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Trek the Huayhuash Trail in Peru

Bolognesi, Peru



81 miles

Route Type



Added by Vanina Conkle

This is one of the most beautiful trails in the world

I wanted to share my most recent adventure in hopes to inspire some of you to do it as well! 

Everyone thinks of the Inka Trail when they think of Peru, but Peru has sooo much more to offer, and at much more reasonable prices too! 

I did the Huayhuash trail self guided and I spent about a total of a $100 for the whole thing (including food and local taxes). I already have my backpacking gear so that is not included in my expenses. If you feel more comfortable going with a company that's an option too, but it costs about a $1000. It's not bad if you think about it - they carry your stuff, cook for you, set up and break down camp and guide you. I decided to do it alone first of all because I am student and on a budget, and also I like to go at my own pace. Also figuring out directions and carrying my stuff feels like a part of the challenge! Clearly not many people agree with me because I did not meet any other solo people. There were a couple of guys that were self guided, but everyone else on the trial was in a guided group. 

How to get there: 

If you're going self guided as I went, you first need to get a bus from Lima to Huaraz. I use Cruz del Sur, their buses are better than any buses I've ever been on in Europe and in the USA - seats are wide and recline very far back, TV, food and drinks are served... just amazing! Huaraz is a great small city too, and it's recommended you spend a couple of days there to acclimate. I personally spent the few months leading up to this trek hiking to peaks of over 14,000 ft so I skipped Huaraz and directly got onto my next bus to Chiquian. This bus was much smaller and older and at this point no one speaks English anymore and it's imperative you speak some Spanish. From Chiquian you get onto an even smaller bus to the village of LLamac - that's where the trail starts with a brutal uphill. 

The entire trek is at a very high elevation for most people and this should not be underestimated. I completely ran out of tylenol, giving it to other hikers who were seriously struggling. The elevation never posed an issue for me even at the highest passes where the elevation is over 16,500 ft. Please understand that I worked extremely hard to get to this point - the first time in my life, about a year prior to this trek was my first attempt to climb to 14,000 ft and I was in physical pain, while throwing up and falling asleep on random rocks. Elevation needs to be taken very seriously! So please take the time to acclimate, or even better - train ahead of time. Take a few months to hike to high elevations regularly so you can truly enjoy the trek.

The weather can be rather unpredictable. I went in August, which is supposed to be very clear, but there was constant rain, snow, hail, fog... it was quite tough at times. All my pictures that you see were taken in some short moments in between precipitation. 

With all its challenges, I absolutely loved this trail. There is something magical about the Andes, about the pristine lakes and the friendly locals. My heart felt so full the entire time!

The trail can take anywhere between 7-12 days, I did it in 10 because I felt like that a comfortable pace. Don't solely look at the mileage each day - you have to consider the crazy elevation gain and loss each day. At times I was going at a 1/2 mi/h pace. Any hiker knows that is very slow, like barely moving. 

My tips:

Buy a map locally. The one I bought on amazon didn't help me too much

Invest in a good water filter and treat your water every time. Too many tourists got the poops becasue they didn't take this seriously

Invest in good, waterproof boots and go with a tent you know and trust. Sleeping wet is something that can ruin the entire experience 

ALWAYS get proof (it's called a bulleto in Sanish) that you paid the fees to the locals. Someone else will check you and if you do not have a bulleto you will gave to pay again. I was asked to pay on 4 different occasions without being given a bulleto and all 4 times I argued until getting my money back. They are well aware they cant charge you without giving you a bulleto, but they will do it anyway, so stand your ground!

On the second to last day there is an option to go straight back to the lake or climb a mountain to get a cool view and then go back down. I was so hiked out I wanted to take the short way but one girl from a group insisted I go up. I would have regretted not going up for the rest of my life lol it was easily the most beautiful day for me! So don't pass on stuff like that! 


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