General Trek & Climb Information For Cordillera Blanca and Huayhuash Adventures
When to Go
The Peruvian Andes are subject to conflicting weather influences coming both from the Pacific Ocean and from the jungle and traditionally there is a “dry” and “rainy” season.
Generally the months with more settled weather are May until September with shoulder periods in mid April & then late September to October.
However world climatic changes are also affecting weather patterns in Peru and the separation between a wet season and dry season is now not so clear. In recent years in the Cordillera Blanca & Huayhuash there have been long dry spells during the so called wet months October to April while there have also been periods of cloud and rain during what were traditionally the driest months of June, July & August.
While the better weather is still from generally May to September, these can no longer be considered “dry” months and periods of cloudy weather or rain may be expected at any time.
The busier months tend to be June, July and August with more people on the hiking trails at this time. May and September can be quieter with fewer large international agency groups travelling. If you like flowers – May is beautiful with everything still fresh and green following the rainy season and lots of wild and alpine flowers in bloom, but there can still be periods of spring rain showers. September is approaching the start of the rainier months, with mixed weather of several clear sunny days and then some days with afternoon rain possible.
We also organise treks from October until April and special low season rates apply.
For 5000m & non technical peaks, the better time for climbing Cordillera Blanca mountains is May to September. These peaks can be climbed October to April, but are more subject to bad weather & deep soft snow during these months.
6000m peaks and technical peaks can generally only be climbed safely from around mid-June to August, with the most technical peaks often not in safe condition until the beginning of July
We also organise climbing courses from 3 to 5 days followed by climbing to Vallunaraju, Pisco and Mateo from October until April and special low season rates apply.
Cordillera Blanca vs Cordillera Huayhuash
We are often asked what is the difference between the two regions or which is better for trekking in.
Both areas are very spectacular but different and it is impossible to compare them. Both have amazing snow-capped mountains and glaciers that you hike by very close to & both have continuous breath taking hikes up to high passes with incredible views on most days of the treks.
The Cordillera Blanca:
• Most of the trek routes are located within the Huascaran National Park. An entry ticket is required (currently US$47) and the ticket is valid for 30 days – allows multiple entries anywhere in the National Park within the 30 day period
• Travel time to the start of most Blanca treks is less than to the Cordillera Huayhuash (between one to 4 hours drive depending on the trek), which means you can start hiking on day 01 of the trek program
• Cordillera Blanca valleys are carved out by massive glacier movement, leaving sheer granite walls and many small terminal glacial lakes – and tend to be more steep sided and narrow than in the Cordillera Huayhuash.
• Each valley you cross into has a unique microclimate with a different look and often with its own unique species of plants and flowers. Some areas are forested with low forest and other areas are more open vast valleys with grasslands. There is more diversity of plants, flowers and trees in the Cordillera Blanca than the Huayhuash. The Cordillera Blanca is a plant lovers paradise with literally thousands of different species and flowers identified within 6 unique habitats
• More local people live around the Cordillera Blanca with many villages and small farms bordering the National Park in some areas. You will meet more local people on some of the Blanca treks then in the Huayhuash. Some of the Cordillera Blanca treks routes pass through villages for one day of the trek and you have the opportunity to meet many inquisitive friendly local children, see some of village life and traditional agricultural activities.
• Is not under the jurisdiction of any National Park or other government body. All the land and trekking routes are on private community owned land and local communities control access to the area. Camping fees are charged by each community that has control over that particular campsite / section of the trekking route (currently amounts to around US$100 per person for a full circuit trek)
• Travel time to the Huayhuash is greater with minimum 5 hours journey to the start of the trek then back to Huaraz after the trek finishes. For most Huayhuash treks day 01 of the program is driving from Huaraz to the start of the trek, then actual hiking starts on day 02
• The Huayhuash is more open than most of the Cordillera Blanca, with wide vast valleys and expansive grasslands.
• There are more big lakes in the Huayhuash & many of them contain trout. Many of the campsites are by a lake
• There is less diversity of plants and trees in the Huayhuash, although you still do find pretty low alpine flowers in most places and there are scattered areas of high altitude quenual trees
• There are fewer local people living around the Huayhuash trek circuit, just some small farms and a few homes scattered around the lakes. The only villages are Llamac at the start of the trek (where our donkey drivers live) and a couple of other villages close to the trek circuit
Group from Austria in Cordillera Huayhuash
We can cater for:
• Small groups / large groups / family groups
• Private groups welcome (any size from one client upwards to 20 or more)
• If you are a small group If you are travelling alone and would like company on your trek or climb, we can advertise your dates on our website JOIN A GROUP PAGE and co-ordinate to form a group with other people. For groups formed by our Join A Group Service we normally have a maximum number of 6 to 8 people.
• Single tents available on request (a small extra charge may apply)
We do not have fixed departure dates for our trekking & climbing trips, but instead organise them on demand to suit clients travel plans. If you would like to join up with other people to have some company and to share costs, we can advertise your trip dates on our Join A Group Page
Acclimatisation & Altitude
All trekking in the Huaraz area is demanding on the body because you are the whole time above 4000m and you go up to high altitudes quickly after you depart from Huaraz. It is important to be well acclimatised to avoid possible altitude related illness.
Altitude symptoms vary but can include headache, nausea or vomiting, breathlessness, lack of appetite, stomach problems, extreme lethargy and lack of energy, inability to sleep from mild to severe in extent. In extreme cases pulmonary or cerebral or oedema are possible.
We do recommend that you arrive in Huaraz at least 2 full days (3 nights) before the trek departs to help you become acclimatised to the altitude. It is advisable to have two full days in Huaraz to recover from your travel and do day hikes to higher altitude to help with acclimatisation before departing for the trek.
For some treks where there is a large altitude gain on the first day of trekking we recommend 3 full days (4 nights) acclimatisation
We can organise guided day hikes for you or you can do your own hikes unguided. We can advise on suitable & safe hikes to do unguided and we can arrange transport to / from the hike for you.
If you are arriving in Huaraz from doing another trek at high altitude prior (e.g. in Cusco) – then you should be already sufficiently acclimatised to start your trek in Huaraz. We DO always recommend that you have one full day (2 nights) in Huaraz to recover from your travel, look around Huaraz and also to have a complete trek briefing before departure. It is common for clients to arrive in Huaraz from another trek feeling tired from all the travel and also occasionally they can feel a little unwell. A rest day in Huaraz is appreciated.
Acclimatisation for Climbing:
It is important that you are well acclimatised to the altitude before attempting to climb any peaks in the Cordillera Blanca to avoid possible problems with lack of energy or altitude related illnesses when climbing. Climbing above 5000m is physically demanding, even if the climbing is not steep or technical.
We always recommend a trek of minimum 3 days or a series of day hikes to higher altitudes for acclimatisation and extra fitness to ensure that you are well acclimatised and therefore can enjoy your climbing and have maximum opportunity to achieve your goals.
If you are climbing a 6000m peak or a technical peak, we recommend that as well as a short trek that you should do a preparation climb of a 5000m peak for 2 to 4 days for extra acclimatisation & strength, plus to develop a relationship and confidence with your climbing guide(s).
Our programs start and finish in Huaraz. Add extra days for international flights, travel between Lima and Huaraz and acclimatisation days in Huaraz. Our program descriptions on the web are a brief summary only and only do not outline all of the many possible trek and climb options.
We are flexible and can “Tailor Make” a Peru Cordillera Blanca or Huayhuash trekking or climbing adventure to suit your specific requests or plans.
Contact Us for more information & prices
Travel Lima to Huaraz
Huaraz is 400km to the north of Lima, some 8 hours journey by road.
There is currently no flight service – at December 2018 the only airline operating the route Lima – Huaraz (LC Peru) was declared bankrupt and no other airline has taken up the route
There is a tourist class bus service, with both day bus and night bus service. VIP seats are available which are large, fully reclining, a lot of leg room and comfortable for the long road journey. There is also an overnight sleeping bus with seats that fully recline to make a bed. The service is non-stop, a light meal is served and there is an on board toilet.
Tourist class bus services are operated by Cruz Del Sur, Oltursa & Movil Tours.
We can also arrange private transfers Lima – Huaraz – Lima with car, minivan or bus
On Trek & Climb – General Information
On trek & to most climbing base camps donkeys carry your main luggage, tents, food and camping equipment. You only carry a light day pack with rain jacket, drink bottle, snack, camera etc. Donkeys also carry equipment to base camp on most of the climbing trips.
We request that you try to keep the weight of your trek bag to be carried by a donkey to maximum 12kgs per person for short treks 3 to 6 days, and 15kgs for longer treks
(extra weight is allowed for climbing equipment)
We only use reputable & licensed donkey drivers (arrieros) who ensure that donkeys are in good condition and are well cared for. Donkeys carry a maximum allowable weight of 40kgs.
Corina from the USA – Alpamayo Base Camp Trek: “… I could not have been happier with our support team on the trail . Arrieros Victor & Javier were there to help in every way possible, they waded through ice cold rivers in sandals to allow us to cross on horseback. They were kind & caring with the donkeys, lovely to watch for an animal lover.”
The arrieros arrive in the camp early in the afternoon and set up the campsite, pitch clients tents and have water boiling ready for a welcome afternoon tea when you arrive in camp mid-afternoon. The arrieros also take down all the tents and pack up camp in the mornings
Arrieros – Laguna Jahuacocha Cordillera Huayhuash
On climbing trips where there are high camps on the mountain porters carry the climbing rope, cooking equipment, tents and food but YOU need to carry your own personal equipment – climbing gear, sleeping bag, mat, clothes, and personal belongings
Maximum allowable weight per porter is 15 kgs including his own equipment.. We can arrange hire of a personal porter if you do not wish to carry your own equipment up to mountain camps.
Drinking Water & Hygiene:
All drinking water is boiled on full boil for 2 minutes which is sufficient to kill all organisms. Kitchen staff will refill your drink bottles and camelbaks with boiled water daily
Hand washing water & sanitizer are provided at the camps
Great care is taken with food packaging, preparation & camp hygiene to minimise risk of illness. Staff are fully trained in safe food handling practises.
Sarah from USA did Cordillera Huayhuash Trek: “..Chef Antonio was VERY clean with cooking & hygiene and we enjoyed some incredible meals”
Carrie from Australia did Huayhuash Mini Trek: “..On the trek the hygiene was superlative!”
Bowls of hot water are provided at your tents morning and afternoon for washing.
We only use gas for cooking, no fires, remove all our rubbish and waste.
On Cordillera Blanca treks and at climbing base camps toilet tents are used & toilet waste is buried. In the Cordillera Huayhuash local communities provide toilets in camp sites
On climbing expeditions poo tubes are utilized in the high mountain camps on the glacier ice to remove toilet waste while at moraine camps on the rocks on most mountains the mountain guides have prepared designated toilet areas.
Mountaineering – Poo Tubes
Our guides are trained in mountain first aid and carry a first aid kit. There is an oxygen bottle with the group on all treks. In the morning & evening the guide will check clients oxygen levels and do a general “well-being” check. An emergency stretcher is sent with each trek group and on all but the shortest treks there is an emergency horse for 2 or more clients.
Margaret from the USA (Huayhuash Trek) … .., guide was very perceptive on checking in with everyone as to how they were feeling. For people that were not well he assisted with “special tea”, taking day packs from them or allowing them to ride the horse”
We operate treks & climbs with a high staff to client ratio to ensure top quality & safe service and also to enable us to safely evacuate any injured or ill client back to Huaraz with one of our staff in the shortest possible time, without affecting the trekking or climbing enjoyment of the other clients in the group.
We have a company Evacuation Procedure which guides carry with them, detailing the procedure to handle emergencies or evacuations from various locations on each trek or climb. We have good support staff at our base in Huaraz with 24 hour emergency contact numbers and help available.
There is no helicopter rescue available in the Huaraz area.
Peruvian Andes Adventures Client Evacuation from Ishinca 2012:
– Susan suffered a broken leg following a slip descending a trail
Initial carry down to base camp & Rescue Stretcher for carry down valley to the road
From Susan: “Just a note to let you know that we have all arrived safely at home. We will be providing a detailed testimonial about your wonderful trekking and climbing business once we have recovered from our travels. Thank you very much for all of your kindness and help with my injury. Your evacuation process was very impressive, as was your ability to get me directly to the correct doctor once back in Huaraz. I will be having the surgery on Monday afternoon and look forward to a fairly speedy recovery.
All the best, Susan”
What You Need to Bring:
Dining tent with table & chairs
Toilet tent (Cordillera Blanca) with toilet paper, hand washing water & soap
(In Cordillera Huayhuash the communities provide toilets in campsites)
All cooking equipment, stoves, gas, eating utensils, plates, cups etc
Oxygen Saturation meter
First aid kit for emergency use
Stretcher for emergency use
Bowl of hot water morning and afternoon for washing
You Need to Bring:
Sleeping Bag & liner
Large trek bag
Hiking boots (Comfortable and well worn in)
Waterproof raincoat and overtrousers
Trekking poles (optional)
Water bottle or camelback 2lts recommended
Down Jacket (recommended) or Thick warm fleece jacket
Trainers or sports sandals for wearing around the camp
Hiking clothes, warm clothes for at night, warm hat & gloves
Trekking Gear List & General Info 2019 (PDF Download)
Ice screws / snow stakes
Foam sleeping mat
Cooking equipment / gas, stove, eating utensils
Walkie Talkie Radios for communication between teams on climbing day
Stretcher for emergency use
First aid kit for emergency use
Sat Phone on technical climbs where no nearby mobile coverage or emergency radio
You Need to Bring for Climbing:
General hiking gear as for trekking – above (for hikes to base camps)
Layers of warm fleece or polypro clothing
Sleeping bag & liner
Thermorest inflatable sleeping matt
Warm hat, Sunhat or cap
Day packpack (for hike to Base Camp)
Large backpack for carrying to high camp
Sun glasses (UV), Sunscreen
1 pair of Goretex gloves with 1 pair woollen inside gloves
Overmittens – wind and waterproof
Socks – 2 pair for climbing in
Down jacket or warm heavy thickness fleece jacket
Rain proof jacket
Rain proof overtrousers and/or salopettes
Personal First aid kit.
Technical Gear (for non technical peaks)
Plastic Climbing boots
Ice axe ( 1 x regular )
Automatic crampons plus snow anti blocks
Head lamp + spare batteries and bulb.
Prussics & Sling (3m)
Extra for Technical Peaks:
1 x ice screw 16cm (for personal use – safety)
ATC – XP Belay Device
Ice axes – 2 x technical ice picks
Climbing gear differs depending on which peak you climb – we will send you a full gear list
Hire Gear: there is some gear hire available in Huaraz – we can help you arrange hire
We highly recommend clients obtain appropriate travel insurance that also covers the activities of trekking or mountaineering.
The policy should cover activities of trekking and/or mountaineering and include medical, rescue, evacuation and repatriation expenses, loss of personal items or money, costs associated with cancellation of any part of the trip, flight cancellation or other disruption to travel.
In the event of an accident, injury or illness we will organise rescue and repatriation to Huaraz in the safest and quickest manner possible. All expenses will be the responsibility of the client, including transport, mountain rescue personnel, hospital and medical treatment, repatriation, additional hotel costs. Such expenses may be recoverable under your insurance policy.
It is advisable to arrange travel insurance as soon as you buy flight tickets and book your trek / climb with us. We have often had instances where a client suffered an injury or illness or a close family member illness causing them to have to cancel their trip – when they had insurance they were able to recover the majority of the trip costs from their insurance company.
Important Note: Peru Police will NOT initiate any high mountain or large scale rescue until they have received either payment by cash in advance or guarantee of payment to cover the costs of rescue.
It is important that you have insurance to cover rescue & that details of your policy are provided to Peruvian Andes Adventures office with your booking information.
There is NO helicopter rescue service in Huaraz. Rescue in the case of serious accidents is co-ordinated by the Police with the Peruvian Mountain Guides and all search & rescue and evacuations are undertaken by teams of police and mountain guides. As a result, any complicated or extensive rescue operation can be expensive.
Contact Us for more information & prices