Trekking the Huayhuash Circuit

View from the mountain pass on Day 4

Sorry for the delay in posting but these past couple of months have been crazy! Now I plan on getting back on track and I hope you enjoy reading about my final trek in South America (of this trip)!
Beautiful view on day 4
After trekking Laguna 69 and Santa Cruz, I got ready to hike the Huayhuash Circuit which I was really looking forward to. This circuit is ranked as the second most beautiful circuit hike in the world and I can definitely understand why after seeing this amazing mountain range!
View after the first mountain pass on Day 2 
I decided to do this trek with a guide because I was told that sometimes there were multiple trekking routes and it was easy to get lost. Also, with it being an eight day hike, I knew it was possible to carry all my gear but not necessarily enjoyable. I decided to go with Caleb Expeditions and it cost 870 soles because there were 14 people in our group and I also used my own tent, sleeping bag, and sleeping pad.
Misty mountains leaving camp on day 3
On day one we left at 4:30am and headed south towards Llamac. We stopped along the way to get breakfast and arrived at Camping Quartelhuain around 11am. We got every set up and then ate lunch. After lunch we walked up one of the hills nearby to get some exercise and enjoy the views.
View from the hill we hiked outside our camp on day 1
The next morning we woke up at 5:30am to a cup of coca mate (this was standard everyday) and packed up everything. We then ate breakfast and set off. On day 2 we completed two mountain passes. The views after the second pass were breathtaking as was the valley between the two passes. During the hike up to the second pass, we stopped for lunch and an energy replenishment. At the very end of the hike down from the second pass we were rewarded with amazing views of the mountain range and Lake Carhuacocha. It was also along with lake that we camped the second night.
Our campsite on night 2
On day 3, we repeated our morning routine and started walking around the lake. We were lucky because the clouds parted for a few minutes at the base of the lake and we had a great views of the mountain peaks. After going around the lake, we started going uphill. The first couple hours of the uphill were easy but after the second laguna it started to get much harder and was straight switchbacks up to the mirador of the three lakes. We had a few minutes at the mirador and then it started to rain a little bit which turned to snow very quickly. After spending 20 minutes at the mirador we continued on to the pass. It took around 1 hour more to reach the pass but as we arrived the snow stopped which was great. That evening we camped at Camping Huayhuash and again lucked out because that evening the clouds cleared so we could see the mountains around camp.
View from the mirador on Day 3
On day 4 we took the alpine route in order to get closer to the glaciers and mountains. We hiked up for around 3 hours and were rewarded with amazing views. After reaching the pass, we decided to go to a mirador which offered an even better view of the glacier and snow capped mountains. While we were at the mirador it started snowing again so we decided to make our way down. As we were hiking down we had an incredible view of the laguna and Nevado Puscantrurpa Mountain. The descent took several hours and we arrived to Camping Huanapatay in the late afternoon.
Snowy view from the glacier mirador 
On day 5, we had a couple hours of steep uphill to the only mountain pass of the day (Cutambo Pass). It was difficult but we were also rewarded with one of the prettiest views of the hike so far. From the pass, we were able to see the base camp for Siula Grande (the mountain in Touching the Void), Laguna Juraucocha, and the beautiful mountain range. After staying 30-40 minutes at the pass, we started our descent. The descent to the town of Huayllapa took 5-6 hours including lunch. Day 5 was definitely our longest day and we hiked around 22 kilometers in total.
View from the pass on day 5
The following day, all that we descended the day before we had to climb again. We headed up the valley and the climb wasn’t too bad just steady. After several hours of climbing we stopped for lunch around 11:30am near Punta Tapusch. There was some sporadic rain this day but we were lucky and it never lasted more than a few minutes and it never rained hard. After breaking for lunch we continued on another hour and a half to the mountain pass. This was a different type of pass from normal because it never was that steep and the pass wasn’t as dramatic as normal. However, it was still beautiful. After we reached the pass we started the couple of hours downhill. The first part of the downhill was horrible because it was VERY wet and muddy. Luckily no one fell but several of us came close. We reached camp around 2-3pm and enjoyed playing card games together in the tent before dinner.
On day 7 we had my favorite views of the trip. We started by hiking 1 hour and 30 minutes up to the mirador which was steep but worth it. We arrived to breathtaking views of the mountains and the best part is we stayed up at elevation and hiked along the ridge stopping at several miradors and had beautiful views of the mountains including Yerupaja (the tallest mountain in the Huayhuash range) the entire time. We arrived at the last mirador around noon and we stopped to sit and enjoy the view for around an hour. We then started a very steep descent to Camping Jahuacocha. The descent took around 2 hours and we had lunch once we arrived in camp. The view of the lagunas near Jahucocha were beautiful and it was a great spot for the last night of our trip.
18817574-0ADC-4DD4-A827-9DA7E91C3F72 2
View from the mirador on day 7
The last day of the hike we woke up at 4:30am and left camp at first light. We hiked two and a half hours up the mountain pass and were rewarded with an amazing last glimpse of the Huayhuash range before starting the 2 hour descent to the town of Llamac and arrived around 10am. We arrived so early because the two mule drivers had to ride back over two mountain passes that afternoon to get back to their homes plus it was a several hour drive back to Huaraz. We stopped for lunch on the way back and arrived in Huaraz at 3pm.
View of our campsite down below
The Huayhuash Circuit was my favorite trek in Peru and one of my favorite hikes of my trip. The group I went with was really fun and we had so many great times both while hiking and in camp. The views were incredible and I felt like every single day of the trek was both challenging and breathtaking. The views, the guides, and the experience was definitely a once in a lifetime experience (except I do hope to hike it again in the future haha.) I cannot recommend this hike enough!
Hiking down from the 1st pass on day 2

Author: jordansjourneys92

Hi! My name is Jordan Gurkin and I am currently traveling around the U.S. and working for a non-profit called Compassion International. I just finished spending a year backpacking and teaching English in South America. I'm a travel blogger focused on bringing you budget travel advice, travel tips, and some of my recommendations on places to visit!

One thought on “Trekking the Huayhuash Circuit”

  1. Can’t Believe there has not been any comments on such a lovely trip, write up and such breath taking videos. This is amazing. Loved it. Soon will go through your other blogs. Sounds really really amazing. Thanks for taking time to take snaps and share the experience.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s