Are you looking to trek in Peru? While most people are drawn to the region around Cuzco, some of the best trekking on earth is in Cordillera Blanca and Cordillera Huayhuash, in Northern Peru.

Imagine yourself trekking in the Huayhuash or Cordillera Blanca. The air feels thin but clear as you trek steadily upward. You stop to catch your breath but as you look around, your surroundings take your breath away all over again. Stretching out to the horizon, in all directions, are rugged, snow-capped mountains. Looking down, you see a lush river valley and a field full of grazing llamas. Ahead, over the next mountain pass, is a turquoise lake. You are looking forward to waking up on its shores in the morning for another day of trekking in the Peruvian Andes.

Does this sound like a dream? It doesn’t have to be! Scenes like this unfold every day when you go trekking in the Cordillera Blanca or the Cordillera Huayhuash ranges in the Peruvian Andes.

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Trekking the Santa Cruz Trek in the Cordillera Blanca
Trekking the Santa Cruz Trek in the Cordillera Blanca
Trekking on the Santa Cruz trek near Huarez in the Cordillera Blanca
Trekking on the Santa Cruz trek near Huarez in the Cordillera Blanca

Why Trek in Peru?

Peru offers visitors a rich cultural and historical heritage, unique flora and fauna, and some of the most spectacular high-altitude trekking in the world.

While many tourists to Peru focus on the trekking options around Cusco, we like to point out that some of the most spectacular treks on earth are in Northern Peru. Outdoor enthusiasts will find everything they are looking for and more in the unforgettable mountain paradise of the Cordillera Blanca and Cordillera Huayhuash ranges. With so many great reasons to go trekking in the Peruvian Andes, the better question is which trekking tour will you choose first?

Trekking the Huayhuash Circuit in Peru
Trekking the Huayhuash Circuit in Peru
Trekking in Cordillera Huayhuash
Trekking in Cordillera Huayhuash

Popular Treks in Cordillera Huayhuash

The Cordillera Huayhuash is spectacular, and is becoming increasingly popular. Trekking in the Huayhuash means you are in high-altitude, remote country. The most popular trek is variants of the Huayhuash Circuit, from the complete tour to a shortened 4-day tour.

Complete Huayhuash Circuit Trek

This 12-day Huayhuash Circuit trek takes you into the heart of the Cordillera Huayhuash mountain range and is widely considered one of the most spectacular trekking routes in the region. From breathtaking mountain passes, down into lush river valleys, across fields where llamas graze, and along the shores of clear mountain lakes, this trek lets you experience the very best that this region has to offer.
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Standard Huayhuash Circuit Trek

This version of the Huayhuash Circuit trek is a slightly shortened, -day version of the Classic Huayhuash circuit that still allows you to visit the wonders of the Cordillera Huayhuash. You will hike to overlook points and mountain passes that offer unforgettable views, and camp beside mountain lakes where you can see the stars reflected in the clear waters.
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Short Huayhuash Trek

If you don’t have time for the complete Huayhuash Circuit, this shortened Huayhuash tour is the perfect introductory trek in the Cordillera Huayhuash. Four days of trekking will hit the highlights of the longer Huayhuash circuits in a shorter trek. Get up close to the majestic peaks of the region and get a taste of all the region has to offer. “Ichik” is the Quechua word for “short” but it might be just enough to whet your appetite to return for a longer trek.
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Day hike from Huarez to Wilkacocha in Peru
Day hike from Huarez to Wilkacocha in Peru
Dayhike to Laguna Churup
Dayhike to Laguna Churup

Alpamayo Trek

The Alpamayo trek is an 11-day trekking tour in the Cordillera Blanca range takes you around the base of Alpamayo, which is consistently rated among the most beautiful mountains in the world. Explore the famous Huascaran National Park, trekking among snow-capped peaks and stunning mountain lakes. The highlight of this trek is the chance to cross a glacial moraine and climb up to the Alpamayo base camp. Experience the heart of the Andes in the Cordillera Blanca. If you can’t commit to the complete Alpamayo, you can shorten the Alpamayo tour by 3 nights by exiting at Pomabamba.
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Santa Cruz Ulta Trek

The Santa Cruz Ulta trek is a 7-day trekking experience named for two river valleys, the Santa Cruz and the Ulta, that you will have the opportunity to explore. This trekking tour gives ample opportunity to witness the unique nature and culture of the Andes as you trek through lush valleys and visit Quechua villages. Surround yourself with spectacular snow-capped peaks, climb to breathtaking overlooks, and immerse yourself in the cultural and natural environment that characterizes the Peruvian Andes.
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A dayhike to Wilkacocha near Huarez in Peru
A dayhike to Wilkacocha near Huarez in Peru
Camping in Cordillera Huayhuash
Camping in Cordillera Huayhuash

When to Trek in Cordillera Blanca and Huayhuash

The trekking season in the Cordillera Huayhuash and the Cordillera Blanca is between April and September. Like many other tropical areas, the Peruvian Andes region experiences a rainy season between October and March. Heavy rains can make trekking treacherous, and cloudy conditions prevent you from experiencing the spectacular views that make the region famous.

The region is in the tropical latitudes but temperatures are moderated by the high altitude. Because of its proximity to the equator, average temperatures remain the same year-round with high temperatures between 20-23 degrees Celsius (69-73 degrees Fahrenheit) and lows averaging between 3-8 degrees Celsius (37-46 degrees Fahrenheit). The higher you are in elevation, the colder the days and nights can get, and you’ll definitely need a warm down coat for mornings and evenings. Occasionally the temperature will dip below freezing at night.

Book your Peru trekking tour in the dry season, between April and September.

Getting to Cordillera Blanca and Huayhuash

Huarez is the gateway city for the Cordillera Huayhuash and Cordillera Blanca. You’ll need to get to Huarez, from where you can arrange a taxi or your trekking tour will depart from.

Since Huaraz does not have its own airport, travelers to Huaraz should fly to the international airport in the capital city of Lima. From Lima, there are several different bus options to get to Huaraz. The trip takes about 8 hours, so it is often worth spending a little more for a comfortable ride and opportunities to eat along the way. If you are booking a guided trekking tour based from Huaraz, be sure to get assistance from your trekking company to arrange your travel to and from Lima.

Great views at Laguna Churup near Huarez
Great views at Laguna Churup near Huarez
Camping on the Santa Cruz trek in Peru
Camping on the Santa Cruz trek in Peru

About Huarez

Huaraz is the capital of the Ancash region of Peru and the gateway to some of the most spectacular trekking opportunities in Peru. The city itself has some good day hikes nearby, but it is mostly a stop-over from Lima to the great trekking nearby. Nearby Huascaran National Park and the magnificent Cordillera Blanca and Cordillera Huayhuash mountain ranges have turned this small Peruvian city into a destination for trekkers and other outdoor enthusiasts. With a population of about 120,000 people, it ranks as the 22nd largest city in Peru. In other words, it is a small city that offers huge opportunities.

At an elevation of over 3,000 m (about 10,000 ft), Huaraz makes a perfect base for altitude acclimatization and preparation for trekking adventures in the Peruvian Andes. The name ‘Huaraz’ comes from the Quechua word for “dawn,” which is a fitting name for this place that has been the start for so many beautiful days and grand adventures.

Stunning Trekking on the Huayhuash Circuit
Stunning Trekking on the Huayhuash Circuit
Horses carrying Loads trekking in Cordillera Blanca
Horses carrying Loads trekking in Cordillera Blanca

Acclimatization for Trekking in Peru

Altitude sickness should not be taken lightly and can ruin a long-anticipated trekking adventure very quickly. Plan to spend several days in Huaraz before attempting a longer trekking tour to even higher elevations. Help your body adjust by booking a series of guided day treks, based from Huaraz, that are perfectly adapted to be acclimatization treks.

To help your body adjust to the elevation, be sure to eat well and drink a lot of water. Your body needs more calories at higher altitudes and can become dehydrated more quickly. Avoid alcohol, tobacco products, and sleeping medications since these can make symptoms of altitude sickness worse. Talk to your doctor before your trip, as prescription medications are available that can help alleviate symptoms of altitude sickness. Most people will adjust nicely and be able to enjoy their trek in the Peruvian Andes if they allow sufficient time for acclimatization and adjust their pace as needed.

Grab your backpack and your hiking boots and book a guided trekking tour in the Peruvian Andes today. Whichever tour you choose, you’re in for the experience of a lifetime! Check out the Peru Tours on 10Adventures.com