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Cordillera Huayhuash circuit, classic trek

Jahuacocha campsite in the Cordillera HuayhuashThe full Cordillera Huayhuash trek is the classic route of the region. In making a complete loop around the entire range it crosses several spectacular passes higher than 4600m, two of which top out at over 5000m.  Our treks visit the Cutatambo valley, which is situated below the mountain “Siula Grande”, the real-life setting of Joe Simpson’s famous story, “Touching the Void”. Among the many prominent peaks visible on the trek are Rondoy, Ninashanca, Jirishanca, Yerupajá chico, Yerupajá, Cuyoc, Diablo Mudo, Rasac, and Sacra.  We also pass the lakes, Mitucocha, Carhuacocha, Atoqsahyco, Viconga, Jahuacocha, and others.  This route is also a great option because it affords the opportunity to experience the great diversity of flora and fauna in the region.  The classic Cordillera Huayhuash trek is considered one of the top ten trekking circuits in the world.

Duration: 12 days
Distance: 120 Km Approx.
Rating: Moderate - strenuous
Start: Cuartelwain

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Finish: Llámac
Elevation: 3300 – 5000m
See the trekking map


Day 1: Huaraz - Llámac - Cuartelwain 4170m

At indicated time, pick up in the hotel and transfer to Cuartelwain 4150m / 13 615 ft, we arrive there after of 5 hours. This will be our first camp.

Day 2: Cuartelwain – Qaqanan pass 4750m - Mitucocha 4230m

After  breakfast, we start walk up to Qaqanan pass 4700m  / 15 420 ft, we get to the pass after of 3 hours; then we go down to the East side of Cordillera Huayhuash, after to have walked 2 hours more we get to the next campsite on the shores of Mitucocha lake 4250m / 13 944 ft; below of Hirishanca and Rondoy mounts.Arriving in Carhuacocha Cordillera Huayhuash

Day 3: Mitucocha - Carhuac pass 4600m - Carhuacocha 4138m

At indicated time we take the trail to Carhuac pass 4650m / 15 256 ft. where we get after of 2.5 hours, from this pass we have a nice view of Yerupaja chico, Yerupaja and Siula mounts; then we walk down 2  hours more to get to Carhuacocha lake 4150m / 13 615 ft, where we set up our tents on its shores.

Day 4: Carhuacocha - Carnicero pass 4630m - Huayhuash 4330m

This day we depart early for Siula pass 4800m / 15748 ft, we walk along the shores of Carhuacocha lake, on the way we visit Three lakes (Qanrajancacocha, Siulacocha and Quesillococha), we always will have the view of Hirishanca chico, Yerupaja and Siula mounts; after of 4 hours we reach the pass, from this point we have a panorama of the most snow covered peaks of East side of Cordillera Huayhuash specially of Siula mountain. After resting and having taken the photos we walk down to Huayhuash campsite 4300m / 14 108 ft, where arrive after of 3 hours more.

Day 5: Huayhuash – Portachuelo pass 4750m - Viconga 4400mWalking up to Siula pass, after to visit the three lakes in the Cordillera Huayhuash trekking circuit

At indicated time after breakfast we depart for Portachuelo pass 4750m / 15 584 ft, we get to the pass after of 2 hours, this pass is the boundary between the Cordillera Huayhuash and the Cordillera Raura; from the oass we walk down among Ichus (grass plant that lives over 4000m / 13 123 ft in the Andes), on the way is possible to see llamas and alpacas (Andean camels); we pass near to Viconga lake and we get to our campsite after of 2 hours more, our campsite will be located at 4400m / 14 436 ft, near to the hot springs.

Day 6: Viconga - Cuyoc pass 5000m - Guanacpatay (Elefante pampa) 4450m.

We head to the highest pass, Cuyoc 5000m / 16 4040 ft, we get there after of 3 hours, this pass is located between Cuyoc and Pumarinri mounts, from this point we have nice views of Cordillera Raura and part of Cordillera Huayhuash too. From the pass we descend to Guanacpatay valley and we set our campsite at 4400 m / 14 436 ft, after to have walked  down around 1.5 hours.

Day 7: Guanacpatay – San Antonio Pass 4990m – Cutatambo 4250m

San Antonio viewpoint Cordillera HuayhuashAfter breakfast we depart for San Antonio, a viewpoint located at 4850m / 15 912 ft, we get to that point after of 2.5 hours, this point is unique, because from there we have the nicest views of Carnicero, Jurao, Siula Grande and Yerupaja mounts as well as Jurao and Siulacocha lakes. After resting and having taken the photos, we go down to Cutatambo valley 4250m / 13 944 ft, our next campsite where  we get there after of 2 hours more.

Day 8: Cutatambo, visit the base camp and glaciar of Siula Grande mount, route of Joe Simpson.

This day we depart for the base camp and glacier of Siula Grande mount, made famous by Joe Sympson in his book “Touching the void”, and later made ​​into a film with the same name; we get to the glaciar and Sarapococha lake 4550 m / 14 928 ft, after of 2.5 hours; after to have walked around the lake near to the glacier and having taken the photos we return for the same path to the campsite.

Day 9: Cutatambo - Huayllapa 3500m

At indicated time after breakfast we depart for Huayllapa village 3600m / 11 811 ft, we take the path near to the river and walk down for around 3.5 hours through the valley of the same name among native trees and shrubs of the region, getting in Huayllapa we can get some sodas and beers.

Day 10: Huayllapa - Tapush pass 4800m - Qashpapampa 4500m.

Yahuacha viewpoint Cordillera Huayhuash

From Huayllapa village we depart for Tapush pass 4850m / 15 912 ft, we get there after walking around 3.5 hours, from this pass we can see some a part of Cordillera Blanca (Tuco mountain), after a break we go down to Qashpapampa 4500m / 14 764 ft, located below Diablo Mudo mount, many times used as base camp to climb the mentioned peak, we get to the campsite after of 2 hours more.

Day 11: Qashpapampa - Yaucha pass 4750m - Jahuacocha 4070m

At indicated time after breakfast we depart for Yahucha pass 4750m / 15 584 ft, we get there after of 2.5 hours, from this pass we have a spectacular view of the West side of Cordillera Huayhuash, among the snow covered peaks to see are: Ninashanca, Hirishanca, Yerupaja Chico, Yerupaja 6634m / 21 765ft (the second highest peak of Peru after of Huascaran 6768m / 22 205 ft), Rasac, etc. After restinh and having taken photos  we go down by Huacrish valley to Jahuacocha lake 4070m / 13 353 ft, we get there after of 2.5 hours more. Our tents will be set up near to the shores of Jahuacocha lake, having an impressive view of the mounts of this part of the mountain range.

Day 12: Jahuacocha - Pampa Llámac pass 4300m – Llamac - Huaraz

Last trekking day, we depart for Pampa Llamac pass 4300m / 14 108 ft, we get there after of 3  hours, Pampa Llámac is the last viewpoint of the Huayhuash circuit, from this place we can see by last time very close the mounts of Cordillera Huayhuash; after we descend to Llamac village 3300m / 10827 ft, in of 2 hours more. In Llamac a car will wait for us to take back us  to Huaraz city.

Other options:

• It is also possible to have rest days in Carhuacocha and/or Jahuacocha where you can walk around the lakes to do some fishing. Another option for those in search of more extreme adventure is to organize a climb of Pumarinri (5465m) or Diablo Mudo (5350m). These are two moderate peaks that can be climbed with just one extra day. If you are interested you’ll need to bring basic mountaineering equipment along with you (climbing boots, crampons, ice axe, harness, and rope) and a mountain guide.

Things to keep in mind:

• You’ll need at least two days of acclimatization before heading out on the trek. We suggest taking a bus tour of Llanganuco lakes or the Chavin de Huantar ruins, and/or doing one of the various day hikes in the Cordillera Blanca around Huaraz.

• Bring a water bottle with you, in summer season it gets very hot.

• Bring warm clothes along, because in the mountains the temperature can quickly fall below 0 °C, especially in the early morning, at night, and even when the sun drops behind the clouds.

• Walk at your own rhythm, breathe deep, and enjoy the beautiful views of Cordillera Huayhuash.

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