Peru’s Huayhuash Trek Beginner’s Guide


The Huayhuash trek is one of the most spectacular alpine treks in the world. It has become popular among outdoor lovers because of its beautiful glacial lakes, admirable mountain peaks, and the traditions of the Andean culture. Even though this route used to be considered slightly dangerous in the past, the government in Peru has made it much safer.

The Huayhuash circuit is becoming popular, but it is still not as visited as other treks in Peru. This means its nature is still mostly unspoiled, which is perfect if you would like to explore the most picturesque part of the Andes. In this article, we will show you everything you need to know about this route.

Huayhuash Trek Guide

About the Huayhuash Trek

Hiking the Cordillera Huayhash is not for the inexperienced, considering its length of 81 miles and elevation of 18,012 feet. The weather can be extreme, so the possibility of hypothermia is high. Also, if you are unaccustomed to these conditions, you may experience the symptoms of altitude sickness, such as trouble sleeping, nausea, headache, and decreased appetite.

The whole Huayhash circuit lasts from 8 to 14 days. Also, you can resupply your food in only one small town, which means you will have to carry all your food throughout the whole journey. If you are not completely ready to commit to the whole trek, there are several shortcuts you can take to make your journey easier. They will shorten the hike for a few days, so you will be able to experience the beauty of the Andes even if you are not the most experienced hiker.

In case you are willing to accept this challenge, this route will reward you in many ways. It is located above the tree line, giving you a breathtaking view of the gorgeous landscape at any given time. In addition to the main Huayhuash circuit, you can try numerous side treks, including the climbs of Diablo Mudo and Pumarinri.

Explorers will also have a chance to see hot springs when they find themselves halfway through the trek. When it comes to wildlife, there are more than 60 bird species including condors, as well as and vizcacha (similar to chinchilla), and vicuña (similar to alpaca). All of these features make up a truly wonderful experience.

Solo vs. Tour Hiking

Booking a guided tour is the easiest and safest way to finish this track. Even though doing this route without help is possible, it is not recommended if you don’t have a lot of hiking experience, enough hiking food, solid Quechua or Spanish skills, and appropriate equipment. You have to be fully prepared for possible trouble on this route to finish it successfully.

If you, on the other hand, decide to hike on your own (which is not advisable), it is crucial to get a donkey or a mule so you can carry all the supplies and food needed for long-distance hiking. You can hire such animals through various hiring agencies.

When You Should Go

The best time to hike the Huayhuash trek is May-September since that is when the weather is driest. However, it is also cold, but that is certainly better than the wet season when there is a lot of snow. Make sure you are up to date with the weather reports before you decide to go. Also, it is important to bear in mind the way weather may affect your hiking to avoid any possible problems. You should also get the most appropriate equipment according to the weather conditions on your hike.

How to Get to the Huayhuash Circuit

Huaraz, in north-central Peru, is the most visited departure place. This city of around 127,000 people is located around eight hours by bus or car from Lima.  You can take a direct bus from Lima to Huaraz daily. If you are not a fan of bus rides, you can also book a flight.

You can also arrange private transportation to take you to the first camping location, Cuartelwain. If you are willing to walk for several miles, you can also hop on the bus from Huaraz to Llamac first, and then reach Cuartelwain on foot.

Classic Huayhuash Trek Route


Below is a typical Huayhuash route. Bear in mind that it is possible to add a few extra rest days or shorten the trip by taking shortcuts.

1st day – from Huaraz to Llamac to Cuartelwain (13681 feet)

2nd day – Cuartelwain – Qaqanan pass (15583 feet) to Mitucocha (13877 feet)

3rd day – from Mitucocha to Carhuac pass (15091 feet) to Carhuacocha (13576 feet)

4th day  – Carhuacocha to Carnicero pass(15190 feet) to Huayhuash (14206 feet)
5th day –  Huayhuash to Portachuelo pass (15583 feet) to Viconga (14435 feet)
6th day – from Viconga to Cuyoc pass (16404 feet) to Guanacpatay (Elefante pampa) (14599 feet)
7th day –   Guanacpatay to San Antonio Pass (14730 feet) to Cutatambo (13943 feet)
8th day –   Cutatambo (visiting the glacier and base camp of Siula Grande mount, taking the Joe Simpson route)
9th day – Cutatambo to Huayllapa (11482 feet)
10th day –  Huayllapa to Tapush pass(15748 feet) to Qashpapampa (14763 feet)
11th day –  Qashpapampa to Yaucha pass (15583 feet) to Jahuacocha (13353 feet)
12th day – from Jahuacocha to Pampa Llámac pass (14107 feet) to Llamac and finally Huaraz

What Equipment to Bring

  • Hiking shoes
  • Hiking socks
  • Hiking shirts (both long and short sleeve ones)
  • Hiking boots
  • A sleeping bag
  • Waterproof jacket
  • Waterproof pants
  • Sunscreen and sunglasses
  • Bandana
  • Warm gloves
  • Hiking hat

These items should be enough in case you hiking with an organized tour. However, it is advised to double-check everything with your tour organizer. On the other hand, if you are organizing your route, you will need cooking equipment, tents, as well as enough water and food for your entire trek. Staying hydrated is crucial on long hikes.

Consulting with someone who has previously done the trek or a hiking expert might come in handy if you want to go on this journey on your own.

Hiking Fees

The Huayhuash circuit is separated into different areas, managed by different communities. You have to pay a certain fee to enter each community area. In some communities, it only covers trail usage. In others, it includes night guards, toilets, or campsites. Your tour guide company might not include this fee, so make sure you get all the necessary information.

Pocpa: 10.00 Sol
Quisuarcancha: Part of the Carhuacocha camping site 20.00 Sol
Queropalca:  Carhuacocha and Mitucocha camping sites 40.00 Sol
 Visiting hot springs as well as Viconga lake 20.00 Sol
Tupac Amaru:
 Camping site Huayhuash 20.00 Sol
Huayllapa: Camping sites Cutatambo, Viconga, Guanacpatay, and Huatiaq 40.00 Sol
 Jahuacocha  and Qashpapampa camping sites 20.00 Sol
Llámac: Cuartewain, and the Jahuacocha camping site 20.00 Sol

You will also be charged 1.50 Sol a night for every animal you bring (horse, donkey, or mule) because of grass consumption.

Where You Can Stay In Huaraz

There are many accommodation options in Huaraz. You can choose from the budget, mid-range, and high-end places. Budget-friendly options can offer all commodities, including a Wi-Fi connection. If you want to spend more money, you can get places with comfier beds and food. High-end accommodation options can offer you comfort, delicious food, as well as amazing views.

Hiking the Huayhuash Pros

  • You will be able to experience some of the most impressive views from very high mountains
  • This hike is very challenging but at the same time very rewarding
  • You will get very close to the snow-covered peaks
  • Even though it is beautiful, this hike is not overcrowded so you will have a chance to explore everything
  • This route is not extremely popular, so you will be able to see the landscape in its natural, intact state

Hiking the Huayhuash Cons

  • The Huayhuash circuit can be challenging, especially if you are an inexperienced hiker
  • There is only one place where you can resupply, so you will have to carry all your food throughout the hike if you are hiking independently

Globo Surf Overview

The Huayhuash trek is becoming increasingly popular among outdoor lovers. What is great about it is its intact nature, spectacular mountain views, lakes, and hot springs. Since it is not the most popular route in the world, you will be able to experience everything without worrying about overcrowded places. But, this trek is not the easiest route in the world either.

It is strongly advised to go with an organized tour, even if you are an experienced hiker. You should also check the weather before starting your journey since it can vary. It is essential to prepare everything you need for a successful hike, from your hiking boots to your food. Getting a lightweight backpack may be a good idea since you will most likely carry all of your food throughout the whole hike. Also, bear in mind that there are certain fees you will have to pay along the way. Happy hiking!

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My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!