Laguna Churup: Great Day Hike from Huaraz
Looking for a one-day hike near Huaraz in Peru? Read our hiking guide to Laguna Churup, a beautiful lake in trekking paradise in the Cordillera Blanca.
The area of the Cordillera Blanca in Peru sees a lot of visitors from all around the world, and the city of Huaraz became a center for all adventurous travelers who want to see the beauty with their own eyes and experience all those spectacular one-day or multiday-hikes at first hand. Although Huaraz did not become our favorite city in Peru (it is touristy and not very tidy), we stayed there for a few days to enjoy the astonishing mountainous scenery in its surroundings.
To be honest, we hadn't heard about Laguna Churup before we have arrived in Peru, but we met several travelers in Chachapoyas (read about Kuelap, Machu Picchu of the north Peru), who told us about it while we were talking with them about Huaraz and about places to visit there. It was even their favorite hike in the Huascaran National Park.
Meeting new people, sharing information and knowledge about places is what we enjoy the most about traveling - many times we got great tips and advice from others, and this is also our way how we would like to pay it back!
The day before hiking to Laguna Churup was raining all day long (and we must confess that we gladly spent the whole day in a bed), but the weather forecast for next morning looked promising. When we woke up, we could see mountains from our room which comforted us, but when we arrived at the starting point of the hike, a dense cloud came from the valley, slowly started to cover surrounding hills and when we arrived at the lake, the cloud mixed with fog was so thick we couldn't see a thing. Luckily, we were patient, and at last, we could also admire the beauty of Laguna Churup.
LAGUNA CHURUP FACTS
Laguna Churup lies in Huascaran National Park in the Cordillera Blanca. Because of the position within the park, you must pay the one-day entrance fee, S/30 per person. Laguna Churup lies 4450 meters above sea level, and although some call it as a preparation hike for Laguna 69, we suggest to take it slowly, and be aware of the way how the altitude can affect your body - don't underestimate this hike, we saw some hikers along the way dealing with the elevation. It is better to stay a couple of days before the trek in Huaraz, to acclimatize properly.
The hike to Laguna Churup is short, 3 kilometers one way, but it is all the way a steady climb uphill. You start at 3840 meters above sea level, so you have about 600 meters to gain. We found online that the hike to the lake takes about 3 hours up and 2 hours down, but it took us one hour less each way. From Laguna Churup, you can carry on about an hour to smaller (and a bit higher located) lake named Laguna Churupita.
DO I NEED A GUIDE?
To get from Huaraz to the trailhead of the trek is easy and also the path is obvious, so there is no need to take a guide. We don't see any advantage of hiking with a guide or taking a tour to get to Laguna Churup unless you travel on own and want to have someone to share the beautiful place with.
HOW TO GET TO AND FROM LAGUNA CHURUP TRAILHEAD
Trailhead of the trek lies in Pitek, a place approximately 45 minutes drive from Huaraz. To get there, go to a crossroad of Avenue Agustin Gamarra and Avenue Antonio Raymondi. There is no official bus terminal, but it is a place where the van to Pitek waits.
The first van leaves at 7 AM (there should be another one at 8 AM as well, but we are not sure) and it cost S/10. We were lucky because there were more hikers that day, but we've read some posts saying that a driver was able to wait an hour or more only for the van to fill up!
The van will take you directly to the start of the trek, and the big advantage is, that the driver waits there for hikers until 1 PM (verify the time with him) to take them back to Huaraz. In case you miss this van back (and in case there is not another van), you can continue walking about an hour to a village Llupa, where you can catch another collectivo.
THE HIKE TO LAGUNA CHURUP
The beginning of the hike is well-signposted, and it starts pretty steeply. You must hike several steps, and after approximately 15 minutes you will reach a point where you must pay the entrance fee. Past this point the trail is obvious and when lucky, you can enjoy views of the valley, surrounding mountains, and waterfalls.
For many people, the most challenging (and for some the most fun) parts of the hike are the technical sections requiring usage of ropes. The first section is short and easy, and everyone must get past it. The other, longer and more difficult part (which can be often slippery) lies a bit further, and you can take a different path in case climbing is not your thing.
There is a fork with a sign saying Laguna Churup Opcional - taking this trail on your left will take you to Laguna Churup Mirador, and you will avoid the technical section while the right path will take you through it and you will emerge on the lake's shore. You can also make a loop if you wish and you can climb ropes only one way.
Some people say that the climbing section is easy, for some it is scary, so always make your decision based on how you feel and based on your experience. As I don't like slippery and rocky sections, we did only the left path (although Martin wanted to take the right one) leading to the Mirador, and from here we had to descend to the lake's shore.
In case you have enough time and energy, you can carry on from Laguna Churup to a smaller lake, Laguna Churupita. Continue on the left side of Laguna Churup on a clearly visible path to the end of the lake and from here climb up to the edge. This climb was for us the hardest part of the whole trek, but it was worth to reach the smaller lake which not many people visit.