Tingopampa Valley, Cordillera Blanca, Peru

The knife-edged peak of Taulliraju (19,127’) is one of the spectacular peaks of the Cordillera Blanca, the highest tropical mountain range in the world. We trek from valley to valley, crossing high passes with 360-degree views.

Photo by Bill Abbott

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Trekking in the Cordillera Blanca

Explore the Highest Tropical Mountain Range in the World
Repertory Trip: Next Offered July 25-August 10, 2014

Trekking in the Cordillera Blanca route-map

Trip Details at-a-Glance

Cost From: $4095  
Length: 17 days
Arrive: Lima, Peru
Depart: Lima, Peru
Lodging: 5 nights hotels, 11 nights full-service camping
Meals: All meals included except 1 lunch and 1 dinner
Activity: Hiking / Trekking
Trip Level: 11-day trek on steep trails, 6-8 hours a day, altitudes between 11,000-16,000 feet, optional climb of 18,871-foot peak


  • Experience a perfectly designed trek in the world’s highest tropical mountain range
  • Optional hike to the Alpamayo Base Camp
  • Spectacular campsites by turquoise lakes, incredible views of glacier-clad peaks
  • Optional climb of Nevado Pisco

We can depend on Wilderness Travel to offer exceptional trips and great attention to detail, and the quality of the Trip Leaders is unsurpassed.Jocelyn S.—Arvada, CO

Choosing the Right Trip

We work hard to help you choose the right trip for you, paying attention to your individual interests, abilities, and needs. If you have questions about the level of comfort or any of the activities described in this itinerary, please contact us.


We are proud to have an exceptionally high rate of repeat travelers. For more information, we would be happy to put you in touch with a client who has traveled with us.

Departure Notes

Once you have signed up on the trip, we send a complete packing list, relevant health information, and required travel documents.

Repertory Trip

This is one of our special Repertory Trips offered every two to five years.  It will be several years before this journey is offered again. Now is the time to go!

The enormous ice-fluted peaks, surreal turquoise tarns, and flowering alpine meadows of Peru’s Cordillera Blanca make it a phenomenal arena for trekking. In this stunning glacial wilderness, more than 70 summits top 18,000 feet, including mighty Huascarán (22,204'), Peru’s highest peak, and Alpamayo (19,506'), a classic pyramid that has been called the most beautiful mountain in the world. Our 11-day trek is a challenging one, but well rewarded with exhilarating days on the trail, spectacular campsites beside impossibly blue lakes, and views of ice-draped summits and glaciers at every turn. An optional climb of Nevado Pisco (18,871'), set right in the heart of the Cordillera Blanca, grants us dazzling 360-degree views of countless snow-capped peaks.

Itinerary at a Glance

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

Days 1-4
Lima / Huaraz

We meet in Lima and head along the Pan American Highway to Huaraz (10,000'), the center for trekking and mountaineering expeditions into the Cordillera Blanca. A day hike and a visit to the pre-Inca temple complex at Chavin de Huantar, a UNESCO World Heritage Site dating from 1500 to 300 BC, help us acclimatize to the heady altitude.

Days 5-15
Cordillera Blanca Trek

Meeting our trekking crew and pack animals, we head to Laguna Cullicocha (15,100'), a gleaming glacial lake with outstanding views of the peaks of the Santa Cruz massif. Crossing two more passes, we continue through Quebrada de los Cedros to our camp near Laguna Jancarurish, where we can take an optional hike to the base camp of Alpamayo, a pyramid-shaped peak of astonishing beauty. Crossing the Caracara Pass (15,846'), we descend into a lush valley leading to a high pass with great views of the multiple peaks of Pucahirca. Continuing into Quebrada Jancapampa, we pass villages and cultivated areas where rural life hasn’t changed much in hundreds of years. Panoramas of awesome peaks abound, including knife-edged Taulliraju (19,127') and Chacraraju (20,052'). Our trek ends in Vaqueria. Trip members taking the optional extension will travel to the Demanda Valley today to climb Nevado Pisco.

Days 16-17
Huaraz / Lima

We return to Huaraz, enjoying views of the twin summits of Huascarán along the way. The next day we return to Lima and depart.

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

Nevado Pisco Climbing Extension

Nevado Pisco (18,871’) is a beautiful pyramidal peak in the heart of the Cordillera Blanca. At the end of our trek, we offer a challenging, non-technical 3-day climb on mixed snow and ice. The climb is suitable for very fit trekkers—and summit views are out of this world!

Optional Extensions

If you would like to continue your adventure, we offer the following extension:

What the Trip is Like

This trip is level 6, very strenuous, according to our trip grading system. Most hiking is between 10,000 and 15,000 feet, but there are several passes over 15,000 feet to cross and significant elevation gains and losses each day. Trails can be rough, not the well-maintained switchbacks you may be accustomed to in the United States. For the most part, you can hike at your own speed. The optional climb of Nevado Pisco is non-technical but requires basic knowledge of the use of ice axe and crampons (we’ll have some training on one of our acclimatization hikes) and a lot of stamina. It is expected that each participant be in excellent health and physical condition.

Getting in Shape
The best way to get in shape for hiking is to walk. A brisk 30-45 minute walk every other day over moderately steep terrain can do wonders for your conditioning. To accelerate your conditioning, try walking on steeper inclines, and use your gym’s stair-climbing machines. As you progress, practice these walks with your loaded daypack (full water bottle, camera gear, jacket). The object is to improve your overall level of fitness and aerobic capacity and get your legs and lungs in shape for the Andes. As the time for departure approaches, try to climb a high peak near you or go on strenuous weekend hikes that involve several hours of uphill and downhill walking.

A Typical Trekking Day with Wilderess Travel
Hiking distances on trek are normally measured in hours, not miles, since maps aren’t really accurate enough to assess how far we walk up and down winding mountain trails. An average day’s walk is seven or eight hours. With rest stops and photo stops, few people walk faster than one mile an hour in a mountainous region. Some hiking days are shorter than others, and some days are more difficult than others due to altitude gain and loss.

On a typical trek day, wake-up is around 7:00 am, when a cup of hot tea or coffee and a basin of warm washing water are brought to your tent by one of the camp crew. After packing up our duffels and having breakfast (often pancakes, oatmeal, eggs, or something similar), we set off on the trail while the crew strikes camp and the porters shoulder their loads. The crew passes us by midmorning to get ahead and prepare our lunch.

There is always a guide in the lead, usually the Trip Leader or the camp manager, who supervises the crew, and a “sweeper” who trails behind the slowest hiker to ensure that no one becomes lost on the trail. Most groups tend to spread out over the trail, taking photos, stopping to rest, and enjoying the scenery. We ask you not to hike ahead of the leader because trails are often not well-marked. If you feel breathless during a long ascent or wobbly during a long descent, by all means stop until you feel restored.

We typically walk for three or four hours in the morning, then stop for a leisurely lunch of an hour or more at a scenic spot on the trail. Lunch is a picnic, perhaps chicken salad, potato salad, guacamole salad, or macaroni salad, along with fruit, cheese, bread, and chocolate bars for extra energy. After lunch, we walk for another three hours or so until we reach our next night’s camp. The porters and crew pass us in mid-afternoon and usually have camp set up by the time we arrive. At camp, we have late afternoon tea (or coffee or cocoa) and a snack such as popcorn, cookies, or crackers, which hit the spot after a long day on the trail. Before dinner, there’s free time to read or relax. Temperatures drop quickly as the sun drops behind the peaks, and it’s easy to get chilled after exerting yourself for several hours, so have a few extra layers of clothing ready. It gets dark fairly early (around 6:30 pm). Dinner, served to us in a dining tent with table and chairs, is delicious hot soup followed by a substantial main course and a dessert. After dinner, we can chat away the evening in the dining tent or read by flashlight until bedtime.

Explanation of Trip Levels


Departures & Leaders

This is one of our special Repertory Trips offered only every two to five years. This journey will not be offered again for several years. Now is the Time to Go!

Jul 25-Aug 10, 2014  Holly Wissler
Jun 2016
Aug 2016

Trip Cost

Prices are for 2014
$4095 (9-12 members)
$4495 (6-8 members)
Single supplement: $475
Forced single supplement: $350
Optional Nevada Pisco Climb: from $1195
more on pricing

Extension Costs
Cusco and Machu Picchu Extension
   from: $2595

Trip Cost Includes:

  • Expert leadership of a Wilderness Travel Trip Leader and local guides
  • One hotel overnight in Lima, four hotel overnights in Huaráz, and accommodations in top quality tents on trek
  • All meals included except 1 lunch and 1 dinner
  • Services of camp staff and all group camping and cooking equipment
  • All land transportation and airport transfers as noted in Full Trip Brochure

Trip Cost Does Not Include:

International airfare; transfers for independent arrival or departure; any meals not specified after each itinerary day; airport departure taxes; optional tipping or gratuities to leaders or staff; additional hotel nights that may be necessitated by airline schedule changes or other factors; pre-trip expenses of medical immunizations (if any), travel insurance, or passports and visas; and other expenses of a personal nature (alcoholic beverages, laundry, etc.).

Trip Payment Schedule

At time of reservation: $500
120 days prior to departure: 20%
60 days prior to departure: Balance

Cancellation and Transfer Fee Schedule

More than 90 days prior to departure: No charge!
46-90 days prior to departure: 25% of trip cost
45 days or less: 100% of trip cost

Casa Andina Private Collection—Miraflores

Casa Andina Private Collection—Miraflores

Day 1 (1 night), Lima, Peru

The Casa Andina Private Collection Miraflores has spacious rooms and an excellent location with easy access to the lively Miraflores district. From ...
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Hotel Club Andino

Hotel Club Andino

Days 2 to 4 (3 nights),
Day 16 (1 night), Huaraz, Peru

A 10-minute uphill walk from the main plaza, the Swiss-owned Hotel Club Andino is the best available in the remote mountain town of Huaraz. It ...
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Cordillera Blanca Trek Camps

Cordillera Blanca Trek Camps

Days 5 to 15 (11 nights), Cordillera Blanca, Peru

On the trail, you are accompanied by our experienced team of trail guides, and all your gear is carried for you (leaving you free to hike with ...
Click here for full description and more photos

Ramada Costa Del Sol Lima Airport

Ramada Costa Del Sol Lima Airport (Day Room)

Day 17, Lima, Peru,
Day 21, After Nevado Pisco Climbing Extension, Lima, Peru

Very conveniently located right across the Lima international airport, this hotel is just a two- minute walk across the street from the terminal, ...
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Extension Accommodations

If you would like to view the accommodations offered with our extensions option:

Note: Listed above are our signature accommodations for this trip. Although it is highly unlikely, we may make substitutions when necessary.

Holly Wissler

Holly Wissler, an ethnomusicologist and one of our most experienced guides, has led treks for us in both Nepal and Peru, two countries that she has lived in for many years. She holds double Masters degrees from the University of Idaho in Flute Performance and Music History and her PhD in ethnomusicology from Florida State University. One of Holly’s areas of focus is Andean music and ritual, and she was the producer of Qoyllur Rit’i: A Woman’s Journey, a video documentary about Peru’s largest Andean pilgrimage festival. She recently produced a second documentary, “From Grief and Joy We Sing” on the musical traditions of the remote Quechua community of Q’eros, Peru, which is also her dissertation topic for her Ph.D. Holly speaks fluent Spanish, as well as Quechua and Nepali.

Upcoming Trips:

Trekking in the Cordillera Blanca, July 25-August 10, 2014

Recent Photo Blog Posts

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Client Testimonials:

Holly was fabulous. She is enthusiastic, knowledgeable, cheerful, and has great rapport with the staff. She is fun an unflappable and I feel very lucky to have met her and had her for our Trip Leader! Deborah S., Buffalo NY The trip was everything I’d hoped it would be and much more. Can’t say enough about Holly. She was a wealth of cultural information and is a warm and caring person. JoAnn E., Paso Robles CA
Ultimate Everest
Your rating scale doesn’t go high enough to rate Holly! She made the trip outstanding. Robert F., Paso Robles CA
Ultimate Everest
Holly was absolutely wonderful! The best leader we have ever had, Holly is special and a real asset to Wilderness Travel. Bruce and Carolynn H., Jackson WY
Inca Trail to Macchu Picchu
Holly Wissler is a fantastic, capable, extremely knowledgeable woman with a storehouse of information and an unsurpassed passion for Peru. Robin and Art P., San Francisco, CA Holly proves easily to be among the top rung of WT leaders. Personable, organized, marvelously companionable, superbly informed. Michael W., Stamford CT, Chachapoyas Trek Holly is super and was such an enjoyable guide. She made the trip special, as she lives in Peru and is very involved in Peruvian culture, in particular her interest in ethnomusicology with the Q'eros. Marjorie L., New York, NY
Hiker's Journey to Machu Picchu
Holly is the best trip leader with whom I have traveled, ever, at any time, and any place. David H., Austin, TX
Citadels of Chachapoyas
Holly is exceptional in every way. She has a wealth of knowledge of the area and culture and made the trip so special for each of us. Bonnie A., San Diego, CA
Peru: Q'eros Cultural Trek
Holly was a wonderful guide—knowledgable, flexible, capable in a thousand ways. She made the trip an unforgettable experience. Alexandra K., Wilton, CT
Hiker's Journey to Machu Picchu
Holly was abounding with knowledge regarding the culture; I came away from this trip with such an appreciation and respect for the people, culture, and Andean region. Caroline H., Memphis, TN WOW! Holly was fantastic! Her music background made for entertaining camp nights and her knowledge of the Incas was so vast and valuable. Ellen C., Eugene, OR
Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
Holly's expertise with the local music, villages, villagers, and her language facility made the trip even more fabulous than it would have been otherwise! Audrey Y., Rockville, MD
Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
Holly is inspiring. She loves Peru and knows it intimately. She made us all love the Andes. I can't wait to return. Fae E., Salt Lake City, UT
Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
Holly is a treasure. We really appreciated the cultural aspect she brought to the trip. It made us feel more connected to the people of Peru, and the mountains we were traveling in. Janice C., Sao Paulo, Brazil
Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
Holly was phenomenal on so many levels. Her love of the culture, people, and environment was amazing. She made our trip beyond wonderful. Ann K., Sao Paulo, Brazil
Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
Holly took an already awesome experience and made it extraordinary. Lindsey K., Sao Paulo, Brazil
Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
We can't say enough about Holly. She is a terrifically skilled guide and a wonderful person with whom to travel. We would follow her anywhere! Jane S., Newton, MA
Hiker's Journey to Machu Picchu

Optional Extensions

If you would like to continue your adventure, we offer the following extension:


Cusco and Machu Picchu Extension

Exploring the Realm of the Incas

Archaeology, Cultural Adventures, Walking
6 days  -  Level 2

Client Comments

We can depend on Wilderness Travel to offer exceptional trips and great attention to detail, and the quality of the Trip Leaders is unsurpassed. Jocelyn S., Arvada, CO
This was an amazingly beautiful trip. Deborah S., Buffalo, NY