Over 3000m high, Huaraz is a Peruvian mecca for people that love trekking and outdoor activities. It is the place where you organize all your activities and the starting point as well. It is a charming place, very good for people on a low budget, the prices can be compared with India standards, which means it is super cheap. We like the place very much, stayed there for 6 days and were active almost every day, there is really so much of what to do in Huaraz and around.
Walk to the viewpoint Wilkacocha lake
This was our first walk after doing the one-day acclimatization, it is also a good acclimatization hike if you plan to do the Santa Cruz trek. The walk is nice, it can just get very hot in the meanwhile, bring water and also some snacks. we didn’t and we were hungry in the end cause you can’t buy anything on the way. When you reach the top you will be at 3700 m and you will love the view, it is very beautiful. You will see down the valley and up to the spectacular Cordillera Blanca all around.
To get there from Huaraz is very easy. In Huaraz you just go to the Mercado or ask people on the road, they will help you where to get a minibus (collectivos a Laguna Wilkakocha?). After S2 (0,59$;0,53€) and 20 minutes they will drop you off at the bridge (Puente Santa Cruz) and you will start your trek there. You catch collectivos (minibusses) to go back on the same spot, just go to the road and wave to the first one you see.
Visit the nearby thermal baths
We woke up late, so it was already too late to do any walk, that’s why we decided that we will spend the day in the thermal baths. We picked the more remote ones, the Chancos baths, cause it sounded cool that they have natural saunas carved into the rock. It is easy to get there, we went with collectivo again. In Huaraz you catch one and tell them you go to Marcara, if you don’t know where you ask around, people will help you. The ride will take around 30 minutes and it will cost you S3 (0,89$;0,79€).
When you reach Marcara you will need to catch another collectivo at the bridge, we paid S2 (0,59$;0,53€) to reach the baths. When you reach the baths entrance you have different options, you can pay for the pool, sauna, herbal pool. We paid only for the cave sauna, it cost S8 (2,3$;2,1€) and you can pick one. The pools didn’t look appealing at all, just that you know. Every cave have a different temperature, so you can pick the one that fits you the most or the one that is free (which is what we did, the only one free was 54 degrees, we stayed inside for 10 minutes, not more) and you can stay in the sauna for half an hour.
After the sauna we went for half an hour of relaxing massage, it cost us S20 (5,9$;5,2€) each and it was worth it. We finished spoiling ourselves and took the ride back to the town and had lunch (menu del dia) there for S5 (1,5$;1,3€). After lunch, we took the ride back to Huaraz.
Trek to Laguna Churup
Trek to Laguna Churup is a hard trek, it is 4550 m high, the altitude is a problem, its a very steep hike and in the end, you have to climb 100 m of the rock wall to get to the top. We decided to do the trek a bit late, so we missed all guided tours (if you go with a tour it will cost you S30). Cause we missed it, we needed to take a private taxi, the owners of the hostel helped us out and made us a very good deal, we paid S25 (7,4$;6,6€) each and we got a ride there and back, he waited for us on the top. The way there is quite long, I think we needed more than 1 hour. When we reached the starting point, we needed to sign in and pay park entrance S30 (8,9$;7,9€) each and then we could start the trek.
The beginning for me wasn’t so hard Or had small problems with breathing but we managed normally.
After 1,5 hour we arrived at a beautiful waterfall, we thought that this is it, that we reached the top. We started taking pictures, I put my sweater on, cause it was cold and I thought I won’t be sweating anymore. Then we started to search for the Laguna. Where is it? We saw some people high on a rock and we said to ourselves that they must be crazy, what are they doing up there? Anyway, we asked a girl that was nearby where the Laguna is and she showed on the top, where those people that we laughed at before were.
It was steep, it looked that we can’t do this. At least I can’t do this, Or is a climber, so its easier for him. We asked if there is any other way to reach the top and she said no. We asked another guy that we meet after and he said no as well. Afterward, we asked I at least 5 people more and they said that this is the only way. Well, it isn’t. You can reach the top around, you just go up on the left side. If you are not into climbing 100m wall, you should most definitely turn left.
The climb up was hard and scary, you had like wires which you could hold not to fall, everything was slippery cause its a water area, so that made it the even scarier. My legs were shaking when we reached the end, there are no signs, remember that you need to jump over a small stream and continue up towards the big snowy mountain. We found our way and reached the top, it was one of the most beautiful things I have seen in my life, I almost cried.
It is high and it is cold on the top, bring something warm to wear. Bring enough water and some snack are nice, we had avocado with us. On the way back our heads started to heart at first a bit and then more and more. When we reached the parking lot my headache was quite bad already and the driver didn’t do me any favor, he was driving very fast. I felt really bad, nausea, really strong headache, feeling of passing out. It happened the first time in my life that I got altitude sickness and it wasn’t a nice feeling. I felt it the next day as well. Just make sure that you do proper acclimatization before doing any hiking, we did and I don’t understand why it happened to us, but I think it was because of the climbing. Its a lot of effort and pressure so maybe that’s why it happened, but I’m not a doctor so I’m just guessing.
Rock climbing in Hatun Machay
Around Huaraz, there is a lot of rock climbing activities but the most special and majestic one is definitely Hatun Machay, about 2 hours drive from Huaraz. Out in the wasteland, 4200 m high, lies the sacred rock forest of Hatun Machay, you can find some sport climbing routes and also endless bouldering problems all around the rock forest. Entrance fee is S10 (2,9$;2,6€) per person.
There’s an option to camp nearby in abandoned Refugio for climbers who want to stay more than one day but be aware there is nothing around the area so you will have to bring supplies with you, including water. Climbing gear can be rent at Huaraz from a few adventure agencies. Also, tours are available, the tour includes a guide, transport there and back and climbing gear. It cost around S350 (103$;92,4€) for a group of up to 4 people.
Do the Santa Cruz Trek
We weren’t sure if we will do the Santa Cruz trek. We knew we will do trekking around Cusco and also my finger wasn’t completely healed (i broke it in Mancora, less than 2 weeks ago). After we did the trek to Laguna Churup (and got sick) we decided that this time we will skip and I think it was a good decision. While deciding we asked around the people that did it and everybody was very happy and the reviews were great. So, if you are into trekking and you love nature, this is one of the most popular treks in the Cordillera Blanca.
It last 3 days, you sleep in the tent, donkeys carry your backpack, you just need to carry the small one. You can arrange it anywhere in Huaraz, our hostel had the trek for S350 (100,4$;93,3€), very cheap, only the entrance to the park is not included you need to pay extra, it cost S60 (17,9$;16€). They will give you a sleeping bag, a tent, 3 simple meals per day, drinking water. A lot of people warned me that you need to be careful before you book the trek. You need to specifically ask them what is included. You don’t want to get a good price for it but in the end realizing that you need to pay extra for the sleeping bag, extra for tent and so on. Ask them what is included.
Where to stay in Huaraz
You have a lot of budget and middle range options in Huaraz, we of course picket the budget one. We were staying in a lovely family run place, its called Joes place, I can recommend. You get what you pay for, it cost us S18 (5,3$;4,7€) per day per person, with private bathroom, shared kitchen, hot water, and a buffet breakfast. The owners are really lovely, they arrange all kind of tours and are always there to help. We did the booking on Booking, click HERE to get 10% discount.
How to get to Huaraz
Most of the people we have met came to Huaraz or from Lima or from Huanchaco. It is not hard reaching Huaraz, I recommend you to take the night bus, you will save on accommodation and you won’t lose all day on the bus. It is a win-win situation. In Peru we do all the booking for the bus online, it is super easy and reliable, we use RedBus, click HERE to save some money (if you use the platform for the first time). If you are coming to Huaraz from Huanchaco, you can read my previous blog post: how to get from Huancaco to Huaraz.
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