Chances are if your in Peru and enjoy the outdoors you will pay a visit to the busy town of Huaraz. This town, set at the base of countless mountain peaks, is the gateway to many overnight treks, day hikes and every adventure activity you can imagine; from ice climbing to mountain bike riding. It’s easy to get stuck in this town, and in my two and a bit weeks here, I still only scratched the surface.
For more logistical information about where to stay, where to eat, what to do and how to get here, you can read my post here, however this post is all about the magic that is the HuayHuash 8 day trek.
The HuayHuash mountain range is around a 5 hour bus trip from Huraz, with the last 2 hours of the journey taking place along a bumpy, dirt road that should only cater to 4WD’s, not the 15 seater mini van we were loaded into. It’s one of the most famous treks in Hauraz, and finding an agency to take you is not an issue. Personally I went with “Enjoy HuayHuash” where the offered price was 500 sole. 500 sole or less is a good price where gear, a guide, food and transport are all included. There is little information online from these local agencies, so your best to just walk down the main street and get some quotes.
The walk can also be done solo, with you carrying your own gear and getting a collectivo to and from the mountain range. However due to the low price of an organised tour and the high altitude, we decided to go with a tour. Having done the trek, I can now highly recommend doing it alone, as we met many people doing so and the path is clearly marked, not by signs, but rather by donkey footprints. The altitude also isn’t an issue, as long as you’ve acclimatised in Hauraz prior.
The 8 days consisted of 9 mountain passes with the highest being 5100m. Most nights we slept at 4400m and every day involved a long ascent followed by equal, if not more, downhill descending. A good fitness level is necessary for an enjoyable and safe trek for sure!
If you go with a tour group you will have all meals catered, snacks provided and all your gear carried. The only thing you need to do is walk. It really is lazy mans hiking and glamping in every sense of the word. There are no toilet or shower facilities, so defiantly bring some wet wipes and be prepared for a few bush poo’s, the best kind!
Since this was one of the most picturesque hikes I’ve ever done (with the exception of Everest Base Camp), photos seem the best way to show you what the 8 days were like.
Day 1 of your trip will most likely only involve driving to your first camp site. Uneventful.
Day 2: will see you walk uphill for the first 3-4 hours and then descend for the rest of the day through sweeping valleys. You will camp at a lagoon that is towered over by massive glaciers. A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. Go for a freezing dip in the lake if your game, although with near freezing air temps, it was a decision that we lived to regret, although we did feel very refreshed!
Day 3: from here you will have two options. We took the “two lakes route” which took us past amazing glacier lakes. the first of the two lakes is off the trail and involves a steep but quick scramble up loose rocks to get a viewing of the most amazing blue lake you’ve ever seen. After this there is a steep and relatively long mountain pass, before a downhill decent to camp 3.
Day 4: After some overnight snow we set off for day 4 and this day was quite challenging. Although only a 5 hour walk for us (we walk quite fast) the weather was miserable. You will walk downhill for the first hour before climbing up your mountain pass for the day. It was on this climb where we were hit by a blizzard and it was bloody freezing. Equipped only with summer hiking boots, it’s fair to say I wasn’t prepared for these sort of hiking conditioning. After the pass you’ll decend steeply to camp ground 5. Once again at the foot of towering peaks and by a nice river.
Day 5: today there are again two options. Walk down the valley for 4-5. hours. Easy walking. Or take San Agustin pass and climb uphill for 4 hours followed by a very very steep descend. We obviously chose the later. It was amazing. We had fluttering snow flakes, aqua lakes, glaciers and got to experience mud/snow skiing in hiking boots on the down hill. Everyone fell down on the descent (including our guide a total of 4 times). I’m not joking when I say it’s bloody steep and if it’s been raining or snowing, expect it to be very slippery.
After the steep decline is over there is a further 4 hours of flat valley walking to camp site number 5, which in our case was in a little town.
Day 6: Much the same as every other day you begin with a steep mountain pass that seems never ending followed by a relatively quick but steep decline too the camp site. The valley views on this day are UNREAL!
Day 7: this was one of my favourite walking and camping days. It’s a relatively short walk with a mild incline, but ends by camping at the foot of towering glaciers and amazing glacier lakes. It was quite warm when we were there, so we enjoyed an afternoon of relaxing in the sun, walking to the other lake and taking pictures of the glacier. BEAUTIFUL
Day 8: FINAL DAY. Our day 8 was a little unconventional due to some members of our group needing to be back in Hauraz at 2pm. So our day started with an early wake up at 4:30am. We hiked for about an hour in the dark before the sun rose and gave us the most amazing sunrise. The walk this day is basically steep up and steep down. Literally that’s it. It took us around 3 and a half hours in total. Two up and one and a half down. It was exhausting but super cool to be walking under the stars and see the sun rise amongst the mountains.
Your trip will conclude in the same way it started, with a long and very bumpy ride back to Hauraz. FOOD and good coffee will likely be the first thing on your agenda, along with a HOT shower!!
For exactly where to eat and where to stay, you can check out my post here.