Huayhuash Circuit

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An exhilarating trek around the peaks and passes of the Cordillera Huayhuash


Duration: 19 Days
Starts in: Peru
Group Size: 6-16

Operated by:

World Expeditions

World Expeditions is an adventure travel and ecotourism company that offers guided small group trekking and adventure holidays.


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. We plan to have a group briefing before dinner, however this will be subject to all group members arriving during the day – otherwise we will have the briefing tomorrow. 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 drive via private transport to Huaraz, our gateway to the stunning Cordillera Blanca. It’s a long day’s journey but we’ll be treated to some incredible scenery along the way! 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, Huascaran (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 3, 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 4, 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. Today’s trek is an excellent training and acclimatisation hike for our upcoming Huayhuash Circuit, and our efforts will be justly rewarded when we arrive at this stunning turquoise glacial lake. Overnight in Huaraz.

Drive to Matachancha

Today we head south of Huaraz to our first campsite Matacancha (4,185 m / 13,730 ft). Today we get our first glimpses of the range, and we’ll pass Conococha Lake, the village of Chiquián and our trek finishing point at Lllamac. After around 6 hours, we’ll arrive at our first night’s camp at Matacancha, where our “arrieros” (muleteers) and “burros” (donkeys) will be waiting. Overnight at campsite.

Trek to Mitococha via Cacanampunta Pass

Trekking to our first pass and crossing the divide to the east, we gain our first serious views of the mountains. Zigzagging steadily upwards over rocky and loose terrain above our previous night’s camp, the trail then becomes steep in a final hill across to the Cacanampunta Pass (4,700 m / 15,420 ft). From here we descend briefly before contouring the hillside to find the mountains at the north end of the Huayhuash opening out before us: Ninashanca (5607 m / 18,396 ft), Rondoy (5879 m / 19,288 ft), Jirishanca (6,094 m / 19,993 ft) and Jirishanca Chico (5445 m / 17,864 ft) among them. Our path descends to the village of Janca and continues on for another hour to Mitococha (4,250 m / 13,944 ft), where we’ll find our camp by the river, surrounded by mountain vistas. Overnight at campsite.

Trek to Lake Carhuacocha via Carhuac Pass

Today we trek for around 6 hours, making our way to Lake Carhuacocha (4,180 m / 13,914 ft). After trekking south for 3-4 hours, steadily gaining altitude, we reach the Carhuac Pass (4,650 m / 15,256 ft). The trail then drops steeply for the next hour, passing a couple of dwellings at Yanayana and then a small lake, before the one kilometre-long emerald green Laguna Carhuacocha comes into view. If we’re lucky we may see the Andean geese that are often spotted on the lake. Tonight’s camp is set above the lake, beneath the eastern flanks of Yerupaja Chico and Yerupaja, the latter being the centrepiece of the massif and the second highest mountain in Peru, after Huascaran (6,768 m / 22,205 ft). Yerupaja is the highest point of the vast Amazon basin watershed that feeds into the Rio Marañón, a principal tributary of the Amazon. Overnight at campsite.

Trek to Huayhuash village via Carnicero Pass

Today’s trek is a long one as we make our way to the tiny village of Huayhuash. Leaving Lake Carhuacocha by its eastern side, we trek southward past some of the grandest peaks of the range including Suila Grande (6,344 m / 20,814 ft) and Carnicero (5,960 m / 12,554 ft), passing close by their stunning glaciers and glacial lagoons. Today we are seeing the eastern or ‘other’ side of Suila Grande, with the western face being the route made famous by Joe Simpson’s book (and the subsequent film), Touching the Void. Simpson and his climb partner Simon Yates ascended the western face of Suila Grand in 1985 but became embroiled in one of history’s most dramatic mountaineering disasters on their descent. It’s a long walk to the Canicero Pass (4,600 m / 15,092 ft)—around 5 hours—but not particularly strenuous. As we descend to Huayhuash (a tiny settlement of one house and little else!), the views are spectacular. The mountains of Trapecio (5,644 m / 18,517 ft) and Jurau (5,650 m / 18,537 ft) tower above us, as well as Canicero. Overnight at campsite.

Trek to Puscanturpa Valley via Portachuelo Pass

Once again, the day begins with three hours of scenic climbing towards our next mountain pass, with the peaks of Puscanturpa (5,442 m / 17,854 ft) before us. From the Portachuelo Pass (4,750 m / 15,584 ft) we make a long descent towards Laguna Viconga, an immense glacial lake. We’ll enjoy incredible alpine views today as we make our way to our next camp, set adjacent to the hot springs beyond the lake. Overnight at campsite.

Trek to Cuyoc Valley via Cuyoc Pass

Today we cross the highest pass of our trek, the Cuyoc Pass (5,000 m / 16,404 ft). From camp we head in a northwest direction, switching back and forth for around 3 hours as we make our way to the gap between Puscanturpo Sur (5,440 m / 17,848 ft) and Nevado Jirishanco Chico (5,248 m / 17,218 ft). If the weather is clear, we’ll be rewarded here with a dazzling view of the mountains. We continue on our journey into the western side of the range, descending from the pass into the Quebrada Puyoc and Huanacpatay valleys towards our camp. Overnight at campsite.

Trek to Cutatambo via Santa Rosa Pass

Today we begin with a 2 hour ascent to the Santa Rosa Pass (5,078 m / 16,660 ft), where we’ll have views of three glacial lakes: Siula, Sarapo and Jurau. From the pass we begin our descent into the Sarapo Valley, making our way to our camp at Cutatambo, passing the beautiful lakes we saw this morning from afar. Overnight at campsite.

Day trek to ascend Cerro Bella Vista

Today we’ll be using our camp at Cutatambo as a base while we pack a picnic lunch and head out on a day trek to the summit of Cerro Bella Vista (5,150 m / 16,896 ft). Today’s excursion offers what are arguably some of the best views in all of Peru! After a fulfilling day in the mountains we descend back to our camp at Cutatambo for the night. Overnight at campsite.

Trek to Huancho Valley via Huaylapa

This morning we take a half-day to descend the Huancho Valley at a leisurely pace, following the river to the pretty farmlands of Huaylapa. We have lunch just outside the village, then start climbing up the valley for another three hours to our beautiful camp at Huatia. From tonight’s scenic campsite we’ll have excellent views of the peaks of Diablo Mudo (5,223 m / 17,136 ft) and Suerococha (5,350 m / 17,552 ft). Overnight at campsite.

Trek to Cashpapampa via Tapush Pass

Leaving camp, we trek northwards and wind our way up and over a lesser-defined trail to the plateau. After around three hours we cross the Tapush Pass (4,800 m / 15,748 ft), continuing on past a small glacial lake and several alpine meadows as we make our way to our next campsite, a couple of hours away. Overnight at campsite.

Trek to Jahuacocha via Yaucha Pass

We start today with a 2 hour ascent to our last mountain pass of the trek, followed by an easy descent to Jahuacocha Lake, our camp for the next two days. If this circuit trek had a highlight it would most likely be the views from this camp, truly encapsulating the wild beauty of the Huayhuash range. There is a small community living nearby that can often be seen fishing for trout in the pristine lake in their spare time. Overnight at campsite.

Rest day at Jahuacocha

Today we have a rest day in our stunning camp at Jahuacocha. In the morning we’ll take a hike up to Lake Solterococha Lake where we’ll have really close views of the main glaciers of the Huayhuash range. In the afternoon we will try the famous ‘Pachamanca’—a traditional Peruvian BBQ feast of meat and vegetables cooked in the ground using hot stones. Overnight at campsite.

Trek to Llamac

On the last day of our trek we see distinct changes in climate and flora as we descend through farmland to the warm, desert environment that we originally set out from. We follow a canal for 4 hours to our lunch stop, and then descend steeply for two hours to the small village of Llamac (3,320 m / 10,892 ft). Overnight at campsite.

Drive to Lima

With our trek now complete, we make our way by private vehicle south to Lima. A full day’s driving of around 8 hours. 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

The Cordillera Huayhuash is one of the most spectacular ranges in the Peruvian Andes. It was a region that attracted worldwide attention following Joe Simpson's graphic account of his ascent of Siula Grande in his book 'Touching the Void'. This full circuit trek is the best way to fully appreciate the sheer scale of these snowcapped summits including Yerupaja, the second highest mountain in Peru. Our trip includes ample time for acclimatisation in the Cordillera Blanca and Huaraz before spending 12 days crossing high passes - all in the vicinity of 5000m. A highlight for all will be a side trip to Siula Grande Base Camp and an ascent of Cerro Bella Vista for incredible views. Each day provides an ever changing backdrop of soaring peaks including the distinctive needle like peak of Jirishanca and the impressive summit of Yerupaja at 6640m. At night we camp in tranquil locations alongside glacial lakes and alpine meadows in this unrivalled corner of the Andes. Anyone wishing to add a trip to Machu Picchu can easily do so, please ask for more details.


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