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Quelccaya: The largest tropical glacier in the world is in Peru

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Quelccaya: The largest tropical glacier in the world is in Peru

Peru has different ideal natural destinations to live an unforgettable experience. One of them is the Quelccaya glacier, located in Cusco, which is considered one of the wonders of the country.

Quelccaya is a majestic glacier, ideal for practicing adventure sports and appreciating nature; Numerous species of fauna such as alpacas, llamas and vicuñas live in it, which are of great importance for the nearby populations of this area. It is made up of U-shaped valleys, glacial striations in the volcanic rocks and beautiful lagoons in the Vilcanota mountain range. 

Location

The Quelccaya glacier is located in the southeast of Peru, in the Vilcanota mountain range. To reach this glacier, the walk lasts two days and begins in the Phinaya community that belongs to the Pitumarca district of the Canchis Province.

It is located in Cusco and is the largest tropical glacier in the world of 44 square kilometers and an ice cap of more than 200 meters thick. It is one of the favorite destinations for professional climbers, who come to conquer their peak. 

Peru is a country where you can find almost all the ecosystems in the world. A clear example is the Quelccaya glacier in Cusco, considered one of the wonders of the country. 

What is a tropical glacier?

Glaciers are the largest freshwater reserves on the planet. They are a source of water for agriculture, industrial activities and domestic uses. … In addition, tropical glaciers are especially sensitive to climate change, due to the specific climatic conditions in the tropics. The small lagoons around the glacier are also proof of the decline, as they occupy depressions left behind by the retreating glacier. 

Quelccaya Location Peru

Height:

The largest tropical glacier in the world is located at 5600 m.a.s.l. and the temperature reaches below zero at night. 

What sports can be practiced in Quelccaya?

In this territory you can carry out some recreational activities such as trekking and ice climbing or "mountain climbing", which have been carried out in this area for some years. It is recommended to be accompanied by a guide to avoid any inconvenience. 

How to get to the Quelccaya Glacier?

It can be accessed by: 

Access to the glacier is located 4 hours from the city of Cusco by car to the community of Phinaya. From now on, the road to the Quelccaya glacier is done in two days of approximately 8 hours of walking. 

Why is the Quelccaya Glacier important?

It is of great importance for the water sources that feed thousands of peasant families in the region, due to its large aquifer reserves that continually release water as the glacier melts. In addition, it is a field of research for those who study the effects of climate change in this part of the country, as is the case of Professor Lonnie Thompson of Ohio University. 

Although the Quelccaya ice cap has shrunk in recent decades, it is still one of the largest glaciers in the world. However, its protection and conservation must be a joint task. For this reason, if you are going to visit Quelccaya, we invite you to do responsible tourism.

Discover the incredible Quelccaya Glacier

The Quelccaya glacier is located in the southeast of Peru, in the Vilcanota mountain range. It is characterized for being the most extensive tropical glacier in the world due to its 5,600 meters of height and 44 square kilometers of extension, approximately. In addition, it is one of the favorite destinations for professional climbers, who come to conquer their peak.

For its part, this tourist attraction is of great importance for the region since it feeds the Vilcanota River and the Sibinacocha Lagoon. However, this glacier has shrunk drastically in recent decades due to climate change. For this reason, environmental authorities are working to control this problem. 

An unmissable scene

Cusco is one of the most surprising destinations in Peru. Here there are incredible places such as the Quelccaya glacier, which is ideal for practicing adventure sports and appreciating nature. 

Numerous species such as alpacas, llamas and vicuñas inhabit this majestic glacier, which are of great importance to the nearby populations of this area. Likewise, it is made up of U-shaped valleys, glacial striations in the volcanic rocks and beautiful lagoons. 

On the other hand, in this territory you can carry out some leisure activities such as trekking and ice climbing or "mountain climbing", which have been carried out in this area for some years. It is recommended to be accompanied by a guide to avoid any inconvenience. 

Meet the peasant community of the snowy

Near the Quelccaya glacier live some peasant communities, who, through their knowledge and traditions from their ancestors, seek the conservation of this sacred place. According to some of its inhabitants, Quelccaya is of great importance for their rituals of gratitude. 

Likewise, during your visit to this wonderful glacier you will be able to meet and interact with some of these communities and acquire several of their handicrafts made with Alpaca. You will also have the opportunity to listen to the different myths and legends that are part of their oral tradition. 

Recommendations to visit the Quelccaya glacier

So that your experience in this magical destination is perfect, here are some tips. 

Choose the right clothing

For outdoor activities it is necessary to be prepared for the weather, so it is essential to wear the right jacket, it must be waterproof and windproof. Likewise, waterproof shoes suitable for trekking and, above all, comfortable ones should be worn. 

Protect yourself from solar radiation

Even if the weather is cold and you do not feel the sun directly, it is necessary to protect yourself, because in this place the radiation is very strong. For this reason, we recommend that you wear a good sunscreen with a UV filter of factor 30 or higher. Also, do not forget special sunglasses for these climates. 

Includes the necessary accessories

For this adventure in the largest glacier in the world, it is necessary to carry a backpack with the following accessories: 

  • whistle
  • Nylon multi-purpose rope
  • Compass
  • Map
  • Lantern
  • knife or razor
  • First aid box
  • Flashlight with new batteries or spare batteries
  • Cash
  • ID card or passport
  • lip moisturizer
  • Repellent

Quelccaya Glacier Tierras Vivas

Don't forget the camping gear

If you are going to camp in the middle of the glacier, you must bring the necessary utensils to spend a pleasant night. 

  • Double roof tent.
  • A special mattress for trekking to combat and isolate the cold from the ground. In addition, you can bring a cover to place between the tent and the ground.
  • Hooded sleeping bag.
  • A small stove, special for camping.
  • Kitchen accessories for heating, eating and drinking.

Bring a camera

If you are going to tour the majestic Quelccaya glacier, you cannot forget to bring a good camera. Here you will be able to portray the most beautiful landscapes from the heights of the glacier. You will also have the opportunity to record your experience in the middle of this mountain and share it with your friends and family. If you want, you can take a wide angle lens to record all its beauty. 

Finally, we recommend that you carry out all the activities under the supervision of an expert, in order to avoid any setbacks. 

Why is the Quelccaya glacier important?

For some decades, scientists, residents and tourists have detected the reduction of its ice cap, a product of global warming. For this reason, the environmental authorities have set off their alarms to combat this phenomenon, turning it into a protected area.

This territory is of great importance for the water sources that feed thousands of peasant families in the region, due to its large aquifer reserves that continuously release water as the glacier melts. In addition, it is a field of research for those who study the effects of climate change in this part of the country, as is the case of Professor Lonnie Thompson of Ohio University. 

Although the Quelccaya ice cap has shrunk in recent decades, it is still one of the largest glaciers in the world. However, its protection and conservation must be a joint task. For this reason, if you are going to visit Quelccaya, we invite you to do responsible tourism. 

How to get to the Quelccaya glacier?

From Lima you can take a direct bus to Cusco. Some of the companies that carry out this route are: Tepsa, Oltursa, Civa, Transportes Cromotex and Movil Bus. Then, you must start a journey along the road that leads to Puno. At the height of Sicuani, the detour towards the peasant community of Phinaya begins. The trip lasts an average of 5 hours, but you can take advantage of the trip to enjoy the beautiful landscapes of the region. 

After arriving at this indigenous community, you will have to take a long walk to the Quelccaya glacier. It is advisable to go with a tour guide or follow the recommendations of the inhabitants of this area, since the path is somewhat complex and requires the knowledge of an expert. 

Finally, there are some camping areas for those who come to visit this natural attraction. 

#TheDate

Cusco is considered the capital of the Tahuantinsuyo Empire, which has a great historical and architectural legacy.

The Quelccaya glacier is considered by the inhabitants of the high Andean zone as one of the main Apus of the Vilcanota mountain range.

Quelccaya is a perfect attraction for hiking and enjoying its enigmatic landscape.

To tour the Quelccaya you can rent a mule.

Glaciers are a source of water, energy and agriculture.

Best Trekking and Tours in Peru

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 Perú, 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. 

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