peru is truly incredible! Every view is dazzling. We continue to descend into the valley, moving away a little from the Cordillera Huayhuash. We eat near the river with a view of the snow-capped mountains in the distance. It’s so peaceful!

We continue our way along the river, and go down again and again. The views are different. Lots of flowers, very green, waterfalls, cows. During the hike, turn around sometimes to admire the mountains and the river. Once we arrive at the Huayllapa village, located at an altitude of 3,500 m, there’s a small unexpected event. A football match is taking place on the field where we were supposed to sleep, so we have two options. Either we put the tents much further from the village, or we sleep in the village in a hostel but we have to pay extra. Our guide negotiates with the host to get a good price with hot shower included. Unanimously, we took the option of the bed with a hot shower for PEN 15*, and especially in the village where we needed to do some shopping for the rest of the Huayhuash trek. A little comfort that we allowed ourselves. If you want to view the route of the hike, click here.

DAY 6: 13 km - 1,300 m elevation gain - 200 m ascending elevation

From Huayllapa village to Gashpapampa campsite

Today we leave a little later, around 7:45 a.m. We feel rested after this night in the comfortable beds and above all warm. So we leave full of energy for this day, at least that’s what I thought… For my part, this sixth day was mentally hard because it’s a 1,300 m positive altitude difference that we do in several hours, I find the landscapes less interesting than the other days. The climb seemed endless to me. In short, it wasn’t necessarily my day… That’s when I realized that the mind had a lot to do with the difficulty of a trek. We return again close to the Cordillera Huayhuash and gradually see the snow-capped peaks with glaciers clinging to these rocky peaks. We eat at the beautiful viewpoint of the day located at 4,800 m altitude. Then we go back down to the Gashpapampa campsite. The descent is quite quick, around 45 minutes. This allows us to have a large part of the afternoon to relax. We hear other hikers say that the sunset is likely to be very nice, close to the campsite. We go there to admire the beautiful colors of the sunset over the mountains, and especially in the sky. The sunset comforted me in the difficulty of this day. A great way to end the day before going to dinner and to bed for a fresh night. Click here to view the route of the sixth day of the Huayhuash trek.

DAY 7: 10 km - 550 m elevation gain - 800 m ascending elevation

From the Gashpapampa campsite to the Jahuacocha campsite via the Yaucha pass

For this day, the guide suggests that we leave earlier to avoid having people with us when we arrive at the viewpoint. We all agree to this proposal and we manage to leave around 6:30 a.m. The climb is much less difficult, the only thing is that we are in the shadows all the time so it’s colder than the other days. We arrive at the Yaucha pass which has a very beautiful view of the mountains. But the guide takes us a little further to the left, and after about fifteen minutes, wow! One of the most beautiful viewpoints of the Huayhuash trek. It’s definitely in my top 3! We’re facing several snow-capped peaks of the Cordillera Huayhuash! It’s just impressive to see these immense mountains in front of us. I really don’t have the words. In addition, we arrived in time to have good weather, because the clouds are arriving slowly to hide the peaks. The view’s breathtaking! After a good time enjoying this view, we continue our way on a ridge. Being afraid of heights, sometimes it was a little hard, but it was in very short times. We arrive at another viewpoint, Puka Puka, which overlooks the blue Laguna Jahuacocha and the turquoise Laguna Solteracocha with huge waterfalls, and we can see the campsite from above. The view’s also super beautiful from this place! We begin the descent for 1h30/2h to the Jahuacocha campsite. The descent’s quite steep, at which point I regretted not having taken a hiking pole with me. But the views are extraordinary from the trail!

We arrive in time for lunch. There are people selling alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks if you want. It’s also at this campsite that they check if we still have our ticket from the first day. In the afternoon, part of the group goes trout fishing, but without much success. We then leave to see Laguna Solteracocha more closely. It takes us about 1 hour to walk to reach a viewpoint overlooking the lagoon. Another very beautiful viewpoint to end this hike in Peru. We’re close to these snow-capped mountains and we can see these huge waterfalls! Sometimes there are pieces of the glacier that fall in front of our eyes. It’s a truly impressive natural show! We return slowly to the campsite for dinner. Click here to consult the map of the day.

DAY 8: 15 km - 250 m elevation gain - 800 m ascending elevation

From the Jahuacocha campsite to the Llamac village for a return to Huaraz

Wake up at 5:30 a.m. for a departure at 6:30 a.m. for this last day of the Huayhuash trek. A rather simple and short day compared to the others. The path is quite wide, at the edge of a cliff for most of the time, and remains flat, except for the last part. We go further from the Cordillera Huayhuash until we can no longer see it. We say one last goodbye before continuing on our way, with magnificent landscapes in our memories. After 4 hours of walking, we arrive at the village of Llamac. We have a good meal at the mother of the agency owner before leaving for Huaraz around 4/5 p.m. The driver drops us off near our respective accommodations, which ends our beautiful trip. Click here to see the trajectory of this last day.

CONCLUSION OF THE 8-DAY HUAYHUASH TREK WITH AN AGENCY

The Huayhuash trek has the reputation of being one of the most beautiful hikes in Peru, and I confirm! A magnificent trek that offers incredible views every day! The Cordillera Huayhuash is breathtaking! Even the sunrises and sunsets at several campsites are beautiful! Words are insufficient to explain how extraordinary the trek is. It’s a trek which remains difficult because of the different elevation gain that we hike every day, but also with the high altitude, just like the Ausangate trek. Don’t forget to plan for acclimatization days in Huaraz before embarking on this trek. The equipment you take is also very important to be comfortable on the trek each day.

The Huayhuash Adventures agency  was very good! Our guide Jesus spoke good English and Spanish, a good cook as well. He really took care of us and gave great advice when one of us wasn’t feeling well. He paced the route according to the group and adapted well. He has good knowledge of the area and we talked a lot about various topics. The equipment provided by the agency’s also of good quality. And honestly the price difference between doing it independently vs with an agency isn’t very big. For the comfort that this brings, as well as not having to set up camp, cook food, and above all carry the full weight of our bags, not to mention the expertise of the guide. I found it really worth it.

Price of the excursion with guide, mules, equipment, food, snacks: PEN 1,300*
Entrance fees for the Huayhuash trek: PEN 280*

WHERE TO SLEEP IN HUARAZ?

HOSTEL CLIMBING POINT
Progreso 307A
Nicrupampa, Huaraz, Peru
Price: PEN 15* / night / person in a 6-bed mixed dormitory and breakfast included.
Click here to book a night. 

A hostel with good value for money. A little far from the center, but a good atmosphere. The kitchen has a good size for the number of customers, as well as the number of bathrooms. Many experienced hikers come and go to this place which gives a different atmosphere than backpacker hostels.

THE PRACTICAL MAP OF THE HUAYHUASH TREK

Unfortunately, I can’t display our route on Google Maps because the points aren’t precise enough. But to have details of the trails covered, I invite you to download the trails of each day that are available in this article.

HOW MANY DAYS DOES IT TAKE TO DO THE HUAYHUASH TREK?

To do the Huayhuash trek, I recommend the 8-day trek, especially if you aren’t used to hiking. The pace is good because you can rest during the afternoon. The 10-day one is also good because it allows you to have 2 relaxed days during the hike. But the route remains almost the same, the only difference is access to hot water springs. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend taking excursions shorter than 8 days, because they don’t go all the way around the Cordillera Huayhuash.

WHEN TO DO THE HUAYHUASH TREK?

The best time to trek in the Cordillera Huayhuash is almost all year in reality. Temperatures are constant and rainy days are very few each month. If you want to put all your chances on your side and have as little rain as possible, then the best time for this will be from May to August.

Table Example
JANUARY A few days of rain which can make the trail wet and therefore a little more difficult. In sunny weather, temperatures are pleasant during the day.
FEBRUARY Like January, precipitation can be expected. On the other hand, the temperatures are a little cooler.
MARCH Rainy days decrease and temperatures rise a few degrees.
APRIL Very few rainy days and temperatures continue to rise.
MAY The dry season begins and rainy days are very rare. Temperatures in the morning are a little warmer.
JUNE Almost no rainy days. Sunny days are pleasant but the mornings and evenings are very cool.
JULY Just like June, almost no rainy days and the temperatures are the same.
AUGUST Almost no rain for the month of August, and temperatures can be even cooler.
SEPTEMBER A few more rainy days but overall it remains just a little bit. Temperatures are rising again.
OCTOBER Just like September, a few days of rain, and pleasant temperatures.
NOVEMBER Similar to October with cooler temperatures.
DECEMBER More rainy days with temperatures identical to November.

WHAT BUDGET TO EXPECT TO DO THE HUAYHUASH TREK?

The budget detailed below corresponds to a backpackers budget when doing the trek with an agency.

  • Accommodation: Plan one night before and one night after. I would even advise you to take an extra night after the hike to rest, but it depends on your pace. A night in a cheap hostel in Huaraz is around PEN 20*.
  • Food: The first breakfast is at your own expense, as well as the last dinner when you return to Huaraz. The rest is all included. Allow around PEN 50*, a little more if you go to a restaurant when you return from the hike.
  • Transport: They will pick you up and drop you off at your accommodation. No need to plan for this expense.
  • Activities: The all-inclusive excursion as indicated in the article costs PEN 1,300*. Take PEN 280* extra to pay for entry into the communities to do the Huayhuash trek.
  • Others: During the Huayhuash trek, it’s possible to buy drinks in certain places, and in the middle to be able to stock up on what you’re missing (toilet paper, food, others). Allow PEN 50* for other expenses.

To do the Huayhuash trek, plan a budget of around PEN 1,750*.

MY TRAVEL TIPS TO DO THE HUAYHUASH TREK

  • If you’re traveling alone and aren’t used to hiking or going to high altitude, I really advise you to go with an agency. The hike’s difficult and it’s safest to go with people who are experienced.
  • Take hiking poles. They rent them in some stores. As I mentioned in the article, some paths are very slippery.
  • Contact the agency a few days before to organize yourself. There aren’t departures every day.

*Prices are updated from July 2023.

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