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Alpamayo Circuit


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One of the most scenically spectacular walking routes in the Peruvian Andes


Arrive Lima

If you’re flying into Lima today you will be met at the airport and transferred to the group hotel, where the remainder of the day is free at leisure for you to rest or start exploring. Our hotel is in the Miraflores area, home to some of Lima’s best galleries, restaurants and shops. Steeped in fascinating history, Lima is South America’s oldest capital. It was in 1535 that the Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro overthrew the Inca Empire and moved the capital from Cusco, establishing the new city of Lima. Peru’s busy capital is now a sprawling metropolis that’s blessed with world-class restaurants, brilliant museums and galleries, and a superb combination of Spanish colonial and 19th century European architecture. If you have time to visit a museum we would recommend the Museo de La Nacion or the Larco Herrera Museum. Overnight in Lima.

Drive to Huaraz

Today we take a comfortable first class public bus and drive to Huaraz, our gateway to the stunning Cordillera Blanca. It’s a long day’s journey (approx 8 hour drive) but we’ll be treated to some incredible scenery along the way! A light lunch (lunch box) is included during the bus trip but we recommend to take some additional snacks. On arrival in Huaraz we will be transferred to our hotel and meet our guide for the trek. We plan to have our first group briefing before dinner today.Overnight in Huaraz.

In Huaraz, day hikes

We now have two days in Huaraz to explore this stunning region with some day walks - and at an elevation of 3,052 m (10,013 ft), our time spent in Huaraz is crucial to our safe acclimatisation. Huaraz is a scenic town set at the foot of the Cordillera Blanca with views directly up to the highest peak in Peru, Huascarán (6,768 m / 22,205 ft). There is a range of different walking excursions we can make from our base here for a couple of days, and these hikes will be invaluable acclimatisation for our trekking program ahead. As the gateway to the Cordillera Blanca, Huaraz is a bustling tourism hub and also serves as a pick up point for our crew and all supplies and equipment for the trek. On Day 2, we walk to the pre-Inca ruins of Willcahuaín (3,400 m / 11,155 ft) and back to the hotel in a loop walk that will last 4–5 hours, finishing the day with a relaxing soak in the Monterrey hot springs. On Day 3, we make a day trip to Laguna Churup (4,485 m / 14,715 ft), a beautiful glacial lake set at the base of Nevado Churup (5,493 m / 18,022 ft). This is one of the most popular day treks in the Cordillera Blanca and takes around 4-5 hours to complete. The trek to Churup Lake is an excellent training and acclimatisation hike for our upcoming Alpamayo Circuit, and our efforts will be rewarded when we arrive at this stunning turquoise glacial lake. Overnight in Huaraz.

Drive to Hualcayan via Yungay and Caraz

Today we will drive from Huaraz to Hualcayan via Caraz, a trip of around 5 hours including stops. We head north from Huaraz, descending into the vast Callejón de Huaylas valley. We visit the memorial for Yungay, a town that was completely destroyed by the giant avalanche of ice, rock and mud that came down from the flanks of Huascarán during the 1970 earthquake. From here we stop to visit the busy local market in Caraz, before driving along an unpaved road up into the mountains to our first night’s campsite at Hualcayan village (2,900 m / 9,514 ft).Overnight at campsite.

Trek to Wishcash

Today we set off on a steady, continuous climb, swiftly gaining altitude as we zigzag up to our next camp at Wishcash (4,300 m / 14,108 ft), perched high up the mountainside. From here we have terrific views west across the Callejón de Huaylas to the Cordillera Negra, and at night we can see the twinkling lights of the villages high up in the Cordillera Negra.Overnight at campsite.

Trek to Ruinapampa via Laguna Cullicocha and the Osoruri Pass

Today will be a tough day (8-9 hours’ trekking) and our pre trek training will be put to good use as we climb on a generally good zigzagging path to the crystal blue Laguna Cullicocha (4,650 m / 15,256 ft). From here we enjoy a magnificent panorama with the summits of Santa Cruz (6,259 m / 20,535 ft)—Santa Cruz Norte and Santa Cruz Chico - rising steeply at the opposite end of the lake. As we continue our ascent towards our first mountain pass, Osoruri (4,850 m / 15,912 ft; joint-highest point on our trek), our views of the surrounding lakes and peaks get better and better. We descend and climb again to the Vientunan Pass (4,770 m / 15,650 ft) before embarking on a long switch-back descent to the depths of the Quebrada los Cedros valley. We pass the terraced fields surrounding the thatch-roofed crofter’s hamlet of Alpamayo and soon after reach our camp at Ruinapampa (4,050 m / 13,287 ft).Overnight at campsite.

Trek to Cruze Alpamayo Pass

This morning we will trek for a few hours on almost flat terrain up the beautiful Cedros valley. On the way we’ll see some ruined structures and ancient standing stones. Eventually, the spectacular pyramid form of Alpamayo (5,947 m / 19,515 ft) comes into view to the southeast. We then climb up the nearby moraine overlooking the stunning glacial lake of Laguna Jancarurish for close-up views of the Alpamayo and Jancarurish (5,601 m / 18,376 ft) peaks. Alternatively, we may venture to Alpamayo basecamp. Tonight we will camp at Cruze Alpamayo (4,150 m / 13,615 ft).Overnight at campsite.

To Safuna via Cara Cara Pass and Mesapata Pass

Today we have a trekking day of around 7 hours, first crossing the Los Cedros River and climb steadily to our next pass, the sometimes-windy Cara Cara (4830 m / 15,846 ft). This is the continental divide; all rivers running west head for the Pacific and those running east eventually reach the Atlantic, via the Amazon. From here, there are great views back to the peaks of Alpamayo, Jancarurish, Quitaraju (6,036 m / 19,803 ft) and the Laguna Jancarurish. We descend to a plateau and spend two hours on an easy traverse to a second, lower pass (Mesapata; 4,500m / 14,764 ft), before dropping to our camp at Safuna in the Quebrada Tayapampa (4,200 m / 13,780 ft).Overnight at campsite.

Trek to Jancapampa via Pacajirca Pass

Again, today’s trek will be around 7 hours long, and we start by crossing the Huillca plateau, one of few locations in the Cordillera Blanca where alpacas are found in abundance. We ascend a narrow valley to a rocky pass, Pucajirca (4,600 m / 15,092 ft), from which - weather permitting - we are treated to awesome views of the snowcapped peak of Pucajirca Norte (6,046 m / 19,836 ft). From here we have a short descent on steep scree, but it soon levels out as we continue down a shrub-filled valley flanked by quenual (polylepis) forest. We pass the beautiful tree-fringed Laguna Sactaycocha and continue our descent through rich vegetation to the broad Quebrada Jancapampa valley. We camp near the head of the valley (3,600 m / 11,811 ft); directly behind camp we have views of a huge hanging glacier and waterfalls cascading down a vast horseshoe of cliffs hundreds of metres high. A lot of farming families live across the valley, and it is our first opportunity since Huallapa to meet the friendly local people and the curious, happy children who call the valley home. Overnight at campsite.

Trek to Laguna Huecrococha via Tupatupa Pass

Today we’ll trek past adobe house villages and cultivated fields, climbing first gradually, and then more steeply, to the Tupatupa Pass (4,400 m / 14,436 ft), from where we’ll have views of the big peaks of the Pucajirca/Rinrijirca massif to the west. Our trail descends via a small mountain lake (tarn) into the broad Tuctubamba valley that we follow downstream before making a short half-hour climb to our campsite beside Laguna Huecrococha (3,950 m / 12,959 ft).Overnight at campsite.

Trek to Tuctubamba via Alto de Pacaraju Pass

We flank the north shore of Laguna Huecrococha then begin a long, gentle traverse of the steep, forested Huecrococha valley. At the valley head, the ascent steepens and zigzags to the Alto de Pacaraju Pass (4,650 m / 15,256 ft). At certain times of the year the lupins that cover the hillsides are in flower, and the scent can be intoxicating. From the pass we will have magnificent views of many peaks including the jagged Taulliraju (5,830 m / 19,127 ft), which towers over the pass. A rocky descent brings us to the open Quebrada Huaripampa valley and our camp at Tuctubamba (3,950 m / 12,959 ft).Overnight at campsite.

Rest day at Tuctubamba, with an optional day walk to the beautiful Punta Union Pass

We spend another night at the same camp to make the most of our incredible mountain surroundings. Today we have the option to take a day walk (5 hour round trip) to the beautiful Punta Union pass (4,760 m / 15,617 ft), from where we look directly down the Santa Cruz valley (the route of the famous Santa Cruz trek), across to the awesome sight of the Pucajirca massif. Directly above us looms the intimidating west face of Taulliraju and, with good weather, we might also see Artesonraju (6,025 m / 19,767 ft) to the west. Alternatively, you may prefer to spend the day resting around camp.Overnight at campsite.

Trek to Molino Pampa via Colcabamba village

Today we follow the main Santa Cruz trail down the Huaripampa valley. After 3 hours, we pass through the intensive farmlands of the villages of Huaripampa and then Colcabamba. As we approach Huaripampa, Chacraraju’s east summit rises sharply before us to the west. Today we pass many farmhouses and small settlements, and many curious children will come running out to see us. We then climb steadily for another hour to the village of Challhua, before traversing easily to our campsite at Molino Pampa in the Quebrada Keshu (3,600 m / 11,811 ft).Overnight at campsite.

Trek to Avalancha

Today’s trek is not long, but it offers dramatic scenery and swift elevation gain. We begin with a steady ascent of the Keshu valley, passing through some beautiful ancient quenual (polylepis) forest until we reach a mass of moraine enclosing a glacial lake. At this point the climb steepens as we head up the valley’s north side on a zigzag path to the plateau where our high campsite, Avalancha (4,650 m / 15,256 ft) is located. Across the valley from our spectacular campsite there are almost continual avalanches from the glaciers of Contrahierbas (6,037 m / 19,806 ft) crashing into the lake below. After lunch at our camp we’ll spend an exciting afternoon avalanche watching!Overnight at campsite.

Trek to Ulta Ravine via Punta Yanayacu Pass, drive to Huaraz

This morning we ascend for a few hours to a high narrow ledge and on to a dramatic knife-edge mountain pass. This is the last and most spectacular pass of our trek, Punta Yanayacu (4,850 m / 15,912 ft), where Andean Condors nest and are sometimes spotted in flight. From here we also have close views of the dramatic snowcapped peaks of Chopicalqui and Contahierbas. We then have a short zigzag descent into the Cancahua valley below. As we trek past glacial lakes, we are surrounded by towering snowcapped peaks including Contahierbas, the pyramidal Nevado Ulta to the south, and the highest - Huascarán (6,768 m / 22,205 ft) - to the northwest. We complete our trek with a long descent through quenual forest to the beautiful Quebrada Ulta valley, where our private bus will be waiting to take us back to Huaraz. The drive will take around 2 hours. This evening we will enjoy a farewell meal with our fellow trekkers.Overnight in Huaraz.

Drive to Lima

After breakfast we will be transferred to the bus station and take a first class public bus back to Lima. A light lunch (lunch box) is included but we recommend to take some additional snacks. On arrival in Lima we will be picked up and drive to our hotel in Miraflores for our last night in Peru. Tonight is the last chance for souvenir shopping at the markets in Miraflores before our flight home tomorrow. Overnight in Lima.

In Lima, trip concludes

After breakfast, our trip concludes. If you are flying home today, you will be transferred to the airport in time for your departure.

Additional Information

Without a doubt, the Cordillera Blanca range provides some of the world’s most spectacular and varied trekking and climbing landscapes. The range boasts more than 50 peaks over 5,700 m (18,700 ft), of which some 20 peaks surpass 6,000 m (19,685 ft). At 6,768 m (22,205 ft), Huascarán is Peru’s highest mountain, and yet it’s the pyramid peak of Alpamayo that is said by many to be the country’s most spectacular. Seasoned trekkers and climbers from around the world agree—Alpamayo is a peak of overwhelming beauty. Within this 170 km-long mountain range we find the greatest concentration of tropical-zone glaciers on earth. Turquoise glacial lakes abound and vertical granite walls rise thousands of metres into the sky. Our Alpamayo Circuit trek weaves a route through the heart of the mountains, crossing a number of high passes that lead us into valleys with remarkably varied mountain landscapes. The focal point of the trek, the famous Alpamayo pyramid was once voted the most beautiful mountain in the world. Our expedition sees us cross the continental divide and, after a succession of stunning views, finds us camping at the amazing Avalancha Campsite (4,650 m / 15,256 ft) where we look down as avalanches crash from immense fissured glaciers on the flanks of the Conrahierbas massif. As we trek we pass through remote farming communities that greet us with warm hospitality and allows us to gain insights into traditional Quechua Indian ways of life. The trek ends after our final breathtaking pass at 4,850 m and descent to the Ulta valley. This adventure has been designed with acclimatisation in mind and to ensure that the ‘work’ of trekking is properly rewarded by the satisfaction of being in an incredibly beautiful place!

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18 Days



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