5 Best One-Day Trips and Hikes from Huaraz
If you plan on hiking in Peru, then you should not skip Huaraz, often nicknamed Peruvian hiking capital. High in the mountains, this city is a great place where to acclimatize and prepare for one-day or multi-day treks the region has aplenty. Here is the list of our five favorite one-day trips and hikes from Huaraz you can't miss.
When planning your Peru itinerary and if you love outdoors and hiking, you should make sure to allocate enough time for Huaraz, a city high in the mountains, from where you can do an uncountable number of one-day trips and hikes to explore either the Cordillera Blanca and the Cordillera Negra, home to Huascaran National Park. The Cordillera Blanca is the more popular mountain range as it is covered with snow all year round thus it is more photogenic, but the Cordillera Negra also boasts of many natural highlights.
The region around Huaraz is rich on turquoise lagoons, snow-capped mountains, and glaciers, and it is a paradise for all adventurers who love to spend their time actively.
Although the area boasts of many incredible multi-day hikes, the great news for travelers who do not want to go camping or for those visiting Huaraz in the wet season is, that you can find here an large number of one-day trips and one-day hikes, so you can every day explore the insanely beautiful places, and in the afternoon return to your warm and cozy room.
We spent a week hiking in the mountains around Huaraz, and during this time had a chance to see some of the highlights the region has to offer.
As we did not have camping gear, and the weather was hit or miss at the beginning of the rainy season, we could not be happier to find out how many short but rewarding trips we could do from the city.
HOW TO ACCLIMATIZE IN HUARAZ
Cordillera Blanca mountain range and Huascaran National Park offer great one-day trips and hikes but as most of them lie between 4000 and 5000 meters above sea level, it is essential to acclimatize first to enjoy them to the fullest.
Altitude sickness is a real thing in the Peruvian mountains, and you should not take it lightly, especially if hiking and trekking is the main reason why you travel to this part of the country. The best way how to acclimatize is to stay in Huaraz for a couple of days before you start climbing up, the only important thing to know is that Huaraz sits at more than 3000 meters above sea level itself, so it can happen that for a day or two you will feel a bit dizzy.
What is the best strategy to acclimatize?
It can be different for everyone as every person is affected by altitude differently - some can be sick for days while some don't have to feel a thing. Generally, after arriving in Huaraz (especially when you are coming from destinations by the sea) take your first day lightly.
Walk around the city, drink lots of water or coca tea, eat light meals, do not drink alcohol and only breathe, and get used to the thinner air.
The first best activity you can do from Huaraz to test how you feel is to hike to Laguna Wilcacocha, which is close to Huaraz and is 3680 meters above sea level.
The great thing about doing one-day hikes from Huaraz is that you will climb high, but every time will come back to lower elevated Huaraz, which is precisely what you should do when acclimatizing.
BEST ONE-DAY HIKES AND TRIPS FROM HUARAZ
We spent in the area near Huaraz a week or so, and it was a solid week filled with postcard-perfect views, incredibly blue lagoons, glaciers, and mountainous landscape.
Here's our list of the five best one-day trips and hikes we've done. If time allows, it is worth it to see and do them all!
Laguna 69 is on every traveler's bucket list while visiting Peru.
The lake itself is very often placed on the list of the most beautiful lakes in the world, and it is one of the most iconic sites in Peru not only because of the beauty of Laguna 69 itself but also because of the spectacular and scenic hike leading to the lake.
The trek to Laguna 69 will take your breath away, and we mean it not only figuratively, but literally as well as the lake sits 4600 meters above sea level.
Laguna 69 is the Insta-famous spot, so many backpackers set off every morning from Huaraz with one thought in mind - get the best picture possible.
Sometimes you might get a wrong impression that when Laguna 69 is the must-do activity when in Peru, it must be easy to get there, but the opposite is the truth.
The hike to Laguna 69 is not long, only 6 kilometers one way, but you must gain 800 meters - it means some parts are steep and the combination with the high altitude and the unforgiving weather might slow you down (it can be either too hot or too rainy and cold). It usually takes about three hours to get to the lake and a bit less than two hours to get back.
On the way to Laguna 69, you will see another lake, Laguna Llanganuco, and if you feel that the hike to Laguna 69 could be too hard for you, it is possible to take a tour only to this lake and walk around its shore while admiring the mountains around.
Although it is possible to get to Laguna 69 from either Huaraz or Caraz by public transport, taking a tour makes more sense in this case as it costs almost the same plus you have a guaranteed transport.
Laguna Paron is the largest lake in the Cordillera Blanca, and one of the most beautiful lakes we've seen in Huascaran National Park.
Laguna Paron sits almost 4200 meters above sea level, so it is better to wait with this day-trip once you are well acclimatized. The lake has absolutely mind-blowing light blue color which is created by melting glaciers, but what makes the lagoon even more outstanding is the surroundings.
Laguna Paron is nestled in a valley carved by a long-gone glacier and from its shore, it is possible to see snow-covered mountain peaks: Chacraraju mountain, Nevado Piramide and Artesonraju mountain, and the latter peak is also the most famous one as it is supposedly the mountain depicted in the Paramount Pictures logo.
When you reach Laguna Paron, you have several options on how to spend your time. You can walk around the lake's shore via a path on the left side, take a boat and enjoy the views from the water surface, or you can climb up to the viewpoint on the right side of the lake.
We chose the latter option as we were sure vistas from above would be even more excellent.
The weather was pleasant, although a bit cloudy, and we sat on the top for a quite long time enjoying perfect views.
You have two options on how to get to Laguna Paron.
It is possible to hike 10 kilometers to the lake from Pueblo Paron or reach the lake by car as a winding unsealed road leads right to the lake's shore. In case you prefer to do hiking, we recommend you to spend a night in a small town Caraz, from where it is possible to take a colectivo to Pueblo Paron.
When traveling to Laguna Paron from Huaraz, you can either take public transport (you need to go early in the morning to catch a colectivo from Huaraz to Caraz and from Caraz to Pueblo Paron, or you can take a taxi from Caraz) or travel with a tour.
If staying in Huaraz, taking a tour is the most convenient way how to get to the lake, the only disadvantage is you will skip the hiking part as the van will take you directly to Laguna Paron (plus you will spend quite a lot of time in a transport), but you will still have plenty of time to explore the lake's surroundings.
We've written a full guide on how to hike to Laguna Paron with detailed information on how to get there from either Caraz or Huaraz, so check it out if we have inspired you to visit the lake.
If you happen to be in Huaraz, one of the places you should not miss visiting is Pastoruri Glacier for two reasons. One, the glacier 5250 meters above sea level is literally breathtaking, and second, you can be one of the last travelers privileged to see the glacier because it is retreating quickly, and it is possible there won't be any Pastoruri Glacier in a decade or so.
Pastoruri Glacier is one of the last glaciers in South America located in Equatorial areas, and it is shrinking every year as the glacier is no longer building up ice in the winter and it is constantly losing its volume instead.
Because of the altitude, Pastoruri Glacier should be the last day-trip from Huaraz on your itinerary. The hike to Pastoruri Glacier itself is not that hard, from the parking lot you will walk approximately 40 minutes to the face of the glacier on a paved path, but the elevation can make it difficult.
At the moment there is no public transport from Huaraz to Pastoruri Glacier, so you need to either shop around the city and look for a travel agency who has scheduled trips to the glacier (there are many of them), or you can reserve a tour in advance.
The tour usually includes transport and several interesting stops along the way such as Patococha Lake, Pumapampa plain, and you can even see the Queen of the Andes, a plant which is almost 15 meters high.
You can usually spend about an hour near the glacier and photograph it from every angle possible, but do not go behind the ropes for the security reasons.
Also, it is essential to pack warm clothes as it can be really cold up there, not mentioning the weather can change several times a day - we had the sun in the morning, later clouds and even experienced hail and a quite terrifying storm.
The hike to Laguna Churup was one of the most rewarding day-hikes we've done from Huaraz.
We were really pleasantly surprised by how spectacular this little hike was, as Laguna Churup is for sure not that well-known as other lakes in the Cordillera Blanca.
To be honest, we discovered Laguna Churup thanks to two Dutch travelers we met in Chachapoyas, who told us about this hike, claiming it was the best one-day hike they did in Peru, so we knew we have to check this little gem out.
Laguna Churup lies 4450 meters above sea level, and although the hike to the lake is not long, only 3 kilometers one way, it is a steady climb all the way up (you will gain 600 meters), so it takes at least two hours to reach the lake's shore.
On the way up you will see splendid mountains, green hills, waterfalls, and there is also a short section where you need to use ropes, which makes the trek a bit more challenging (but it is possible to avoid this section).
We reached Laguna Churup, and it was so cloudy and misty, that for a moment we could not see the water at all, luckily after some time the clouds lifted, and we could admire the blue-green mirror-like surface.
In case you have more energy, you can extend the hike and walk to a smaller lake, Laguna Churupita. The extension takes approximately one hour one way.
Laguna Churup is one of those day trips you can do completely on own. In the morning jump on a colectivo going to Pitek. The van will drop you off at the trailhead, and it waits there to take you back to Huaraz as well.
Unlike other hikes on this list, Laguna Wilcacocha is not located in the Cordillera Blanca as many of the most famous day trips from Huaraz, but in the Cordillera Negra, the less-visited mountain range surrounding the city.
Although Laguna Wilcacocha is probably the least appealing of the lakes we've seen in Peru, it is not the lake but the views why you should hike this trek. On the way to Laguna Wilcacocha which sits 3700 meters above sea level, you will walk via true Peruvian countryside with the amazing wall of Cordillera Blanca on the backdrop. It takes approximately 30 minutes to get from Huaraz to the trailhead of this hike by colectivo going to Puenta Santa Cruz. The path is at times not very clear, so it is better to follow your GPS.
Unlike trips to Laguna 69, Laguna Paron or Pastoruri Glacier, you will need only half-day to get to Laguna Wilcacocha and back to Huaraz.
Hiking in Huascaran National Park is not free.
It is actually quite expensive if you plan on spending your time in the region actively. You can either buy a one day ticket for S/.30, the entrance fee for two to three days costs S/.60, and when you plan on hiking near Huaraz more extensively, you should think of buying a multi-day pass valid for four to thirty days for S/.150.
WHERE TO STAY IN HUARAZ
Huaraz is a must-visit destination on every traveler's itinerary, so it is not surprising you can find here many hotels and hotels in every price range. The hiking season in Peru starts in May and ends in October, so when traveling during this time of the year, rather book your accommodation well in advance.
We've handpicked three best places to stay in Huaraz for every type of traveler.
Budget | La Casa de Zarela - Rooms in this hostel are spacious, clean, and comfortable. Staff is friendly and welcoming, great breakfast is included, and the restaurant serves Thai food.
Mid-range | Akilpo Guest House - Comfortable beds, great location, and the travel agency in the building will help you organize your treks and day trips.
Luxury | The Lazy Dog Inn a Mountain Lodge - If you like Finnish sauna, great food, romantic fireplace and quiet out of city location, this lodge is perfect for you.
WHAT TO PACK FOR HIKING AND DAY TRIPPING AROUND HUARAZ
The fact that all best trips around Huaraz are high in the mountains means one thing.
You must be all the time well-prepared no matter when you travel to the area. This part of Peru has two distinct seasons - dry season from May to October, and as the name suggests, it rains less often, you have better chance to experience clear blue skies, but on the other hand, this is Peruvian winter, so temperatures are lower (and you still can experience snowstorm during this time).
The rainy season is from November to April, and although it does not mean you should not visit the area at all (we were in Huaraz in November, and it usually rained later in the afternoon, plus mountains were not that crowded), be ready for afternoon showers, clouds, but also warmer weather.
It is only up to you when you decide on visiting Peru, but when it comes to packing for hiking around Huaraz, for a one day trip we would have alway packed the following essentials, seasons regardless.
Hiking Boots for Him & for Her | Hiking Poles | Short-Sleeved T-Shirt for Him & for Her | Fleece Jacket for Him & for Her | Hiking Pants for Him & for Her | Waterproof Jacket for Him & for Her | Daypack for Him & for Her | Filtered Water Bottle | Sunscreen
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