Huaraz is an outdoor enthusiast's paradise in Peru because it offers a multitude of hiking possibilities.
It is still little known by international travelers and the reason is very simple: it is off the beaten track for tourists who only have 2 weeks to visit Peru.
However, if you are a lover of trekking and nature, you cannot miss this little jewel of the Andes of northern Peru!
The perfect city as a starting point to discover all the wonders that the Callejón de Huaylas offers. Next, the best tourist places in Huaraz that you should know.
Located at an altitude of 3080m in the Andes, Huaraz is the capital of the region of the same name, in the province of Ancash.
In fact, there is not much to do in the city and its main interest is to be the starting point for all excursions.
But since you will have to go through there, it is better to take advantage of it!
The Plaza de Armas: it is the central square of Huaraz, where the cathedral, the San Sebastián Tabernacle, the tourist office and the archeology museum are located.
The Ancash Archaeological Museum: presents the historical and cultural development of the Ancash region, from 10,500 B.C. until the sixteenth century. There are Chavin, Huaraz, Mochica, Recuay, and Inca artifacts. Its garden is a must-see with its 140 monoliths. From Tuesday to Sunday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Entry 5 soles.
The Sanctuary of the Lord of Soledad is a beautiful church located in the Plaza de la Soledad
Visit the Central Market where you can see local life, products of all kinds, etc.
El Mirador Rataquenua: it is a viewpoint with a great view over Huaraz and the surrounding mountains. You can walk 1 hour from the center, or take a taxi (20 soles). Further on, there is also the Pukaventana viewpoint.
Try the Sierra Andina beer that is originally from Huaraz. It was one of the first craft beers in Peru! Now it is very famous and available all over the country, but the best place to discover it is in the Trivio bar.
At about 3100m above sea level, between the magnificent mountains of the Cordillera Blanca, and the Mosna and Huachesca rivers, lies Chavín de Huantar, an archaeological complex declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
It is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Huaraz and one of the essential places to see in Peru.
It was the administrative and religious center of the Chavín culture (1500-400 BC) and was the most important pilgrimage site in the Andean world. So important that even pilgrims from the Amazon came!
There are several buildings with a rather complex network of galleries and corridors. Chavín de Huantar is known for having the oldest carved stone buildings in Peru.
The most important structures are El Castillo (also called the New Temple or Mayor Temple) and the Old Temple.
There are also the North Structure, the Circular Plaza, the Tello Pyramid, the North Platform, the South Platform and the Quadrangular Plaza.
Of course you cannot miss the Chavín National Museum, which presents the evolution of the Chavín culture and where you can see the Tello obelisk, 19 pututus (wind instruments), 282 ceramic pieces and other artifacts.
You can book a tour from Huaraz to Chavín de Huantar that includes the guided visit, the Chavín de Huantar museum and the pick-up at your hotel.
57 km from the capital, in the Callejón de Huaylas, is the great Querococha lagoon (3980 m).
It is the most touristic lagoon in the area due to its proximity to Huaraz and Chavín de Huantar, but it is really worth visiting because it offers magnificent views of the high mountains and glaciers that surround it.
Tours to the Querococha lagoon (full day) usually include a visit to Chavín de Huantar and pass through the small towns of Recuay, Ticapampa and Catac.
Honcopampa is one of the most important archaeological sites in the Callejón de Huaylas.
Its origin dates back to the VII- IX centuries and it was occupied by the Recuay and Wari peoples.
Today you can still see a group of square houses with a central patio and chullpas (mausoleums).
If you take a tour to Honcopampa from Huaraz, you will also be able to visit some artisan towns (Tarica, Pariahuanca, San Miguel de Aco, etc.), the Yuracyacu waterfalls and the Chancos thermal baths.
To get used to the altitude, it is very important that you take a day of acclimatization in Huaraz before making any physical effort, unless you come directly from Cusco or another high-altitude destination.
For your second day, it is best to do a short hike (1/2 day or 1 day). These walks have different levels of difficulty, some are easier than others.
The most famous in Huaraz are Laguna 69, Laguna Churup and Laguna Parón, but there are also other places to visit in Huaraz.
Here I present several acclimatization hikes, known and less known:
Laguna 69 located in the Huascarán National Park is an essential place to see in Huaraz.
You can access it by walking from Cebollapampa. The hike is not very long but it is quite physically demanding because you go from 3890m to 4600m, so take your time!
The ascent lasts about 3 hours and allows you to enjoy beautiful landscapes between waterfalls and mountains.
The first half of the hike is fairly easy, but the climb is steeper towards the end. Do not hesitate to take breaks along the way to avoid altitude sickness.
When you reach the top, you will only have 15 minutes (without climbing) to reach Laguna 69, at the foot of the Chacraraju mountain.
If you want you can get into the water but believe me it is very cold!
the easiest option is to go with a cheap excursion from Huaraz. Includes pick up at your hotel, breakfast, snacks, entrance to the Huascarán National Park, a stop at the Llanganuco lagoons and free time at Lagoon 69.
The Quebrada de Llanganuco is one of the best places to visit in Huaraz.
It is also located in the Huascarán National Park, and is formed by the Chinancocha and Orconcocha lagoons, fed by the Huascarán, Yanapacca, Pisco and Huandoy snow-capped mountains.
From the entrance of the park, following a dirt road for about 30 minutes, you will first arrive at the Chinancocha Lagoon. It is the largest and most touristy of the two lagoons, you can even take a boat or horseback ride.
The Orconcocha Lagoon is a few minutes from the first lagoon.
I recommend that you follow the “sendero de María Josefa” path, a nice 1h30 walk that allows you to explore the surroundings and see 80% of the region's plants (including many orchids!). It is well indicated, easy and really charming.
With a tour it is really more comfortable! You have two tour options, you can take the tour that includes Llanganuco and Laguna 69, or the tour only to the Llanganuco lagoons, which includes pick-up at your hotel, entrance fee and guide.
From the town of Pitec, it takes about 3 hours of walking, but in reality the challenge comes at the end of the trail with about 9 meters of rocks that you have to climb with a rope (already fixed on the wall).
At this height (4450m), one quickly runs out of breath, but behind this wall is one of the most beautiful lakes in the Cordillera Blanca with crystal clear water.
The acclimatization hike to Laguna Churup is more demanding than the previous ones (due to the altitude) and I recommend that you avoid starting with it.
First you have to get to the town of Pitec by bus (40min), and then there is only one round trip.
At 4300m high, in the Huascarán National Park, is one of the most beautiful places to see in Huaraz: Laguna Parón.
It is much less known and less touristy than Laguna 69, but it is just as beautiful (and in my opinion, even more so!).
You can walk around the lake and go to the foot of the Artesonraju glacier.
I recommend you go up to the viewpoint (45min-1h one way) to enjoy the spectacular view and take photos, you can also rent a kayak or a boat.
You reach the lake with a walk of 2h30 to 3h, on an unpaved road, but accessible to cars.
You can sleep near the lake, camping or in the shelter with kitchen (20 soles).
An organized tour includes pick-up from your hotel, breakfast in Carhuaz, a panoramic stop in front of the Cordillera Blanca, a visit to Marcara and Caraz, known for its sweets, as well as the Parón Lagoon.
The Wilcacocha Lagoon is located at an altitude of 3,700 m in the Cordillera Negra. It is a good acclimatization hike option in Huaraz and can be done very well without a guide.
The lagoon is not very big, but the road is very nice with small rural roads, villages and fields. After about 2h30 of walking at a leisurely pace, you arrive at the lake with incredible views over the mountains of the Cordillera Blanca.
from Huaraz it is 15 minutes by bus (10 or E) to Chiwipampa, from the corner of Avenida Raymondi and Jirón Hualcán. 1-2 soles one way per person. Be careful with your return time because the last buses pass around 4:30 pm.
This is a hike off the beaten track in Huaraz that few tourists know about.
It is important to take into account that it is a fairly demanding walk of 25 km with 1200 m. unevenness, which will take you up to 4610 m.
Walking near the San Cristóbal hill for about 2 hours, you first arrive at the Radian Lagoon (3950m altitude), a very quiet place with a magnificent view over the valley.
From the north side of the Radian Lagoon, take the path that follows the pre-Inca channel (1h). In the second part, the path becomes more interesting, following the stream fed by the waters of the Mullaca Lagoon (1h).
So you have to calculate a 4-4h30 walk from the town of Recrish to Mullaca, one of the most beautiful lagoons in the region, in front of the snowy Vallunaraju.
You have to go to the town of Recrish (30 minutes from Huaraz), near the archaeological site of Willcahuain. You can take your bus here, 1.8 soles one way. It is a 2h walk to the Radian Lagoon and 2h30 to Mullaca.
It is a nice little touristy hike in Huaraz.
The walk begins 45 minutes from Huaraz, in the small town of Paria where the pre-Inca ruins of Willcahuain (or Huillcahuayín) are located.
Willcahuain was occupied by various peoples for very long periods (from before Christ to the 9th century!), but it is known mainly for being an administrative center of the Huari people.
Not much remains today, but you can see the "Temple" which is a mausoleum.
From there, it takes about 3 hours of walking along a path surrounded by eucalyptus trees, conifers and shrubs to reach Lake Aguak at 4950m above sea level.
From the lagoon you get a magnificent view of Huaraz and the snow-capped peaks of the Cordillera Blanca.
The excursion takes place in one day from Huaraz, and usually includes a box lunch and the entrance to the Huascarán National Park.
The Pastoruri is a glacier located in the Huascarán National Park, which rises to 5200 m above sea level.
It is infamous for having lost some of its ice cover in recent years due to climate change.
It takes about 3 hours of travel to get there from Huaraz, but the landscapes are magnificent!
On the way you can admire the imposing mountains and the Puyas Raimondi, some typical plants of the puna (Altiplano region between 3,200 and 4,800 meters of altitude).
The walk to Pastoruri only lasts 45 min-1 hour with a slight slope, but the path is not difficult. It is especially the height that can weigh.
I recommend you hire an excursion to Pastoruri that includes the pick-up at your hotel in Huaraz, the entrance fees and the guide. You can also choose the private tour option.
I repeat: it is very important to acclimatize to the altitude.
The ideal is to take a quiet day in Huaraz and then do 2 days of short walks, before starting these multi-day hikes.
Mountain sickness can cause severe nausea and headache, or worse in some cases.
If you feel very bad at any point of the walk, you must go back down, it is the only way to recover.
The Santa Cruz trek is one of the best things to do in Huaraz and yet there are not many hikers on the trail. This is the advantage of being in a non-touristy destination in Peru!
It is a trip of 4 days and 3 nights through the Cordillera Blanca that allows you to admire a series of snow-capped mountains, small rivers and beautiful lakes.
People usually go with a guide, but you can also do it on your own because the path is well indicated.
The disadvantage is that you have to bring everything (material, food for 4 days, etc.), but if you want you can rent a mule, it's very practical!
Take a bus to Caraz, then another bus to Cashapampa which is the starting point of the walk to Santa Cruz.
The Huayhuash trek is one of the most beautiful in the world, but also one of the most difficult in the region because it requires traveling about 130 km between 4,000 and 5,490 m altitude.
The landscape is impressive, with imposing mountains that exceed 6000 m.
Along the way, we can observe the famous Andean condor, vicuñas and vizcachas. Halfway along the way you can also enjoy the thermal waters that offer a well-deserved dose of relaxation to the body.
There are many variants of the Huayhuash trek that are shorter than the full version. There is even a 4-day “mini” Huayhuash.
It can be done with an agency or alone, although the safest way is to do it with a guide.
I recommend that you do it only if you have a good experience in high altitude and the adapted equipment. It is important to understand that this trip involves risks along the way and if something happens, you will be isolated.
From Huaraz, you can take a taxi to Cuartelwain. Another option is to take the bus to Llamac and then walk to Cuartelwain.
2 hours from Huaraz, in the Huascarán National Park, is Quilcayhuanca (3850m), the starting point of the trek.
The first day, the trek lasts 5 hours and ends at the Tulpacocha camp.
The second day is the longest, with about 10 hours of walking. You will pass through the Cuchillacocha lagoon or the Palcacocha lagoon, and you will cross the Huapi pass (5000 m) before arriving at the Cojup camp. The third day is a 3 hour descent. The itineraries according to the organisms can vary significantly.
It is a little touristy trail in Huaraz, with views over the high mountains, waterfalls and rivers.
It is a 3-day trek that begins in the town of Olleros, follows a part of the famous Inca trail or Qhapaq Ñan, and ends at the archaeological site of Chavín. Therefore, it is an interesting mixture of landscape and culture.
And they are also llamas instead of donkeys carrying the luggage!
There are many things to see and do in Huaraz such as rafting on the Santa River, mountain biking in the Cañón del Pato, climbing in Hatun Machay, rappelling, zip-lining, etc.
The cost of entering the Huascarán National Park is 30 soles for 1 day, 60 soles for 2 or 3 days, or 150 soles for 4 to 30 days (per person).
Take into account that, in general, the entrance to the park is not included in the tours from Huaraz.
In the heights it can be hot during the day and very cold at night.
In the rainy season (from November to April) the temperature is around 11C. March is the rainiest month. But usually it only rains in the afternoon, and in the morning you can enjoy the sun.
In the dry season (May to October), which represents summer in the Andes, the temperature is around 15C. The rains are practically non-existent between June and September.
The best time to visit Huaraz is from April to October to avoid the rainy season which is from November to mid-April.
Most travelers stay in Huaraz for 3 days and 2 nights, taking the night bus from Lima.
If you don't have much time, I recommend 3 days in Huaraz, to take 1 day of acclimatization to the altitude and to be able to enjoy at least 2 full days of excursions.
It all depends on the hikes you want to do, since some are longer than others, but there are so many options that the ideal is to spend a week in Huaraz.
If you plan to do a multi-day hike, I recommend doing it only after the 3rd or 4th day to make sure your body is ready.
By bus: buses leave Lima every day (ex: Cruz del Sur, Movil Tours and Ormeño) and the journey lasts 8 hours. If you don't want to waste a day on the bus, there are also night buses.
By plane: it is the fastest way to get to Huaraz since a flight from Lima only lasts one hour. Anta Airport is 15 minutes from Huaraz by car.
Many are the routes that take you to Machu Picchu, but none is like the Inca Trail Tours, the most famous pedestrian path in the Americas. After flying from the capital of Peru, Lima, you will arrive in Cusco to walk for four days along a path through forests and dense fog, millenary stone steps and discovering the ruins of ancient fortifications and Inca cities, and all the time enjoying majestic views.
If you want to visit Machu Picchu, we recommend you to book your Machu Picchu Ticket in advance, so you will enjoy your Vacation in Machu Picchu without any problem.