Rock Forest of Hatun Machay

Difficulty
This reflects the 10Adventures difficulty rating for each route. We aim to keep ratings consistent across regions.
Easy
Duration
This reflects the estimated time the majority of users will take on this trail. If you are slower, add time to the top-end figure. If you are fast, then you may complete this route faster than this time range.
2-2.5h
Distance
This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
7.0 km
Elevation
This reflects the total elevation gained throughout this route as measured by the GPS file. This includes all ascents and descents, and is higher than what is quoted in most route guides, which simply measure the distance between the starting-point and high-point of the route.
260 m
User Ratings
These ratings are completed by users who have completed this trail and not subject to reviews by 10Adventures.
Overall Rating
This is the average user-submitted overall rating on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest.
10.0
Physical Difficulty
This is the average user-submitted rating on the physical difficulty of this route. In general, green is beginner, blue is intermediate, black is advanced/most difficult and double-black is expert-only. It is recommended that users build up to black and double-black routes.
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Technical Difficulty
This is the average user-submitted rating on the technical difficulty of this route. In general, green is beginner, blue is intermediate, black is advanced/most difficult and double-black is expert-only. It is recommended that users build up to black and double-black routes.
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
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Directions to Trailhead
Rock forest of Hatun Machay

Hike through a collection of whimsical stone figures that have been morphed by time, wind, and glaciers. The route carries you to cave paintings, harking back to pre-Inca times as well as to a breathtaking view of the towering mountain range: Cordillera Huayhuash. You may also encounter a few locals performing some rituals near the caves.

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Route Description for Rock Forest of Hatun Machay

The jetting rock forest spanning Hatun Machay makes it a notable hotspot for visitors and takes just over 2 hours to reach from Huaraz by vehicle. The long car ride may hinder interested hikers in making the journey, but it’s definitely well worth the drive. Note that Hatun Machay is administered by the Rural Community of Pampas Chico, and they charge a fee to visit

Within moments of arriving at the start point, the rock formations will immediately transport you to prehistoric times. The hike takes you through caves covered in paintings from 10,000 BC, a variety of lofty rock and boulder formations, and once you reach the east side, a view of Cordillera Huayhuash will emerge. This hike introduces you to another aspect of nature, one that resulted from volcanic eruptions around 6 million years ago.

The hike begins at 4,260 m, and it’s recommended to go clockwise and descent to 4,000 m rather than hike upwards. Do note that the path has some signage, but do your best to try to avoid returning the same way you came. Take the other path back to ensure that you see all of the rock formations and animal-shaped figurines. You also don’t want to miss out on visiting the massive cave, which has paintings carved along the wall, and you may spot some locals performing rituals here, too.

Once you return, after around 5 hours of walking, board your vehicle and head back to Huaraz.

Insider Hints for Rock Forest of Hatun Machay

  • Although this is a short walk, it’s also very interesting. It’s 5 hours if you want to stop and examine each figure, though you could do it in 3 hours if you are quicker.
  • It’s best to bring water from the city since the water may not be super clean here.
  • The dogs accompanying guardians may be aggressive, so watch out for them and opt to carry a stick—use this as a defence mechanism—if you want to.
  • Bring your own food and snacks along since there is nothing available to buy here.
  • You can climb some of the rocks without gear, but be super careful—most people come here and climb with a guide.

Getting to the Rock Forest of Hatun Machay Trailhead

Travel to Hatun Machay by vehicle.

Route Information

  • When to do

    April - October

  • Backcountry Campsites

    No, but there is a refuge

  • Family friendly

    Yes

  • Route Signage

    Poor

  • Crowd Levels

    Low

  • Route Type

    Circuit

Rock Forest of Hatun Machay Elevation Graph

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Rock Forest of Hatun Machay Reviews

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