Cordillera Huayhuash Treks
Situated 50 km and 4 hours by car to the south east of Huaraz, the Cordillera Huayhuash is a smaller, more rugged and more remote mountain range than the Cordillera Blanca. With 7 peaks towering above 6000m and many more above 5500m, it is one of the most spectacular mountain trekking & hiking circuits in the world.
The Huayhuash is a compact, rugged range, and includes the second highest peak in Peru – Yerupajá Grande at 6634m and also Siula Grande made famous by Joe Simpson in his book “Touching the Void” and in the subsequent film.
Every day on the trek hikers are treated to awesome close views of snow-capped peaks, glaciers and blue trout-filled lakes.
We offer a range of treks from a full circuit of 15 days down to a short trek to Laguna Jahuacocha of 4 days.
For the adventurous and fit hikers – check our full Cordillera Huayhuash Circuit 15 days which includes an alpine crossing of Cerro San Antonio and a visit to Siula Base Camp from “Touching the Void”
Or if you have less time or are no so “hard core” then you might enjoy our 8 day Huayhuash Mini Trek which has a more relaxing pace and takes you by the most beautiful passes and lakes in the Huayhuash
These are just some of the Cordillera Huayhuash Trek options. There are many different route options weaving in and out of a multitude of valleys and passes.
We are flexible and are very happy to discuss with you what you would like to do or see, the amount of time you have and can modify trek itineraries or “tailor make” a trek route to suit what you would like to do. Many clients do their own research and have a preferred trek route and campsites and we can arrange the trek itinerary that you would like to follow
CLIC on the treks listed below for descriptions.
GENERAL HUAYHUASH TREK INFORMATION
Trek Grading & Fitness
Trek grading and walking times are average estimates only for people of average fitness and who are well acclimatised to the altitude. Some people will be much faster and others will find it more difficult and be much slower. Estimated times have been based on our experience with previous groups. Your own hiking speeds will depend on how well you have adjusted to the altitude as well as your own personal fitness level. The effects of altitude do make the hiking much harder than a similar trek closer to sea level would be and different people adjust to the altitude in a different timeframe.
You need to have average to good fitness and be able to hike a sustained uphill climb for up to 3 hours without distress and manage the long descents down from the passes to be able to enjoy these treks, and also be able to manage several nights sleeping in tents in sometimes very cold conditions.
We have graded most of the Huayhuash treks to be Hard. This not because of the technical difficulty of the treks but rather because you are many days above 4000m in altitude which can be tiring for the body. Most days on a Huayhuash trek you will climb to the top of a high pass (up to 8 passes on full circuit treks) with the highest being at 5000m. The area is also remote with villages only at Llamac at the trek start and another village at Huayllapa half way through the trek. There is no quick access to roads if clients needed to depart the trek route for any reason
Shorter full circuit treks should be considered to be Very Hard. You have 8 or 9 days continuous trekking with no rest days, crossing a high pass each day. Some passes are true alpine crossings with no formed trails
Note: That most trekking options in the Cordillera Huayhuash should be considered to be physically demanding owing to the altitude (you are above 4000m for the duration of the treks) and the mountainous nature of the terrain. Trails are often steep on these treks – both ascending or descending and can be slippery & rocky in places.
It is a common comment from clients that they found the hiking to be harder than they were expecting. This is usually due to the effects of altitude which invariably leaves people feeling less energetic than they would on similar hikes at lower altitudes.
If you do not think you can enjoy this type of trekking, let us know and we can suggest some easier options.
During treks we use donkeys to carry camping & cooking equipment, tents, food and your personal bag. You only carry a light day pack with camera, snacks, water bottle, warm jacket etc.
Our guides and crew are very experienced and know how to manage trekking at altitude. We always walk slowly, take plenty of rest breaks and make sure that you have plenty of boiled water to drink.
See our SERVICES page for a full description of services that we offer.
Altitude and Acclimatisation:
Before departing for your Cordillera Huayhuash trek 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 oedema are possible
We do highly recommend that you arrive in Huaraz at least 2 full days (3 nights) for treks starting at LLAMAC or 3 full days (4 nights) for treks starting from CUARTELHUAIN before the trek departs to help you become acclimatised to the altitude (see below re trek starting point). It is advisable to have two / three 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.
We can advise on suitable acclimatisation hikes and either organise guided day hikes for you or you can choose to do your own unguided hikes and we can help with transport
See our Day Hikes in the Cordillera Blanca page for acclimatisation hike options
Trek Starting Point / Llamac or Cuartelhuain
Cordillera Huayhuash full circuit treks can be started from the village of Llamac (3300m) or from Cuartelhuain (4200m).
It is approximately 4 to 5 hours drive 156kms from Huaraz to Llamac and a further 18kms on to Quartelhuain.
Groups that start from Llamac will hike to Quartelhuain on the first day of hiking which is valuable as an extra acclimatisation day. The hike this day is on a dirt road, but it is not a busy road and the hike is very scenic. The route goes up just gently during the day with no steep climbs
Groups that start from Quartelhuain will drive direct from Huaraz to Quartelhuain and camp the night there at 4200m. It is particularly important that clients are very well acclimatised to the altitude if starting treks from Quartelhuain. To drive from Huaraz at 3070m to Quartelhuain is an altitude gain of 1130m in a single day, and the first day hiking you climb to the top of a 4700m pass. You need to have at least three full days in Huaraz doing day hikes to acclimatise to start a Cordillera Huayhuash trek from Quartelhuain
The road from Huaraz to Chiquien is a paved mountain road. From Chiquien to Llamac & Quartelhuain it is a dirt road
Best Time to Go
May to September are considered to be the months with more settled weather and better chance to have nice hiking weather.
June, July & August are generally the dryer months in the Peruvian Andes but are also the busiest trekking months. May and September are “shoulder” months with some good trekking weather still possible and usually fewer other trekkers on the trails.
May is at the end of the rainy season and spring conditions with spring rain showers still possible, the weather is often improving with often clear skies, everything is fresh and green following the rains and there are lots of wild flowers. September is at the end of the “dry” season and approaching the start of the rainy season, there can still be periods of good weather for trekking and it can be more relaxing with fewer large groups around.
Other Trekking Information: See our MENU-Trek Services and Booking pages for a full description of services that we offer and general trek & climb information.
Cordillera Huayhuash vs Cordillera Blanca
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 Huayhuash tends to have more open wide valleys and extensive grasslands than many areas in the Cordillera Blanca. There is less diversity of plants and trees, although you still do find pretty wild flowers in most places and there are scattered areas of high altitude quenual trees. There are more big lakes in the Huayhuash & many of them contain trout. Many of the campsites are by a lake. There are fewer local people living around the trek circuit than you may find on some Cordillera Blanca routes, 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.
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. Generally in Cordillera Huayhuash treks the first day of the trek program is driving from Huaraz to the start point of the trek and camping there the night, with hiking starting the next morning.
The Cordillera Blanca valleys are steep sided and more narrow – often with massive glacial carved granite rock walls lining the valleys. Each valley you cross into has a unique microclimate with a different look, often different plants & flowers. Some areas are forested with low forest and other areas are more open valleys with grasslands. There is more diversity of plants, flowers and trees in the Cordillera Blanca than the Huayhuash. More local people live around the Cordillera Blanca and there are more villages and small farms on the areas bordering the National Park. You will meet more local people on some Blanca treks than in the Huayhuash. Apart from some of the more remote trek options – there generally can be closer road access to the trek circuits in the Cordillera Blanca than in the Huayhuash which can make it easier to organise departure from the trek route if necessary. Driving time between Huaraz and most Cordillera Blanca treks is less than in the Huayhuash, and you are therefore able to start hiking on the first day of the trek program after driving to the trek start point in the morning.
Contact Us: for information & your questions about a Cordillera Huayhuash Trekking Adventure